The general rule of thumb among our company and others is that if you need to replace 20% of your fence, it might be time for a fence replacement. Some exceptions to this would be if the cost to replace the fence is just too expensive. If the cost of repairs exceeds the cost to replace then of course you want to do a replacement. If your fence is at the end of its life you probably want to get some professional opinions. Replacing a few pickets is usually not a big deal. If you have an old leaning fence, you might consider replacing a section of your fence if you don’t want to replace the entire fence. In general, doing repairs on an old fence is like opening the proverbial can of worms. Most old fences are being held together simply because they haven’t been given a reason to fall apart. When you remove a trim piece, you might be surprised to see what’s under it and you’ll be lucky if something doesn’t fall apart.
That being said, let’s assume you don't need any major fence repair, and we will share the steps we would take to assess the damage and do the repairs. Even if you know exactly what you want done, we still need to see how it all ties in. The first thing we like to do is take a quick walk around to take a look at the overall appearance of the fence looking for missing and broken parts and taking notes. We will be looking for sections of the fence that are leaning. We’ll look at any gates and their condition. On the second pass we will check the condition and sturdiness of every post. At this point we have a pretty good idea of the condition of the fence. Now we can begin estimating the needed repairs to help make the repair vs replacement decision. Next we’ll go through some of the most common repairs we see and a brief summary of how we make repairs.
Gates are a very common repair issue. Most gates we see are being dragged across the yard just to get them opened and closed. They are hanging on by some loose hinge bolts, the latch, and a rock in front of the gate. In the case of gates you can decide to put a temporary bandaid on it using old wood that may not support the gate, or you can replace it. We normally only replace gates, and we replace them with steel framed gates and steel poles. These gates will open and close as intended for the life of the house with very little adjustments needed. The poles must be straight and not loose or they will need to be replaced. If they are solid then you can just replace the gate. We use custom gate frames and hardware but if you want to do it yourself, Adjust-A-Gate makes steel frames you can purchase at Home Depot.
Leaning fences are a common issue and a not so easy repair. If your gate is leaning it’s going to affect two or more sections of the fence. And over time these sections will pull down adjacent sections. The poles in these sections will have to be dug up and reset with concrete. What needs to be determined at this point is, what is the condition of the poles and fence in the affected sections. If the poles are all in good condition and the fence is solid, we can dig up the poles and either prop up the fence or strap it to the ground to get back to being level. Once everything is standing straight again we can refill the holes where the poles have been dug up and the old concrete ball has been jackhammered and removed. If poles in the leaning sections need to be replaced, then most likely the entire section or sections have to be replaced.
Broken or loose fence posts are another common issue. Many times this will be the first sign of a soon to be leaning fence. If you have a wood post that is loose or broken, Simpson Strong-Tie makes some mending brackets that can be used for a semi-permanent repair. The fence will have to be disassembled a bit to get to the pole. If you have an old fence anytime you start disassembling a fence you are taking some risk of having to replace a larger section than you intend to repair. If the wood post cannot be supported by one of these brackets the next option is to replace the pole. In this case we can try to pull up the pole if it is safe to do so without destroying the fence. If it looks like it will not come out easily then the concrete around the pole will have to be jackhammered so everything can be removed. Once removed a new pole can be set and everything reassembled. Steel poles are normally just replaced by pulling or jackhammering.
Repairing fence pickets is not difficult and can usually be achieved but anyone with a little handyman skills. You can use nails or screws to replace these pickets. If you are going to use nails we recommend using rink shank stainless steel nails. If you are going to use screws we recommend pre-drilling the holes and using a coated exterior screw. If you have a broken fence rail, all the pickets will have to be removed and replaced. Once the pickets are removed you can then easily remove the broken rail and replace it. Once replaced, re-install the pickets. Be careful when removing the pickets so as not to break them. If the pickets are nailed in, you may be replacing some pickets and possibly all of them.
Please give us a call for your fence repair needs thank you.
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