Dear RV Shrink:
This might sound petty, but my traveling partner and I are always arguing about rolling up the awning. In my opinion, RV awnings are not designed to be left out all the time. They seem flimsy, and any light wind makes them shake and rattle. The whole trailer rocks sometimes. I feel it is safer to roll the awning up if we are not going to be at the campsite.
My partner is always giving me a hard time when I insist we roll it up. Should I just give in and hope for the best? I hate acting like a “Nervous Nelly” all the time. If you can give me some advice to strengthen my argument or shut me up, I would be eternally grateful. —Rock or Roll in Raleigh
Stick to your guns, or make sure your insurance will cover damages. If you give in, at least make sure you use tie-downs. Over the years I can recall witnessing several awning disasters. With the popularity of the new scissors design, I think there will be even more claims submitted.
Don’t even think about tie-downs if you have an automatic awning with wind sensors. That will cause your awning motor to burn out. It takes less than a minute to manually roll up an RV awning. Why gamble?
Two of the disasters I have witnessed happened on beautiful, still days with not a wisp of wind. A phantom gust came out of nowhere and flipped the awnings up over the RV roof, ripping out the awning fasteners and smashing the roof vent and air conditioning shrouds. A quick weather event will not only destroy the awning, but also other parts on the RV.
I have saved many an awning while the owner was away. Some people have no clue, leaving the awning up without tilting it at one end. A short rainstorm will turn an awning into a pregnant whale before the weight of the water finally rips it away from the RV.
A 20 mph wind would make me nervous if my awning were at full sail. I want the peace of mind that it is all tucked away while I’m gone. A burst of wind is capable of blowing over a thousand dollars right out of your wallet before you even know what hit you.
The cost can also come slowly. Allowing your awning to constantly whip around in light wind will eventually destroy the bead that attaches the awning to the RV awning rail. Once that becomes degraded you will be looking at significant replacement cost.
Besides all the hassle of repairing damage, your argument should be based on economics. If you leave an awning up without a babysitter, it is not a question of if, it’s a question of when you will be dealing with damage.
While we are on the subject, another common problem with awnings is lack of use. I am not saying they need exercise, but they do need to breathe. A rolled-up awning is a condensation trap. If you don’t pull the awning out regularly and let it dry out, eventually it will rot to the point of replacement. Use it or lose it! —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink
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