RV Awning Tension Adjustment




About: Jack of All Trades, Master of One: Being Me!

Has your RV awning been sagging?

Has it had a lot of water pooled in it, or maybe it is just somewhat old? Does it struggle to roll up tightly or straight? It might be time to adjust the tension. This is a quick and easy fix that requires just a few tools and a helper. Let's get to it!


Step 1: Tools Required

  1. An RV with a manual awning
  2. Pole to pull the awning down
  3. At least 1 ladder (6' tall is good)
  4. A second ladder is helpful
  5. A screwdriver - possibly with a special head (I used a #2 square head)
  6. A helper
  7. 15 spare minutes

Step 2: Bring It Down

Lower the awning completely.

For most people, you need to first flip the release switch from "up" to "down." Mine is located at the top of the front of the awning roll. It's useful to have a long pole with a curved end to do this.

Step 3: Give Yourself Some Room

The awning leg consists of two sections. Let's raise that upper section up a bit. This should also pull the support arm out from the side of the camper as it is connected to the upper section of the leg.

Step 4: Free the Stop

As mentioned, the upper arm is stuck in the channel of the upper leg section. There should be a set of screws as the base of the channel preventing the support arm "stop" from leaving that channel. Remove those screws and the support arm should come out of the channel. Note, I needed a #2 square head, but your screws might be different.

Step 5: Let It Hang

The support arm should now hang freely at the side of the RV.

Step 6: Stand Up the Legs

Go to the back awning leg and raise the upper section quite a bit.

Now, detach the front awning leg from the side of the RV and stand it up. Without the support arm in place, the leg will want to fall down. This is where your helper comes in handy!

Step 7: Prop Up the Awning

Set the awning pole on top of a ladder so the entire leg can swing around freely. As seen in the picture, I had to use a block on top of the ladder to get enough height. My helper is also holding the awning down so it doesn't fall off of the ladder.

Step 8: Swing It Around - Part 1

Here is where a second ladder becomes useful. Standing at the front of the awning and facing the rear, you need to rotate the front awning leg counter-clockwise. Since this is the side with the ratchet catch, the awning might try to roll up on you some - just tell your helper to hold it tighter. Eventually, you should get it to rotate all the way around. Only do this once or twice, depending upon how loose your awning is.

Step 9: Swing It Around - Part 2

Now, we need to do the same for the other awning leg. So reattach the front leg to the side of the RV and raise it up a bit. Lower the rear leg, detach it from the RV, and prop it up on the ladder like we did for the front leg in the previous steps.

You should now be at the rear of the awning facing the front. Rotate this leg clockwise as many times as you did the front leg.

Step 10: Test the Tension

We should test the tension before doing anything else. Reattach the rear awning leg, and lower both leg sections completely. You can leave the support arms hanging freely, but it might help to simply slide the stops back into the leg channel. You do not need to put the screws back in. Roll the awning back up to observe how tight it is.

If you are satisfied, move on. If not, then repeat the previous steps. Only rotate the legs one or two turns at a time, and don't do more than 4 or 5 total. If you over tighten the spring, it will break!

Step 11: Put It Back Together

When you are satisfied with the tension, put everything back together. Make sure both legs are attached to the side of the RV, reinsert the "stops" into the upper leg section channels, return the screws, and lower the legs completely.

Step 12: Admire Your Work

Your awning is now ready to be rolled back up or put to use. In either case, I hope you enjoy your additional awning tension. As always, happy camping!



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11 Discussions


Question 6 weeks ago on Step 7

I can't get my awning to stay down, and the up and,down are now in the,back?


Question 1 year ago on Introduction

I replaced the fabric on my awning but have no tension at all to roll it up can I do what you said to do to get enough tension to roll it up

1 answer
Kurt E. ClothierBoC10

Answer 11 months ago

I would imagine so. Being a new fabric, it should be tighter than what you replaced. The old one was likely sagging down and pulling the arms down with it. However, I'd think you would have at least some tension unless you messed up the spring when you were replacing the fabric. Be careful if you mess with that at all - it can shoot out the side of the awning at you and cause serious damage!


11 months ago

Quick question you might be able to help. I have a bit of a problem with the release lever. I have no problem flipping this to open up the awning, but when I goto close the awning, I have to fight to flip the lever over to release the drum so it can roll up. When the wind comes up, I am worried I will not be able to flip it in time. Sometimes I need to get a pair of pliers to do it. Any ideas??

1 reply
Kurt E. Clothierreichert99

Reply 11 months ago

I had the same problem as well. It sometimes helped to slightly pull down on the awning roll manually to release tension on the mechanism before the switch would flip. Often, I had to hang on to the awning with one hand and hit the switch with something to get it to go. Never fixed that issue... Good luck!


1 year ago

Kurt l did not have the square tool to take off the stops so l took off the top caps.

Not a problem for the right side with the cam but a drama for the left side as the torsion spring completely unwound. Not sure what to do now. Can you help please.

1 reply
Kurt E. ClothierMburmist

Reply 1 year ago

Hi, I'm sorry I can't help you with that issue. I made this guide because you should never mess with the springs directly unless you really know what you're doing. You can damage the mechanisms, or worse, really hurt yourself if the spring or parts shoot out of the channel. You will have to find someone who can help you in person; it's not always an easy fix.


2 years ago

For new campers: RV & awning manufacturers will tell you that awnings are only for shading you from sun. They are not built for rain or wind protection. Roll those awnings in during bad weather in order to keep your warranty intact and to keep your family & pets safe.

1 reply
Kurt E. Clothierparisusa

Reply 2 years ago

Very true; although, with proper tie-downs and staking, I've never had a problem with wind or rain. Having one side of the awning raised higher than the other usually prevents the water from pooling. However, when the wind does really pick up, I always roll it back up. From what I've seen, the newer (and often automatic) awnings definitely aren't as sturdy as these older models.


2 years ago

well written, good job. Now I just need to get an RV. :)

1 reply
Kurt E. ClothierLorddrake

Reply 2 years ago

Thank you! Of course, if you get a newer RV, the awnings will likely be automatic and work from a simple button. Thus, my guide won't be much help. Some of them even automatically roll up when they since strong wind.