Keeping your fence well-maintained can extend its life and improve its appearance. Look for damage and take action quickly to minimize the problem.
Some fencing repair projects may be suitable as do-it-yourself jobs, but some will require professional help. A fence contractor is best equipped to deal with leaning fences, ground shifting, significant rot, or structural problems.
Bracing Sagging Panels
Fences are meant to beautify your property and help you safeguard it from trespassers, but even a sturdy wood fence requires regular maintenance. The key to avoiding bigger problems is to perform regular inspections and correct minor issues before they worsen. The most common repair issue with wood fences is rot, but it is also possible for fence posts to become loose or fall over. Other problems that often arise include broken slats and panels, which can be caused by severe weather or simply wear and tear.
The most important thing to do when a fence panel becomes damaged is to determine why it’s sagging. It could be as simple as a wind gust or as complex as the base of the fence post shifting over time. If it’s the latter, the best solution is to dig up and replace the post.
If the problem is a missing or broken slat, then the repair is relatively easy. Just remove the caps from the damaged posts, then use a hammer and chisel to loosen and remove the screw that holds the top railing to the tabs inside the post. Once that’s done, simply pull the railing away until you reach the slat that needs replacing. Once you’ve found a replacement, simply put everything back together.
Pre-built wooden fence panels are a little more difficult to repair, but it is possible. It’s usually best to replace the entire panel if the bottom is rotted out, sagging stringers are visible, or multiple boards are missing.
Another common repair issue is damaged rails. These are a bit more complicated, but can be fixed by leveling the rail and then using T-braces to reattach it to the post. This method is more durable than just nailing the rail to the post and can be used for both wood and vinyl fences.
Finally, a quick tip for all fence owners is to check with your local utility companies before digging into your yard to mark where pipes and wires lay. This way, you can avoid damaging a utility line or accidentally running over it while performing any necessary fence repairs.
Replacing Damaged Rails
A fence’s rails keep the panels and boards from sagging, but they can also be damaged. Whether the cause is impact, water damage or rot, these rails can no longer support the panel and need to be replaced. Fortunately, you can replace them without much difficulty yourself. You’ll need some 2x4s, wood preservative and a brace band. First, measure the length of your old rail and cut two pieces of 2×4 to that length using a miter saw. Then, fit one of the pieces in place by clamping the brace band around it and driving a carriage bolt through the bottom end of the board into the steel brace band. Use a spirit level to ensure the board is straight and secure it with a bonding adhesive that’s made for metals. The adhesives are available in tubes that fit onto a caulk gun.
It’s also a good idea to add extra concrete around the base of the post for added strength. This is especially important if your fence sits on dirt, which can be prone to sinking or shifting over time. It’s best to use concrete that is designed for residential construction, as it will stand up better to the elements than plain gravel.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to plan your repairs carefully. For example, if you’re repairing wood, try to avoid the most moisture-prone months of spring and summer. Rain and snow will saturate the wood and lead to rotting and mildew. And don’t forget to manage vegetation that grows near your fence. Too many plants can interfere with the stability of posts, and they can also serve as a breeding ground for destructive pests.
If you’re not comfortable tackling your fence repair project yourself, consider hiring a professional. Fence companies have the specialized tools and equipment required to complete the job safely and efficiently. Not to mention, they’ll have the experience and know-how to prevent costly mistakes that can ruin your fence. And with their exceptional customer service, you’ll get the results you want without a lot of headaches along the way.
Repairing Cracks and Holes
Whether due to impact damage or slow weathering, wood fences often develop cracks and holes. These can be expensive to replace, but if you catch them early enough they’re easy to repair. When a hole or crack appears, start by sanding the area and the surface around it. Next, apply wood putty with a putty knife, then wait 24 hours. Finally, sand again to smooth the putty and use stain to blend it in with the rest of the fence.
Holes in a fence can also be repaired using expanding foam. It is important to spray the foam slowly in order to get a full expansion and prevent the hole from closing back up. Once the foam has sat overnight, remove any excess using a small saw. Finish the hole by applying a plastic auto body filler to keep it sealed and to make it look more like the surrounding areas of the fence.
If you have a vinyl fence, you can use an epoxy resin designed for this type of material. This is an inexpensive option that’s easier to use than welding, which requires specialized tools. Once you’ve mixed the putty and waited 24 hours, sand again to smooth it and then apply a sealant or stain.
A broken fence post is a bit more difficult to fix than a damaged panel, as you will have to dig out the old concrete foundation and replace it. You may need to use wooden braces to hold the fence in place while digging, depending on how the posts are set in concrete. Once you’ve removed the old post, dig a new hole about 8 to 12 inches in diameter and add concrete, making sure it is thoroughly tamped.
Once the hole is filled, you can attach a new rail to it, fastening it with screws or brackets depending on what type of fence you have. If your damaged rail is rotted, however, you might have to replace it entirely. A professional can weld the rotted sections together, but you can do just as well with a wood preservative and a 2×4. Then, simply screw the new section in place, making sure to use a metal T-brace at each end for extra support.
A gate has more moving parts than a fence panel, so it’s more likely to experience wear and tear. Repairing gates often involves reattaching hinges and latches that come loose, which could affect how the gate closes. It’s also important to make sure the latch isn’t too close or far away from the post, as this can lead to a sagging gate or one that can’t be closed at all.
If a wooden gate has rot or insect infestation, it may be beyond repair. This type of damage is hard to prevent because wood is a natural material that attracts insects. But if you regularly inspect your fence and keep up with maintenance tasks like sanding off mild rust and painting over deteriorated metal, this will help your fence look better for longer.
When repairing a wooden fence, use pressure-treated wood if possible because it contains preservatives to protect the wood from rain, snow and frost that can cause it to rot. Other types of wood that can withstand underground weather conditions include redwood and cedar. But, if you have a wooden fence that isn’t protected by a preservative or other protective coatings, apply exterior stains or paints to keep it looking great.
The most common reason for a sagging fence is a broken post, but it’s usually easier to fix gate posts than fence posts. If you can see where a post is sagging, remove it by breaking up the concrete with a sledge hammer or digging it out of the ground. Then, dig a hole for a new post that’s as deep as the old one and three feet wide. Use a level to ensure the new post is plumb and backfill with concrete.
When you hire City-Gates to repair a fence or gate, you know you’re getting high-quality work that will stand the test of time. They provide each specialist with rigorous training and follow a strict protocol to make sure all repairs are done right the first time. This attention to detail is what sets them apart from other companies in Manhattan and why they’re known for their premium results.