Repairing Existing Fencing
Gravity and frost heaving can take its toll on fence posts. I often see fence lines that have developed a noticeable tilt. All too often an ambitious homeowner will try to push against the post to straighten it. The result is usually a cracked off fence post!
The simple way to straighten a fence line or post is to dig the dirt away from the tilted side of the post. With this dirt out of the way, you will immediately be able to straighten the post with no resistance. The dirt that was removed will immediately be used to fill the new cavity on the other side of the post.
The most common failure of older picket fences seems to be the horizontal rails that support the pickets. If you have to replace a rotted rail, it is major fence surgery. You will have to disassemble the wood pickets to replace just one rail! If you do this, replace the other rail at the same time, unless you are positive it is in excellent condition.
The rot in these rails can be slowed considerably by pretreating fence materials before they are built. This is covered in detail within the remainder of this bulletin. If you choose to use a clear or semi-transparent wood sealer for your fence, be SURE you use a synthetic wood sealant.