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Inspecting Retractable Awnings

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Any words of wisdom out there for inspecting motorized retractable awnings? These are not too common in this part of the country. Do others inspect these, or identify these as outside of the scope of a general inspection? I like to be thorough, but at the same time, I would like to limit the liability associated with inspecting a large moving object that I am unfamiliar with.

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If it's not specifically included in the limitations portion of your contract/SOP, I'd add a disclaimer in the report but I'd still give it a good once over for any obvious issues. I'm reminded of that inspector who got sued by a client over a septic tank lid that gave way and harmed or killed someone a while back. Not that awnings kill, just being cautious.


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If it's a Sunsetter it will have a three function remote (open, close, stop), automatic limits so that the motor stops when it is fully extended/retracted, and the power cord should be arranged so that it has a drip loop at each end and be routed to prevent damage or trip hazards.

They're heavy. A 16 footer weighs around 170lbs. Make sure it is anchored to framing and that the fasteners are tight.

If it has a wind sensor and you wish to test it: extend the awning, grasp one end of the header rail and pull up and down at least a foot five or six times, repeat if it hasn't retracted (they usually go on the 7th or 8th pull).

Make sure the manual crank handle is present. It will be very difficult to close without it in the event of a power outage.

Installation and troubleshooting info at http://www.sunsetter.com/support/

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  • 2 weeks later...

Like any accessory,

I just explain to the client that accessories and nice-to-have items that have nothing to do with the function of the house are outside the scope of the inspection and that I'm primarily concerned with how they are attached/plumbed/wired to the house's systems. I open and close them one time to ensure they actually function and then tell the client that I'm not warranting the thing - that if it fails as I back my car out of the driveway don't call me - call an awning guy.



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