8 RV Awning Maintenance Tips to Add Years to its Life

RV Awning Maintenance Tips

Your RV awning is an essential investment (and an expensive one too).

You are sitting outside your RV, sipping coffee, chatting with your better half, and your kids playing on the ground.

Suddenly, it starts raining.

And the awning you have is dripping.

You are left with one option, leave the pleasant outdoor experience, and get inside your camper.

An awning is an essential gear that adds to the comfort of your camping experience.

It not only protects you from the sun, rain, and snow.

It also helps you extend your living space outdoors, making a patio like space.

Additionally, your awning can also protect your outdoor gears like bikes, grills, chairs from the elements.

Although the uses are many, awnings don’t usually receive the attention and care they deserve.

However, your RV awning maintenance is extremely important, and failing to do so will result in a pricey replacement in a few years.

Follow these easy maintenance tips to extend the life of your RV awning by years.

1: Keep your awning clean

Regular cleaning alone is one of the best remedies to keep your awning safe.

Whether you camp in an RV park or boondocking at a BLM land, your awning will collect dirt, dust, and other debris. There is no way to prevent it from getting dirty.

Failing to keep it clean will result in the build-up of mold and mildew, eventually wear your awning off. This intern will reduce the working life of your awning and force you to an expensive replacement.

Usually, light water spray with a hose will get most of the dirt off your awning. However, you can use a soft brush with a long handle and a mild soap to scrub off light stains, if any.

Additionally, you can use an appropriate awning cleaner to remove tough stains.

Note: Be gentle when scrubbing as being tough can lead to damaging the waterproof protective layer. Additionally, do not use oil-based cleaners.

Full-time RVers will need to clean the awning thoroughly multiple times a year, depending on the usage and how dirty it is.

Whereas, part-time RVers should try to clean the awning before storing the camper after every camping session. Moreover, seasoned campers should do a thorough cleanup at least twice a year.

Though you can’t prevent your awning from getting dirty, you can control how much dirt it collects.

Keeping your awning rolled in when not in use will help prevent it from collecting dust without being used.

Secondly, when you are on a camping site, choose a spot that is far away from the roads where other RV’s are coming in and out. As these vehicles move, their tires make the dust from the ground airborne, which then settles on your awning and camper if nearby.

2: Waterproofing your RV awning

Your RV awning being waterproof is an important feature. It ensures your comfort and protection when it’s raining.

Waterproofing your awning is an essential step in the maintenance process. It helps prevent the growth of molds and mildew. Protects your RV awning from sun damage. Most importantly, keep you and your family dry when it is down pouring.

Check out our detailed guide on how to waterproof your RV awning.

3: Keep the awning rolled in if the weather is harsh

Avoid leaving your awning unattained if unexpected weather is routine at your campsite.

The primary purpose of an awning is to keep you comfortable and safe from the natural elements (sun, rain, and snow). They do a great job at it.

However, they are not designed to handle extreme weather conditions. And allowing your awning to battle the extreme will surely shorten its life.

Rolling your awning in before going to bed is a good practice in keeping your awning safe. This will prevent you from worrying about rain or snow pounding your awning handicap.

Stow your awning away if there is a storm coming your way. Heavy rain can quickly destroy your awning in a matter of a few hours.

While it rains, and for some reason, you have to keep your awning out, make sure one side of the awning is kept lower than the other.

This will help the rainwater slide off the awning and prevent it from pooling in the center. On the flip side, if the rainwater is allowed to pool on the awning, the excess weight will put pressure on the fabric and the arms and may result in a complete awning failure.

Note: Always dip the side that is away from the foot traffic. This will prevent water from your awning from falling on other people.

Additionally, keep an eye on hail storms during rainy seasons, as they can punch holes on the fabric and destroy it.

Like rain, snow can also pose a lot of threats to your awning. Snow itself is lightweight, but when allowed to accumulate on your RV awning overnight, it can weigh a lot.

Additionally, keeping the awning rolled in on hot sunny days can prevent the fabric from fading and the UV rays from damaging the fabric. Consider investing in an aluminum awning cover to avoid sun damage when rolled in.

Finally, keep track of the weather, as this will help you prevent catastrophe and extend the life of your awning.

4: Dry your awning before stowing it

Rolling up a wet awning can turn out to be fatal.

Whether after a routine wash or rain, make sure you let your awning dry out completely before you roll it in or store it.

When a wet awning is rolled up, it remains damp because of a lack of airflow. As time goes by, there is a growth of fungus on the fabric resulting in mold, mildew, and dry rot, ultimately damaging your awning fabric.

