In as much as people love to be in the sun, sometimes, all some people want to do is to sit in the shade and enjoy an ice-cold glass of lemonade.
Well, the best way to do that is to just sit under your RV’s awning.
As the title suggests, Don’t make these mistakes with your RV Awning.
We will look at some of the mistakes RVers make when using their awning and also how to replace a damaged awning, how to maintain your awning and also included how to clean your awning.
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1. If you have a power awning, do not run it all out in One Shot
If you have a power awning, you might think it’s easy to just push the button and watch the awning run all the way out. Well, the problem here is, you do not want to hit the button, and run the awning all the way out with one shot.
The reason is that your power awning has an auto rain dump feature, which is the gas strut in the arm. This is what allows the awning to tilt down if there is rain and then come back up. The gas strut is a feature you wouldn’t want to be damaged.
So, what you can do when releasing your power awning is to first, open the awning to 18 to 24 inches thus about two feet, and then pause for a second. And then you can release the awning all the way out. It is important that you wait because as said earlier, there is a gas strut, which takes time to expand and it doesn’t move easily and fast as you might think since it has some sort of resistance to it.
So, when you start to instantaneously release and close your awning, you are damaging the seals of your struts. It’s important that you taking your time to release and close your RV awning could save you from self-inflicted damages.
2. Forgetting to Lubricate Your RV Arms
In as much as you may want to keep your awning looking good and new, do not forget to lubricate the arms of the awning. Lubricating the arms of the awning should keep them lubricated so they can retract and extend quietly and also keeps the moving parts maintained.
This should be done with a good old fashion WD-40. Do not forget to lubricate the stairs, door hinges and handles, this should help deal with the squeaking noise.
3. Never Store your RV if the Awning Fabric is Wet
Most folks who have been RVing for while knowing that, you never store your RV awning when the fabric is wet. But even when you store the awning dry, you might notice what appears to be moisture or water the next time you open it.
Well, there are two types of fabrics used on RV awnings, these are Acrylic or Vinyl. Acrylic awning fabric is a woven cloth that lets air circulate through the fabric. This air circulation allows the fabric to dry quickly when it gets wet.
Acrylic awnings are water repellent but not waterproof. Vinyl fabric, on the other hand, is mildew resistant but not necessarily mildew proof. What happens is, mildew can form on the dirt and dust that collects on the vinyl fabric. This will be worse in high temperatures, and high humidity areas, and if the fabric is stored when wet.
Before storing your RV, you should thoroughly clean both sides of the awning with an appropriate cleaner. And allow it plenty of time to dry completely before storing. A dry awning still showing signs of mildew, it is possible that the awning fabric was dry when you stored it but when it rains, it’s still possible for water to get inside a rolled-up awning fabric, and for condensation to occur as well.
It is a good idea to extend your patio and any window awnings once a month and let the fabric air out and dry. The real key in addition to keeping the fabric dry is to vinyl awning fabrics as clean as possible. The cleaner the surface is, the lesser the chance of mildew forming on any residue of dirt and dust.
4.Forgetting to Roll Up Your Awning At Night
For those who boondock in the wilderness, we highly advise to always roll up your awning before going to bed. This includes areas such as the desert where it might seem to be hot all the time, trust me it’s not. It could go from a warm day to freezing cold and snowy day the following morning. This could leave your awning in the snow, and making it wet. In other to be prepared for this, it is best to roll up the awning.
Another reason not to leave your awning rolled out at night is, you might not know when a strong wind might blow through. A strong wind blowing through at night could cause damages to your awning by the time you wake up the next day. This might lead to an unnecessary cost. So, to avoid these, once you feel sleepy, take about two to three minutes to get your awning rolled up.
If you’ve made any of the mistakes above and your awning fabric has been damaged or stained with dirt or has mold, the guide below will help you replace your awning if necessary.
What are the Different Types of Awnings? And How Do I Use Them
1. Electric Awning
These are pretty easy to use. To use them, all you have to do is to touch a button, and the awning starts coming out. However, be cautious not to fully extend the awning in one push. When releasing the awning, ensure that there are no trees around, because the awnings are easily stopped when close to something.
If there are no obstacles, run the awning out till it balances to about 90 degrees of the ground. If you overextend the awning beyond 90 degrees, it will over time weaken the fabric. It’s best to balance the awning to 90 degrees to the ground.
