Repairing a fence post takes a lot of work and time; especially, if the post is set in concrete. Instead of removing the concrete with the post, try removing the post and leaving the concrete for its replacement.
Removing a fence post, although it sounds like an impossible task, is completely possible. Leaving the concrete foundation behind will even save you money in your post replacement.
Unfortunately, the process of removing a post from concrete can become more time-consuming than it is worth if not done properly. Save yourself both time AND money by reading everything you need to know to replace a fence post without removing the concrete below!
1. Take Down the Fence
Removing a fence post unfortunately first requires that the fence itself be taken apart.
If only one post needs replaced, you do not have to take down the entire fence. Only remove the parts of the fence directly affected by the post being replaced.
This will consist of individual fence panels as well as top and bottom cross beams. The exact pieces that need to be removed will depend on the type and style of your fence.
Be sure that you keep any pieces of the fence you takedown in a safe, organized space until you are ready to put the fence back up.
You may find it helpful to label which pieces go together prior to taking them down. This will speed up the reconstruction process after the post has been replaced.
2. Remove the Main Post
How you remove the main post will depend on the reason that the post is being replaced.
The most common reason for replacing a fence post is either a cracked or rotten post. If this is the case, break the main portion of the post off and get ready to remove the portion that remains in the hole.
To get the remaining pieces out of the concrete, start by using a crowbar to free as much of the post from the hole.
In the event you are looking to remove a whole, intact post from concrete you could cut the post and then use the crowbar to remove the remaining chunk of the post.
However, with a bit of ingenuity (and a lot of leverage), you may be able to remove the entire post out of the concrete in one piece.
Start by screwing a spare piece of wood securely onto the side of the fence post.
If you have one available, use a car jack to pop the post out of the hole. However, if you do not have a car jack on hand, you can construct a lever instead.
You will need to find a fulcrum to place your lever on. This can be built out of almost anything as long as it is sturdy and gives you a high enough angle for the beam.
Slide a strong beam (preferably a 4×4 or a piece of steel) that is around eight to ten feet long on top of the fulcrum and under the spare piece of wood.
To remove the post from the hole, start putting weight on the opposite end of the beam. Try standing on the beam or letting a few of your kids act as counterweights.
Although standing on the beam is the easiest way to get weight on the lever, you may need something heavier than you and your kids.
If so, try stacking a few bags of fertilizer, gardening soil, concrete, or whatever else you may have at your disposal.
Add weight slowly and keep a close eye on where the post is moving to avoid getting injured.
Another thing to watch for with this method is the concrete moving.
Depending on how much concrete was used and how well it attached to the post, this method may pull up more than just the post. If the concrete foundation comes up too, just dig out the hole and set the new post normally.
3. Remove any Remaining Pieces and Clear the Foundation
No matter what method you used to remove your fence post, there will likely be pieces of debris still inside the concrete foundation. These pieces will need to be removed in order for the new post to sit securely.
Take your crowbar and chip away at any pieces remaining and pull them out of the hole. For any stubborn pieces, use a grinder to break them up and then scoop them out of the hole.
Do your best to get as much of the old post out so that the new post can easily fit inside the hole.
Watch this video explanation/slideshow to see the process of clearing a concrete footing.
Because it is so important the new post fit easily in the hole, every last bit of debris should be removed from the concrete foundation.
The fastest way to clear all the debris is to burn it.
Have a hose standing by in case any flames or sparks find their way out of the foundation.
Grab some dry moss or any other kindling, light it and set it inside the hole. In order to keep the fire burning long enough to clear out any remaining pieces of the fence post, you may need to set up a fan or blow on it frequently.
Once the debris has all burned and the fire has died off, grab a shop vacuum and suck out all the ashes.
This should leave you with a clean, empty foundation to set your new post into.
4. Replace the Post
Be sure to use the same size post as the previous piece or it may not fit properly in the hole.
If your new post struggles to slide into the concrete foundation, you may need to sand it down a bit. However, you do not want to remove too much of the post’s bottom as this will make it more vulnerable to breaking under pressure.
Check to see that your new post is level and sits at the proper height. At least 20 inches of the post needs to be in the ground. The exact depth of your fence post will depend on the height of the actual fence.
