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Most Common Problems with Retractable Awnings

Retractable awnings provide great protection from elements like the sun and light rain. With regular use, retractable awning problems can begin to arise. If you have encountered any issues with retractable awnings, this blog on awning troubleshooting will show current and prospective awning owners some common awning troubles and some easy repairs for them.

Table of Contents

  • Knocking or Cracking
  • The fabric of the awning sags
  • The motorized awning stopped working
  • Fungus or Mold
  • Wind Issues
  • Damage from the Sun
  • Damage from Snow
  • Damage from Rain
  • Bees and Other Insects
  • Squirrels, rats, possums, bird nesting
  • Conclusion

Knocking or Cracking

One very common problem with an outdoor awning is that you may begin to hear knocking or cracking noises. Many awning owners fear that this is a sign of a significant malfunction in their awning.

Often this is a result of the awning brackets not being tight. Make sure the torsion or square bar is securely seated in the mounting brackets and then tighten the mounting bolt to draw the locking lip entirely over the bar.

The fabric of the awning sags

When your awning is overextended, the fabric of your retractable awning may begin to sag or get loose. The solution is to reverse the direction of cranking until the fabric is tight again. 

In addition to reverse cranking, it is important to take note of how the fabric is rolling. To keep the fabric taught, make sure it is rolling over the top of the roller tube as opposed to underneath the tube.

The motorized awning stopped working

A motorized awning adds convenience, but also adds parts that can fail. If you find that your motorized awning has stopped functioning there is actually a pretty simple fix.

Most motors of the automated awning or electric awning contain a built-in thermal override to prevent the motor from overheating during excessive use. If your automated awning stops working, wait 10 to 15 minutes to let the motor cool off, and the awning should work properly again. If this does not solve the issue, check the batteries in the remote control or wireless wall switch and also check the electrical circuit breaker panel.

Fungus or Mold

The insidious growth of mold is one of the biggest enemies of a fabric awning. The combination of water and heat that awnings are exposed to can create fertile ground for mold growth.

At the first sign of mold growth, removal of mold on awnings can be accomplished by spraying your awning completely with a hose and then applying a mildew remover. Allow the awning to dry completely before retracting or closing it.

Wind Issues

Because retractable awnings are designed to be closed if needed, they cannot withstand anything more than the lightest breezes. It is essential to retract your awnings in strong winds

You should always retract your awnings when you are away from home to prevent damage from a sudden storm or gust of wind. A great addition to any electric retractable awnings system is an automated anemometer wind sensor or motion sensor that will retract the awning when winds get too strong.

Damage from the Sun

Sun damage to an awning is almost inevitable. Over time this can cause the fabric of your awning to fade. Keeping your awnings clean can slow this process. Sweep the awnings to remove debris and dust and then use a hose with mild soap to finish the cleaning process. Do not use a pressure washer as this will make holes and/or rip the fabric thus voiding the fabric warranty.

Damage from Snow

The accumulation of snow on your awning can cause severe damage such as tearing the fabric, bending the frame, as well as damaging moving parts. At the first sign of snowfall, remove any snow that may have accumulated promptly. Once that is done, retract the awning to protect it from any further damage from snow accumulation.

Damage from Rain

Retractable awnings should not only protect from the sun but from light rain as well. The problem can be if your awning is not repelling the water properly and water begins to pool on the fabric. This is usually caused by not having enough pitch or angle on the arms and fabric. If you notice water beginning to pool you have two options. If possible, pitch your awning down further to prevent pooling or if that fails to solve the issue, retract the awning immediately.

Bees and Other Insects

The cozy corners of your roof and an extended awning make an excellent place for a beehive. The problem is the hive can cause damage to all the parts of your awning not to mention posing a danger to you. The best solution is to keep the awning retracted when not in use. 

Another helpful tip is to avoid leaving food, drinks and trash out on your patio or yard as these are the types of things insects feed upon. If these preventative measures have not stopped bees from building a hive, always call a professional to deal with an established beehive.

Squirrels, rats, possums, bird nesting

When it comes to critters that might find your awning a cozy place to live, bees are not the only problem. All sorts of animals would love to nest in your awning protected from the elements.

The easiest solution is to keep your awning closed when not in use. If you begin to see any rodent or bird nesting, remove it with a broom or hose immediately or if you feel uncomfortable doing that, call a professional promptly to remove the nest. Purchasing a fully enclosed, full cassette model will prevent birds from nesting and rodents from chewing the fabric.

So as you can see there are a number of issues that can affect your awning, but in all cases, the solutions are usually pretty simple. Below is a table that lists common issues and their solutions.

Knocking or crackingTighten the brackets that hold the awning in place
Fabric sagsReverse crank the awning until taught and make sure the fabric is rolling correctly over roller tube
Motor not workingWait 10 to 15 minutes for the automated motor to cool down
Fungus or moldClean with a broom or vacuum and then a hose with a mild mildew remover
WindKeep retracted when not in use and ideally add a wind or motion sensor to automatically close the awning in strong winds
SunKeep awning clean by sweeping then using water and a mild soap
SnowRemove any accumulated snow and then retract the awning 
RainPitch down or retract or retract the awning to keep water from pooling on the fabric
BeesLimit food sources for the bees and keep the awning retracted when not in use
NestingRemove nesting promptly and keep the awning retracted when not in use OR install a fully enclosed, full cassette awning


Awning owners can sometimes be overwhelmed by the question of how to fix a retractable awning, but as you can see the solutions are usually quite simple. Most awning problems can be solved with a good amount of preventative measures in combination with simple common sense solutions.

If you are a current awning owner or are considering an awning but are unsure of the product that is right for you, has the information you need. Take a look at the product reviews on the website that can walk you through both the pros and cons of a variety of awning products, as well as a thorough walkthrough of common problems owners face with the products in question and recommended solutions for the problems.