What’s the first thing you do to your RV when heavy rain or wind is coming? If you’re like me, chances are the RV awning is the first thing that gets put away. The reason is simple, the RV awning, and its fabric, can easily become a sail. This can be a problem for the camper or cause an issue with the awning which needs a repair.
Your RV awning is made of lightweight materials (such as aluminum) and an awning fabric (usually vinyl). Any issue, such as windy weather, can cause bending and twisting to your awning, resulting in it rolling up crooked. This post will review the common problem of why your RV awning rolls up crooked and what you can do to repair it, including:
- Awning Fabric Alignment
- Support Arm Crooked
If you have read my previous posts, you will know I always like to start with the most common problem and easy fix. In this case, let’s start by looking at the awning fabric alignment.
Table of Contents
Since the fabric is the largest component in the awning, it is usually the weakest link when there is an awning problem.
Awning Fabric Alignment
Next time there is rain or wind, look around the RV park at some awnings. You will notice that the awning material doesn’t take much wind to move up and down. Chances are that the awning is designed to take some of this movement. However, after months of this movement or if a strong wind comes, this can cause a small tear in the fabric or stretch.
Since your retractable awning works on the tension on the fabric, if there is any misalignment, it will cause the awning to roll up crooked. And with several feet long awnings, it doesn’t take much force where the awning will need adjustments. Even a shorter slide awning can easily move in the wind.
The first thing to check is the connection of the awning fabric to the roller end. An easy way is to get a ladder and check the end of the awning while it is fully extended.
Inspect the set screw at the awning rail. Confirm that the set screw is still secure. Also, check to see if there is a small tear or rip anywhere along the roller end. Any sign of stretching will cause the tension to be different and can cause the awning to roll up crooked.
If you see any signs of a loose connection or the awning is not aligned correctly on the roller end, try repositioning the fabric so it is in the correct spot. You may have some debris in the awning tube, and this would be a good time to clean it out. If there is too much tension on the awning to make any adjustment, retract the awning slightly to ease up the tightness.
If you have a manual awning, turn the screw by hand back a little until the tension is gone. You don’t want to retract too far as the awning tube gets wrapped around with fabric and you can’t access the set screw.
If you can’t adjust, the next best bet may be to take to your RV dealer. They can take down the entire awning system and re-align it for you.
Support Arm Crooked
The next potential cause of this issue is that the support arm could be crooked. Do you remember our examples of wind and rain causing the awning to stretch or tear? Well, the awning arm could also bend or become damaged in bad weather.
After you confirm that the awning fabric is in good shape and all adjustments made, the next step is to check the support arm. Look for any signs of bent metal or twisting. This material is usually aluminum and is durable. But aluminum can easily twist and bend, especially if the support arm is forced to move side-to-side.
Besides bad weather, another thing that causes a support arm to be crooked is human error. I remember one camper I had; the support arm had just under 6 feet of clearance. Being a taller guy, I can’t count how many times I hit my head on that thing!
Or, there are times when we used the support arm as a drying rack. It’s true; using a support arm to dry your swimsuit is not bad. But the problem is that I forgot to remove the swimsuits and turn on the motor to retract the awning. This resulted in a wad of clothes in my support arm, which could easily cause some damage.
An easy way to check if your support arm is crooked is to observe how the awning extends as the motor operates the awning. Do the arms extend out freely? Look at both the left side and the right side of the awning. Is there any binding or sticking as the awning extends? If so, you may have a bent support arm. And since the awning system uses the fabric’s tension, if the support arms don’t extend evenly, you will get an awning to roll up crooked.
Once you pinpoint the bent support arm, try to straighten it or see if you can get a replacement piece. As you try to straighten it, do it little by little. And check that you are on the right path by using the motor to bring in the awning and extend it to see if it is improving. What you want to try to avoid is making it more crooked and being a bigger problem.
Whether you have a manual awning or an electric awning, wind or rain can easily cause damage to it. Any issue with your awning fabric will result in unequal tension, causing your RV awning to roll up crooked. Also, a crooked support arm can easily be damaged, either by weather or human activities. Check your awning for a crooked support arm, and either straighten or replace it. Keep checking as you straighten as you don’t want to cause the awning to be even more crooked.
Tony is an avid camper and RV traveler. He fell in love with camping on his first RV trip with his wife over 25 years ago. Tony loves sharing lessons learned and tips about RV maintenance and safe traveling.