Rule of thumb says at least a third of the fence height should be buried underground. With this in mind, a six-foot fence will need an eight-foot post buried at two feet underground.
5. Fill the Hole
Now that the old post has been removed, the hole cleared and the new post set you can start filling in the gaps.
Doing this will not require a large amount of product and can be done with sand or concrete.
Before you pour in the sand or concrete, double-check that your post is level and at the right height. Ask a friend, family member, or helping neighbor to hold the post level while you fill the hole.
When using sand, be sure that the hole is completely filled and that no air space remains. If the sand shifts and the post leans, it could cause damage not only to the post itself but to the entire fence line.
If you choose to fill the hole with concrete you will need to mix it well prior to pouring it into the hole. Be careful not to overfill the hole and check frequently that it is still level while the concrete sets.
6. Re-Attach the Fence
Once the sand is poured or the concrete is completely set you can begin rebuilding your fence.
Make sure that every piece is placed back in its original order and that no pieces have gone missing in the process of post replacement.
After the fence has been reconstructed, you can go back to enjoying privacy in your yard with a sturdy fence!
Removing Concrete and the Post
Although saving money on having to repour concrete sounds ideal, the time and effort that is needed to replace a post without removing the concrete may not be worthwhile.
Want to avoid all the trouble of keeping the concrete foundation intact while replacing your rotten or broken fence post? Keep reading to learn the fastest method for removing and replacing a fence post set in concrete.
Take Down the Fence
Carefully take down the fence supported by the post needing replaced. Be sure to keep track of how the fence should go back together and place every piece somewhere they will not get lost.
Remove the Post AND the Concrete Foundation
Removing a fence post and its concrete foundation can be done in a variety of ways.
The most labor-intensive method of removing a fence post and its concrete foundation is to dig the entire structure out and then remove it from the hole. This will be especially difficult if the post is set deeper or in rocky soils.
Save yourself some digging and use this much faster method explained below.
Start by digging up the layer of soil on top of the concrete foundation. Dig around the top of the concrete to about an inch or two deep. Set this soil aside for later.
Grab a car jack and a steel chain and hooks to help remove the post.
Wrap your steel chain around the bit of concrete you already have exposed. Make sure that it is wrapped tightly and that there is ample chain left over.
Attach the chain to the car jack and start cranking until the fence post and the concrete come out.
For more ideas on how to remove a fence post, watch the following video from Handman Startup!
Set the New Post
Now that the old post has been removed you can replace it with a new one.
The removal of the concrete foundation should have left a deep enough hole for the new post; however, you should double-check that the new post will sit deep enough underground before making any permanent decisions (remember at least 1/3 of the desired fence height should be buried underground).
If the hole is too shallow, dig it down until your new post rests at the correct height. You will need a few inches around the entire post in order to leave room for concrete to set without breaking the post.
For some extra support, pour a few inches of gravel into the hole. Pack it down with the post making sure that it will be level.
Once your post is level, you can begin filling it with concrete.
For some concretes, you will not need to mix the cement prior to pouring it in (although it is perfectly fine if you do) and can even skip adding extra water. The cement will absorb water from surrounding soil helping protect your new post from rot.
Be sure to follow the instructions for use on the concrete you are going to use.
Once the concrete is poured check that your post is level again and then let it set completely.
For extra help getting your concrete poured perfectly, watch the video below.
Want something faster than concrete but just as strong? Try an expanding foam for your fence post replacement!
Simply follow the instructions on the bag, fill the hole and watch it expand right before your eyes! Need to see it to believe it? Watch the following video to see just how easy it is to use expanding foam in your fence post replacement.
After your concrete (this will take a few hours) or foam (will take a few minutes) has set completely use the soil that was set aside earlier to cover up the concrete or foam for a much cleaner look.
Rebuild the Fence
Now that you have a sturdier fence post in place, you can begin rebuilding your fence.
Make sure every piece ends up in its original place and that nothing is left behind (there should not be any extra screws).
It is as simple as that! No need to spend hours chipping away with a crowbar or watching over a fire. Save a bit of time and energy by just replacing the fence post and its foundation at the same time.