– Should I Tow My Camper Home With a “Broken-Awning” ?

My wife took out the chainsaw to cut the branches of trees sticking out of the street after I crossed them and caused damage to the motorhome.
Sometimes things on the motorhome break. The awning is no exception.

If the awning breaks, is it safe to drive the motorhome or tow it home? No, don’t go home with a broken retractable awning. The retractable awnings of motorhomes and caravans are held on the side of the vehicle by the pressure of a spring or by the motor if it is an electric awning. If one of the components is damaged, the awning can take place while driving. The awning and its supports can be torn off by the camper, which turns them into a dangerous projectile for the cars behind you.

Awnings are awesome: they extend the useful space of your motorhome by offering you shelter from the sun and rain. They also extend a little more than the rest of the motorhome and can sometimes crash or get stuck in a tree or sign.

How are the awnings damaged?
Motor home awnings can be damaged in several ways. They can be destroyed by strong gusts of wind, tearing the canvas, bending the supports, breaking the gears and torsion springs, or when they are left open in the rain. Water collects in the canvas until something breaks, usually by bending and twisting the metal parts of the awning. Tubes and side supports can also be damaged by hitting something and crushing or bending the tube or supports.

Sometimes things get broken
The awnings are fitted with springs, gears and motors if it is a motorized awning and the component wears out and eventually breaks. The canvas can also wear out when beating or rotting.

The wind can deploy an awning
While researching this article, I found several articles in which motorhomes whose awnings had been torn off by a strong wind which hit the side of the vehicle while it was traveling on the road. In these cases, the wind was strong enough to overcome the resistance of the engine or break the gears of the tube by pulling the canvas while the wind was deflected to the side and under the awning.

How to avoid breaking your awning
Most canopy breaks could have been prevented by taking a few basic steps and safety precautions. By taking your time, you will save time and money.

To save your awning from the wind, keep it rolled up when you leave the camp. The wind may be calm when you leave, but the weather may change. If you are not at the campsite to roll up the awning when the wind picks up, you may come back to find it folded and broken. A folded and broken canopy that beats in the wind could cause additional damage to the sides, roof and could even break a window.

If you like to take the awning out and leave it outside, using an anchor kit like this on Amazon will help prevent the wind from overloading the awning structure. The anchor kit will not protect the awning from all winds and you will still need to store it if a storm arrives.

Deflate to save the canvas
Deflectors are clips that hang onto the fabric to secure the metal frame to prevent the fabric from flapping. The flapping of the canvas accelerates its wear. The deflectors reduce the wear of the awning fabric by preventing it from flapping in the wind. They will not prevent damage caused by very strong winds, but will prevent the wear of the fabric from tearing in a light breeze.

Stay dry in the rain
If you are using the awning to protect yourself from the rain, place a lower side to allow the water to drain and not accumulate on the canvas. It is up to you to choose the side that suits you best, but take into account where you are sitting and the slope of the ground to hopefully avoid a river of water flowing between your feet. Your access door can determine which side will be tilted down.

Do not store the wet awning either, if you have to put it away while it is still damp or wet, be sure to open it when you get home to let it dry. If you store your awning while it is still wet, you risk causing mold, algae and dry rot. A rotten awning is more likely to tear.

During towing
Before setting off, make sure that the awning is properly stored for your model and that all the buttons are tight and that the rewind lever is rolled up. The fabric should be tight and smooth around the tube. An awning lock like Camco’s can also be used to prevent a gust of wind from unwinding the awning.

In narrow places
Go slowly and use an observer for maneuvers in tight spaces. The observer must also monitor the inclination of the ground. The uneven ground can tip the top of the motorhome toward an obstacle from which the bottom of the motorhome is clear.

What to do if your awning has been damaged?
Your awning has been damaged and cannot be rolled up or unwound; it is best to remove it before continuing your journey. If the damage is minor and the awning can be stored and securely attached to the side of the motorhome, or if you have an awning lock, you may be able to avoid removing it.

If the tube is strongly bent or if the side supports do not close completely on the side of the motorhome, the fabric will not wrap well around the tube, the awning must be removed. An awning in this state is likely to unfold completely down the highway.

Get photos
Remember to take photos of the damage before removing the awning. You will need it if you decide to file a claim with insurance.

Dismantling the awning
It will take at least two people to remove the awning. Three people could be better. Start by disconnecting the side supports with a wrench. Your assistants will need to hold the sides while they are removed. If the upper edge is not damaged, you can slide the canvas by walking towards the rear of the motorhome. Depending on the damage, you may not be able to slide if this is the case, you will have to cut the motorhome awning.

If you cannot remove the awning, you should either seek motorhome repair service yourself or call the nearest motorhome dealer for assistance.

Why do I have to remove the awning?
Once the awning tube is damaged or the side supports are folded, the awning will not roll up tightly. The locking mechanisms, gears and / or torsion springs that hold the awning in the storage position may be broken or bent and may not be able to keep the awning properly stored.

If the awning comes out of its storage position while you are traveling 60 or 70 miles per hour on the highway, the force of the wind could detach the fabric by breaking the gears or weakened springs. The unwinding of the canvas will create a sail that will tear off the awning and support it outside the motorhome and in traffic.

If the fabric tears where it fixes the roof of the motorhome, even a little, it can continue to tear while driving and nothing can hold the tube to the roof of the motorhome. The side support alone will not be enough to prevent the tube from falling to the ground and becoming a projectile for the cars around you.

How much does a new awning cost?
A new awning with canvas and side supports can cost up to $ 2,500. When we came across a telephone pole, crushing the awning tube, the total repair cost over $ 3,800. The new awning cost about half that amount. The rest was used to replace part of the covering and a new gutter. We filed a claim with insurance and had it repaired at the dealership.

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