Consumers anxious to help the environment are exploring many ways to conserve: unfortunately, one of the best means of reducing electricity consumption - the installation of awnings - is a solution that needs to be approached with caution because some who peddle shade products are themselves shady.
"You have to watch out for awning rip-off artists," says Don Araiza, president of Eide Industries, a Cerritos, Calif., firm that engineers and installs awnings and custom shade systems to naturally cool homes and offices as the sun's rays relentlessly beat down on them.
"A trick of theirs is to assemble awning frames without capping the ends," Araiza says. "Leaving the ends open saves the maker a few dollars, but shortens the life of the awning by allowing rain and condensation to accumulate inside the awning's framework tubing. The moisture corrodes the awning frame from within. Awning frame failure can follow in short order."
Another trick played on consumers: spray painting the awning frame without first sandblasting and priming its metallic surfaces. "The paint will soon begin to flake and peel, leaving the awning frame exposed to the elements, with corrosion and breakage to follow," Araiza reveals.
Some tips for consumers who want to avoid awning rip-offs:
- Insist on a state-licensed awning contractor. "This is your assurance that the awning manufacturer who installs what it makes will comply fully with building and safety codes," says Araiza.
- Choose based on product excellence. "Look for an awning manufacturer that emphasizes quality work along with stylish design," he says.
- Shop for the best - not necessarily lowest - awning price. "Awnings that cost the least," says Araiza, "usually are made with substandard awning materials that can shred and fall apart in a relatively short time."
- Look for an awning maker that subscribes to a code of ethics. Says Araiza, "Members of trade organizations such as the Industrial Fabrics Association International and the Western Canvas Products Association are pledged to provide good awning products at reasonable prices backed by appropriate technical support and generally to conduct business in an upstanding manner at all times."
- Take a peek at the awning production facility. Tour the plant to see what kind of shop the company runs. "If it looks like a tornado just blew through, expect sloppy awning craftsmanship or slothful service," says Araiza. "Conversely, a tidy awning facility usually signals quality work, attention to detail, and crisp efficiency all around."
Eide Industries - launched in 1938 and today operating from a 41,000-square-foot facility - offers engineering, industrial sewn products (including awnings), large-scale graphics applications and custom welded metal products. All of the company's products are built to precise customer specifications and designed to withstand the ravages of wind, sun, rain, snow, sand and time.