Backyard fences that are leaning or sagging are a typical occurrence and a common job for carpenters. Unsupported fences might detach entirely and fall apart if not remedied.
This post will teach you how to fix a leaning fence with the bare minimum of equipment and supplies. I’ll also share some basic tips to make sure your fences remain well-protected in the long term! Before you jump into repairing your clients fences, make sure you are working with the right carpenters insurance.
OVERVIEW OF LEANING FENCES
As the vertical posts that attach a fence to the ground decay, the fence will start to droop and come apart. As a result, you’ll have to re-anchor old entries frequently. Unfortunately, in order to get fences upright and safe again, you may need to replace all of the posts.
Obviously, digging post holes is a big component of this activity. Digging around an existing fence, on the other hand, may be time-consuming and annoying!
As bizarre as it may seem, I believe that a wrecking bar is the greatest tool for this job… I’ll explain why shortly.
Once the poles are in place, securely connect the horizontal “rail” to them. This is done with a mix of gun-driven nails and long screws. However, using a drill/driver combo, you may complete the entire procedure with screws alone.
And, for good fastening, make sure you’re using 3-1/2′′ exterior-grade screws. These ceramic-coated screws are extra-long and enable complete attachment as well as long-term weather protection.
STEP ONE: RESTORE LEANING FENCES TO THEIR ORIGINAL POSITION
Fences that are badly leaning require a triage approach to repair. The first step is to ensure that it doesn’t become any worse while you’re working on it!
Then, by using 24 braces to support your leaning fence, you can push it into a vertical position.
This is a really straightforward procedure. Simply push the 2×4 heel into the ground approximately 5 feet away from the fence. Then, with your shoulder, push the fence upright and lean the free end of the 24 against it.
To force the fence into a true plumb position, pull down on the 24 to produce extra strain. Just keep in mind that changing the support lumber in this manner might damage the surface of the fence.
STEP TWO: REATTACH RAILS TO THE POSTS
Look around for any pieces of the fence that may have detached over time (When sagging begins, nail-fastened fences are infamous for pulling apart.)
Reattach any loose rails to the fence posts that are securely fastened.
Simply press on the existing posts from both sides to test them. You can probably just reconnect sagging parts straight to them if they withstand effort.
Replace the rails against the post by pushing or clamping them in place (using “quick clamps” if you have them). Screw them in place using 3-1/2′′ screws. You may have to drive through surface pickets as well, but in a whole fence line, a few screw heads are barely discernible.
Cut or break any exposed nails that prevent the rails from resting flat against the post.
STEP THREE: IDENTIFY BAD POSTS
A lengthy fence run may have had one or more posts fail totally and become loose (this is frequently what causes leaning fences to begin with.)
Look for posts that aren’t well-anchored. The fence will typically sway or wobble around them. Check to determine whether their bases have rotted away at ground level.
When you dig a bit deeper, you may discover that the initial concrete anchor was too shallow to sustain a tall fence.
In either instance, a new post will have to be placed near the existing one. However, I frequently leave the old post in place rather than removing it to prevent inflicting further damage to the fence.
STEP FOUR: DIG A NEW POST HOLE
Even in the best of conditions, digging post holes by hand for your leaning fences is challenging. Digging around an existing fence is, without a doubt, a nightmare.
Shovels and picks, however, are practically useless in these situations. They can’t be operated at the appropriate angle, and they leave an excessively large hole.
Post holes that are thin (approximately 2-3 times the width of the post) and deep work best. As a result, I like to gouge out the ground with a long wrecking bar and remove it out in scoops.
For a 6′ fence, at least 2′ of the post should be in the ground. Obviously, more is preferable, but in some circumstances, hard clay and rocky soil simply won’t allow it.
Dig a hole to the depths of which you can barely reach the bottom. I know it’s a pain, but persevere!
STEP FIVE: CUT A NEW POST AND INSTALL IT
Measure from the bottom of the post hole to the top of the upper rail. Cut a 44 post to this length and place it in the hole.
The cut can be done with any type of saw, from a circular saw to a handsaw. However, the ideal instrument for cutting thick post material is a 12′′ MITER SAW. Regardless, a speed square makes the cut arrangement much easier.
Use a 2′ or 4′ level to level the post and 3-1/2′′ screws to secure it to the rails. If you’ve never removed pickets before, just screw them into the rail and post through their faces.
That’s pretty much all there is to it when it comes to installing the post. The rails and the old post are connected, tying the new post into the fence’s framework. After that, everything will be safe, thanks to a new concrete boot.
However, before pouring concrete, I prefer to go the additional mile and form a “screw tree” at the bottom of the post to improve anchoring.
STEP SIX: POUR CONCRETE AROUND THE NEW POST
A bagged concrete mixture is actually ideal for post-anchoring scenarios like these. It can be blended with a little water in the hole. Alternatively, some items may be dropped in dry and will absorb moisture and firm up on their own!
I prefer to mix the stuff myself in order for it to set faster.
I start by putting some water into the hole, then half of an 80-pound bag. I use my wrecking bar to combine the water and compound one more.
But be careful not to overwater the mixture! You simply need a small amount to make a thick slurry.
I add a small amount of water bit by bit and the rest of the bag once the initial piece is combined. I use the wrecking bar to churn out air bubbles and press concrete into all the spaces surrounding the post. I usually fill the hole up to a couple of inches above ground level.
STEP SEVEN: REATTACH THE PICKETS
If you have to remove pickets to make room for your new post, now is the time to reconnect them. Screw 2′′ exterior-grade screws through the faces of the pickets into the rails and posts to secure them.
A handful of screws per rail is usually plenty. Set the screws 1 to 1-1/2′′ in from the picket’s outside edges. Slightly countersink them (set the heads below surface level).
New pickets can be purchased for close to nothing if your pickets were destroyed during removal. Always remember to match the width and thickness of the original pickets. With a circular saw or even a handsaw, you can simply cut them to length.
Finally, the rails are securely secured to the old posts, and your new posts are in position. There will be no more sagging fences!