In Vermont, fall brings beautiful foliage colors, flavorful apples and crisp, cool, invigorating mornings. It also brings seasonal chores! It’s the time of year to wrap up any lingering outdoor projects and get weatherized and buttoned up for the coming winter. Here at Otter Creek, it means a fond farewell to another awning season (“Come back soon!”) and the opportunity to connect with past customers who call to inquire about the care of their awning.
Fortunately, awnings do not require a lot of maintenance; they are more or less a worry-free product and Otter Creek’s are the best of the best. Yet even the most durable materials can benefit from a little care and attention, enhancing appearance and extending the lifetime of the product:
Fall is a great time to clean the awning and the best way to make fabric last longest is to keep awnings clean. It is the best protection against mildew. Even on mildew-resistant fabric, mildew can grow on accumulated dirt or foreign materials, which will eventually stain the fabric. Don’t wait until awning is too dirty to clean. Wash the awning by brushing lightly with a cloth or soft brush. Use a solution of lukewarm water (at least a gallon) and non-detergent soap like Ivory or Dreft, found in the supermarket. IF your awning is made from Sunbrella fabric like Otter Creek’s Awnings, you can add 1 cup of bleach to the solution to kill mildew because Sunbrella is a color-fast fabric (don’t worry, we’ve tested this ourselves).
Do not overlook small rips or tears. Usually they can be handled on site with a repair tape manufactured specifically for different types of fabric.
- Wipe down the frame and hood with a sponge and some Simple Green or a similar solution (just don’t use a detergent on the fabric).
- Remove the valance of the awning and store it for the winter so it does not get weather beaten. To remove: use a screwdriver to take off the plastic end cap of the front bar. Loosen the screws inside the track on each end of the valance, using a screwdriver or an allen wrench depending on the type of screw. Slide the valance out of the track and replace the end cap. Be sure to store the screws from the track in a safe place- we get a few calls every year from people who’ve lost them. ROLL the awning up to store in the garage or the basement; do NOT remove the pvc piping from the hem of the valance to fold it because this piping is much harder to get back into the valance in spring than one would think.
Additional tips to help preserve the life of your awning:
- Hose awning down occasionally with a garden hose on a hot summer day (be sure it is dry again before you retract it).
- Keep the underside of awning free from spiders, cobwebs, and bird nests. Simply brush them away with a household broom.
- Keep shrubbery and vines away from awnings since many bushes contain an acid that can be harmful to fabric.
- Do not allow water to stand on awning as it could cause the fabric to stretch.
If you have other questions or if you would like information about professional awning cleaning, give Otter Creek a call at 802-864-3009 or 888-284-4680. Good luck with your fall chores; the snow will be here before you know it!