Additionally, the moisture from the wet fabric can lead to the rusting of the awning roller tube.

Dry out your awning before you roll it in to prevent the damage caused by the water. And the best way to dry your wet awning is to leave it extended to air dry under the sun.

For part-time RVears, you should extend your awning once in a while after you have stored your rig after the camping season. Moisture/humidity from the air can dampen the fabric, and if neglected, can shorten the life of your awning. 

Ensure your awning fabric is crisp dry at all times.

5: Wind and awnings don’t mix

Wind destroys the majority of the RV awnings then anything else.

Windy days are fun to be outside, but they are your awnings worst enemy.

Your RV awning is like a sail on a sailboat. When the wind is blowing, it can put severe pressure on the fabric and the overall structure. If unattained, the wind can destroy the fabric, or worse, break the awning off completely. 

For electric RV awning, you can have a wind sensor installed, but that is not an option for RVears using a traditional awning.

Also, the wind blowing on your awning can make it flap continuously. This flapping can make the hooking points weak and the fabric failing overtime. 

Besides, the flapping of the fabric will cause a loud flapping sound that will be very annoying to hear from both insides as well as outside your rig. You can use de-flappers to reduce the flapping effect.

Whether it is windy or not, you should secure your awning with a stabilizer kit. It will add to the support of your awning and prevent it from damage if sudden gusts pass by.

Though it is wise to keep your awning retracted in windy days, however, most RV awnings are rated to handle winds up to 15 MPH. 

Go through your awning manual to know your wind resistant limits.

6: Use an awning lock before you travel

Unrolled awnings on the highway can put other vehicles in trouble, along with your expensive awning destroyed.

Travel days are hectic, and you have a long checklist of the most important things to consider before you head out.

Forgetting to secure your awning before you start may sound like a minor mistake. Until it flys open in the middle of the highway, resulting in a huge accident.

Now, you have an expensive awning replacement to make apart from the fines you have to pay for the accidents you have caused.

All this can be easily avoided, with the help of a secondary RV awning lock. An awning security latch is an extra layer of protection to prevent your awning from opening and damaging itself while traveling.

Note: Add this as an important point on your travel day checklist.

7: Perform a thorough inspection of your awning

With age, everything loses charm, and your RV awning is no different. Follow this essential guide to keep your awning in top shape and slow the wear and tear process.

  1. In the closed state, check the arms for defects. Check if the outer arm perfectly sits on the inner arm, thus locking in place. Now pull any arm to check if the locking mechanism is working correctly. It shouldn’t move if the lock is in order.
  2. Now its time to extend the awning. Don’t overextend your awning, as this will make the fabric weak. Go slow irrespective of power or traditional awning. Listen for any unusual or screeching noise. Pay attention to see if the extraction is smooth, or does it get stuck in places. You may need an in-depth inspection by a mechanic if you hear or see something unusual.
  3. Make sure your awning is set to the right height. This will ensure your RV door doesn’t rub against the underside of your awning, thus preventing damage to the fabric.
  4. Now its time to inspect the mechanical parts. Check the arms for dents, bends, and rust. Look for missing screws, bolts, and rivets. Check for dirt and debris in between the moving parts. Inspect the roller tube for signs of wear, rust, and bends. If anything pops up, you need to get a specialist on board to have a close look.
  5. Tighten all loose bolts and screws immediately, if found.
  6. If you are using an electric awning, check the motor for signs of damage. Check the cables and see if all the wires have the proper insulation in place. Missing insulation may lead to a short circuit or may electrify the body of the RV. Check for loose connections and fix them if found.
  7. Now let’s look at the awning fabric. On a sunny day, if you stand under the awning and look straight up, you should be able to see holes if there are any. See carefully to find places that have worn out excessively. Look for deep stains and fungus growth. If you find any, contact a specialist and get it fixed soon.

8: Other considerations

An awning comes with a lot of moving parts that use lubrication to work smoothly and prevent corrosion. However, using a greasy lubricant may do more harm than good.

Grease is a dust magnet, and the dirt build-up will result in the parts not moving smoothly. You need a silicone spray in your arsenal that does an excellent job at lubricating the parts but doesn’t collect a lot of dirt.

As a measure of safety, don’t use a fire pit or barbeque under your awning, as the heat and smoke can damage the fabric or worst catch fire.

Take care of your awning, and it will take care of you

Your RV awning is an important tool to make camping comfortable for you and your family, whatever be the weather outside. They deserve the love and care for the support they give us.

With the basic tips and tricks we discussed above you can rest assured your RV awning has a long service life of making your camping enjoyable and safe.