How to Replace a Patio Umbrella Cord

Updated: 5/29/23

A patio umbrella might not be the most significant investment into your garden setup, but you still expect a return from it. However, some of the most seemingly simple of malfunctions can cause your umbrella to become a useless skeleton in your yard — and those are only appropriate on Halloween! One of the most common issues is the fraying and breakage of the cord.

While you could tie two ends of the cord together, that’s not a particularly practical or attractive solution. It’s worth your time getting to know how to replace a patio umbrella cord instead. It can be a little fiddly, and requires about an hour out of your weekend. It’s a little more complicated for a self-adjusting wind proof umbrella, but we’ve gone with the process that is common to most regular styles of crank umbrella.

To get started, just know that a new cord will be necessary. This can be found at some hardware stores, or you can get it at Amazon. The one below is pretty good quality and reasonably priced.


1. Remove the Canvas

As the cord runs up through the center of the pole to near the top of the umbrella, you’ll need to have free access to the skeleton of the product. Unscrew the finial at the tip of the pole, and remove it. Then turn your attention to the bottom of each rib, loosening the canvas by slipping the fabric pocket off of each rib. Then you can open up the umbrella and undo the ties on each of the ribs — you’ll find there’s usually between 8 and 16 ribs to take care of.

Then you can gently slip the canvas cover off the top of the umbrella, and set it aside.

2. Disassemble the Crank Housing

Next, you’ll need to move toward the bottom of the pole to locate the crank housing. Most common forms of mechanism will be housed within a plastic or metal box. Undo the screws — usually four Phillips head type screws —and remove the box from the pole. The best practice here is to set it aside with its screws inside their holes to prevent any losses.

On the opposite side of the pole to the crank handle, you’ll find there is a cotter pin holding the handle and mechanism in place. Use pliers to gently remove this pin, and undo the nut on this side of the pole in order to release the handle and gain access to the mechanism. Place the nut and any washers to one side, and remove the handle by gently pulling outward and twisting the handle back and forth.

3. Clear the Debris

When a cord breaks, you’ll often find that there are remnants of it at various points of the umbrella. Before you can continue your journey in learning how to replace a patio umbrella cord, you need to make sure that the mechanism is clear of the old one. Remove the remaining cord from the eyelet in the crank handle. Some models will have a spool attached to the handle, in which case you’ll need to remove this debris from the spool instead.

This is also a good opportunity to clear away any gunk or rust from the mechanism, or repair any damaged parts of the crank that might have contributed to the cord’s wear and tear.

Image of umbrella in garden to illustrate how to replace a patio umbrella cord

4. Remove Remaining Cord from the Hub

Return to the skeleton of the umbrella, and locate the hub at the base of the collection of ribs. Depending on the manufacturer, there will usually be a plastic housing that covers the hub. Unscrew this, and slide it down. Bear in mind that this hub cover is designed to keep the ribs in place at the base, so be careful not to allow the ribs to slip out. It’s not the end of the world if they do — you can just slide them back into place — but it just keeps things tidier and more manageable.

Unscrewing the plastic housing will also expose an eyelet on the underside of the hub. Remove any remaining cord by pulling it through this eyelet.

5. Insert the New Cord

Remove your replacement cord from its packaging, and unspool it. Thread the cord through the eyelet at the hub, until the majority of it is on the same side as the ribs. Tie a small knot at the end of the cord on the underside of the hub.

This is where things can get a little tricky. The threading process requires a bit of dexterity, but can be made easier by keeping a couple of implements such as a fine knitting needle or thin-shafted screwdriver nearby.

Toward the top of the umbrella, you’ll see that there is a pulley wheel inserted into the hollow shaft of the umbrella, with holes above and below the pulley on either side of the pole. Using your knitting needle or screwdriver if you need to, push the end of the cord through the top of the pulley wheel, and out of the opposite side of the pole. Pull the remainder of the cord through until there is very little slack. Then, push the end of the cord into the hole underneath the pulley wheel on the same side. Allow the cord to drop down into the hollow center of the pole, and keep thread pushing until the remainder of the chord is fully inside the shaft.

6. Attach the Cord to the Crank

Return to the hole that usually houses the crank assembly at the bottom of the shaft. Using your needle or screwdriver, fish the cord out from inside the hollow pole. Thread the end of the cord through the eyelet on the crank handle, or the spool, and tie a small knot in the cord. Push the string back inside the pole, and reinsert the crank handle.

7. Reassemble the Crank Mechanism and Umbrella Canvas

When you’ve completed these steps, you should find that the new cord runs from the hub at the base of the ribs, and up through the top of the pulley which is located toward the tip of the umbrella. The cord then emerges from the opposite side of the pole, and reinserts at the underside of the pulley wheel. It then travels down through the pole and is attached to the crank handle.

You can then put the umbrella crank, housing, and canvas back together by reversing the instructions for stages 1 and 2 of this guide.

Congratulations, you now know how to replace a patio umbrella cord!

Wrapping Up

Though many of us might consider it to be a minor component, the cord actually ensures your patio umbrella functions correctly and remains stable. When it fails, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to replace the entire product. Set aside an hour or so on your weekend, and replace this simple yet vital material.

As always, prevention is better than cure. A couple of times a year, when you’re cleaning your patio umbrella, take some time to inspect the condition of the cord too. If you notice any early fraying or wear, it’s worth taking the time to replace the cord, rather than waiting for it to snap and risking injury or further damage.

People Also Ask…

How Can I Keep My Patio Umbrella Stable?

A patio umbrella is an attractive, useful addition to your garden. However, it’s also a large, heavy piece of equipment. If not secured correctly it could cause a serious injury as a result of strong gusts of wind, or simply from falling.

You need to:

  1. Purchase an umbrella stand. Unfortunately, most don’t come packaged with a suitable stand, so you’ll need to look for compatible bases at your store or online.
  2. Ensure the correct weight allowance. This is essential to make certain the base can keep the umbrella and pole in place. For a typical 9 foot umbrella, if it’s being fed through a table the weight should be around 55lbs. If you’re keeping it free-standing, you’ll need to use a heavier base — somewhere in the region of 100lbs.
  3. Insert the umbrella pole into the hollow shaft of the stand.
  4. Tighten the screw on the outside of the base, ensuring the umbrella is locked into position.
  5. Avoid leaving the umbrella out in severe storms. Even with the weighted base, strong winds can lead to your umbrella causing serious damage.

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