Inspecting Your Fence
What to Look For and Common DIY Fixes
The weather is starting to get warmer (finally!) and you’re on your way to getting your yard ready for summer. Like most homeowners, you inspect your grass, landscaping and garden to see what maintenance needs to be done. But don’t forget to inspect your fence while you’re out there. Uncovering issues early can often times make the difference between having a minor repair now instead of a major replacement in future years.
So what exactly do you need to look for while inspecting your fence? In this blog post, we will walk you through what you should look at as well as some common DIY fixes.
Your gate is the only moveable part of your fence that gets the most wear and tear. It can be susceptible to weather damage when the latch is not properly engaged or due to misuse from children and adults. To inspect your gate, you will want to open it and then close it to see how it latches – or doesn’t latch – into place. If it doesn’t close correctly, there are a few areas you will want to look at first before considering a replacement.
Your gate may not be closing completely due to the gate no longer being squarely attached to the post. This can be due to misalignment from sagging of the gate from misuse or movement from loose screws / nails along the post. You can work on tightening the screws / nails to bring the gate back into alignment. You may have to give this several tries in order to adjust the gate to the correct position. If you have a self-closing gate, you may also need to readjust the tension.
If your gate has been swung open too far past the hinges from misuse or gusty winds, the hinges may be damaged. Look at the hinges to see if any of them are bent or cracked. If you have any that are bent, you may be able to unbend them with a few hits from a hammer. If that doesn’t work or they are cracked, contact Peerless Fence and we can send you replacement hinges.
If your gate is square to the post and your hinges are not bent or cracked, there may have been movement in the gate post. There can be changes to the ground from frost which can affect the position of the post as well as cause sidewalks to rise. If the frost line is no longer there, you can try realigning the gate or if you have a wood fence, you may be able to shave some of the wood off the bottom in order for it to close better.
When your gate is closing but doesn’t make it into the latch, this can be another misalignment issue. Most times this can be remedied by an adjustment to the screws within the latch or hinge. You should also check to see if the tension on self-closing gates needs to be adjusted as well.
Fence posts not only add character to your fence but are the foundation that keeps it standing proud for years to come. Depending on your material type, you will either be inspecting for the integrity of the posts or for any issues with the caps.
You will want to inspect each post to make sure that they are securely attached in the ground by giving it a light push to see if there is any movement. If there is, you will need to inspect the bottom of the post to see if the wood is starting to rot. Extensive rot will need a replacement post which can be done by Peerless Fence. You should also check the bottom of the posts for damage from weed wacking and discuss with your landscaper on ways to keep this to a minimum.
Posts in Concrete
If your posts are cored into a concrete surface, you will need to closely inspect the concrete that surrounds the post. You will be looking for any type of crack in the concrete. It is very important to find any cracks early on as they will only expand and destroy the concrete over time.
You should look at your caps to see if there are any chips or scratches in the coating. You can fix minor damage by using touch up paint from the manufacturer. We suggest first putting the paint on a piece of cardboard and then using an artist’s brush for application. Make sure to only paint the damaged area and not paint on the current coating, or your cap may not weather evenly. You can also check to see if your caps can be replaced under warranty or you could also order new caps from Peerless Fence if they are not covered.
You should check the caps to make sure they are still secure on the posts. For any caps that are not, you can use a PVC glue that will better adhere the cap to the post.
PANELS / BOARDS
The beauty of your fence comes from the vertical boards between the posts, so close attention should be paid when looking at individual panels or boards. You should first do a visual inspection to see if you find any glaring issues.
You should closely inspect your wood for warping, insects, rotting and landscaping damage. Remember that wood can have cracks (called checking), knots and warping which are naturally occurring and are part of the weathering process. Look for any loose nails and pound them back into place. Warped boards may also be secured back with nails, depending on if it can be nailed to a board. Or you may choose to replace individual damaged boards. If you are worried about variation in color, you can move a board from a less visible part of your fence and replace that one with a new board.
If you hear a rattling noise when you push a section, (which indicates movement), you have loose screws. Tightening of the screws should help here but if the screws are stripped, you will need to replace them with new ones. We suggest purchasing stainless steel screws that are a size larger. Also look for any damage to the bottom of the pickets from lawn mowers. Depending on the damage, you may be able to hammer it back in place. Just make sure to put a buffer between the fence and the hammer so that you don’t make any additional marks on the pickets. If there is more than just minor damage, you may have to replace the picket or the full section which we don’t recommend as a DIY fix.
You will want to inspect your sections to see if there is any landscaping damage. Depending on the damage, you may choose to leave the picket as is or you may want to replace it. You will also need routine maintenance to clean your fence from dirt build up, pool / lawn chemicals residue, mold, mildew or debris from trees. ActiveYards recommends cleaning with soap and water at least every 24 months for maximum beauty. Remember that vinyl can fade over time, depending on how much sun exposure your fence receives.
For this type of fence, you will want to inspect the individual links to see if any of them are bent or snagged. This type of damage can be fixed by reweaving the links or straightening with pliers. Also look for any bowed top rails which can be caused by the weight of heavy snow pushing down on the chain link fabric. This can be remedied by rolling the top rail and retying.
WHERE PEERLESS FENCE CAN HELP
Peerless Fence is more than just new fences. As one of the largest fence companies in the Midwest for over 55 years, we also provide expertise in helping homeowners maintain their fences. Our service department would be happy to review any issues you are having with your fence (even those not installed by us) and recommend the best remedy for your situation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with pictures and explanation of your issue. If possible, include the name of the manufacturer, fence model, gate model and hardware (if applicable) as well as the year your fence was installed. Learn more about our Fence Service & Repairs.