RV Awning Common Problems and How to Solve Them

One of the most crucial parts of the camping experience is your RV awning. They do not only shield you and your belongings from the sun, wind, or rain, but they can also provide a pretty nice shade when you just want to sit back and relax. With the proper maintenance, you can extend the life of your awning, but even with the utmost care, awnings can suffer through wear and tear at some point.

One of the RV awnings you need to look out for is awning doesn’t retract or extend. You also need to look out for cracking material, splitting seams, mildew build-up, and fabric stretching. Also, the RV awning fabric can stretch over time and can be damaged by different elements. Lastly, you also need to be aware of the environmental factors that can pertain to damaging your awning.

Knowing what problems you may experience with your RV awning is important. It doesn’t hurt always to be ready, especially when it comes to your RV parts. In this article, I will talk about the common problems you need to look out for when your RV awning. I will also discuss the different things that you can do to help keep your awning in its best shape.

Some of the Common Problems that You Need to Look Out For

There are plenty of things that can go wrong when it comes to your RV awning. They are notorious when it comes to causing problems. There is plenty to watch out for when dealing with your RV awning, from forgetting to close them when you leave to mildew issues. Here are some of the common RV awning problems you need to look out for.

Awning Does Not Retract: Comes With a Mild Driving Hazard

It can be a bit annoying when your awning doesn’t retract, and it does come along with a mild driving hazard. When an awning doesn’t retract, it may cause you to deal with a few inconveniences when you are on your camping adventure. Non-retracting awnings are also the reasons to search for a recall. When nothing pops up, it’s time to start a few troubleshooting steps.

First, you would need to check if your awning is properly positioned on the rail. This goes for manual and electric awnings that have difficulty retracting when they are not positioned evenly on the RV’s rail. If you don’t have the awning arms stretching the fabric evenly to keep things parallel, then you may have to call a service group or manually shift the awning to fix it.

Second, you need to check the screws on your awning chords. If you are able to move the awning’s chords, then it is not too good of a sign. This means that your chords’ screws are loos and can interfere with your awning retracting.

Third, check if your awning’s arms are moving. When they are not moving parallel to each other and working smoothly, this could be a sign that you need an awning arm repair. If they are just rusty, WD-40 would be a great help to make your awning arm work smoothly.

Fourth, it is time to take a look at your awning’s fabric. When you leave your awning open during heavy rains, there is a chance that your fabric may be warped as a result of water and debris accumulation. The only way to fix warped fabric is to replace the awning’s fabric.

Fifth, check the awning’s fuses, circuit breakers, and wiring. Electrical issues can also be the reason why you are unable to retract your awning. At this point, it is best to contact a service group to help you resolve the problem.

Sixth and last, when your motor is running, and you don’t see any improvement, it is best to get a professional to check the motor. There might be a broken piece or something else entirely. With that said, these situations are highly unusual, and you might not experience them at all.

The Awning Will Not Extend: A Common Problem

There are two major problems with a stuck awning: they don’t retract, or they don’t extend. When an awning doesn’t extend, you won’t get the shade that you want while you are camping. Before you start poking around your awning, it is best to see whether your awning has been recalled.

There are some awnings that are made from poorly manufactured parts, which can be the root cause of the awning’s malfunction. When your awning has a recall, you can get repairs for free. There are some troubleshooting steps that you can do to see if you can resolve the problem.

First, check the circuit breakers and fuses. When you don’t hear any function at all, make sure that you check the awning’s fuse as it might be broken. If the fuse is stable, you need to take a look at the electrical equipment in your RV’s motor.

Second, you need to look for any visible corroded wiring in or around your awning’s motor. Now, your motor won’t work when the electrical current powering isn’t carried efficiently. Bad wiring may be to blame for the awning’s malfunction if you see any frayed or corroded wires.

Third, check and see if your awning is improperly loaded. When awnings are not properly rolled into their tube evenly, they will not be able to extend properly. With this, it can result in an awning jam.

Fourth, press the awning motor button, and if the motor is running but not retracting, try to manually roll out the awning from the tube while you hold the extension button. Rain is one of the causes of the awning’s parts corroding, which will make it difficult for the motor to work at its full capacity. To shake the rust loose, a full pull will be enough.

Fifth and last, when the motor is running, and you hear a faint click, it could be because of stripped screw or motor issue. At this point, you would need professional care since it involves replacing important motor parts with a high degree of skill as well as accuracy.

