How to Fix a Fence Post That Is Leaning
Whether it’s from age or from environmental factors like erosion or heavy rains, any fence can fall victim to leaning posts. Here’s what you need to get everything upright and strong.
Assess the Situation
The first step in fixing a leaning post is to determine exactly why it’s leaning. Is it leaning because the wood has rotted at the base? Or because the ground underneath has given way and now the post is wobbling around in its hole? If your fence has metal posts, it’s important to make sure that the post isn’t actually bent due to some sort of impact. What you’re looking for is a clear understanding as to whether or not your post can simply be straightened or if it needs to be totally replaced. Both bent metal posts and rotten wood posts will likely require replacement. We’ll cover some temporary solutions for rotten wooden posts or posts that are rocking inside their concrete footing, but the general scope of this article covers posts that are in good condition and only require some earth work at the base.
First, Relieve Pressure From the Post
In order to straighten your post, you’re going to need to free it from the rest of the fence structure. With a chainlink fence, this is usually as simple as removing the retaining clips and the post cap to free it from the fence panel. For a wooden fence, you’re going to need a few spare 2x4x8s to create some bracing for your fence panels first. Attach your braces to both sides of the fence and stake them to the ground. Now you can pry your horizontal stringers off the fence post in question. If you don’t have access to the other side of the fence, or if you’re working in a tight corner, it might be easiest to remove the fence pickets from both sides of the post and use your 2x4s to create a temporary post on either side.
Excavate Around Your Post
Now it’s time for the hard part. Assuming that your post was properly set in the beginning, there’s likely going to be a large chunk of concrete around the base of your post. Your goal isn’t to uproot or to break off this prehistoric chunk of stone but simply to excavate around it, about 18 inches around and down about two feet. The goal is to remove enough material that you can return your post to a perfectly vertical position and brace it into place. Use a level to make sure that you’re vertical and do a light test-fit of your fence panel to make sure that it will go back into place properly.
Backfill the Hole
At this point, you have some options for filling the hole back in so that your work stays in place. If you’ve got reasonably dry, rocky soil, you can backfill your hole with a 50/50 mixture of wet sand and small gravel and pack it on heavily and tightly into place. Leave your post braces in for a few days, and you should be able to reinstall your fence panel. For a stronger solution, pour a bag of fast-setting concrete directly into your new hole and around the base of the post. Next, slowly pour about a gallon of water into the hole and soak all the way through the dry concrete. It should be set in about 40 minutes to an hour, and you should be able to re-attach your fence panel within four to six hours.
What Other Options Are There?
Your home improvement store has a good range of products that will help with some of the other causes of a leaning post or with posts that are in tight spots where the above method won’t work. Here are a few of our favorites:
- If your post is rocking around inside of its concrete footing, a good solution is a steel wedge. These can be driven between the post and concrete footing to straighten a leaning or wobbly post.
- If you’ve got a wooden post that’s rotted at the base and you’re only looking for a temporary solution, these straps will definitely buy you some time, and they’re easy to install.
- If you’ve got a square wooden post that’s leaning, but you can only access it from one side, this heavy-duty bracket is a very strong solution and should last a long time.
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