RV Awning Use, Care, Maintenance Tips, and Advice
By Mark Polk
RV awnings are a great feature to have on your RV. There are different types of RV awnings and they serve different purposes. There are window and door awnings that provide shade over 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.
Note: Carefully follow all awning and cleaner manufacturer directions.
Inspect the awning fabric for any tears or excessive wear. Do not store the awning when the fabric is wet. Allow it to dry completely on both sides before storing. You can clean the awning hardware with the same cleaner you use to wash the RV. While the awning is out, inspect the awning hardware. The bottom awning brackets support most of the load from the awning. Check that the lag screws in the awning brackets are tight. 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 end caps for secure mounting and broken rivets.
Caution: Do not attempt to remove the awning end caps. Spring tension can result in serious injury.
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. 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 run off. The weight from water pooling on the awning fabric can cause extensive and costly damage.
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.
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. http://www.rveducation101.com/
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. http://www.rveducation101.com/
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