A leaning fence post is a common problem that just about every fence owner will encounter given enough time. It doesn’t really matter how well the fence was installed initially – as weather, wood rot, and gravity have a way of causing fences to sag.
The cause for this leaning can vary, from a simple loose footing to a fence post that’s started rotting at the base. A loose or wobbly fence post is a fairly basic repair, while a rotted post is a more serious issue and will typically require you to remove the rotted post and replace it with a fresh one.
This post will mostly focus on how to fix leaning fence posts that are loose but still in relatively good condition. If you need a more extensive repair then check out my article on how to remove a broken or rotted fence post.
Tools & Materials
- Spare 2x4s (for bracing)
- Post repair bracket
- 2 ½” exterior wood screws
- Mini sledgehammer
- Posthole digger/tamping bar
Fixing a Leaning Fence Post – Guide
There are several ways to fix a leaning fence post, with some being more permanent than others. In this article, I’ll focus on ways to fix a fence post without deploying concrete mix.
This type of repair is faster and easier to perform than pouring concrete, making it possible to repair your fence in just a few hours. You’ll still be left with a sturdy fence post after completing the repair, and won’t need to mess around with concrete mix.
Fixing a Leaning Fence Post Set in Concrete
First off we’ll look at how to fix a leaning fence post set in a concrete footing. Fence posts set in concrete often come loose over time, particularly when they’re exposed to high winds, impacts, or even soil shifting around.
Step 1: Examine the Fence Post
The first thing you’ll want to do is examine the condition of the leaning fence post. Take a close look at the base of the post to check for rot or water damage, as well as any large cracks in the wood.
If the post is severely damaged or rotten, then there’s really no use trying to salvage it. Removing and replacing the post with a fresh one is the way to go in this case.
If the post is still in decent shape, and is merely loose or shifted inside its footing, then a repair is in order.
Step 2: Separate Fence Post from Panels
In order to access the fence post, you’ll need to separate the fence post from the panels. Separate the panels from the post using a prybar or cordless drill, and then use a few 2x4s leaned up against the fence panels as braces.
Stake the 2x4s to the ground to keep the fence panels from moving as you complete the repair.
Step 3: Excavate the Fence Post Base
The base of the fence post will likely be covered in dirt or grass, so you’ll want to dig it up in order to examine the base more closely. Pay particular attention to the area where the post buts up against the concrete footing, as this is where you’ll need to apply the repair bracket.
You’ll need some space between the concrete footing and the post in order to fit the metal repair bracket in.
Step 4: Install the Repair Bracket
Next, set the post repair bracket in position between the fence post and the concrete footing. Make sure the edge of the repair bracket slides into the gap between the post and concrete footing.
You generally want to install the repair bracket perpendicular to the fence line. This will make for a more secure repair than installing it in parallel with the fence.
Then, begin hammering the bracket with your sledgehammer to drive it into the gap. It can take a lot of hammering to move the bracket into place, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t seem like it’s working.
The goal is to hammer the repair bracket far enough into the ground that the “strike point” notch touches the ground. You may need to hammer the top of the repair bracket in order to get the bracket all the way in place.
As you hammer the bracket into position, you should notice that the fence post starts to feel more solid. That means the bracket is working, and you’re on the right track.
Step 5: Secure the Bracket to the Post
Once the bracket is driven into position, you’ll want to secure it to the fence post. Use several exterior grade screws to fasten the bracket to the post.
The bracket should have several pre-drilled holes in it specifically for this purpose, but if necessary you may need to drill additional holes into the bracket.
Repair bracket kits often come in sets of 2 – so you’ll have one bracket for each side of the post. This will ensure the repair is rock-solid and won’t shift or move over time.
If your kit has a second bracket, then you can install it on the opposite side of your first one. This isn’t always necessary though – as many times a single bracket is more than enough to secure a leaning fence post.
Step 6: Re-Attach Fence Panels
Now all that’s left to do is reattach the fence panels to your freshly repaired fence post. This can be done using the pre-existing screws and holes that were used the first time the fence was installed.
Position the fence panels in place using 2x4s as brackets. Then, using the screws or nails you removed earlier, reattach the fence panels to the fence post.
Use a level to ensure the fence panels are flush. If you don’t have someone to give you a hand while doing this step, then use a scrap piece of 2×4 as a shim to prop the fence panel above ground.
How to Fix a Leaning Fence Post Not Set in Concrete
If your fence post was not set in concrete, to begin with, then fixing it is fairly straightforward.
- First, you’ll want to separate the leaning fence post from the fence panels. Use a few 2x4s as a brace to keep the fence panels upright while you work on the fence post.
- Next, you’ll want to dig up the fence post base so you have enough room to reposition the fence post.
- A post hole digger/ pry bar can be helpful here as it will let you break up tightly packed dirt or stubborn rocks.
A good rule of thumb for the hole width is 2 to 3 times the width of the fence post. For a 4×4 post, a 12 inch diameter hole will work well. 2 to 3 feet deep will give you enough length to properly anchor an 8 foot post in dirt.
- Now you want to refill the hole you just dug to anchor the post in place. Have someone hold the post in position as you shovel the dirt back into place if possible. If your dirt is dry, then soaking it thoroughly with a hose will help it set in place. If your soil is sandy, then adding some loose gravel or crushed rock will help it hold the post in place securely.
- After you’ve re-filled the hole, use a shovel, scrap piece of wood, or your boot to tamp the dirt down. This will compress the soil and give it a rock-solid hold.
- Lastly, you’ll want to re-attach the fence panels to the fence post.
Featured image source.