Cracking Materials on Your Awning

If you see any cracks in the fabric or if it’s torn or ripped, it can be easily be patched up. However, you are just delaying the inevitable. Once the crack begins, it is a sign that the awning fabric has aged due to exposure to different elements, and it will spring new cracks as long as you are using it.

Now, this is a good time to do a full inspection of your awning’s hardware. This would include the arms, mounting brackets, roller tube, and so much more. Checking the following hardware on your awning will make sure that it is still in good shape.

Signs of Splitting Seams on Awning

Just like deteriorating fabric on the awning, it is a definite sign of danger if you see your canopy coming apart at the seams. Now, the awning fabric is stitched to create the pockets that are needed to hold it to the side of the rig and onto the roller tube so you can retract or extend it. It is time to start shopping for a new awning when it begins to go.

Signs of Heavy Milder Build-Up

Now, mold and mildew will not cause your awning to lose function, but it can smell bad and can be hard to remove completely. Most cheaper awning materials are actually made from two pieces of fabric that are glued together. Mold or mildew can grow between the two layers, so no matter how hard you scrub or try to clean it off, you won’t be able to get it all out.

As we all know, mold and mildew are great health hazards that you don’t want to let hang around or spread to other areas of your rig.

The Awning Fabric Has Stretched Over Time

Whenever water collects on your RV awning during heavy rains, it will cause the fabric to stretch. With this, it can make the canopy droop or sag, which only makes it more likely to collect water. You can temporarily fix this by pulling it tighter, but the damage is pretty much already done.

It is best to get a new awning replacement at this point since no matter how much you pull it tighter, it will eventually drop or sag at some point.

The Style of Your Awning Looks Out of Date

You don’t want to be stuck on an old look when it comes to your RV awning. However, if you are a person that wants something retro on your rig, then you don’t have to worry about this one. Change is always good, and maybe it is the right time to choose a different color, style, or pattern.

Nowadays, current awnings look a lot better than those manufactured ten years ago. So, if you have an old awning and has been with you for years, it may be time to get a newer one.

Environmental Issues that You Need to Look Out For

There are plenty of outside influences that can affect the functionality of your awning. They can be wind, rain, snow, as well as animals and insects. There are plenty of ways that you can resolve these issues when it comes to your awning.

Strong winds can always take a toll on your awning. In order to prevent any wind-related breakage on your awning is to retract the sunshade during inclement weather conditions whenever it is not in use. You can also install an anemometer that will retract your awning automatically in case of high winds.

When it comes to rain and snow, it can pool down on your awning, which can result in stretching or even damage the fabric of your awning. Angle the shade to prevent further accumulation or retract your awning completely when this happens.

With animals and insects, they will do their best to try and get into your awning or make a home out of it. You must carefully remove any pest or critters on the awning and when it is not in use, make sure to retract the sunroof. When you do this, it can prevent any future nesting.

Damaged Fabric on Your RV Awning

Another common problem that you may experience on your retractable RV awning is damaged fabric. The damage can be a cause of different elements such as sun damage, fungus or mold, and rips or tears.

Sun damage can damage the fabric of your awning by fading. If this happens, try sweeping it off to remove any debris and then hose it down with soap to prevent any future fading from happening.

As I’ve mentioned above, fungus or mold can grow on your awning due to heat and water exposure. For you to remove fungus, spray the awning with a hose and apply a mildew remover. Make sure to wait for your awning to dry before you close it.

When the fabric is ripped or torn, you can use patches or special tapes for a temporary fix. You can also use a waterproof adhesive to seal any rips or torn; you just need to make sure to trim any threads first before applying the adhesives.

Blatant Damage: Best to Replace Your Awning

When there’s blatant damage that has occurred, it is best to replace your awning altogether. Remember that not all awnings age gracefully. Some have tree branches dropped on them, or some have other disappointing impacts that can cause material or mechanical damage to the awning.

In these situations, talking to an insurance company about the replacement of your awning may be needed. When the claim is made, chances are you will not have to replace the awning yourself. They will require an approved vendor or dealer to process the exchanging of the old awning and install a new one on your rig.

When to Repair or Replace Your RV Awning

When it comes to RV awnings, it can be quite a bit of stress, and it is really easy for small problems to become huge problems over time. Getting your awning repaired as early as possible is the best way to make sure that your awning will last for as long as possible.

If your awning is severely damaged, you might need to get it replaced instead. Either way, when you have an experienced RV technician, they will help you find the right solution to your RV awning problems.

Replacing Your RV Awning

Most of the time, you can replace your awning yourself. DIY RV awning replacement will require some helping hands from your friends or family members. Also, when replacing the awning on your RV, you want to make sure you know what you are doing.

