When is the Best Time to Start Using Your Patio Umbrella?

As inclement weather conditions become a relic of the immediate past, households prepare to embrace spring with open arms. The warmer air and sun-kissed skies offer a scintillating invitation to host alfresco lunches, backyard parties, and curated dinner scenes.

The patio or outdoor umbrella is a staple among the various elements that make these celebratory events fun.

You can start using your patio umbrella from the spring months onwards through the boiling summer days. Also, most patio umbrellas (even the less expensive ones) are designed to offer adequate protection against mild rain and wind, but if the weather’s taken a turn for the extreme, you will have to put your umbrella aside.

Say you’re relaxing on your patio when suddenly it gets too windy and starts raining. What do you do next? This guide will help you make informed decisions regarding the opening and closing of patio umbrellas.

The Weather Forecast Sheds Some Light

Let’s start by taking the help of the most trusted source – The National Weather Service. According to the TNWS, a wind advisory is issued when –

  • Winds as fast as 30 mph are expected to rage for an hour
  • Winds as fast as 45 mph are expected to frequent within the next 36 hours

So, in case of winds coming and going, you will have a clear idea if you follow The National Weather Service.

If the forecast is any of the above, you know that you need to keep your patio umbrella closed for the said number of hours. Once the wind subsides and the skies look all cheery again, you can go ahead and use your umbrella.

Could Anything Less also be a Matter of Concern?

Though 30 mph and above is a definite red flag regarding keeping your patio umbrella open, winds as low as 20 mph can also cause damage.

Typically, winds within the range of 15 to 20 mph make for a breezy day, but the minute it starts touching the 20-mark, you should put away your patio umbrella. Once the wind levels have returned to below 15 mph, you can start using it again.

The reason is that the umbrella canopy may remain unaffected, but the same does not hold for the frame and ribs. No matter how sturdy they are, they will not be a match for heavy gusts of wind.

The ribs might suffer damage and get cracked or, worse yet, fall apart. But if the wind levels are above the 25 mph mark, even the fabric can be torn. So, use your umbrella only after the weather returns to normal.

What about Rain?

Umbrellas built with trusted frame and flip technologies can withstand heavy rains. Moreover, their canopy is made using waterproof polyester or nylon fabric. But, there can be instances when the rain (when coupled with the wind) knocks your patio umbrella over.

This usually happens because of a poor-quality base. If the umbrella is fixed to a patio table, ensure the table is reliable. Similarly, the base should be strong enough to support the umbrella’s weight, or even mild winds and rains can make it fall.

If you feel like your umbrella cannot stand tall and is dangling to a side, fold it and keep it away. You can start using it again once the rain subsides.

When Not in Use

Even during the spring and summer months, you will not be using your patio umbrella all the time. So, it is better to put it away when not in use, especially when you won’t be home for a couple of days or weeks.

This way, your umbrella will stay protected from erratic weather. However, when you return, don’t start using the umbrella immediately. Even long storage can make it dirty.

Before using it, soak the umbrella in a 5-gallon bucket with a solution of warm water, vinegar, and mild dish-washing liquid. After 20 to 30 minutes, take the umbrella out and let it air-dry in the sun. Now, your umbrella is ready to use again!

Some Additional Tips

Since patio umbrellas are designed for spring and summer, most come with features that support seasonal needs. For instance – the harmful UV rays of the sun, are more potent during summer.

However, not all umbrellas come with UV-blocking properties. Ensure you check before purchasing, or you might have to avoid using your umbrella during the warmer months, especially from 10 AM to 4 PM (when UV radiation is strongest).

Moreover, prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays can also lead to fading of color. So, keep your umbrella away when not in use and take it out when you need it. In such cases, you can start using the umbrella during the day when the sun’s rays are not as harsh and direct.

Closing In

Finally, it goes without saying that winters are not the time to use your patio or the umbrella. If you’ll not be at home, ensure your umbrella is safely packed and stored in its cover or made to stand upright in a garage.

This will protect it from the snow and icy rain. So, it is not a one-for-all solution; you might need to alternate between periods of using and not using your patio umbrella. This will ensure that your Midtown umbrella lasts you more than a season.

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