Caravan awning maintenance is something most people don't think about until its too late. With just a little effort you can ensure that your awning will continue to work at its full potential, saving you money on an expensive replacement.
How to Clean your Caravan Awning Fabric
One of the best ways to keep your fabric in good condition is to simply hose your fabric down with clean water on a monthly basis. It is important to remember you should always allow it to fully dry before rolling up to stop mould and mildew growth. If you need to roll your awning up wet because you are moving on you should always try to open up as soon as possible to dry.
From time to time your awning will require a deep clean. It is important NOT to use a harsh detergent, as it removes the waterproofing and mould resistant coating. A lightly chlorinated water solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water can be used or speciality RV awning cleaners are available. Remember, only use a soft brush to stop scratching, use cold or lukewarm water, and always allow to air-dry fully before rolling up.
Tip: Apply an even coating of RV awning cleaner to the fabric, roll up the awning and allow to sit for 10 minutes, then reopen and hose down.
To repair a hole or tear in your vinyl there are a number of ready made products available. Due to the protective coating on awning vinyls a speciality adhesive is required to achieve a long lasting repair. These clear tapes & patches are the easiest way to repair and prevent further tearing of your awning vinyl.
Another common method is to use Sikaflex then some cloth tape applied to each side (rounding the corners of the tape gives a stronger wind resistant finish).
Remember to always give the vinyl a good clean with methylated spirits before starting any repairs
Another common issue is stretching of the vinyl due to water pooling during heavy rain. Simply lowering one corner will assist in water runoff, otherwise there are a range of straight or curved rafters which supply the added tension to stop pooling while also acting as a wind deflappers.
Tip: Curved roof rafters are great for adding tension to awning fabric, but can stretch your awning fabric if used for extended periods in hot weather.
In some cases simply patching your awning is not an option and a full vinyl replacement is required. While the fabric only may sometimes be available we would always recommend getting the vinyl on the roller. The reason being the price difference is not huge, they are much easier to swap over, and they come with the two torsion spring assemblies (the locking mechanism tends to wear out) which cost more than $150 each.
The number one cause of hardware damage is leaving the awning set up during windy conditions. This is very easy to do and sometimes unavoidable. Sudden gusts of wind can put excessive pressure on awning components and even if they do not break instantly, it often causes failure as time goes on.
The good news is that awning spare parts are readily available, and reasonably easy to replace. We stock a large range of spare parts for Carefree, Dometic and Fiamma awnings.
Finally it is a good habit to give your arms a clean to remove any dirt and debris, allowing smooth operation. A simple hosing of the channels is normally enough. If there is still some resistance wait until they are dry and apply a light amount of dry silicone spray inside the joints and channels. This makes them glide like new.