Have a look at this shade sail. It’s a problem that we see often. The shadesail is sagging badly in the centre and this particular sail has gotten to the point that it has sagged so badly that the centre is rubbing on the top of the play equipment and this has caused it to wear a hole in middle.
The cause of the problem is simple – the solution is more difficult.
The reason this shade sail is sagging is because the posts which support it have been underspecified – that is, they are much to light to support a sail of this size. To make matters even worse, at least one of the posts has actually moved. The cause of a post moving in the ground is that it wasn’t put in deep enough. Over time, with the wind and tensions on the sail, the footing of the pole has moved in the ground causing the post to slope inwards and the sail to sag.
We were contacted by the proprietor of this childcare centre wanting us to manufacture him a new sail – not a problem! The issues however come into play when it comes time to tension the new shade sail.
It is possible to “beef-up” the undersized footing on the post that has moved but it isn’t so easy to stiffen up the columns to support a new shadesail. Basically, as soon as we go to apply any real tension on the new shadesail, the columns, because they are much to light to support a sail of this size will begin to flex inwards. The more we tighten the sail, the more the columns will bend making it nearly impossible to get the sail tight.
This is a problem that should not have happened and could have easily been avoided. It is so important to use the correct size posts and footings when installing a shadesail. It may have seemed like an easy option at the time to use cheaper posts and it was probably a hot day when the installers dug the holes for the posts and they thought, “ahhh, this should be deep enough, who will ever know”. Well now the whole thing has come back to bite.
I can’t emphasis it enough to you the DIY shade sail installer – Do not short cut on the size and specification of your columns. Do not think near enough is good enough when it comes to digging a decent footing. If you do, you’ll most likely end up with something like this and there’s nothing worse than a sagging shade sail!