Few things are more enjoyable than seeing your kids out in the summer having fun on a swing set.
Unless you notice that the swing set is rocking from side to side.
Then things become more concerning…
The good news is, it can usually be resolved quickly.
So today we are going to look at how to stop a swing set from moving.
Let’s get started.
How Can You Stop A Swing Set From Moving?
To stop a swing set from moving, you first need to know what is causing the problem. Check and tighten all nuts and bolts, assess the swing set for any structural damage, make sure it hasn’t sunk into the ground and verify it is anchored correctly. You might need to anchor it in again, or stabilize it further by reinforcing it with 2 x 4, sandbags or bungee cords.
Identify Why Your Swing Set is Swaying
Naturally, if the wind is getting up outside then you might expect it to rattle a few things, including your swing set.
But if it is a normal, calm summer’s day then it must be something else.
It might seem obvious to say, but first of all you need to work out what is causing the swing set to rock.
You can expect it to fall into one of four categories:
Reason #1: The Joints Have Become Loose
Walk around your swing set and do a thorough audit of all the nuts and bolts on its joints.
If your kids are having a lot of fun, they can work themselves loose over time (the nuts and bolts not your kids).
Also if you have a wooden swing set it can swell or shrink across the year dependent on moisture content.
Tighten every single bolt you can, and add washers if necessary as they will keep pressure between the bolt and the surface that reduces the likelihood of it jiggling loose over a prolonged period.
Hopefully that will solve the problem, but if not…
Reason #2: The Swing Set Has Been Damaged
At the same time as you check the nuts and bolts, you might as well check the swing set in general.
Wooden swing sets can be susceptible to damage from insects such as termites or just degrade over time due to being out in all kinds of weather conditions.
Look for anything at all that might weaken the structural integrity of your swing set and see if you can repair or replace it.
Also make sure you keep an eye out for any areas of wood that might have become rotten or might be heading that way.
Repair these areas if possible.
If you have a steel swing set then the problem could be rust.
Again give it a good once over and look for any rust damage. Don’t disregard a tiny rust hole, because eventually, that could become a much bigger problem.
Use a rust bullet or a rust-preventative coating like POR 15 to fix any issues you find.
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Reason #3: The Ground is Uneven
I am not going to insult your intelligence here, as I am sure you know that when you install your swing set you put it on level ground, but what was level when you installed it might not be level now…
Often the weight of the swing set and its happy occupants will compress the ground beneath it and cause the swing set to sink into it.
This might not be obvious to the naked eye, but if you take a spirit level you could find that your swing set is now not on level ground.
And that might be why your swing set is swaying.
To stabilize your swing set in this scenario, you need to work out which part of the equipment has sunk into the ground.
Then you will need to fill that area with something to raise the swing set back up so it is level again.
Reason #4: Your Swing Set Isn’t Anchored Properly
The final reason that could be causing your swing set to sway is that it might not be anchored properly.
It is the anchors that stabilize the swing set and keep it safe and useable.
So if you have eliminated the three other reasons, then this next section is for you…
Do Swing Sets Need To Be Anchored?
The importance of anchoring a swing set is shown by the fact that many swing sets on the market have a clause in the warranty that specifies it must be anchored when in use.
If it isn’t you will void the warranty, and also put any children who use it at risk of getting hurt.
You should also regularly check the anchors to make sure they are doing their job properly and haven’t deteriorated since you installed them.
Because, going back to Reason #4 above, if your swing set is moving, you might need to replace the anchors.
How to Anchor a Swing Set Without Concrete
Using concrete to create a cement anchor is one of the most secure ways of stabilizing a swing set, but it isn’t always possible for everyone.
So to start with let’s look at anchoring a swing set without using concrete.
First things first, your swing set should come with a set of anchors, and instructions on how to install them.
If it didn’t, or if your original anchors need replacing then replacement anchors can be broadly split into one of two categories:
Often you will find that wooden swing sets come with wooden anchors.
This is because they can be easily nailed or screwed directly to the frame post of the swing set once the anchor is in the ground.
That said, wooden anchors will not be as sturdy as metal anchors and are prone to rotting.
Metal anchors are unsurprisingly the main choice now when it comes to stabilizing a swing set.
They will last long, are easier to get into the ground, and are stronger and more effective.
But then, whether you go wood or metal (and I would recommend metal), there are many different types of anchors you can choose from.
There are stake ground anchors, corkscrew anchors, rebar stakes, twist-in anchors and tie-down stakes.
The two most popular choices amongst swing set manufacturers are stake ground anchors and twist-in ground anchors.
Stake ground anchors are driven into the ground with a hammer, whilst twist-in ground anchors are (yes you guessed it) twisted into the ground.
Installing the anchors is probably quicker and easier than selecting the best anchor for your swing set, such is the extensive choice these days!
The anchor generally needs to be installed perpendicular to the ground and attached to the swing set with the screws that should be supplied.
Once you have checked the anchors are secure you (or your kids) are good to go.
How to Anchor a Swing Set With Concrete
As mentioned previously, perhaps the most secure way of installing a swing set is with concrete.
It isn’t without its downsides though:
- Wooden playsets are not recommended for installation in concrete as it can damage the structural integrity of the wood.
- Obviously it is much more permanent. Ground anchors can be retracted relatively easily. Adding a concrete base makes it much harder to remove a swing set!
But a swing set secured in concrete will be sturdy for years to come.
Concreting in your swing set is a good choice if it is metal, and if the soil in your yard is very soft, as the concrete will prevent the swing set legs from sinking over time.
- Mark the position of the legs of your swing set and dig holes of sufficient size (usually 12 inches deep and 9 inches in diameter).
- Put your swing set in place with the legs in the holes and make certain it is level. The anchoring plate of the swing set should be just beneath the surface
- Pour the concrete into each hole, leaving a 1-inch gap to the surface, pack this with some of the dirt you have dug up.
- Wait for 24 to 48 hours before using.
Other Ways to Stabilize Your Swing Set
There are a few other measures you can take to stabilize your swing set and stop it from moving.
#1: Reinforce the Swing Set
Adding some 2 x 4s to the legs and top bar with flathead screws is a quick and easy way of providing a bit of reinforcement if you have pinpointed what you think is a weak spot on your swing set.
This will be most effective on the outside corners of the set so the wood joins to form T shapes.
#2: Add a Support Beam
If it is practical, an alternative to the above suggestion is to use two pieces of wood to create a support beam for the top of your swing set.
Put one piece of wood on either side of the swing set and angle them upwards so they meet at the top of the swing set.
Nail them together to provide some extra support.
#3: Use a Bungee Cord
Securing a bungee cord, chain or rope either side of your swing set and then attaching them to the already installed anchors is a quick and easy way of giving it a bit more stability.
#4: Use Sandbags
Sandbags have all kinds of uses, mainly for providing strength and support.
If you have any sandbags spare you can try placing them around the base of your swing set to weigh it down further.
If you want to stop your swing set from moving you first of all need to identify what is making it unstable and then take action to correct it.
- If any of the joints are loose.
- If the swing set has suffered any damage such as rusting or rot.
- If it is level on the ground or if it has sunk into the ground.
- If it is anchored into the ground correctly.
If you need to buy new anchors, then metal twist-in anchors are a good choice or you can secure it using cement.
Also there are some quick and cheap methods to keep your swing set from rocking.
You can try adding some wooden support boards to strengthen the structure or use bungee cords or sandbags to stabilize it further.
Either way good luck and don’t pretend to me that once you get it sorted you aren’t going to “test it” just to make sure it is safe!