There are plenty of replacement videos that you can watch to make sure that you are doing the right replacement process. However, if you are unsure that you can do the task, it is always better to contact a professional.

When Will an Awning Be Unfixable

Now, awnings may have a reputation for being prone to breaking, and it can be difficult to have an awning that is unfixable. Most awing parts can be either upgraded, replaced, or repaired. Unless the entire awning is destroyed most of the time, you will still have an awning that is worth fixing.

Maintaining Your RV Awning: Keeping it in the Best Shape Possible

To avoid the common problems that I have mentioned above, it is best to follow some of the tips I’ll be listing below. Proper maintenance of your awning is the first step to making sure that your awning is working properly.

Make it a Habit to Roll Up Your Awning When Traveling or Away

Whenever you are driving, don’t have your awning flying around. It will not only damage your awning, but it can be a huge safety hazard. Remember to roll it up before heading out to your next destination. When you have your awnings out, there can be a threat of high winds.

As I have mentioned above, when you leave out your awning unattended under the sun, it can cause excessive sun exposure leading to fading. Also, it is recommended to put their awnings away when going to bed.

Allow Your Awning to Dry Before Putting it Away

Rolling up your awning when it is wet can lead to major problems such as mildew, mold, staining, and deterioration. It is essential that you allow your awning to dry completely before you put it away after your adventure. When you put it away wet, you need to make sure to pull your awning out as soon as you get back home or as soon as you park into a campground or RV park.

Doing this will finish the drying process of your awning being completely putting it away.

Avoid Any Windy Weather Conditions

The number one thing that you need to look out for is wind. It is the number one cause of damage when it comes to your RV awnings. The reason for this is these simple fabric covers are not meant to withstand some of the strong winds that are usually found in different states like Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico.

If you are in a location where it’s storm season or windy days, it is best to keep your awning intact.

Invest in the Proper Tools for Your RV Awning

High winds are terrible when it comes to RV awnings, and you can increase the sunshade’s tolerance by investing in de-flapper clamps and awning stabilizer kits. When you use these items and pull the awning in during storms or when you are leaving the site, it will be less likely that your awning will experience wind damage.

Account for Water on Your RV Awning

Rainwater can easily gather and pool on top of the RV awning, which will quickly lead to different problems. When water is pooled, it can be heavy and can easily be the cause of rips or tears on the fabric. To avoid these problems, it is best to leave one corner of the awning a bit lower than the others while it is out.

Doing this will allow the rain to run off one side of the cover instead of pooling in the middle of the fabric.

Remember to Clean Your RV Awning Regularly

No RVer wants a dirty awning, especially when it means you would whiff a smell of mildew into your relaxation. For this exact reason, you should clean your awning on a regular basis. It can be done quickly and easily by spraying down the fabric with water. You may find some stubborn stains, and you might want to consider using awning-specific cleaners on those spots.

If you want an in-depth discussion about RV awning maintenance, I have written an articleOpens in a new tab. for you.

Different Types of RV Awning that You Should Know

There are two major awning materials, and they are acrylic and vinyl. The way you maintain your awning will depend on the material that your awning is made from which it’s constructed. Acrylic awnings are usually made from a petroleum-based product that is similar to plastic.

This type of material is naturally mold-resistant, but it can melt easily, and it is essentially the same fabric used in tent construction. Make sure to be careful when using a grill or space heater when you are under an acrylic awning.

Another common type of awning fabric is vinyl which is more likely to spawn an outbreak of mold. It is often coated in an anti-fungal agent. Now, you don’t want to damage this coating, so it is best to avoid using hard scrub brushes when you are cleaning a vinyl awning.


Is water considered to be dangerous for RV awnings? Yes, water can damage the awning fabric as the mechanisms allow it to extend and retract. Having said this, it is best to avoid storing your awning when it is still wet.

How can you prevent damage to your awnings? When you are not using your awning, it is best to keep them retracted. The less time they spend under the sun, wind, and other elements, the less likely they will break.

How to clean RV awnings? The best way to clean the underside of an awning is to wrap a microfiber towel around a broom, then use it to clean your awning. When you want to clean the top side, using a towel sprayed with a cleaning solvent on a broom can get the job done. Also, remember that your awning should be dry before you retract it.

Final Thoughts

Knowing the common problems of your RV awning is important since you can prevent them from happening in the future. If they do happen, it is best to know what you can do as an RVer to fix the problem before going to a professional. Proper care and maintenance are also the keys when it comes to making sure your RV awning will work at its best.

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