Date:26 July 2017
Q: Every time I tighten or redrive the mounting screws on our handrail, it always comes loose again. What am I doing wrong?
A: Once a part works loose, creating an airspace between it and its mounting surface, the looseness acts as a force multiplier. You tighten mounting screws and it loosens even more. The cycle repeats until the part comes completely undone or breaks. The moral? Tighten something as soon as it comes loose, otherwise it will only get worse.
When tightening, check if the threads are stripped, if anything was over- or under-tightened, or if the wrong size or type of fastener was used. There’s almost always a good reason that tight things become loose.
The first thing to do in your repair is ensure that the mounting screws for the brackets are securely in place. You may be tempted to try to fix a stripped-out hole by inserting a piece of copper wire or a glue-covered golf tee, but this is not the place to do it. You need to reach a solid fastening point. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need a thicker and larger mounting bracket. You might even sneak in one structural screw (a hybrid fastener, some-where between a lag screw and a wood screw) at each bracket location. Even if you have to slightly drill out the screw-mounting hole to accept the structural screw, it’d be worth it to fix this problem for good.