Fence Repair: How to Get a Fence Post Out of the Ground
A sturdy fence is only as good as its posts. So it stands to reason that if a fence post is damaged, it should be removed or replaced. But that may not be as easy as you think. Let’s look at how to get a fence post out of the ground.
Why a Fence Post Needs Removal
The main reason a fence post needs to be removed or replace is that it has rotted; it is no longer structurally sound. Other reasons why you should get a fence post out of the ground include: it is falling over, it wiggles more than a few inches, it was damaged by snow plows or vehicles, or it has sustained storm damage, as from falling tree limbs.
What are the Tools You Need?
The basic tools are:
- Tamping bar
- Digging bar
- Carpenter’s level
- Post hole digger (optional)
If you are using big digging equipment to get a fence post out of the ground you must call the DigLine at *811 at least two days prior to digging, and up to 10 days prior. The DigLine is a free service in Idaho that provides a one-call notification to all public utility companies, allowing them to mark their utility lines with paint or stakes prior to any excavation work. Beyond the potential danger of cutting through a gas or electrical line, you may be responsible for legal and financial costs of the damage otherwise. You must also be careful to avoid damaging sprinkler lines along your fence line.
How to Get a Fence Post Out of the Ground
1. Identify the post to be removed.
Is it rotted, falling over, or does it have some other visible problem?
2. Decide which side of the fence to work on.
3. Dig along the post, but only on one side, to create a hole approximately 12 inches wide towards you, and 6 inches deeper than needed.
4. Use a digging bar to go deeper into the soil, and a hoe to remove the soil from the hole.
5. Lift the loosened fence post out of the ground.
6. To pull the rails out of the post, tilt the post towards you while lifting it up at the same time.
Potential Problems When Removing a Fence Post
Concrete Footing. If the post has a concrete footing, you will need to use the digging bar to break up the concrete. Remove the concrete before attempting to remove the post.
Broken Post. If the post is broken off at or below ground level, and you cannot easily remove the stub, then wrap a small strap around the post stub and pull upwards once it is mostly freed. Most posts break about 6-8 inches below ground.
Installing a New Fence Post
1. Before putting in a new fence post, clean out any remaining wood, rotted post or concrete from the hole.
2. Insert the new post and tamp the dirt around it at least two different times as you fill in the hole. This will add stability to the new post.
3. Use the carpenter’s level to ensure that the new post is installed plumb vertically.
4. We recommend that you don’t use concrete to create a footer unless the post is being used on the hinge side of a gate. Concrete will trap water around the post and create wood rot.