RV Maintenance – Slide Toppers
Slide Toppers are those awning-like things that extend and retract with the slider. Some hate them, others love them. I am glad our motorhome has them, even though they add to the maintenance chore list.
The purpose of slide toppers is to help shed water off the slide when extended, to help prevent water from pooling and getting under or around the gasket that keeps the inside of the slide dry and draft free. They also help to keep debris from settling on top of the slide, which if not removed before closing the slide will cause damage to the gaskets and the slide itself. You don’t want your slide functioning as a trash compactor crushing leaves, twigs and other things that trees tend to shed constantly.
One of the drawbacks with a slide topper and any awning for that matter is that they do accumulate dirt and stains, sap and pitch from trees and vegetation. This can accumulate quickly if you are in places where you are parked in wooded areas frequently. The fabric holds onto the yuck and the sun bakes it into place. If you don’t occasionally wash your awnings, you could find them changing colors, sagging and pooling water instead of shedding it properly.
Even before leaving Wisconsin I noticed that our rig’s topper covers were getting rather nasty…so the other day I finally had the chance to get up on my ladder and clean them. The two rear slides didn’t have much in the way of build up, but the larger front ones did. This primarily was caused by being under some really weepy trees followed by a stretch under some black walnut trees. The weather was perfect, highs in the upper 60’s, no wind and clear skies…
I squirted some liquid dish detergent into my wash bucket and filled it up with water. Pouring some of the soapy solution on the topper cover, I gave the offending surfaces a good scrubbing with a scrub brush picked up at Wal-Mart. You want a brush that has stiff enough bristles to get the job done without damaging the fabric. Don’t press the brush into the fabric, just let the brush do its job by going back and forth in different directions to loosen the dirt.
I worked in sections, rinsing the area after scrubbing to see what progress I was making. What I initially thought would be hours of work turned out to be quicker than expected. If the dirt doesn’t all come off in the first scrub, repeat the process. Be sure to rinse thoroughly after completing the task.
You’ll see the results right away…at least I did. I know that I will make it a point not to wait so long before doing this step again, to keep our rig as clean as possible. It can be a challenge if you are staying in RV parks and campgrounds that do not allow washing of RV or vehicles. Or as I discovered, it was just too hot most of the time when we were at a facility that did allow it.
Once cleaned, they’ll dry and lose some of the sagging you’ve been noticing – sagging that causes them to pool water from rain and your roof mounted air conditioners.
If your topper covers do tend to pool water you can either retract the slide partially to allow the water to run off or you can kneel your rig using your leveling jacks to accomplish the same thing. Remember that these toppers help keep the rain off and shield the slide from the sun’s heat to help keep you cooler.