The MENSA Manual For Patio Umbrella Operations: Everything You Wanted to Know About Patio Umbrellas (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Joseph Kortez asked:

Congratulations on purchasing your patio umbrella – may it bring you years of happiness and shade for your friends and family. And so far, you’re pleased with it. It is contained in its nice, neat little folded case, and it looks rather majestic standing closed and upright.

So you have your patio umbrella, and like generations before you, you’re wondering what to do with it next. Yes, its pretty, but it has to serve some sort of function, right? Doesn’t it open up? And can’t it tilt to block out the sun, regardless of its position? If you are like the generations before you, figuring these things out can be a harder prospect than finding Carmen Sandiego.

The best piece of advice we can give you is to open up the manual that came with your patio umbrella. As this guide serves to help you figure out how to operate your umbrella, you operating manual will give you a better guide on how everything works and operates. Consider us a helpful friend as you figure out what your umbrella does.

Now that you have your patio umbrella in hand, its time to figure out what your umbrella can and can not do. Let us start with opening your umbrella. These do not open like regular umbrellas would – instead of pushing up on the center piece to open everything, many open with either a crank or cord. The crank will be located near the center point of your vertical pole, while the cord will be dangling from the inside of the umbrella. In order to open your umbrella, turn the crank or pull the cord. To give yourself an easier time opening your umbrella, gently spread out the ribs of the umbrella. This will allow you open your umbrella with ease, instead of fighting with it. Conversely, to close your patio umbrella, turn the crank the opposite way, or pull the cord the opposite way.

Now that we have your patio umbrella open, it is time to adjust the pitch accordingly with the time of day. Many umbrellas have adjustments that will allow you to change the angle that the canopy sits at, in order to give you shade throughout the day. However, different umbrellas have different ways to adjust the pitch – knowing which yours does will save you frustration in the long run. If your umbrella has a hinge towards the top, with a button that will release the hinge, you have what is called a push-button tilt umbrella. To adjust the tilt, simply press the button, and move your canopy’s position accordingly. If your umbrella’s opening crank continues to turn after your umbrella is open, you have what is called a crank-tilt umbrella. Simply turn the crank until your canopy is at the pitch you desire. For those of you with a newer umbrella, you may have an adjustable collar towards the bottom of the vertical post. If you do, you have what is called a collar tilt umbrella. This is the easiest of all to adjust: from your seat near the umbrella, reach over and adjust the collar until your pitch is at the level you desire.

Before you sit back and think you have mastered the care and use of your patio umbrella, there is one more thing to consider: weighing down your umbrella so it doesn’t fly away. Even with a little breeze, your umbrella can sustain damage if not properly weighted down. For most umbrellas putting down 50 pounds of weight at the base should do the job properly and efficiently. Anything less could send your canopy flying, leaving you with a broken investment.

Having an patio umbrella is as much an owner’s responsibility as it is a liability. But by being educated on its functions and use, you too can be a responsible owner, and take care of your investment for years to come.

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