Pitching an awning is a crucial thing especially if you’ve got some light rain. What happens with these vinyl awnings is that, they’ll fill up with water and it could stretch the fabric. It also can bend your tube. Electrical awnings are equipped with a dump so, if there is a little bit of water on the awning, the awning will dump it.
We recommend you do it yourself rather than letting the mechanics do it. It’s better that you pitch the awning yourself to let the water can run off so that there is no risk of mechanical failure. When pitching the awning, ensure to pitch the awning to the back of the trailer.
This is because most of the foot traffic is going to be towards the front. By doing so, the water will run off the back. Another thing when you’re pitching an awning is to make sure that the door is clear so that you do not risk destroying your fabric.
2. Manual Awning
With an electric awning, it is as simple as touching a button. However, with a traditional awning, there is kind of a procedure you have to follow to properly use your awning.
To use your traditional awning, first, you need to undo the travel locks and these are what keeps the hardware together as you go down the road, so the awning doesn’t open up. When you’re done with the travel locks, then the hardware can separate and you can open the awning after you do the next step.
The next step is going to involve undoing the cam lock from the top. In unlocking the cam lock, you would have to use the awning rod which should come with your coach. With the help of your awning rod, pull the lever of the cam lockdown till you see it in the roll down position, which you can read on the writing on the cam lock of the awning.
With the cam locks and the travel locks undone, you can now go ahead and open the awning. So, with your rod, go to the center of your awning, and you should see a strap. Grab the strap with your rod and pull it right out. Pull it all the way out until you see the valance about 90 degrees to the ground. It is important to have the arms all loosened up because it’s going to help your awning come all the way out.
At this point, you may not have any support keeping your fabric taut. Well, this is where the upper hardware comes into play. Slide the upper hardware up against the rails till they lock into place.
Even though the upper hardware might be locked in place, you may still have to tighten your fabric. To tighten your fabric, grab the ends of your fabric together with the upper hardware and apply some pressure to tighten up the fabric, and then tighten up a knob at the center of the upper hardware. Repeat this process to the rear of the awning.
Now you have your awning tight, and at this point, what you will have to do is to lift the awning to get it where it’s supposed to be so you can use it outside of your camper to keep you out of the sun or rain. To do this, simply grab the arm of the awning, and lift it.
When done with this, the next thing you might want to check is to make sure your door isn’t rubbing on the awning as you open and close it. If you’re door still touches your awning, then we suggest a way to prevent this in the next topic below.
Whether it is an electrical awning or a mechanical awning, below are some of the mistakes RVers make with their awnings.
How to Replace an RV Awning?
If your RV awning is old, torn, faded or just worn out, replacing the fabric is a great DIY, that can save you a lot of cash instead of having it done at an RV repair shop. It isn’t as difficult as you might think and, in this article, we’ll guide you step by step.
Here are some of the tools you will need when tackling this project:
- Rivet Gun and Some Pop Rivets
- Cordless Drill
- Drill Bits
- Razor Knife
- An Allen Wrench
- Phillips Head Screwdriver
- Open End Wrenches
- Silicone Spray Lubricant
- Masking Tape
- Cock Gun with a sealant.
- Hammer and Punch
- Tape Measure
- Socket Wrench
- Felt Tip Marker
- Flathead Screwdriver
Since you will be working high up on the RV, you will need a two-step ladder, plus a large tarp to protect the new awning fabric. Optionally, a couple of blocks with a soft cloth on top will come in handy. Do not forget to line up some help.
If you’re a determined do-it-yourselfer, then you’re better off with two helpers. With a huge awning, four people will make the job more productive. With the offer of something cold to drink and a delicious meal from the grill, you shouldn’t have a problem mobilizing some friends for this.
Not forgetting your replacement fabric. Before you order your awning, you will need to measure your awning. Measure from inside cap to inside cap. Now let’s get to it.
Replacing Your Awning
- With your drill, start by removing the main bolts that hold the top of the awning to the side of the RV. It might seem like that would allow the awning to fall off, but do not worry. The combination of spring tension, in the roller tube, and the legs attached to the base of the RV will hold it in place.
- Now, remove the two small screws that prevent the fabric from sliding in the track. There is one at each end of the awning. When done, pop the lower ends of both awning arms out from their brackets on the side of the RV, and extend them until they are both touching the ground.
