Thursday, March 20, 2014

Today is the first day of spring! To kick off the year, FlagRunners and FlagDesk are very excited to introduce this 6 part DO-IT-YOURSELF flagpole installation guide. We've had great feedback from other flag flyers about our Flagpole Finder, other helpful how-to articles, as well as flag stories. We just like people who fly flags because they are the pillars of community. We hope this inspires others to join our flag flying community.

Part 1


What we’ll cover in flagpole installation part 1:


  1. Tools you’ll need for the job
  2. Removing an old flagpole foundation
  3. Determining flagpole - height / system / location

Tools you’ll need for the job


You may not need all these tools, but we have found being over-prepared is always better. Depending on your flagpole system, different tools are necessary. Some parts require a flat head screw driver to secure the set screws, others an allen key. Check your flagpole before you begin the job to make sure you have the right tools. 

  • Concrete
  • Sand
  • Wedges
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Tarp
  • Long Handled Shovel
  • Pry Bar / Long Bar
  • Posthole Digger
  • Spade
  • Level
  • Sonotube
  • Saw
  • Five-Gallon Bucket
  • Screw Driver (Flat-Head / Phillips)
  • Allen Key Set
  • Crescent Wrench
  • Socket Wrench
  • Channel Locks
  • Duct Tape
  • Electrical Tape
  • Tape Measure
  • String
  • Knife
  • Coffee Can
  • Trowel
  • Hammer

Removing the old foundation


For many flag flyers, an old steel flagpole sits outside the building. It is rusted out and wears on the flag. Others have a homesteader flagpole or telescoping flagpole and want a more reliable system. If you want to use the existing foundation, you have to be sure your flagpole matches the exact specifications of the flagpole you are replacing or at least meets the needs of the new flagpole. If the foundation is insufficient, you can run into real problems down the road. Removing the old flagpole and foundation is usually the best option.

In Sam’s case (flag flyer who graciously let us video the installation), she had an old steel flagpole concreted into the ground. This steel flagpole flew a 4x6 ft US flag, but Sam wanted to fly something larger. The old flagpole was about seven feet from the building, too close to fly a 5x8 ft. US flag.
 Using the old foundation was not possible for another reason. The old steel pole diameter was too small and the pole was concreted in. In some cases you can us the existing foundation, but you should know that the foundation is solid and can hold up against the winds and stress loads the new flagpole will be taking on. In Sam’s case, we had no idea how old or well the existing foundation was built.

After some excavation, Sam's old flagpole appeared to be formed from a five-gallon bucket. This is the first time we've run into that! Taking a sledgehammer would have made the job harder than it needed to be. We could dig around the foundation and pull it out of the ground. We got it up on the wheel barrel and took it out to the street for disposal.

If you can’t remove the existing foundation, you can always plug it up with dirt. Just make sure the area is safe. You don’t want someone to get hurt tripping on the old foundation.

Determining the right flagpole height / system


Cap Style Revolving Truck System
Stationary System
Revolving System
Before we got started on the job, we spoke with the customer, visited the site, and determined the perfect flagpole. Together we selected a commercial grade aluminum flagpole with an upgraded revolving truck. The flagpole has an external system. This is the most common type of flagpole system, meaning the ropes are all on the outside of the flagpole.

Choosing the best flagpole system for you comes down to maintenance and budget. A deluxe flagpole system looks nice and has a lot of advantages, but has more parts to maintain. With more parts, comes more expense. So going with a common set up will save you management and money.

Both systems have options for upgrades as well. For Sam, the standard flagpole accessories for this flagpole were not suitable for the location. With a constant wind, the revolving truck was an easy upgrade. The revolving truck system relieves the stress on the flag and the flagpole system. This made the most sense for the aesthetics and the budget. We were able to get this flagpole, a 5x8 US flag, delivery and installation for just over $1,000. Following this tutorial, you'll be able to do it yourself and save even more!

To determine the right height for your flagpole, you need to consider the impression you want to make, your property, and the size flag you want to fly. Some people want to make a loud statement, drawing attention to their business; others, just want to fly a flag. With your goal for the flagpole, you can look at your property to find the best location that fits your need. For example, if you want to be seen from a highway, put the flagpole in a place visible from the highway. This may seem like common sense, but many people just put the flag by the front door or company sign. This is not always the best location. 

In most cases, the flagpole should be proportionate to the building. There are exceptions. The height of the flagpole is not an exact science, but the flag that flies off of the flagpole is. Each flagpole is rated to withstand a certain amount of force from flag flying. If you want a bigger flag, you’ll need a taller and/or thicker flagpole. You can look up all the wind load ratings on FlagDesk, as well as suitable flag sizes corresponding to that model flagpole.Sam’s flagpole was rated above her wind zone area, so we were able to fly a size larger flag, which gave a dramatic impression to her flag display. Sam’s goal was to place the flagpole far enough from the building to fly a 5x8 ft. flag, while being far enough from tree branches to protect the flag in the future. Sam also wanted the flag to be visible from both streets (corner lot). It was not long before the perfect type of flagpole system, height, and location became obvious.

Part 2


What we’ll cover in flagpole installation part 2:

  1. Dig the flagpole foundation
  2. Cut the sonotube for the pedestal
  3. Mix the concrete
  4. Level and set the sleeve