RV Awning Repair: Re-tensioning the Spring

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  • 1-2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-50
What You'll Need
Vice Grips
Rubber tubes or softeners for vice grip jaws
Cotter pin
Work gloves
What You'll Need
Vice Grips
Rubber tubes or softeners for vice grip jaws
Cotter pin
Work gloves

Repairing the awning on your RV doesn't have to be a difficult job. This is a step-by-step guide that will walk with you through re-tensioning the spring in your recreational vehicle's awning. It is assumed that you have already taken down the awning, released the tension and the torsion assembly, and replaced the locks and caps before re-tensioning the spring. But first, take a look at the tools and materials that you need to prepare for this job.

Step 1 – Prepare to Re-insert the Cotter Pin

When you release the tension in the spring, the cotter pin that is inserted in the holes in the awning arms are removed. The cotter pins are the ones that lock the spring tension securely while taking down the RV awning. Now that you are going to re-tension the spring, it's time to insert it back after you have reinstalled the torsion assembly.

First, get a hold of the tube with the aid of a pair of vice grips. Make sure to insert rubber tubes on the jaws of your vice grips or wrap it with rubber pieces so the tube's finish won't be scratched. Have someone ready to help you in re-inserting the cotter pin while you hold the tubes still.

Step 2 – Wind the Spring

Now that everything is in place for the cotter pin to be inserted, you will first need to wind the spring by the number of turns that is suited for your RV awning model or brand, and in the direction indicated in your tube's end cap. It's best to check your RV awning manual to determine the number of turns you'll need winding up your spring.

Generally, it will take six turns for awning lengths of 8 to 12 feet, seven turns for 13 to 14 feet, eight turns for 15 to 16 feet, 10 turns for 17 to 18 feet, 11 turns for 19 to 21 feet, and 12 turns for 22 to 25 feet. This, however, will still depend on the model of the RV awning that you own. Make sure to refer to your manual or contact the manufacturer if you're not certain.

Step 3 – Re-insert Cotter Pin

When you are done winding the spring, have your helper insert the cotter pin to hold that tension in the spring. Just like in process of releasing the tension, the cotter pin helps in holding or locking the spring to the desired tension.

Step 4 – Replace Arm and Bolt

When you are done with locking the desired spring tension, it's time to replace the arm and bolts. The arm and bolts were disassembled when you released the spring tension. Now that you're done with re-tensioning the spring, it's time to replace the awning arm on the end piece and put back the bolt and secure it using a wrench.

Step 5 – Re-install Awning

The last step is to reinstall the RV awning. It's best to have three people for this job. Two people will handle the awning arms, one at each end, while another one will feed the cord into your awning rail.

Just like that, your awning is back in action. You'll be sitting cool in the shade!

RV Awning Repair: Re-tensioning the Spring FAQ

How do you fix a sagging awning?

Awnings tend to start to sag over time as the fabric wears out but sometimes, awnings can sag for other reasons that can be fixed.

An awning can sag due to moisture. Leave the awning fully extended so that it may dry thoroughly, then retract it and extend it a couple of times to see if it has returned to its original shape.

You can also tighten an awning, or re-tension it, if it has started to sag over time due to use.

Are RV awnings spring loaded?

RV awnings are made with tension springs that help to retract and expand the awning as needed.

Can you leave RV awning out in rain?

RV awnings are built to be somewhat sturdy but not to withstand heavy wind and rain damage. In other words, you should not leave an RV awning out in the rain.

Wind and moisture can create rips in the awning or even cause damage to the roller bar or support arms. All parts of the awning can potentially be damaged by the weather, so it's best to keep the awning out of the elements as much as possible.

What is the life expectancy of an RV awning?

On average, you can expect a typical TV awning to last five to 15 years before it needs to be replaced, depending on how much use it gets and how much damage it takes due to weather conditions in your area. Places with less rain, wind, and sun will see awnings with longer life spans than those that are constantly battered with harsher conditions.

How much does it cost to replace an RV awning?

Depending on the size of the awning you choose and what materials the awning is made from, you can spend anywhere from $200 to over $4,000 for an RV awning. It is typical to spend $1,000 to $2,000 on a brand-new RV awning.