- Flip the control lever on the right side of the roller tube, as though you were preparing to fully extend the awning. Then, using your awning rod, pull the roller tube about a foot out from the RV. Your awning should now have both arms resting on the ground, and your fabric should be unrolled about a foot.
- Before sliding the awning off the RV, you will want to put the masking tape on the upper awning bracket.
This will prevent them from scratching the side of the RV.
- If your awning is old, you may need to use a sharp edge to cut off any sealant that connects the fabric to the track. You may also have to scrape away any debris from the inside of the track. To further ease the removal of the old fabric, and installation of the new one, gently spread the end of the track with a flat blade screwdriver.
- With your helpers holding the two awning arms slightly off the ground, begin pulling the fabric out of the track, making sure you have plenty of room in front of, or behind the RV. Walk the entire arm completely out, until it’s free.
If the fabric is stuck in the track, difficult to slide at first, you may need a third person up on a ladder to continue pulling until it slides more easily.
- Once the awning is free from the RV, set it down carefully. While not absolutely required, placing the roller tubes up on blocks makes it easier to work on it.
- There are two springs inside the roller tube. One at each end. You’re going to lock the spring at the rare of the left side of the awning, by removing the black plastic cap and inserting a Philips head screwdriver. Release the tension and remove the front and right side spring by loosening the bolt that holds the arm to the roller tube, then remove the bolt and the arm.
- Reinsert the bolt, and put some tape on the bracket to prevent it from getting scratched. Then firmly clamp the vise grips onto the brackets.
With these done, you’re about releasing the spring tension. Do not worry, it is not as scary as you might have heard. Just keep a firm grip on the vise grips, and lift up a little to release pressure from the awning control lever, then flip the lever to the role of position, and carefully unroll the spring. Be sure to count the exact number of rotations required to fully unwind it as you will need to roll it back up, with that exact amount later. Then you can safely remove the vise grips.
- Before removing the spring and assembly from the right side of the roller tube, I will want you to mark the location of the awning control lever, using a felt marker. This way, you can reassemble at that same spot.
- Using your cordless drill, drill out one of the pop rivets that hold the end cap onto the roller tube, then use your hammer and punch to remove the remainder of the rivet. With one person at each end, rotate the roller tube so you can access the pop rivet on the opposite of the end cap, then drill it out and punch it out just like you did with the first one. Now, simply slide out the entire right-side spring assembly out of the roller tube, and carefully set it aside.
- Lift the roller tube. and unwind the old fabric one turn at a time, until it is completely off the tube. To make it more efficient, two people can do this.
- Before removing the old fabric, use the felt marker to make two marks on the roller tube. First, make a straight line to mark the channel that the main part the awning goes into. Also, with the make a second mark, V, next to the channel where the decorative valance slides into. Now you should be ready to remove the old fabric. If it’s stuck on the tube, use a razor knife to slice between the two channels that hold the valance and the main awning.
- Now that the vinyl has been cut into two separate pieces, each one of them will slide right throughout of the roller tube. When done, spray some silicone lubricant into each of the channels to make it easy to slide the new channels in. Noting the marks made earlier on the roller tube slides the two beads inside their appropriate channels.
The beading on the main awning side goes inside the track of the straight line, and the beading of the valance side goes into the channel with a V.
- With your helpers holding the fabric off the ground, gently pull the end along the tube, simultaneously feeding both beads into the channel as you go. Using a tape measure, center the fabric between the end caps. Even though the right cap isn’t back on yet, you can clearly see the mark on the tube where it goes. When done, you can then roll the new fabric up unto the roller tube. This is where an extra helper or two comes in handy on large awnings. Ensure the fabric is rolled as evenly and smoothly as possible.
- Reinsert the spring assembly into the end of the roller tube, being sure to align the awning control lever with the mark you made on the side of the tube. You will also see that the rivets holes line up as well. Use your pop riveter to replace both rivets in the end cap, securely fastening it to the roll tube.
Reattach your vise grips to the roller tube brackets and clip the awning control lever to the rolled down position, and rotate the spring counterclockwise to re-tighten it. When doing this, be sure to keep a tight hold of the vise grip, and count exactly the same number of rotations, as when you removed the spring earlier.
- Reattach the right awning arm to the end of the roller tube. Remove the protective tape from the bracket, and snap the supporting arm back into place. Remove the Philips head screwdriver from the left side of the roller tube, and replace the black plastic cap.
