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Types of Fence Repair You Can Do Yourself

Fences can sustain damage from many outside forces. Whether it’s due to weather, physical damage, or pesky wood-destroying insects, even the best fencing needs repair from time to time.

Fence Repair

The average cost to repair a fence varies depending on the type of damage and the parts needed for the fix. Generally speaking, however, wooden fences tend to have higher repair costs than other materials.

Leaning fence posts can be caused by several factors, from a loose base to rot and insect damage. These can cause the post to shift, requiring the addition of a brace to stabilize it. If the post is rotted and not easily moved, it may need to be replaced altogether.

If you have a loose wooden post, wedging a 2 x 4 between the ground and the post can help relieve pressure and keep it upright until a more permanent repair can be made. You can also use post anchors, spikes or menders. These are metal devices that can be driven into the ground and hammered into the post to keep it from moving. They are available at home improvement centers and hardware stores.

For a wooden or rotted post that is unstable but not yet sagging, wedging a piece of lumber at a 45-degree angle between the ground and the fence can help. You can also make a quick and easy fence brace using standard steel angles (30mm wide on each side). These can be found at most DIY stores.

To fix a post that is loose and shifting, dig around the base of the post. There is likely to be a chunk of concrete there from the original fence installation. You don’t want to uproot this, but you do need to excavate to the space underneath it to remove enough dirt so that you can return the post to a vertical position. Use a level to ensure the post is vertical before you do this.

Lastly, you can use a hydraulic jack to raise the post and nail it into place. Once the post is secure, fill in the hole with quick-setting concrete to add a permanent support and prevent it from leaning again in the future.

You will need to know who owns the fence if it is between two properties. Confirm this by speaking to your neighbor, or checking property records. Sometimes this is obvious, but if it is not, you will need to check with the county recorder or assessor’s office.

Rotting Posts

The biggest threat to wooden fence posts is rot. Whether it’s caused by prolonged exposure to soil moisture or simply old age, rotting is a common problem for wood fence posts and can cause them to become weak and potentially snap in high winds or other extreme weather conditions. Fortunately, rot can be prevented with proper installation and maintenance.

One of the main causes of rot is a lack of drainage around and underneath the wood fence post. This allows for soil to remain wet, which in turn encourages the growth of fungi and organisms that can quickly damage the post and lead to rot. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take action before the problem worsens.

Proper installation will help prevent rot, but so will choosing a suitable wood type for your fence posts. Cheaper lumber purchased at big box stores can deteriorate rapidly in humid conditions and may be more susceptible to rot than higher-quality, expertly-chosen lumber. If possible, consider using a natural wood like cedar or redwood for your fence posts. Otherwise, choose a pressure-treated option that’s treated with the preservative chromate copper arsenate to provide long-lasting protection against rot.

Another way to protect against rot is to coat your wooden fence posts with a stain that contains a water repellent. This can also help keep the wood dry and protect against fungi and organisms that can damage it.

Once your fence posts are in the ground, they should be buried at least as deep as their height. The hole should also be lined with gravel so that the bottom of the post stays dry. A post base, which is a metal plate designed to keep the post off the concrete, can add additional support and protection against rot.

If you suspect a post is rotting, use a screwdriver to prod the area and see how easily it penetrates. If rot is present, you’ll need to cut the lowest inch of the post off and replace it with a new section that is properly installed in concrete.

Sagging Rails

While they are not as common as leaning posts, sagging rails can cause significant damage to a fence. They usually develop because the span between a pair of posts is too great, or because the rail ends deteriorate or loosen over time due to weather and age. If the sagging is due to the span between posts, it can often be corrected by tightening the fasteners that secure the rails to their posts. In some cases, the rails may need to be replaced.

Sagging rails can also be caused by loose or rotting wood. Brush a wood preservative on the end of each rail to arrest incipient rot. If a sagging rail is a result of the span between posts, it can be repaired by adding a metal post-rail connector to tighten and strengthen the connection.

A sagging gate can be particularly dangerous, since it could prevent the latch from shutting completely and closing the gap at the bottom of the gate where it meets the ground. In most cases, a sagging gate can be saved by simply tightening the hinges and adjusting the stiles on which the gate rests.

Even with a well-built chain link fence, windstorms can wreak havoc with sections of the fabric. Affected areas of the fence can experience bent or damaged rails, broken posts or compromised wire mesh.

When a section of a chain link fence rail is affected, it is important to first assess the severity of the bend and determine if it can be straightened using your hands or a pipe wrench. If the bent rail is severe, however, you will need to use a power tool to remove the damaged section of the rail and replace it.

The easiest way to fix a bent fence rail is by placing a pipe wrench on either end of the damaged section of the rail and applying pressure in the direction you want to straighten it. Be sure to wear safety goggles and gloves to avoid getting cut when cutting the metal.

Wooden fence posts can weaken or break, whether they are installed directly in contact with soil or encased in concrete footings. Once a wooden fence post has been compromised, it needs to be replaced as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the surrounding fence panels and other structural components of your home. To replace a wooden fence post, the old post must first be removed by detaching it from all of the other connected components. Once the old post is out of place, dig a hole in the ground that is slightly larger than the original hole where it was inserted and then install a new wooden fence post.

Broken Slats

Though most fence damage calls require the expertise of a professional, there are some repairs that you can do yourself to extend your fence’s lifespan. You can take care of things like sagging rails and broken slats, and even add extra support to the posts. It’s important to know what types of fence repair DIY work you can do before calling a professional, as it will save time and money.

A common problem that a wood fence experiences is broken slats. When a slat breaks, it creates a gap that can be dangerous for pets and children to run through. While the best way to fix this is to replace the entire broken slat, you can also repair a broken slat with some basic materials.

Start by sanding the area with coarse sandpaper and wiping away any dust or dirt. This will make it easier for the putty to hold onto the surface.

Next, sand the area where you’re putting the wood filler. This will give the putty a smooth surface that’s more resistant to water.

Apply the wood filler to the damaged slat with a putty knife. Once the putty is dry, sand it again. You can also paint or stain the slat to match the rest of your fence.

Another quick and easy fence repair you can do is to use a pair of binder clips to bridge the gap on a busted slat. These are a lot stronger than toothpicks and can be used to keep kids and dogs from running through the gap. You can find a variety of these at most hardware stores.

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution to a broken slat, try using duct tape. This can be used on the inside of a gap, as well, and is surprisingly sturdy. The only downside is that it leaves a visible line of tape on the side of your fence, but it’s still worth it for a temporary fix.

Occasionally a post will break, and this can cause your fence to lean or sway. You can reinforce the post by adding a metal brace to it. You can purchase these at most hardware stores for $15-$20. To install a brace, simply line it up with the affected post and hammer it into the ground until it’s secure.