A retractable awning for your deck or patio is a large investment. Like any large investment, you want to make sure that you are getting the most for your money. Maintaining your retractable awning correctly will help ensure you do just that. The following are the three main categories of maintenance to help protect your investment.

Installation

While this is not technically maintenance, your awning should be checked to make sure that it is firmly and properly attached to the structure. If the product is not attached correctly, it could cause serious damage or injury.

Additionally, many times we will receive calls because “the awning is lower” and find out that it is not a mechanical problem, but an installation issue. This aspect definitely needs to be on the maintenance check list.

Operation

While many retractable awnings are sold as “maintenance free”, it stands to reason that a motorized mechanical product be checked and adjusted from time to time. The basic operation of the product should be monitored. Adjustments can be made to ensure that arms come in evenly and the pitch of the awning is desirable.

After several seasons, the motor limits—the position the awning moves to before the motor turns off automatically—may need to be adjusted. With use and time, the fabric will stretch slightly. In the case that this stretching causes the arms to be fully extended beyond the proper point, there can be negative results. The motor will need to work harder to start the awning back in. This can prematurely wear out your motor. Also, the fabric may not be tight when the awning is out all the way. This could cause the fabric to allow water to pool and further stretch out the fabric. If the “in” limit is not correct, more fabric can be exposed than necessary, leading to additional wear on the fabric.

Fabric

This aspect of care is the hardest to address. Maintaining and cleaning your fabric is very important. If done correctly, the “maintenance” can destroy the fabric. While professional awning companies will utilize chemicals and high pressure water, these techniques, in my humble opinion, should be reserved for professionals. I strongly suggest that awning owners spray off their fabric on a routine basis. If there is a small stain, using a basic dish or laundry soap and light scrub brush should get the stain out. One neat trick is to recognize that the top of the fabric rolls over to the bottom as the awning retracts. This can provide access to those fun bird poop stains.

In the Chicagoland area, the biggest obstacle to keeping your fabric clean is snow sitting on the top six inches of the fabric. This can be easily solved by purchasing and installing a winter cover for the winter months. As a side note, I do not recommend metal “hoods” that sit above the awning for this purpose. The Chicagoland snow simply does not fall straight down to the ground. It blows all over and ends up packed under the hood defeating the purpose.

Maintaining your awnings is important. Make sure that you buy your awning from a company that can stand behind the product they sell you.