When you’re buying a washing line, rewiring one is probably far from your mind. Once you’ve had it for a few years, though, the time will come when it’s seen better days, probably with a droopiness that wasn’t there in the days immediately after you installed it.
Today, we’re going to talk through how to re-string your line, a process sometimes referred to as re-wiring.
Can I Tighten My Line?
Sometimes, you can just tighten your existing line, but there’s a couple of reasons why this can be a bad idea.
Old Line Can Be Stretched
If you think about it, if your line has become loose and droopy, that means it’s stretched over the months and years since you bought it. As a material stretches, it becomes weaker, and eventually will fail altogether. For this reason, it’s not a good idea to look at tightening the line as something that’s a long term fix, as it’s likely it will stretch more and more until it gives way altogether.
Years Of Use Mean The Line Is Set In Place
The line will have kinked and set in place where it wraps through the arms of the frame of the line. That means that you’ll no longer have nice straight cable along the length between the arms once you tighten it up. What’s more, it’s likely to be quite dirty too in the places where its been threaded through the frame. That might mean you need to spend a considerable amount of time and effort smoothing out the line and cleaning it to make sure it doesn’t mark your freshly washed laundry.
Putting those two together next to the relatively low cost of new line means that replacing the line makes far more sense than trying to stretch out what you’ve already got. That way, you’re removing the chances of staining your washing with years-old grime, and it’s going to be nice and strong again, rather than leaving you wondering when you’ll find your washing on the grass when you come back to it.
Re-String Or Replace The Clothesline?
The next consideration is when to do the repair to an existing line, and when to replace the whole thing. To make a good decision, you need to fully consider both options.
Re-stringing a line isn’t particularly difficult, but it can be time consuming. While we said that you won’t need to clean the line like you would if you just tightened what you’ve got, you might need to clean up the holes in the arms as you thread the cable through. How long that takes will depend on the make and model of line you’ve got, how long you’ve had it, and how easily you can clean each hole. With 4 arms and probably at least five holes per arm, you’re looking at a minimum of twenty individual locations to clean out.
If the frame of your line has seen better days, that’s certainly a good reason to consider replacing the whole unit. When you get a new line, there’s nothing to clean and there’s no re-stringing to do either, so you’re paying for a shiny new line and a time saving all in one. Don’t forget though, you might need a new ground spike if it’s not the same (or very similar) as what you’ve got. For that reason, it can make sense to do a like for like swap, but if it’s not possible, here’s our guide to installing a new ground spike.
On a related note, we’ve also got some guidance on choosing a new rotary line here, and a run down of choices that sell well here. For most people, this is a good choice as you don’t need to spend a huge amount, so saving yourself all that effort to just replace the line is likely to appeal.
Buying Replacement Washing Line Cord
If you’ve got this far, you’re probably in a place where you know that your washing line’s frame is in good condition and you’re willing to invest the time to clean it up as required. That means you’ll just need to get some replacement cord if you’ve not already got some.
Here’s some choices from a range of brands on Amazon that you might like to consider if you haven’t already got hold of some:
Carrying Out The Repair
While the task of replacing the line is relatively easy, it’s a good idea to prepare in advance. Get a bucket or washing up bowl of warm, soapy water, a cloth, some strong scissors (ideally garden scissors), gloves to protect your hands (buy not too thick as they’ll make threading tricky) and the replacement line. A marker pen may also come in handy too.
Cut The Cord From The Middle
Firstly, trace around the line by following the cable to the middle of the line with the arms open. This is where you’re going to start. What we’re going to do is cut the existing line (it can be really tough to untie the existing line with the tension of the line, so unless you need to keep it for some reason, scissors are your friend here).
Once the line is away from it’s attachment point, you need to attach one end of the new line. It’s a good idea to unravel the full length now before you attach it, as you’re going to have to feed the other end through every hole as you go, pulling the full length through as you go. By the time you’re done, you’re going to have a new found appreciation of the lengths spiders go to in creating their webs!
Clean As You Go
From here on in, use your soapy water and cloth to clean each hole the old line vacates, before the new line is threaded in. You don’t necessarily need it to dry completely, you’re dealing with outdoor equipment and it’s going to rain sooner or later anyway, even though protecting your clothesline from the elements can help it last longer.
Start From The Middle Too
Attaching the new line will be slightly different which each brand of washing line, but typically involves tying a knot very close to the end of the new line, and threading the other end of the cable out of the attachment point. That point is sometimes a small plastic box (sometimes called a cable jam), sometimes a hole in the arm itself. The knot will then pull against the inside of that point, providing the tension in the line once finished.
Work Methodically, Step By Step
Now your line is connected at one end, work logically and in order by removing the old line from the next hole, cleaning the gap, and finally threading the new line through.As far as possible, maintain tension as you go on the new cable.
As an additional tip, make use of the nature of the rotary line, spinning it as you thread the cable. In other words move the line, not yourself as you go. That prevents the new line getting increasingly tangled around the central vertical support pole.
Don’t worry too much though, as long as it’s reasonably well strung, you should be OK to adjust a little later if required, and indeed will need to do so as the initial stringing process will not provide enough tension.
The End Of The Line
Eventually, you’ll reach the end of the cable, which usually means the final connection is to an arm that already has a cable threaded through the outermost hole. It’s common that the arm has a device on the end to handle this, so you can make the final connection. Typically it will have a sort of locking mechanism to secure the line, although older or cheaper models might simple use a knot. Before completing that lock or knot, the line must be tightened in its entirety.
Building The Tension
The idea here is to create a tight-but-not-too-tight tension in the line. You need the cable to be capable of supporting wet laundry, but if it’s too tight it’ll be difficult to open and close the rotary line’s arms during day to day use.
We recommend you do this manually, although you can buy devices to help. What you’re going to do is work again from the middle outwards, from the start of the cable pulling each length tight. At every stage, use one hand to hold your progress so far from slipping, and the other to pull the tension into the next length. When you reach the end, have a marker pen handy to indicate where on the cable the end needs to be, as it’s easy to lose grip and have to start again if the tension in the line pulls things it all backwards.
Copy the old line’s way of connecting to the end point, but if it’s hard to maintain the tension and tie a not, or secure it into a locking point, you can actually close the line to do so. That’s why we marked the cable a second ago, so once it’s closed you know where to attach it!
Test The Line
Finally, close and open the line a few time to make sure the tension is good and adjust a little if necessary. Once you’re happy you’re ready to go. You may find it necessary to pull sections through a little to ‘balance them out’ during the first few uses, but it should soon settle down.