Repairing A Fence Post
A sturdy repair of a leaning fence post doesn’t have to include removal and replacement of the concrete pier that holds the rotted or broken post in place. And, it doesn’t have to include replacement of the post either. In fact, most of the time, this kind of repair can be made with nothing more than the installation of a pair of metal braces called fence post repair brackets. Waste not, want not! Caution: Not every post can be reused. If the rot at the post base extends more than eight or ten inches above the concrete pier, then the post should be replaced. Also, there must be at least three inches of concrete between the edge of the fence post and the outside edge of the pier.
Fence post repair brackets are available in two sizes, three and a half- and four-inch. One size for rough cut posts and another for finished posts. We tell you this because we brought back the wrong size our first time round.
One manufacturer claims that when using his fence post repair brackets, “[you can] Repair your leaning fence posts permanently! In 10 minutes!”. This may be true with some styles of good neighbor fences where the fence boards rest between the posts. But, such would not be the case with most others types of fences — especially where the fence boards cover one or both sides of the fence posts. The repair that we made actually took about forty-five minutes. Our time included attaching a temporary brace to the post, digging and cleaning away dirt at the post base and at the top of the concrete pier and removing and replacing a couple of fence boards. Also, our work included reattaching the top rail of the fence where it had separated from the leaning post.
Only a few items are required for this project. You will need a small block of wood, a piece of scrap 2×4 about 6’ long, a hammer, a flat pry bar, a shovel, a sledge hammer and a few screws or a handful of 10d galvanized nails.
First, the 2×4 is used to brace the fence and hold it in a plumb position until the repair can be completed. Holding the fence in an upright position, wedge one end of the 2×4 into the landscape and nail the other end of the brace to the fence post that you intend to repair. Don’t drive the nail all the way in. The brace is temporary and the nail will have to be removed once the repair has been made.
The next step is to remove fence boards that cover the area to be repaired. A block of wood should be used to buffer the blow of the hammer which will reduce the chance of damaging a fence board. Lay the block against the fence board and strike the block with the hammer. The flat pry bar can be helpful here.
With the post braced and the fence boards removed the next step is to shovel the dirt away and expose the base of the post and the top of the concrete pier. The area should be swept clean so that the outline of the post in the concrete can be clearly seen. This is important because attempting to drive a fence repair bracket in the wrong location can easily bend the bracket thus suddenly causing the project to become more than an unhappy experience for everyone involved. As the bracket is driven into place with the sledge hammer it crushes the post and wedges itself into the concrete. The first bracket usually goes in pretty easily. However, the second one is more difficult to install. This is because the first bracket usually uses up all of the available space that first existed between the post and pier. Therefore, be prepared to apply more force to each blow of the sledge hammer to properly seat the second bracket.
At this point the brackets can be bolted, nailed or screwed into the post. Since the brackets are tightly wedged between the pier and the post the method of attachment usually is not terribly important. However, where substantial post damage exists bolting can prove to be wise.
With the brackets attached replace the fence board(s), remove the temporary brace and refill the post hole. You have just saved over a hundred dollars. Go have a beer!