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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Follow These Tips for RV Awning Care

Your RV awning just might be the definitive unsung hero of your camper. It’s always there when you need it and takes none of the praise for when a trip goes right. Imagine all of the times you have put your awning to use without even thinking about it, or appreciating the fact that it was there.

Your awning keeps you out of the harshest rays of the sun on those days when the temperatures are on the rise, yet you still want to remain outside. It keeps you dry in the event of light rain. It can even help you out of the ice and snow when there is a light snow coming down. In short, your awning is more than likely responsible for allowing you to be outside a significant number of times that you’d otherwise spend looking out the window.

Camper awnings stick with you through thick and thin without ever uttering a word of complaint, and the truth is that they do have much with which to contend. Whether we’re talking about the stress of the weight of pooled rain on a camper arm, the threat of overexposure to the UV radiation in sunlight or the hidden threat of mildew forming on a furled, slightly damp awning, here are some of the threats faced by your awnings or canopies, and how you can deal with them.

Threats to an RV’s Awning
In a perfect world without winds, storms, or excess moisture, probably the only threat to your camper awning would come in the form of overexposure to sunlight, which would be bound to happen with excessive use. Oddly enough, although the awning is intended to protect you and your family and friends from overexposure to sunlight, that very thing can be damaging to an awning as well. Over time, and if you allow your awning to remain open for long periods of time or when you aren’t using it, it may begin to weather prematurely from the influence of UV radiation. There are materials that are more UV stable than others, but sooner or later UV light will take its toll on an awning in some way or other. After all, UV light burns our skin and can destroy the rubber in your RV’s tires, so there’s no reason to assume that an awning would be safe from overexposure.

Damage due to ultraviolet light exposure only scratches the surface of the number of environmental dangers that your average, honest RV awning faces every day. Let’s take it a step further and talk a little bit about wind.

Wind typically becomes a problem when you leave your awning open during a storm or carelessly leave it open and leave the camper. The latter is something you should never do anyway but we’ll talk more about that later. If your awning is exposed to powerful winds it will, in the course of that, also be exposed to forces that can irreparably damage the awning arm and even fray the awning fabric. Even without a wind powerful enough to damage the arm, if the awning itself is allowed to luff or ‘flap’ for a prolonged period of time, it can damage the fabric

Then, of course, there can come damage due to the accumulation of water from rain or snow. Protection against light precipitation is one of the greatest benefits that an awning can provide, but at the same time, water or snow can accumulate on its surface. This, like wind, can severely damage the arm supporting the awning, and in some cases can even damage the fabric itself, depending on the nature of the strain.

Going further, although water keeps things clean, water can also be a destructive agent. An awning that is allowed to remain wet for too long - or worse - is furled while still damp, will be at a heightened exposure of being damaged by mold or mildew. Sometimes this doesn’t even happen from rain. If you wash your awning and then stow it too quickly without allowing it to dry, you will be putting it at risk of developing mold or mildew. Actually, without the proper treatment, a damp awning is almost certainly going to become impacted by them. It’s important to remember also that mold and mildew are not only unsightly. Over time they will actually damage the fabric of your awning, necessitating its replacement.

What You Can Do About It
So there you have a pretty brief rundown of all of the environmental factors that can make for a precarious existence for your RV awning. While there are plenty of ways to damage an awning, the good news is that there is plenty you can do as part of routine maintenance or preventative care to keep your awning going strong.

1.    Don’t Let It Bake in the Sun
This first piece of advice is really easy to put into practice, and in fact, it will go much further than protecting your awning from UV breakdown. Here’s the deal - if you’re using your awning for shade, that’s fine, but when you leave the area underneath it to go inside or stray from camp, roll up the awning. It couldn’t be simpler.

First off, it prevents you from inadvertently overexposing your awning to excess UV radiation, which will add years to its life. It also gets you into the good habit of not leaving your awning out while you aren’t under it, which is something else we will get into more shortly.

2.    Don’t Allow Water to Collect in the Awning
Keeping your awning furled while you are not using it is one way to prevent this, but if you are enjoying the outdoors while under your awning, then there are some ways to help prevent damage to the awning or the arm from the collection of water or snow.

