'Round The Campfire

How to Use and Maintain Your RV Awning

More from Outdoor Living Newsletter September Outdoor Living Newsletter
Travel Trailer with open awning
Keep your RV awning in good working condition by following our tips.

Awnings are a regular fixture of motorhomes and trailers, and their primary purpose is to provide shade and shield the doors and windows from the elements. In addition, with an RV awning, you can create a makeshift porch or patio just outside of your RV. All you need to do is pull out the awning and set up a couple of chairs underneath it, and you have yourself a cool, shady relaxation area.

Awnings are generally easy to operate and are a common feature of RVs. No matter how sturdy they may seem to be, however, it's important for you to use them correctly and to clean and maintain them on a regular basis. Improper use, constant exposure to the elements, and the combined effects of dirt, debris, and mildew, among others, could speed up the deterioration of your awning. The tips below can help you keep your RV awning in good working condition for a long time.

1.  First of all, know how to operate your awning. Awnings may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, so take note of the instructions. An important thing to remember is to loosen the rafter knobs when opening or closing the awning; when the awning is open, tighten the knobs to lock the awning in place. Practice opening and closing your awnings during good weather. That way, you'll know how to work them quickly when you have to rush out to close them during a sudden downpour.

2.  Consider your awning's fabric. Different fabrics have different characteristics and associated problems. For example, vinyl awnings are mildew resistant, but not 100% mildew proof; such awnings needs to be checked from time to time to see if any mold or mildew has developed on the surface. On the other hand, acrylic awnings are breathable and water resistant, but not waterproof.

3.  Use them correctly depending on the weather conditions. Some think that it's better to keep their awnings open in the rain to protect their windows and door. In this case, one side of the awning should be lowered to allow water to run off the surface and not collect on top. Otherwise water will weigh down the fabric and weaken the metal parts.

Under heavy wind, awnings should be closed because strong gusts can damage the fabric of the awning. The same applies under heavy snow conditions.

4.  Clean your awning with non-abrasive cleaners. This will help keep your awning's fabric in good shape. Generally, water and a mild soap will suffice. Bleach can also be used to clean your awning. However, you have to check if your awning is bleach safe. After washing, awnings should be air dried and not subjected to heat drying.

5.  In case of mildew or stubborn stains, you can clean your awning by using a commercial awning cleaner. Spray the cleaner on both sides of the awning and leave it for a few minutes to allow the solution to distribute. Afterwards, you can rinse the awning or, for vinyl awnings, scrub it with a soft brush.

Removing mildew and cleaning awnings should be done more frequently in places with a hot, humid climate. Even if mildew has not formed on the surface, it's still advisable to rinse off your awning with a hose every month.

6.  After cleaning your awning or after a downpour, make sure that your awning is complete dry on both sides before folding and storing it. This can prevent mildew from forming on the awning and also prevent it from developing a bad odor.

7.  Inspect your awning regularly. Doing so will help you see if your awning is still in good shape or if it already has any tears. At the same time, be sure to check all the moving parts. A silicone spray can be used to maintain them.

Maintaining your RV awning is always better and cheaper in the long run than having to shell out money for their repair or replacement, so before and after every camping trip, take the time to examine them carefully and perform any necessary maintenance work.

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