If necessary, clean the track to make the new fabric slide as easily as possible, and then spray it with a coating of silicone lubricant. Apply some tape to the end of the track to prevent sharp edges from tearing the new fabric.
- To begin reinstalling the awning on to the RV, stand the entire assembly up, and walk it into place. Line up the end of the fabric, with the edge of the track. Insert the edge of the vinyl into the track and begin sliding it in. Since you lubricated the track with silicone spray, you will be surprised at how smooth the track slides in compared with removing the old one. Continue pulling along whiles your helpers hold the RV arm whiles moving along with you.
Now your awning should look just the way it did earlier, with both arms on the ground, and the fabric unrolled about a foot except with brand new material of course.
- Remove the protective tape from the awning brackets. Coat each of the four large screws with waterproof sealants. Use these screws to attach the brackets into the side of the RV. You can also remove the tap at the end of the awning track. Now retract both arms, and fit them back into their mouths. It’s common for the strap to get rolled up into the fabric during installation. If it’s not visible, simply pull on both arms to extend the awning, and the strap will fall out. Roll the awning back up to confirm that it rolls up straight, and the arms line up properly.
- If the arms don’t line out perfectly, or the fabric is rolled a little bit to one side or the other, unroll the awning and adjust the material by pulling slightly left or right in the track as needed. Then retract the awning one more time to ensure that everything lines up nice and perfectly. Once it’s done, reinstall the two screws into the awning track that prevent the fabric from sliding side to side. The only thing left to do now is to enjoy your beautiful new awning. And of course, fire up the barbecue to make dinner for your helpful friends.
Now you’ve installed your new awning here are some easy steps to help you clean and maintain your RV awning.
Apart from the fact that cleaning the awning of your RV will make it look better than it did, another reason to clean your RV awning is that much like the windshield of your car, when the awning of your RV is clean, it repels the water much easier and quicker.
Some Tools needed To Do This:
(Refer to your Owner’s Manual)
- Pull your awning out until it is 90 degrees with the ground.
- Fill your spray bottle with a gallon of water. Add a tablespoon of bleach, and a tablespoon of your dawn. It is important for you not to use much more than that, because you can actually potentially accelerate the deterioration of your awning.
- With the solution above, spray thoroughly the top and bottom of your awning and roll it up for 10 to 15 mins, and let it sit. This will allow the solution to soak into the fibers. Roll it back out again, and spray it a second time.
When done use a soft bristle car brush to scrub the surface of your awnings. This will get the crud off, but it wouldn’t scratch things up. Be cautious when doing this, since the bleach can cause a speckled mess to your shirt or pant.
- When done, rinse the awning and allow it to dry. This should wash away all the mildew and dirt, and get your awning looking clean and better than it was.
- Wait until the next day to treat stubborn stains, lubricate the mechanical parts of the awning.
- To deal with stubborn stains, such as the doors rubbing on the awning to create a black mark, bird poop, you can spray use a cleaner called “ Simple Green” on the stubborn spot. With the help of a towel, rob and wipe the spot till the stain is gone.
- When done, lubricate all the mechanical parts of the awning, this includes the hinges, arms, thumb screw, piston rod, and every little joint. We recommend you use a water-resistant silicone lubricant. Now, pull your awning in and out to enable the lubricant to spread out on every mechanical surface sprayed on.
- Finally, use a protectant such as a 303-aerospace protectant, which forms a coat to protect your awning from cracking, fading, and UV rays. A trick to applying this on your awning is to use a long RV brush, and a chamois cloth tied to the head of the brush. With this, you will have a long reach to enable you to get good coverage of the protectant over the awning especially the very top, making the job easier.
To use the protectant, spray the liquid on the chamois cloth and also on the awning, and then with the brush gently rub the protectant across the awning for about 2 mins and allow it to dry out.
- One problem encountered by RVers is that, when they roll out the awning, the door rubs on the awning creating a black spot on the awning which may eventually damage the awning. To curb this problem, you can purchase an awning door roller ball at an RV store near you, and you can install it on your RV door to deal with this problem.
With the above information, you should be able to take good care of your awning, by avoiding some mistakes such as not folding up your awning at night, and also rolling out your electric awning in just one shot.
Hope you found this post informative in repairing, replacing and maintaining your RV awning.
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