How to Repair a Fence

Fences are an integral part of your property and must be maintained. If your fence has minor damage, such as a few split boards or rotten posts, the repair is usually easy. To learn more about fence repair, visit Pro Angle Fencing Summerville.

Fencing RepairTypical fence repair projects include replacing damaged gate hinges, sanding, and repainting mild rust or corrosion. More serious problems like sagging wire or leaning posts may require the replacement of a post or panel.

Whether your fence is made of wood, aluminum, or even towering wrought iron, it’s all held together by the posts that form its foundation. Eventually, these posts can become loose from shifting soil or simply due to age and wear.

Depending on the cause of the looseness, the post may need to be replaced or merely stabilized. A loose fence post is not a problem that should be ignored because it can cause the entire fence to shift, creating gaps and structural problems.

A quick walk around the entire fence line can help you determine what kind of fix is needed for a loose post. For example, if the problem is that the post has rotted at the base, you can try to simply reinsert it. If the damage is severe, however, the best course of action might be to replace the fence post entirely.

If the lean is caused by a shifting earth, you can often save your fence post by digging out the soil and replacing it with fast-setting concrete. Dig out the dirt using a shovel or garden trowel until you can access the concrete footing that is buried underneath. Breaking out the concrete while it’s still in-ground can be difficult and require the use of a power tool.

After you’ve excavated the area around your fence post, use a level to make sure it is vertical. Once you’re satisfied, reattach any wires, boards, or rails to the newly-set post. You might also choose to affix braces to the post to provide extra support and stability.

Once the concrete has a chance to dry, you can reattach any parts of your fence that were removed. Be sure to check the entire fence regularly, especially after heavy rain or winds, to see if any additional repairs are needed. A loose fence post can be very dangerous for pets and children to play near, so it’s important to resolve the problem quickly. If the post is in danger of falling over, a professional should be called out to perform the job safely and quickly.

Rotted Posts

A rotten fence post can quickly ruin the rest of your fence. The most common cause of rot is moisture that seeps into the post and causes the wood to decay. If the rot is severe enough, the post may need to be replaced entirely.

Whether you need to replace one or several posts, there are many products that can help. First, you’ll want to check for rot by prodding the suspect area with a screwdriver. If the blade easily penetrates the surface of the wood, it’s likely rotted. If rot is confined to the lower inch or so of a post, it may be possible to cut off this portion and keep the concrete base in place. You can also try installing a hangar connector on the existing post. These are available at hardware stores and landscaping-supply businesses and are designed to work on both surface-mounted and embedded concrete posts.

You can also try reinforcing the existing post with steel splints such as those made by E-Z Mender. These are made to reinforce 4 x 4 posts and can be purchased at most hardware or building supply retailers. Using these splints is relatively simple, but it’s always best to consult a professional to determine the extent of the damage and the correct method of repair.

Most fence builders recommend that all wooden posts be treated with a wood preservative before they are set in the ground. The best choice is a product called “Wolmanized” (or similar), which is pressure-treated with a water-resistant chemical, such as chromated copper arsenate. This treatment will protect the posts from the rot-causing moisture in the soil.

You can also treat the post yourself by applying a product such as Postsaver(r). This is a heat-shrinkable sleeve with a thermoplastic bituminous interior liner that seals to the surface of the wood and prevents moisture from getting into the base of the post. While this is not a permanent solution to post rot, it can extend the life of your fence significantly and is easy to apply.

Missing Fasteners

A fence that loses its fasteners is not just an eyesore but also a hazard. When screws or nails come loose, boards can fall off the fence or get pulled out by critters or vehicles. Missing fasteners also place extra stress on neighboring ones, increasing their loads and possibly leading to failure. Look at the screws or nails in your fence with a magnifying glass to see if they’re broken or distorted. Missing screw heads might show rust spots, which can indicate the presence of fungal decay. This fungus can weaken the wood, which may eventually break apart or collapse.

If the screws or nails are twisted or misshapen, use a drill to remove them. Replace them with new fasteners of the same type and size. A rust-resistant coating will protect the new fasteners from the elements and keep them looking good for longer than normal.

The best time to perform maintenance on a fence is before serious damage occurs. Pressure wash a wood fence every two to three years to remove dirt, moss, and mildew that can weaken the structure. Afterward, stain the fence with a water-resistant polyurethane stain to preserve the wood and help it resist moisture.

In metal fences, rust spots are a clear sign that the fence needs to be repaired. Rinse the fence using a nonionic detergent and clean off any rust with a wire brush. If there is a lot of rust, apply a rust-converting chemical; phosphoric and tannic acid solutions are most effective. Follow all manufacturer instructions and wear personal protective equipment when applying these chemicals.

A chain-link fence can also be damaged by a storm, misdirected vehicle, or other forces. Replacing a damaged section of the fence fabric is easy enough. Start by removing the ties that hold the fencing to the top and bottom rails. Pull the old section away from the existing fence with linesman’s pliers. Then cut a piece of new fabric to match the damaged section and slip on a coupler to connect it to the existing railings.

Stainless steel screws are more durable than galvanized metal ones. Use them to replace loose or missing fasteners in your fence, especially if it’s located near a saltwater beach.