Black knobs -- Use pure silicon spray only on awning parts....never WD40, machine oils, etc. Don't ever spray anything into brake mechanism. Spray inside of arms w/silicone. Only two points for lubrication are inside of slider arms and black knobs. Painted arms will slide more easily than unpainted aluminum arms. It typically takes 750 to 1100 pounds of water to break an awning. Do whatever is needed to make the water run off. In a light rain you can lower one side of the awning. If the rain gets heavier close the awning and put it away. In set up, put as much tension on it as possible on the canopy so that it is taut, and can better resist airflow flutter.
When awning is extended, some folks use hurricane straps. Straps are to keep awning from flying up. Need at least one, and better 2, springs at the tie down point. Tie straight down, not out at an angle. Many RVers use awning clamps. Purpose is to stop airflow/flutter.
Rain "dip" -- i.e., positioning one end of the awning considerably higher than the other to facilitate rain runoff: An inch isn't enough. Beware half moon tears if clearance above the doorway is impaired. If you're going to be away, roll it up! When you go to bed, put the awning away too! Worst possible time to raise awning is when the wind is blowing! Put awning up when you're away EVEN IF you use hurricane straps! How much wind can it stand? Steady windsare less troublesome. Gusts hurt. 15-20 mph gusts not a problem, but much above that can be a problem.
Pulling arms out versus staking them into the ground. Better to leave them connected to the bottom brackets, as it will provide a stronger support.
Make sure when you roll the awning up that it is locked in place. Try pulling it out. It's possible for the brake NOT to work. They don't physically latch, but rely on brake to control it.
Don't use ANY household cleaning products. Get a vinyl cleaner...Starbright, etc. Vinyl attracts mildewhich can destroy fabric. Pitch is a problem: try ice cubes, made it brittle, then break them off. No known cleaners for tree sap for either vinyl or acrylic. Clean awning top & bottom at least every 60 days.
Clean your awning frequently. Wipe everything you can reach and use silicone spray on those parts you cannot reach. Silicone will help your awning roll more smoothly. At frequent intervals, tighten all the various awning nuts, as traveling will cause them to loosen. Do not tighten them until they will not come loose, just finger tighten them and then back off just a bit.
Every two or three weeks, you should wash your awning. Don’t wait for it to look dirty, or it will be harder to clean. When washing your awning, first brush off the loose dirt and hose the awning down. Then apply natural soap, not detergent or commercial awning cleaners, using a clean soft bristle brush. For stubborn stains, use 1/4 cup chlorine bleach in 1 1/2 gallons of water. Before rinsing, roll the awning up and let it stand for 10-15 minutes. then rinse very, very thoroughly. The air will quickly dry the awning.
Wash it, dry it, then roll it up and put it away. Next Spring use you'll see less of the 12' lines, which is dirt which washes to bottom of each role
Vinyl versus acrylic for the canopy? Vinyl positive: it doesn't leak. Acrylic positive: it's cooler. Negatives: Acrylic very slightly leaks. It "breathes", so moisture runs through it. Vinyl awnings are noticeably hotter underneath. Which lasts longer? It's a toss-up. Acrylic requires less care. But it does need care. Acrylic costs about $200 more per unit than vinyl.
Awnings and Weather
How much wind is too much wind for an awning? The practical guide is: if it is too windy for you to sit outside comfortably under the awning, it is probably too windy for the awning. [Note: experience also teaches one NOT to leave the awning extended if you're going to be away for any length of time. Winds can suddenly arise, and weaken or damage an awning exposed to significant winds.]
Do not allow the awning to collect rainwater. Do whatever is needed to make the water run off. In a light rain you can lower one side of the awning. If the rain gets heavier close the awning and put it away.
In short, treat your awning as carefully as you would other parts of your coach, and it will stay vibrant looking for a long time.
Hint: When closing the awning, do not allow the holding strap to roll up in the dead center of the awning, but “spiral” it closed. This will give you a tighter awning roll.