Protect Your RV Awning

 Posted by at 12:34 am  Nick's Blog
Jun 132014

In a blog post last week I shared some Hot Weather RVing Tips to make living and traveling in an RV more comfortable when the temperature starts climbing toward the stratosphere. Among those tips were the benefits of awnings for temperature control.

Patio and window awnings not only shade your home on wheels, they also allow you to keep your windows open during the rain for ventilation while keeping things dry inside, and they can provide an extra level of privacy when RVs are parked close together in campgrounds or at rallies.

But as helpful as awnings can be, it takes just seconds for that expensive RV accessory to become nothing more than a pile of shredded canvas and twisted metal. Because while an awning is your friend when it comes to shade and comfort, wind and rain are that awning’s worst enemies.

More than once we have seen expensive awnings destroyed right in front of us before anyone could get to them to prevent damage. All it takes is a fast moving storm to dump enough water on an awning to make it collapse under the weight or for strong wind bursts to tear it apart.

Fiver awning

Runed awning

Torn RV awning

And don’t think just because your RV has an automatic awning with a wind sensor that you are safe! We have seen them fail more than once.

The best way to protect your patio awning is to roll it up in bad weather. We never leave ours out if we are going to be away from the motorhome, and more than once we have quickly rolled up a neighbor’s awning when they weren’t home and a storm came up.

Many RVers use awning anchors or awning tie downs to hold patio awnings in place, and in an average wind they do a fine job. Tipping one end of the awning down will also help allow rainwater to drain off under normal conditions. But there is no substitute for caution; if there is any chance things could get ugly, roll that awning up beforehand!

If you notice that all of the RVs have their awnings rolled up when you pull into an RV park, find out why. There may have been wind or storms that you don’t know about and they may not be over.

It doesn’t take long for mold and mildew to start growing on an RV awning if it has been retracted with wet canvas. If you have to close it when wet, open it as soon as possible to allow it to air dry.

Believe it or not, wind can destroy an awning when you’re traveling down the road just as quickly as when you are in a campground and have it extended. On our first RV trip, we were in Wyoming when a strong wind gust unrolled our patio awning and flipped it onto the roof of our rig. Here is an interesting article on wind forces and RV awnings on the FMCA website.

RV awnings are not cheap, and repair or replacement can give the old budget a big hit, so be aware of the weather and take a few precautions to prevent damage so it can continue to serve you well for many years.

Don’t forget to enter this week’s Free Drawing. This week’s prize is courtesy of John and Kathy Huggins of Living the RV Dream; an autographed copy of So, You Want to be a Workamper? If you’ve ever considered working on the road, you need to read this book. It’s filled with valuable information every workamper needs to know. All you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.


Thought For The Day – Every time you feel yourself getting pulled into someone’s drama, repeat these words to yourself, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

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Nick Russell

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  6 Responses to “Protect Your RV Awning”

  1. Our automatic awning came with a remote so we could have it come down before we got out of the truck in case it were raining when we got back to the 5th wheel. However, I had this image of the remote getting bumped in the glove compartment and unrolling the awning as we went down the road if we were pulling the 5th wheel. I put it in a metal box to keep that from happening.

  2. Note to self: duct tape does NOT secure unwound awning to roof and sidewall while driving in big windstorm in the west! Been there; done that! Doesn’t work!!! Hint if paranoid…zip ties (several around each arm!) add some peace of mind. Buy a big batch. Much cheaper than awning replacement.

  3. Great article.. We have had two close calls. Lesson Learned….if the wind is blowing, bring the awning in. Even here close to Coldwater, Michigan, the wind is blowing hard enough that our awning is in. But it IS a nice breeze.

  4. We have been very lucky with our awnings, we never leave the main awning out when we go off, even with the auto wind sensor it is not advised. We did have to replace to original one after a storm hit during the rally in Ohio when we could not get back to the unit because of severe weather that hit, we also had to replace both slide toppers, very expensive and a lesson well learned. This was a great reminder thanks Nick

  5. Too little too late, Nick. We had our experience this spring. We hadn’t been on the freeway five minutes near Elk City, OK when a gust hit us and a fiver following us flashed his lights, pulled alongside and motioned me over. The awning was over the roof, the arms broken and/or bent. Had to pull the slides out in the wind and along the freeway to get the remains inside. I believe that the only thing that is “good” is the canvas itself. I had heard about such things happening but, of course, it would never happen to ME! Thanks for the good advice and I hope others learn from it.

  6. While heading to Texas a couple years ago we came across strong winds
    while we were still north of Indianapolis. The only problem we could see was
    that we couldn’t get the truck over 40 MPH. It didn’t take long for the front to
    pass so we kept going. Near Terre Haute, IN we stopped for fuel and when
    I got out found the front part of the awning shredded. We continued on our
    way as the arms were still firmly attached. When we stopped for the night
    near Sikeston, MO there had been more shredding. So my husband got a
    ladder from the campground and using the knife cut the fabric off. Fortunately,
    it was covered by insurance, less our deductible. Found a company at
    the DonWes Flea Mkt. in Donna, TX that made awnings and they even came
    out and installed the new fabric. We knew there was to be wind that day but
    the next snow was coming.

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