RV Awning Care Tips
By Mark Polk
Awnings are a great feature to have on your RV. There are several different types of RV awnings and they serve different purposes. There are window and door awnings that provide shade and keep rain away from your RV windows or entry door. There are slide-out awnings that protect the slide-out roof from debris and water. And there are patio awnings that provide us with shade when we want to sit and enjoy the outdoors. The awnings on your RV will provide years of reliable trouble free operation, if you take the time to do a little preventive maintenance and cleaning.
The fabric used on awnings is made from vinyl or acrylic. Some awnings have an aluminum or vinyl wrap-around weather guard that protects the awning fabric when it’s in the travel position. When you open the awning for the first time each year, or if it has been stored for a while, you will need to inspect the awning fabric for any signs of mildew or stains. Vinyl awnings will mildew. If the awning fabric is fairly clean, normal cleaning can be accomplished with a soft brush and mild soap and water. Do not use oil based or abrasive cleaners. Clean and thoroughly rinse both sides of the awning.
For more difficult stains, or mildew, there are after market commercial cleaners made just for awning fabrics. One method that seems to work well is to spray the inside and outside of the awning fabric with the appropriate cleaner, then roll it up and let it sit for several minutes. This distributes the cleaner over the entire surface of the awning fabric and allows the cleaner time to work. Open the awning and thoroughly rinse both sides of the fabric. It may be necessary to scrub stubborn stains with a brush before rinsing.
Note: Carefully follow all awning and cleaner manufacturer directions.
You can clean the awning hardware with the same cleaner you use to wash the RV. Now you can inspect the awning fabric for any tears or excessive wear. Talk to your RV dealer about what materials to use to repair or patch the awning fabric. Do not store the awning when the fabric is wet. Allow enough time for it to dry completely, on both sides, before storing the awning. While the awning is out, inspect the awning hardware. The bottom awning brackets support most of the load from the awning. Check the lag screws in the awning brackets for secure mounting. Inspect the arm pivot holes for any enlarged holes or broken rivets in the handles. Check for a warped roller tube. If the roller tube is warped it will be noticeable when you roll the awning out. Inspect the awning end caps for secure mounting and broken rivets. Make sure the awning rail is securely mounted to the side of the RV. Have any damaged or broken parts repaired before using the awning.
Caution: Never attempt to remove the awning end caps. Spring tension can result in serious injury.
In addition to cleaning and inspecting your awning there are a few things to keep in mind when using the awning. Always lower one end of the awning to allow for water runoff. The weight from water pooling on the awning fabric can cause extensive and costly damage. Any wind gusts over 20 miles per hour can also cause extensive damage to the awning and to the RV. Never leave the awning out unattended. If everyone is leaving the campsite, store the awning in the travel position. When you go to bed, store the awning. Even when you are at the campsite, you should use awning tie downs to prevent any sudden damage caused by high wind gusts or a sudden storm. You have the option to position the awning arms straight down and stake them to the ground, but you will get better support if they’re attached to the bottom awning brackets on the side of the RV. Remember, it is much easier to prevent damage to your awning than it is to repair it.
Awning Tip: Check with your RV insurance provider to make sure your RV awning is covered in the event of any damage. Some insurance companies require separate insurance coverage on the awning.
Copyright 2006 by Mark J. Polk, owner of RV Education 101
RV Expert Mark Polk, seen on TV, is the producer & host of America's most highly regarded series of DVD's, videos, books, and e-books. Sign up for your free "RV Education 101" Newsletter rveducation101.com/email/
Mark Polk is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Three, specializing in wheeled and track vehicle fleet maintenance operations. Polk owns and operates RV Education 101, (based in North Carolina) since 1999, and also has an extensive RV background working in RV service, sales and management. Polk has a degree in Industrial Management Technology with 30 plus years of experience in maintenance includes working as an RV technician, a wheeled vehicle and power generation mechanic, an automotive maintenance technician, Battalion and Brigade level Maintenance Officer, an RV sales manager and also in the RV financing department as the Finance & Insurance manager. www.rveducation101.com/
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