Getting a wooden play set is one of the major milestones in a family's development. After all, now your kids have a place to climb, swing, and generally go wild without you having to worry about them. You've probably made a significant investment on lumber, climbing walls, plastic slides, and swings. If you want to make sure your play set gets lots of years of safe and fun usage, you'll need to maintain and care for it regularly. Fortunately, most contemporary play set are made from low-maintenance materials, and caring for them is easy. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your wooden play set.
Things You'll Need
- Time each week to check the play set
- Tools for basic repairs
How to Take Care of and Maintain a Wooden Playset
Do a regular inspection of your play set. Make it part of your routine each time you mow the grass, and that way you'll know almost immediately if there is anything wrong with the equipment. When you do your inspection, look to see that nothing has broken down or cracked. Make sure that all bolts and screws are tightened as far in as they can go, and that there are no sharp edges or pieces sticking out that can cause cuts or other injuries. Remember, a shirt or drawstring can get snagged on a protruding bolt, and could lead to strangulation.
Make sure the swing chains are stable by yanking on each of them. Be sure S-links are completely closed. Check for corrosion of hardware and if, you find a piece that is damaged or degraded, designate the play set off limits until you can replace the piece.
Rake. If your play set sits on loose-fill material, rather than on grass, rake through the material each week and pull out any bits of trash or debris. Add more loose-fill padding to the ground area each year, to a depth of anywhere from six to 12 inches (check your local guidelines for specifics). Check for cracks in any plastic components, such as slides or swings. If you find cracks, the swing or slide should be replaced immediately, not repaired.
Be sure to keep a cover on any sandbox areas of the play set. The cover needs to be light enough that kids can safely remove it, either from the outside or the inside, and heavy enough to keep it from blowing away on windy days. Rake the sandbox regularly to make sure there are no animal droppings in it. If you find these, you'll need to empty the entire sandbox and replace the sand.
Wash the play set at the beginning of each summer with a power washer. This will clean off any microscopic dangers such as bacteria, bird droppings or insects that may have lingered over the winter. Also, be sure to seal the wood with polyurethane to keep it water-resistant. Although most wooden play sets are pressure treated to keep mildew and insects out, examine the structure regularly to make sure there are no insects that have made their way inside. Wasps and ants often nest in wood, so be sure to do a thorough inspection. Check your play set regularly and your kids will have many years of happy and safe playtime.
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