No part of a fence gets more use than the entrance gates. And, if your fence has been in place for a while, chances are the posts are starting to deteriorate and the gates aren’t closing properly. You can try shimming the side or entrance gate hinges, but that’s not a long-term solution. The real fix is to replace the fence posts. It’s not difficult or expensive, but you will work up a sweat. Here are a few tips to help reduce your workout and make the fence posts last longer.
Disconnect the fence from the post. Then use a clamshell-style posthole digger to chop a semicircle around the edge of the concrete fence post pier. Once you clear away the dirt, use a sledgehammer to break off the concrete. Usually all it takes is a couple of good smacks to break it off. Then lift out the old post and the broken pieces of concrete.
Set the new post in place and pack dirt back into the semicircular opening, leaving enough room for the fresh concrete. Mix the concrete and pour it around the post. Continue filling until the concrete mound is about 2 in. above the lawn. Plumb the new post with a level. Once the concrete starts to set, use a trowel to taper the above-ground edges of the pier. The tapers will drain rainwater away from the post, and that will extend its life. Let the concrete cure for at least 24 hours before hanging the entrance gate.
Use that time to examine the condition of the entrance gate hardware. Pay special attention to the condition of the hinges and latches. If they’re worn, bent or rusted, now’s the time to replace them. Next check the condition of the fence pickets and replace any that are chipped or cracked. Secure any loose fence pickets with exterior treated deck screws. With the fence gate back in shape, it’s time to hang it.
Move the fence gate into position and have a friend hold it in place while you plumb it to the fence post. Predrill holes for the hinge lag screws, then use a battery-powered impact wrench to drive one lag into each hinge. Test the fence gate to make sure it’s still plumb. Then drive in the remaining lag screws. Finish the job by installing the latch mechanism.
— Rick Muscoplat, Contributing Editor
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