Tips to Remove Fence Posts

If necessary, you can use a sledgehammer to break up the fence post’s concrete footer.

Fence posts, which are typically set in concrete, are constructed with permanence in mind, sometimes making removal challenging. Properly excavating the ground around the post in addition to creating adequate leverage for prying up the fence post helps increase the likelihood of successful removal. But sometimes, a post just won’t budge. In this case, you need to take additional approaches to post removal.

Ground Preparation

Loosening and removing the soil from around the concrete footing will help to ensure easy release of the fence post. Use a garden shovel to dig around the post, penetrating the ground to a depth equal to the footing. To start, remove a minimal amount of soil in order to prevent tearing up the ground too much. If the initial attempt to pry out the post fails, remove more dirt. Spraying the ground around the post with water also helps loosen the soil. You might saturate the ground over the course of a couple of days to sufficiently soften the soil. Keep in mind that excessive water can lead to a muddy mess when you start working on the post.

Leverage

Either driving a nail — at least size 16d — partway into the post, screwing on L-brackets or screwing on a wood block about 1 foot up from where the post emerges from the footing creates points under which you can use a horizontal board as a lever to pry the post from the ground. Place one end of the board under the nail, bracket or block. Place a stack of concrete blocks under the board toward the middle to create a fulcrum. Push down the opposite end of the board so that the other end pushes up on the nail or bracket, consequently extruding the post and footing from the ground. For the lever, use a board that is sound and of an adequate thickness so it won’t snap while you’re maneuvering it. A 2×4 board is usually sufficient, however, a 4×4 board may be needed for more difficult to remove posts.

Additional Measures

If you are unable to remove the fence post, you can take additional measures. A hydraulic jack, a hi-lift jack or another, similar jack, can be used to lift the leverage boards. You can also connect a chain from the post to the back of a pickup truck and drive the post out of the ground. If the post is rotting, be careful, as too much pressure can easily cause it to break off at the footing. Another option is to break up the concrete footer into smaller chunks. In this case, use a sledgehammer, a jackhammer or a hammer drill with a masonry bit.

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