Fence post removal – How to remove a broken fence post
Anyone who has a fence has probably had to deal with the task of fence post removal at some point. The procedure to remove a fence post can vary depending on what kind of posts you are dealing with and how they are secured into the ground. When removing a fence post you need to lever the post out in an upwards direction from the soil, this will then loosen the soil around the post enabling you to remove it. If the post is pulled in any other directions it will cause the soil to become displaced making it harder to remove the post.
Fence post removal options will vary with the type of posts that have been used as well as the way that they are anchored in the ground. The following conditions will affect the amount of effort that is required to remove the post:-
- Size of the broken fence post.
- The depth to which the post has been set.
- Whether concrete has been used to secure it.
- The type or ground around the fence post and weather the soil is dry or wet (the drier the ground is the harder it will be to remove the post
- Whether the post was installed via hydraulic / mechanical devices or manual means
If you are looking for a way to remove broken fence post, tool varieties are available to help you. Successful fence post removal requires either an upwards pressure e.g. a lever using a fulcrum. In some instances removing the post can result in the actual post being damaged further and therefore removed fence posts might have to be sacrificed whilst being removed.
Tools for removing fence posts
There are a number of tools that can be useful for removing fence posts, whether they are in one piece or broken. After all, it can be very difficult to get all of the concrete out of the ground effectively without using tools of some kind. Useful tools for this type of job are:
- Hammer – a general purpose claw hammer is useful for removing any remaining fencing that may be attached to post via clips or nails.
- Sledge hammer – these are very useful for moving stubborn sections of concrete or loosening embedded posts.
- Spade / shovel – for digging and loosening the earth around the embedded post or concrete anchor.
- Concrete breaker – available to rent from tool hire shops, pneumatic breakers allow you to break up concrete around the base of fence posts.
- Crow bar – very useful for prying out firmly wedged posts
Broken fence post removal
If you are removing or replacing a broken fence post that is simply planted in the ground then figuring out how to remove fence posts is a lot easier. Many people find that they can dig around the fence post until they reach a point low enough to manoeuvre it out of the ground safely. If you are not looking to replace the broken fence posts, then you do not have to worry as much about getting the entire post out of the ground. If it breaks off the bottom of the post, you don’t have to worry about digging the rest out and this can simply be covered with soil. As the timber is a natural product, it will not hurt the environment to stay in the ground and will eventually breakdown.
The removal of a fence post that has been anchored into the ground with concrete will be different and potentially be more complex. While concrete is unlikely to damage the earth or leach anything into the soil, it is not something that you want to leave in the ground because it could cause problems with any future landscaping. The best way to remove concrete is to dig the earth out from around it to roughly its full depth. If a piece of post is still embedded in it, use this as a lever to move the concrete and pull it out of the ground.
Levering out an old fence post
As mentioned before, old fence posts can be levered out of the ground using a suitably solid piece of timber (e.g. 50 x 150mm timber, or 100 x 100m fence posts), bolted to the lower part of the embedded fence post. Using a fulcrum (something solid as a pivot point, e.g. some concrete blocks, stacked on solid ground or a board close to the post to a level higher than the point at which the lever is attached. With this in place, all that’s needed is a few heavy people to push down on the other end of the lever and pry it out of the ground. This method of fence post removal is one that works well, but some digging around the post base might be required if it’s been concreted into the ground.
Alternatively if the fence posts have snapped due to being rotten, you will need to try and drill into the remaining stub and drive in a long and fairly meaty screw or coach bolt. This can be used to prise the remaining fence post upwards using a crow bar, a pair of mole grips or using the lever method described above. The upwards motion should pull the stub out in one piece.