One minute you’re laying in bed on what you thought was a warm spring night—the next you’re hearing rain pouring down, your awning whipping in the wind, or worse, a loud bang from a gust of wind that tore your awning off its track.
Most RVs come with an awning already attached. Some are automatic and even have weather sensors that retract on their own. But if you have a manual awning, you’ll want to pay extra attention to rolling it up in bad weather to avoid hundreds or even thousands in repair costs.
When extended, RV awnings can collect puddles and become heavy with rainwater. Take this horror story from Mr. D on iRV2 forums for example:
“We were in Fresno at a friend’s house in 2014, had the awning out and realized it was raining hard. The Dutch Star was so quiet that we couldn’t hear the rain. By the time I got out there it was too full of water to lift, just then the main roller broke in half. The arms scratched the motorhome sidewall. Cut the awning off and left the broken/bent pieces there. Cost was over $4,000 for a new awning and paint repair.”
If it’s just drizzling, have a corner of your awning sloped so that rainwater can run off the side. After it’s rained (or if it was just humid out), make sure your awning’s completely dried before rolling it in. Stowing it away while it’s still damp can allow mold and mildew to grow and ruin the fabric.
Wind can be just as destructive to your awning. Gusts can happen when you least expect, like at night or when you’re away. You wouldn’t want to come back after a long day out to find the fabric of your awning was torn off its mounting track.
Strong winds can also cause the fabric to whip or billow up. Over time, constant flapping can tear the bead that fastens the fabric to the rail of your RV. Once this bead comes loose you’ll need to replace the entire awning.
If you have a manual awning you can use de-flapper clamps to minimize the noisy whipping and prevent your fabric from tearing off. They aren’t meant for high winds, but on breezy days they’ll give your awning a bit more stability.
A stabilizer kit can also be very handy on windy days. These kits come with spiral stakes and pull tension straps so you can anchor your awning to the ground.
Awning repair tape is additionally very useful to have on hand in case your fabric gets a small tear. It can also be used on boat sails, tents, and pop up campers.
Taking good care of your awning can save you a lot of money in repair costs. Depending on your coverage, many insurance companies will not pay for damaged RV awnings because they’re considered an accessory. For peace of mind, always make sure your awning is securely locked during transit (use extra bungee cords if needed) and rolled up when the weather gets bad, at night, or when you’re away.