In the event of snow, you can probably manually keep the awning clear, but while it is raining, you can keep your awning tied down, possibly even with one corner slightly lower than the others. That way, water will naturally roll off of the awning instead of puddling in a low area and straining the whole system.

3.    Use an Awning Stabilizer

An awning stabilizer can go a long way in protecting your awning from the influences of the wind. The easy way to protect your awning from the wind is to keep it furled when the wind kicks up, but honestly, you’re bound to be out there with a breeze at some point. Since an awning is like a sail, it can really pick up on the wind and must be protected against it.

An awning stabilizer can ground your awning and is an effective and practical way to help prevent the wind from causing any real damage to it. There’s more to it than this, however - if your awning is flapping in the wind but isn’t being strained by the force of the wind, you can get an awning de-flapper kit to prevent the fabric from being damaged by the wind. If you are out camping anywhere there is strong or consistent wind, both of these things are must-haves. You can also find them right here on our website.
4.    Never Leave It Open While Not in Use

We touched on this one already, but this is a good habit to get into and it's really easy to follow. The few minutes you will spend furling the awning will pay you off later, because it only takes one slip for an awning to be severely damaged by a storm or wind.

If you leave your awning open while you aren’t using it you are putting it at a higher risk of overexposure to UV light and you are also increasing the chances that wind, rain, or snow will damage it as well. It’s a simple practice - stow the awning when you aren’t under it.

5.    Periodically Clean Your RV Awning

One might think that this should go without saying, but lest we complete this list without what may arguably be the most important point, it must be included. As stated, your awning will be by necessity exposed to all different sorts of environmental factors at all the different seasons, and thus it will get dirty. You should make a habit of cleaning your awning off every once in a while.

Most of the time, cleaning off your awning doesn’t need to be more involved than simply hosing it down every once in awhile just to get rid of dirt and dust. If your awning is dirtier than you expected or you’re contending with problems like the mold or mildew mentioned above, you can get special cleaners for it right here at RV Upgrades. Directions for use with the various different awning cleaning products on our site will vary, so make sure to follow them for the one you are using. In many cases, however, you can just hose it down.

6.    Let It Completely Dry Before Furling It

This one is really important for extending the life of your awning. Whether your awning was wet because you had it out in the rain or because you were cleaning it, you need to let it dry completely before rolling it up and storing it.

Awnings that are stowed even slightly damp are a recipe tailor-made for mold and mildew. Treatments and cleaners can be very effective, so make no mistake about that. However, probably the most important thing you can do to prevent mold and mildew is to make sure you let your awning dry completely after cleaning and before furling it.

7.    Use Awning Locks and Covers
One more thing you can do to help protect your awning is to use awning locks and covers when you are able, albeit it for different purposes. Awning locks are great for offering an additional layer of protection to your awning when you are rolling down the road, especially at high speed. Just as an awning can potentially be damaged by flapping in the wind, the same thing can happen on the freeway. Using a lock to secure it in place can add some longevity to your awning.

In the second place, you can use covers as an additional layer of protection against UV light. Covering your awning when your RV is parked or not being used can help prevent the UV breakdown just as keeping your awning furled when not in use can help. Actually, awning covers can take this one step farther because they will ensure that the awning is fully covered. Just remember - the awning must be dry when you cover it because a damp, rolled up awning is a recipe for mold.

These are only a couple of the things you can do to ensure that your awning lasts a long time and offers you many years of service. That being said, following these tips will provide your awning with the bulk of the care you need. From protecting it against the sun, the strain of the window, and keeping it clean and dry, you can safeguard your awning from some of the bigger threats they face from common use.

If you’re interested in picking yourself up some of the specialized equipment or cleaners we mentioned in this article, don’t forget that you can find them all right at RV Upgrades. From cleaners to de-flappers to covers and locks, we have everything under the sun that you could use to protect and preserve your RV patio awning, whether they are manual or power awnings.

Take some time to do some more research on your specific model of awning and figure out a game plan for the equipment and cleaners you need to provide for it. Don’t forget - our customer service is top of the line and we’re proud of it, so if you need some pointers or advice, don’t be shy about giving us a call. You can reach us at 866-332-7881 or contact us via the live chat on our homepage if that is more convenient for you. We aim to guarantee customer satisfaction, so please reach out to us with any questions you have.

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