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After a few years, or sooner if your awning sees heavy use, your RV awning may start to look a little limp or saggy. In most cases, readjusting the tension in the springs solves the problem. The process is fairly simple, but having someone to assist you in making the adjustments makes it easier. You’ll need a screwdriver and something, like a ladder, to support the awning as you work on it.
First: Free the Support Arms
Lower the leading edge, or roller tube, as close to the ground as possible. Look for the screws that hold the two sections of each of the support arms together. The support arms are the sections of aluminum (in most cases) that lead from the front corners of the roller tube back to the trailer and hold the awning up when it’s open. The screws should be close to the trailer’s body and should attach the support arm to what’s called the tension arm. Remove the screws and slip the section of support arm out of the section near the trailer, so it’s free of everything but the roller tube. There should be a tension knob on the tension arm. Tighten it so the tension arm stays in place.
Second: Tighten the Springs
Once the arms are free, rest the center of the roller tube on something like a six-foot ladder that will support the awning and that is tall enough for you to put the support arms in an upright position with a little bit of ground clearance. At this point, having an extra pair of hands to help will make the process much easier. Ask your assistant to hold the support arm you’re not working on upright and steady.
Rotate the support arm at the front end of the awning counterclockwise one complete turn. Don’t over-tighten. Unfortunately, you can’t be certain at this point that you’ve tightened the awning sufficiently. Repeat the process with the rear support arm, but rotate it clockwise, rather than counterclockwise, one turn.
Third: Put Your Awning Back Together
Loosen the tension knob you tightened at the beginning of the process. Slip the end of the support arm back into the tension arm and tighten the screws. Once you’ve reassembled both arms, check the awning tension. If it’s suitable, you’re finished. If not, you’ll need to repeat the process of freeing the arms and turning them to tighten the springs.
Awning Tension Tips
Your awning may have arrows at the ends of the roller tube that indicate which way to rotate the arms.
Some DIYers prefer to adjust the tension in each arm separately, rather than releasing both at the same time. This method may be slightly less effective, but it’s easier if you have no one to help.
If you don’t have a helper, slip the end of the support arm you’re not working on into a hole in a cinder block, or devise a different method for keeping it upright.
If your awning support arms have more than two sections, the process is the same.
Native New Yorker Meg Jernigan stayed in Washington, D.C. after attending the George Washington University, and worked in the tourism industry with the National Park Service for many years. She has extensive experience in tent and RV camping, hiking, backcountry exploration and cycling.