You always wish for good weather when you go camping. Blue skies and bright sunshine make a trip with the RV much more enjoyable than clouds and rain. But that sun can be HOT, and on a hot summer day, you will likely find yourself searching for shade to keep cool. This is where an RV awning comes in. RV awnings are standard on nearly all RVs. They come in different sizes and colors, some are motorized while other require manual assistance.
Since we all love our RV awnings, it’s important to keep them in good shape. While awnings don’t require a ton of maintenance, there are some things you can do to prolong their life. Here are 7 tips to keep that RV awning in top shape!
It’s important to know what type of awning(s) your RV has. There are several RV awnings that serve different purposes. Small window and door awnings keep you safe from the rain or the glare of the sun. Slide-out awnings keep the top of your slide-outs free of debris and rain water. And patio-awnings create an extra living space when you want to experience nature fully. Don’t you just love it when you have breakfast with your toes touching the soft grass? I think you do…
It is possible to replace your existing awnings, but if you familiarize yourself with the types maintenance an awning requires you can expect it to last many, many years.
1. Know your Fabric
RV awnings are made of two basic types of fabric: acrylic and vinyl. There are pros and cons to both.
- Acrylic fabric allows air to circulate.
- Acrylic awnings are made out of a woven cloth that repels water.
- Acrylic awnings are not water proof, but they generally dry within a few hours of getting wet.
- Vinyl awnings are mildew resistant, but are not mildew proof.
- Vinyl awnings easily collect dust and dirt, which can lead to mildew.
- Vinyl awing are especially susceptible to mildew when exposed to heat and high humidity.
2. Keep it Mildew and Dirt Free
If you unroll your awning after storing it for a lot of time you might have an unexpected surprise. Mildew or stains might have developed. A simple hosing from time to time can keep your awning clean from mildew and unwanted dirt stains. Never scrub an acrylic awning since it can remove the water retardant finish. If you really have to, aim for approved cleaners and apply them on the fabric with a sponge or a soft cloth.
3. Apply Cleaners
Some regular cleaners don’t have the same effect as an aftermarket commercial cleaner made especially for awning fabrics. Choose the right one for your type of fabric and begin cleaning. But don’t use oil-based or abrasive cleaners! Use the ones recommended by manufacturers and make sure you read the instructions carefully.
Most awning cleaners are easy to use. Simply apply on the awning — both on the inside and the outside — and let it sit to soak in. You can even roll the awning up to distribute the cleaner over the entire surface. After several minutes, gently scrub the awning fabric and then rinse it on both sides. You will be amazed by the outcome.
4. Do a Thorough Inspection
You never know when you will encounter awning problems. A thorough inspection is necessary to discover tears or excessive wear. Take a look at the awning hardware and at the bottom awning brackets support. Look at the lag screws in the awning brackets, and the end caps to ensure a secure mount. But don’t try to remove the end caps! Spring tension can hit your hard, so everything has to be fixed before you go on the road. Also, you don’t want to find anything broken or loose rivets. Enlarged holes or broken rivets can cause a lot of troubles, so be sure to check the arm pivot holes. Also make sure the awning rail is securely mounted to the side of the RV.
5. Never Leave RV Awnings Unattended
After you clean and inspect your awnings you are head off on a trip. You choose a great camping spot, roll out your awning, and retire for the night. This can be a dreadful decision that you might pay for dearly in the middle of the night. Awnings cannot withstand large amount of liquids. A heavy rain can cause a lot of damage to an an RV awning. You should always keep your awnings tucked in, or after a heavy rain lower one end to allow the water to run off the awning. Excessive weight can damage the fabric and cause costly damage.
The large patio awning is the most likely to be damaged. Strong wind gusts can rip the awning off with pieces of your motorhome attached to it. When you go in for the night, or leave for a hike, store your awnings in travel position to prevent unwanted damage.
It’s also a good practice to tie the awnings either to a stake in the ground or to the bottom awning brackets on the side of the RV. This way you will keep them safe from sudden wind gusts. Remember, it’s always cheaper to prevent damage!
6. Keep Your Awnings Dry
You don’t want to store the awnings when the fabric is wet. It will increase the chances of getting mildew, or it will deteriorate the material over time. Let it sit in the sun for a while and dry off completely on both sides before you roll it up.
7. Make Sure You Have Insurance
You don’t want to have an undesirable surprise if your awning blows off and shreds your motorhome. A lot of insurance providers will keep awnings out of the coverage when an accident happens. If you don’t have insurance, you need to make a separate one to cover the RV awnings. No one wants to pull cash out of their pocket in order to pay for an awning repair.
Awnings are a great item to have on your RV. If you take good care of them, periodically check for problems, tie them down, and let them dry before rolling up, they should last a long time.