Rotting fences make bad neighbors
June 27, 2008 2:49 PM   Subscribe

I am shoring up a sagging fence that I will help replace in a year. The original posts are not in cement and are rotting at the base. I'm trying to figure out how to attach some support posts.

1) I am trying to put in those metal posts (not chainlink) that are used to build wire fences, and use them to support the sagging fence.

a. How do I get those green metal posts in the ground? Do I pound them in? Dig a hole adjacent to the rotting post? There are a lot of roots in the soil from an adjoining pine tree.

b. Is there a good webpage or a youtube that shows how to use those channel lock fence tool/pliers? I have got it partially figured out, but could use some tips.

c. Should I need to use guy wires to hold the fence up, how do I cheaply tension the baling wire, and what should I use as an anchor? Rebar stakes?

Thanks. I obviously didn't grow up on a farm...

I'm attaching the floppiest part of the fence to our adjoining shed with stranded 20 gauge baling wire. I know from perusing earlier threads that there are some serious load tying geeks out there and I hope to hear from you.
posted by mecran01 to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
a. You need a fence post driver.
posted by xod at 3:28 PM on June 27, 2008

Response by poster: Xod: thanks, I will try to beg/borrow/steal something along those lines.
posted by mecran01 at 4:00 PM on June 27, 2008

How do I get those green metal posts in the ground? Do I pound them in? Dig a hole adjacent to the rotting post?

Depends on what you mean by "those green metal posts"!

Products exist that can be put into the ground by just hitting them with a hammer - but obviously this depends on the shape of the post.

I also learned from Firefly that you can get a tool called a post holer, for making holes for posts.
posted by Mike1024 at 4:01 PM on June 27, 2008

Can sometimes rent them from hardware stores
posted by leslies at 4:02 PM on June 27, 2008

Response by poster: It looks like our hardware store sells them for 30 bucks. Time to talk to the neighbor guy with tools.

That metpost stuff that Mike1024 linked to looks useful but spendy.
posted by mecran01 at 4:20 PM on June 27, 2008

Best answer: Is this a wood fence? If so it can sometimes be easier to put your metal posts in the centre of the spans. Use a post driver like in xod's link. The bigger one is better if you can lift it and the type with vertical handles extending the entire length of the tube is the best as you can get your hands in a good place more often. Once the posts are in place use a Galvanized pipe strap to secure the metal post to the wood. Be aware this is nasty hard work. If your in farm country PT round wood posts are cheaper than metal posts and can be driven with a tractor.

Mike1024 writes "a tool called a post holer, for making holes for posts"

A post holer is used when you want to set the post in concrete.

"Is there a good webpage or a youtube that shows how to use those channel lock fence tool/pliers? I have got it partially figured out, but could use some tips."

Most of the bits on those pliers are for barb wire attached to wood posts with staples.
posted by Mitheral at 5:16 PM on June 27, 2008

Best answer: If you use those green metal posts (which currently hold up my mailbox post and a couple of other bottom rotted fence posts here), you can drive them in with anything from the biggest hammer you can get your hands on to a large rock provided you put a piece of wood on top of the post before you start pounding. That way you don't dewform the tops of the posts.

The last one of these I bought came from Home Depot and was a couple of dollars.

I use 48" green metal posts and drive them in right against the existing posts, and I don't stop driving them in until there's only about 24" above ground level.

Then, drive nails through a few of the holes in the metal posts into the wood.
posted by imjustsaying at 5:20 PM on June 27, 2008

Best answer: The "green metal posts" are probably what are called "U-posts" or "T-posts," depending on brand, size, and style. They aren't really meant to support a tall wooden fence in a windstorm -- they are for stringing electrified wire and wire-mesh fencing (. You can put them in with a sledgehammer, but a slide hammer (like the one linked in the first answer) is a lot easier to use.

If you want to be really fancy, you could use turnbuckles on the wire guys. Rebar hammered in at a 45* angle will work fine to support the guys; so would wood stakes at less cost. If you have the land space, I've seen a lot of sagging fences supported by 2x4's at a 45* angle, nailed at the top to the posts and at the bottom to stakes in the earth -- strong but ugly. (Also, is baling wire strong enough to use as guys in this situation? Or do you need a thicker, maybe stainless steel, wire or cable?)

But is this really the cheapest and best solution? T-posts aren't cheap -- I think I paid $4 or so each for some a while back; I recently saw short sections of rebar at $1.50 for each 2' section; and turnbuckles aren't free, either. Why not just put in new metal or wood posts (done correctly, set in concrete, etc) and use those to hold up the current fence, and then replace the rest next year? If you are careful on the spacing, once the new fence is finished the stop-gap posts will blend right in.

I guess I'm thinking you might spend a bunch on a temporary fence repair, only to have it blow over anyway, or to end up with a bunch of posts and other stuff you don't need a year later. Sometimes it is cheaper just to do things the right way, even if you have to do so incrementally.
posted by Forktine at 5:24 PM on June 27, 2008

Response by poster: There are about four posts that need support. I'm maxing out at $40 for the temporary fencing. I agree it is a half-*ssed solution, but there are complex variables at play here involving the personalities of all involved parties, my capacity for stress, the spouse factor, etc. that necessitate a quick and crappy solution. I work with the neighbor at church, and my wife is my wife, and I am wedged in the middle, a position I wouldn't be in if I could just learn to tell people to go to hell, thankyouverymuch.

The problem with properly setting support posts is that it subtlely shifts the property line, which may cause problems for someone in the future. In other news, the neighbor is 78, so if I stall long enough I may never have to build the replacement fence. Our eventual agreement, which my wife is trying to back out of, is to have him supply the wood and I install the fence--next summer.

And now, I'm off to see my good friend Mr. Tagamet.
posted by mecran01 at 6:56 PM on June 27, 2008

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