March 2020 -

My Spring Fence Repair

Owning my home has been as rewarding an experience as any I’ve ever had. But don’t let me get you wrong; it has come with its fair share of headaches. Over the mild winter we had in Columbus, I was able to take stock of different projects that needed to be addressed around the house. The first one to top the list was my privacy fence.

The previous owner improperly installed my fence, and an entire section had fallen over in a recent storm. The current posts were only about 40 inches tall, which is not enough to provide the necessary stability.

A fallen wood privacy fence in need of repair
My poorly installed Wood Privacy Fence

As any competent DIY’er does, when something breaks, you head to Google! I began to type “how to fix a privacy fence” the results started to load. Luckily for me, one of the first results was a very beneficial article from Home Depot aptly titled, How to Fix a Fence! The first few sections of the material covered how to clean and properly maintain a fence – but unfortunately, my wood privacy fence was well beyond just a good cleaning. I continued to scroll until I came upon the sections referring to fence post removal and installation. The online article described the best way to break up the old footing to get the original posts out. Still, it sadly didn’t go into much detail about how to set a new post. So back to the web, I went!

I found a few other blog posts and articles with piece-meal information that helped me build out a short checklist of the tools and equipment I would need for the project. Some of these items include: 

  • 3 lb sledgehammer 
  • Chisel
  • Shovel
  • Aggregate and concrete mix 
  • Level
  • Wood screws, drill, and necessary brackets and connectors for the panels

Okay, I thought, “this is fine”, I have most of these tools and from what I read the repair didn’t seem overly complicated. I set off to work one brisk Saturday morning, coffee in one hand and my iPhone, for quick YouTube access, in the other. I began removing screws from the gate that was still connected to the short 3.5-foot post and got it taken down pretty quickly. The next step was to dig around one side of the fence post until you hit the concrete footing. Once I hit the footing, the next step was to rock the post back and forth until I could break up the remaining earth around it, so it sat loosely in the hole. At this point, some sites said you may be able to lift the post out, but this post was a bit troublesome, so I needed to get down in there and break up some of the concrete with the sledge and chisel. After breaking away some of the concrete, I was able to lift the post out pretty quickly. 

Now it was time to hit the hardware store, my first of many trips… This time around, I knew I was only there looking for new posts, the aggregate, some quick setting concrete mix, and I needed to rent a post hole digger. Overall, it was a pretty easy in-and-out trip. As soon as I got home, I was excited to get back to work on my fence repair project! The posts I had picked up were 4 x 4 x 10, and what I read online said that you should bury about 1/4-1/3 the height of the post for proper stability. That meant I needed about a 3-foot deep hole to drop the new post into. This was probably some of the most challenging work of the day. The ground probably hadn’t thawed as much as necessary to perform this type of work. Still, after putting in some sweat equity, I got the hole dug to the proper depth.

Lumber stacked neatly on the shelves of a local lumberyard waiting for purchase.
The Local Lumberyard.

I then poured in about 2 inches of construction aggregate, which is a coarse mixture of stone, rocks, and sand that allow for proper drainage. I then set the post and used the level to ensure it was standing straight. I needed to make sure this part was done absolutely correctly, so the fence didn’t have a wavy appearance. Once it was aligned, I filled the hole with the concrete mix and let it set for about 4 hours. I came back a little later and reattached the gate and the fallen section of fence, and voila! I had a complete fence once again! I still wasn’t thrilled with the look, so after discussing with my wife, we decided to look for a professional fence contractor to come out and help us powerwash and stain the fence. I know, I know, this should have been the easy part that I could have done. But, painting and staining have always been jobs I find least enjoyable, so it was worth it to me to bring in a pro to take care of this portion so I could move on to the next project on our list.

A freshly stained wood privacy fence.
My newly Repaired and Stained Privacy Fence.