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Whether you want to upgrade from a wall-mounted flagpole or you're just feeling patriotic, make this July 4th the day you debut a stately, in-ground flagpole.

Flagpole kits make installing a residential flagpole in the ground a relatively easy weekend project, even if you've never worked with concrete before. For most residential installations, aluminum is the material of choice for flagpoles (with or without with a baked-on enamel finish). Aluminum can withstand wind, and is treated to prevent rust. You can choose between two styles of flagpole:

Sectional flagpoles come in sections that snap into place; this type of flagpole is are not tapered. Typical heights for residential versions range from 10 to 25 ft. The 10- to 20-ft. poles are designed for 3- x 5-ft. flags and the 25-ft. pole holds a 4- x 6-ft. flag. The flag, a rope for raising it, and all flagpole hardware are typically included in the kit.

Tapered flagpoles, also called telescoping flagpoles, extend out in sections like a telescope. These are more substantial and can withstand high wind speeds. For example, an unflagged tapered pole with a butt diameter of 5" and wall thickness of .125" can withstand wind speeds well in excess of 200 mph.

(For additional options and more information, go to American Flag Store.)

Tools & Supplies

Three 90-lbs. bags of quick-setting cement (more if you dig a larger diameter hole)
Bag of crushed stone
Shovel or hole digger
Screw driver
Pipe wrench
Crescent wrench
Petroleum jelly
Wood scrap to use as braces

Both types of flagpoles -- sectional and tapered -- are installed in a similar manner. These instructions are for a 25-ft. residential aluminum flagpole and a 4- x 6-ft. flag. Directions may differ for shorter or longer poles, larger flags, and high-wind areas.

1. Select a location. Remember that whatever spot you choose will become a focal point. When choosing an area, consider whether you want to add a path to the flagpole and surround it with a small patio in the future.

2. Dig a hole. The hole should be about 3 feet deep and about 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Use a post hole digger if you can get your hands on one, so the sides of the hole will be straight (not tapered). If the frost line is less than 3 feet in your region, you may get by with a shallower hole, but check local codes and manufacturer recommendations before proceeding.

3. Fill the base of the hole with crushed stone.
The stone should reach a height of 6 inches. Tamp the crushed stone (make it compact) with a tamper, a 4x4, or with the business end of a sledge hammer.

4. Insert the PVC ground setting tube. Center the tube (supplied with the kit) in the hole, and sink it into the crushed stone so that its top is at grade level. Then brace it so it's plumb to the ground. (Be precise here; you don't want a flagpole that leans!) To ensure plumbness, the sleeve must be vertical in two planes. Use a 4-ft level to check the sleeve at two different points on its circumference, and make adjustments as necessary. (Tip: If you want to ensure that the pole does not rotate in the tube after installation, bore ¼ inch holes near the base of the tube and install a carriage screw or bolt. Then file two opposing notches at the base of the flagpole. Locate the notches in such a way that the cleat will be oriented in the direction you prefer.)

5. Mix the cement according to the instructions on the package. Three 90 lbs. bags of cement enough for the hole described above. If your hole is bigger or smaller, use this online bag calculator. Pour half of the mix into the hole around the tube and recheck the tube for plumb. Then pour concrete to a few of inches short of grade level. Trowel the top smooth, and allow it to set overnight.

6. If necessary, assembly pole sections. Then install hardware according to the flagpole maker's instructions. Typically, it goes like this: Screw the truck into the pole top and tighten with a pipe wrench. The truck assembly includes a pulley and mounting hole for an ornament, often a decorative ball. Screw the ornament into the truck as far as it will go, and tighten the jam-nut to the truck to lock the ornament in place. Mount the cleat to pre-drilled holes on the pole (about 5 feet from grade on installed pole).

7. Assemble the haylard. Run the polypropylene halyard -- the rope you'll use to raise and lower the flag -- through the truck pulley. Then tie the halyard ends together to prevent it from slipping out of the pulley when you're erecting the pole. Slip the flash collar on the bottom of the shaft and temporarily secure it to the pole with tape.

8. Raise the pole and insert it into the PVC tube. Swabbing the inside of the tube with petroleum jelly will make the job easier. You'll also need a helper to hoist the pole into place; don't attempt this part on your own. Orient the cleat to the desired position. Some installers prefer to leave protective wrappings on the pole until it's installed. If you have done the same, remove remaining wrappings now. Fill over the concrete footing with soil or mulch and set the flash collar into position.

9. Attach flag snaps to the halyard. Space the snaps according to the size of your flag. To install a flag snap, form a loop in the rope and run the loop through the swivel-eye and over the snap. Then pull the rope taut. Finally, attach flag to the snaps at the flag grommets, hoist it to the pole top, and tie the halyards to the cleat.

Then wave your flag proudly. Happy Independence Day!


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