Updated June 3, 2018 . AmFam Team
Nothing is more exhilarating than hitting the road in your very own RV. After all, you’ve spent so much time getting every detail just the way you want it. The last thing on your mind is probably the unassuming awning rolled up neatly on the side of your camper. But did you know awning repairs are the most common request at RV garages? Avoid an expensive repair by following these tips to protect yours.
Your awning can encounter extreme wind forces when the weather gets rough, particularly while driving. If it unfurls — even just a little bit — it can sheer off quickly. And that can wreak havoc across your RV if one side becomes detached. When this occurs, damage to the roof and exterior walls are not uncommon. Take a look at the suggestions below to protect your RV’s awning and prevent future damage.
If you’re a seasoned RV owner, and you’ve used your canopy, you’re probably aware that summer storms are not your awning’s friend. Keep an eye on the weather, specifically the anticipated wind forecast. Install a weather app on your smart phone and customize notifications for incoming storms, lightning or wind alerts. And consider bringing a weather radio along if you’ll be in areas with limited cell coverage. These options give you a little extra time to prep your RV without getting drenched or blown around the campsite trying to retract your awning when a storm bears down.
Take the advice of many RV dealers and get intimately familiar with how your awning extends and retracts. That way, when you need to work fast you’ll know what steps to take to get the job done quickly. Be sure to write down the steps for operating the awning if others will be using your RV. Make sure they know the process and are familiar with the hardware involved.
A clean awning is a happy awning, and proper upkeep and care is essential to its function. Wash it after each use to reduce mold and mildew with warm soapy water and a gentle brush. Remember to always let it air dry completely before retracting. Note that vinyl awnings may require a stiffer brush to get clean than their acrylic counterparts. But scouring too heavily on a vinyl awning can degrade protective sealants and coatings, so remember to scrub just enough to get it squeaky clean.
Avoid UV damage by keeping the canopy rolled up when you’re not planning to use it. Just a few months’ UV exposure can significantly degrade the awning. Some awning frames may need occasional lubrication or inspection of hardware, so make a checklist of awning tasks pre- and post-trip. Follow your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance procedures.
Give your awning extra stability with awning saver clamps and RV awning de-flappers. Available online, these simple clips stabilize the awning in mild winds and reduce flapping by providing a point of contact with the side rail.
Awning stabilizer kits are another great idea. If you’ll be away from your RV for the day and the forecast calls for breezy conditions, these will help keep the awning from rocking up and down. They work with anchors that tie into the ground and use a simple spring loaded tension strap to pull the forward end of the awning downward. They’re great for a little peace of mind if the weather should get blustery overnight, too.
Avoid pooling water. Another great practice is to set one outer corner of your awning at a lower height than the other. This allows rainwater to run off and prevents pooling. Although it might not seem like that big of a deal, pooling water can result in hundreds of extra pounds of torque that your awning’s frame will be required to carry. And you’ll want to avoid the standing water that’s known to breed mosquitos and can lead to mold accumulation.
Lock it before you leave. This is important: the majority of severe awning damage occurs in transit. In addition to wreaking havoc to the outer shell and roof of your RV, awnings can detach altogether and pose a risk to other vehicles on the road. If you plan on traveling to areas known for high winds, ensure your awning is secure by using bungee cords to help keep it rolled tightly. Better still, try using an awning clamp to bind the awning into a rolled up position. Easily available online, awning clamps add extra protection if you encounter strong microbursts of wind while traveling.
Upgrade for maximum security. If you’re purchasing a new awning, consider upgrading to a flexible aluminum wrap canopy protector for superior storage and traveling protection from high winds and damaging UVs. With a little planning, care and maintenance, your RV will be ready to give you miles of sights and well-deserved enjoyment for years to come. RVs come in many shapes and sizes. So should your insurance policy. Before you hit the road this summer, review your RV coverage options and build a policy that covers you best.