An awning is a fantastic accessory to have in any motorhome, it can be used all year round for weather protection from the searing sun to pelting rain. In addition to acting as a protective barrier it defines your outside space and ultimately allows you to spend more time outdoors with the added benefit of protecting your interior from damaging sun rays and providing extra shade.
Seasoned motorhome owner Richard Ferris has been motorhoming around Ireland the UK and Europe for 30 years accumulating extensive motorhome knowledge during his travels. Having witnessed many costly repair jobs that could have possibly been avoided by simply taking a few careful measures, Richard shares some golden rules of awning care with us and we have also added a few tips or our own:
- First and foremost, if fitting an awning, you really need to know what you are doing. If it's not secured to the side of the motorhome with the correct supports to support the weight of the awning, you could cause significant damage to the side panel of your motorhome. We strongly having an awning professionally fitted by a qualified outfit with experience in this field.
- When you extend your awning, ensure it is firmly secured using a tie down system with pegs driven well into the ground (you'll need a small mallet or hammer for this). If the ground is too hard and doesn't allow for pegs, you may have to use hardened steel rock pegs.
- On Fiamma awnings it's possible to buy a detachable rafter that stiffens the complete structure and lessens the chance of rain lodging in puddles, helping to keep your awning in good nick. This is a worthwhile accessory to have.
- Do not leave your awning extended for long periods of time. Weather can change very quickly and if a strong gust of wind catches the sail area it can cause significant damage to the awning and in severe cases, the side of the motorhome. So, if in doubt - don't leave it out.
- Maintenance, cleaning your awning is essential to get years of trouble free use. Generally you will need to apply a soapy solution (according to the manufacturer’s instructions) to the top of your awning and let the solution saturate. Do not scrub, wind the awning in and let sit for 15-20 minutes. Extend the awning out fully and rinse both sides of the awning to remove and residue - do not blast rinse, a gentle rinse should suffice so you don't remove the water retardant finish. Inspect the awning to asses if further cleaning is required. If not, allow to dry completely and wind it in. For stubborn stains, avoid harsh scrubbing and never use abrasive cleaners, oil based cleaning agents or harsh chemicals.
- Mould and Mildew and stubborn stains - Vinyl awnings are mildew resistant but not necessarily mildew proof. To prevent mildew from forming you should hose off your awning regularly to remove dirt and loose particles, which is where mildew can form. Avoid rolling in your awning when it is not fully dry, if this is not possible, be vigilant and ensure to dry it out at your first opportunity.
We hope this advice potentially saves you hundreds of euros, and helps you get the most out of your awning, whatever the weather!