After almost a week of overcast skies, the sun finally appeared. I was excited to finally unfurl our RV awning! Out, out, out it went. And then … you guessed it! An awning tear. Sunlight glinted through the small rip, confirming my distress. A tear. Now what?
Well, you have to find the right fix for your awning…
Find the right awning tear fix
I knew that the small tear had the potential to become a bigger rip and also a bigger problem. So, I got right to work. Well, by that I mean I talked to other campers in our park and asked what they recommended or had successfully used. Then I researched online and ordered this awning repair tape. Why this one? Well, our awning is multi-colored. This tape is transparent and waterproof. It is weather- and UV-resistant, as well as non-yellowing. It also had thousands of helpful reviews, so I was convinced.
The tape arrived quickly, and Hubby and I set to work. First, we cleaned the awning in place. For instructions on how to do this, check out my previous article here.
Remove the awning
Once the awning was clean and dry, we began removing it from the RV. This was easier than I thought. Still, it took both Hubby, our adult son, and me to lift and safely detach the awning from the RV. You really need at least two people to safely do this—one on each end of the awning. It’s heavy, but we managed. While most awnings are similar in design, it’s best to check with your owner’s manual, RV repair shop, or awning manufacturer’s recommendations for removal.
Apply the tape
We were fortunate to have parked the RV beside a paved concrete pad, so we used it as our “work table.” We placed our awning on the concrete and closely examined it for any additional holes or rips. Then we addressed the rip. After carefully bringing the ripped edges together, we applied the tape—first to the top side of the awning, and then on the underside, pressing to remove any air bubbles and to secure the tape. We reattached the awning to our RV and looked to make sure the tape was securely adhering as we retracted and extended the awning several times. So far, so good.
Preventing RV awning tears and rips
They say, “An ounce of prevention….” So here are suggestions for keeping your RV’s awning in good repair:
- Extend the awning only when you need it. We keep our awning rolled up unless it’s hot and sunny. We’re hoping this will extend the awning’s life by protecting it from harmful UV rays that can weaken the fabric.
- Keep it clean. We try to wash our awning at least twice a year and watch for signs of mold or mildew in between washings.
- Retract the awning in windy conditions. Wind will put excess pressure on extended awning fabric that is already stretched (stressed). We’ve seen even small wind gusts rip an awning apart. It’s just not worth it. If we plan to be away from our rig for an extended period of time we’ll retract the awning as a precaution.
- Lower one awning end in the event of rain. This prevents accumulating rain from pooling on the awning and stretching the fabric. Some newer rigs have an awning feature that will automatically lower one end of the awning when it rains. Nice, huh?
- Don’t retract a wet awning. I know that sometimes it just can’t be helped. But for most situations, it’s best to wait until the awning is completely dry before you roll it up. Why? A wet awning can mold or mildew, which may shorten the life of the fabric. Working with a wet awning may cause the fabric to stretch and weaken, so avoid that, as well.
- Secure the awning when traveling. This seems like a no-brainer, but we’ve all seen the “oops” videos of rigs rolling down the road with their extended awning still attached—at least for a while, until it flies off altogether.
- Watch where you park. Falling sticks, tree nuts, and even animals can poke holes in your RV’s awning. Parking away from trees can help protect and extend your awning’s life.
- Consider awning stabilizers. We don’t have these, but have been looking into getting some. Friends say they love their tie-downs because they really help support the awning. I am concerned that a stabilizer could exert more pressure to the awning’s metal supports. I want to hold off getting any tie-downs until I know more.
- Periodically check the awning. As you might imagine, fixing a small hole or tear is much easier than a larger rip. And fixing that small tear may very well prevent a larger and more costly rip from happening.
No awning will last forever, no matter how well you care for it. Hopefully with a few precautions and maintenance tips yours will enjoy a long life.
As far as a tie-down, we use these instead. Now, we do have a manual awning and you do need (or at least we do!) a stool which we carry anyway to put them on and off, but they work well even in a stiff breeze and don’t let the fabric flap. Just FYI.
Haven’t needed to remove the awning to apply the tape and my 8″ tear is on its 6th season after the tape job. That tape has come in handy for other repairs and I think it might be the strongest, most useful tape in my arsenal.
John, Snoopy, and Fitwellman all answered my question. I see no reason to remove the awning to make a repair as long as you do it as quickly as possible after noticing the damage. I also believe any tape would be just a temporary repair. A needle and thread would be a better option.
As for stabilizers, we ripped an awning that way. Great for manual awnings with arms along the sides of the fabric, but newer powered awnings don’t have them. The roller support arms are designed to flex some with the wind, and when anchored will shift all the wind force to the fabric. I’ve been tempted to buy or build the after-market rods that go between the RV wall and the roller arms. But they require ladder work to put up and more importantly take down. Plus you have to store them someplace.
The (Dometic-brand) awning on our 17′ TT is frustrating. If it’s raining, the only real protected area is right at the doorway. That can be helpful, but we set up a separate structure for sun and rain protection – but usually sitting in a campsite is prettier than in the parking pad.
Rolling it up dry is good advice – ours just doesn’t stay that way if it rains. The water works its way to the center of the awning. We clean the mildew at least a couple of times a year, but have realized that it’s a losing battle.
I place a vinyl gutter over the the top of the awning when the camper is parked in the driveway between uses and this keeps the awning dry and mildew free. It is only good for “storage times” but works well. Place the thin edge of the gutter into the rain channel on the roof line and that moves rainwater into the rain channel away from the awning. Don’t try to drive even a short distance with this in place…don’t ask.
Nice try, but NO tape is permanent. It’s far better to sew the rip shut using heavy duty waxed thread and a baseball stich. The tape will only stay on for a short time, and when it comes off it’ll just aggravate the problem.
A lot less work to simply apply the repair tape while the awning is still attached to the RV. What am I missing here that necessitated removing it?
I suppose it all depends on where the tear is? On my F/R 34QS there is no way I would take off my awning!!!
Agreed. I’ve done several repairs by adjusting the awning so that the area needing repair is near the roller allowing me to put sufficient pressure on the tape to insure adhesion.