Metal fence post repair options

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Old 03-26-20, 05:18 PM
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Metal fence post repair options

I have a metal fence in the front portion of the property. I am pretty sure it's iron because it's quite rusted LOL. The fence is 6 feet tall with posts about eight feet apart.



According to the city it was permitted and installed in 1992. So it lasted 27 years. It rains A LOT in South Florida and occasionally the front of the property and the street gets flooded with storm water. Over the years the metal posts rusted, and rusted, and rusted at the base.





I have about eighty feet of this fence, and twelve posts rusted to varying degrees, this is probably the worst one. The posts were set in concrete, but the concrete was lower than the ground.

I am looking for suggestions to REPAIR the posts.

Now you might wonder, why not just take it all out and put a new fence up? Well, that's my preference too, but it's not an option, for reasons I will explain in the next post, to avoid this post becoming too long and tedious.
 
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Old 03-26-20, 05:24 PM
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OK the reason the fence cannot be replaced is because I am not allowed to. The city's zoning code has changed in 2008 or 2010 I don't remember when, and now the new code is much more strict.

First, it requires a fence, if facing a street, to be set a minimum of three feet from the property lines. My current fence is eight inches inside of the property line. I cannot move it back three feet. If I go back three feet I have boulders the size of double door refrigerators and large trees there. Plus I have 32"X32" concrete columns on each end.

Second, even if I move a fence back three feet, the city requires that I plant a series of shrubs in that three feet, spaced 24" each, select the shrub species from an approved list of a dozen of so plants. I can't plant these for the same reasons, the tree roots and concrete boulders is impossible to move or demolish.

Third, if your property has two sides facing two streets, which is my case, you must go from the property corner and back 25 feet back on each property line, then you draw a line across to form a triangle, which is what they call a sight triangle to make it easier for a car to make a right turn without blocking signs. The new fence must be completely inside the triangle, so I am losing 25 feet on each side. Well that is a problem because the triangle is now crossing over part of my swimming pool. The city said I could fill in the pool so I can build the new fence to be compliant with the sight triangle.

Bottom line is I cannot put in a new fence where it is now. However, I can repair the old fence (which is now legal but non-conforming) for as long as I like. I have to find a way to creatively "repair" this and I would appreciate some collective brain storming here if possible.
 
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Old 03-26-20, 05:49 PM
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I'd consider getting a welder to cut the bad section out of the post & weld in a new piece of post.
If there is enough good post left under ground to weld to, above the concrete.
If not, he could dig out the concrete & put another piece of post down, weld it to the existing post, then concrete the post in the hole.
He will probably use a wire welder on this small, thin wall post.
 
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Old 03-26-20, 06:29 PM
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One option I have been thinking about, would be to cut the top of the fence post cap off, then insert a round aluminum pipe with an OD just smaller than the square tube fence post. Then try to pound the pipe into the ground and hope that it will go down and past the rusted section and further down as far as it will go, then I can weld the outer metal tube and the inner pipe together at the bottom (where the rusted out section is) and weld back the top again. I have no idea if this will work.
 
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Old 03-27-20, 03:55 AM
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You're not going to be able to weld the rusted part. You're going to have to cut out all that rusted section up to some good solid metal.
 
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Old 03-27-20, 05:20 AM
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A couple thoughts - first, the fence is almost certainly steel rather than iron. Steel is easier to work with than iron, so that's in your favor.

Having done yard chores for my parents in Kendall, i found in Miami the first three inches of dirt in the yard is topsoil, and under that is ancient coral reef. Your idea to drive a support into the ground may not work for that reason. Also, that support should be steel, rather than aluminum, because aluminum doesn't weld to steel. (You were likely thinking of something rustproof.)

"Drive in a support" may also fail since the supports are set in concrete, and the original fence support is likely filled with concrete.

Dixie's idea to replace the concrete footer may be the only way to go. You might replace the original support with a new steel support that sleeves into the existing fence support and can be welded with "socket welds".

Also, if you hire this out, you might consider a handyman that welds, rather than a welder that will dig fence holes (the handyman will be cheaper).

Good luck with it, let us know how it goes!

Dave
 
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Old 03-27-20, 07:32 AM
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I think the first thing to do is dig down around the post and find out how it was installed.
This will determine the fix options available to you.
 
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Old 03-27-20, 07:51 AM
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Inserting a square tube inside the existing would be the best option as long as you could get it in the ground, the only problem is that if the top area is rusted anything in the concrete is probably gone also.

All these posts are just ideas/thoughts, your going to need to get one dug up/taken apart to see what you got then the ideas can be narrowed down!
 
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Old 03-27-20, 10:12 AM
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I did dig around the posts and that's how I know they are set in concrete.
what I found out:

​​​​​​(1) the top of the concrete is not smooth or finished. It's very rough and irregular. It's a good 2-3 inches below the ground. So either they didn't put enough concrete or there has been regrading of the ground at some point.

(2) if I stick a finger, or a pencil into the rusted out portion at the base of the posts, it's hollow. It's not filled with concrete. Yes there is some soft debris in there, may be leaves, seeds, dead lizards, whatever that fell in. So it seems like they positioned the post into place inside the hole before the fill the concrete, thus the section below grade is not packed with concrete.

(3) hard to tell if the metal below grade is solid or not. It may also be as rusted.

(4) I have only dug around two posts so far to expose the concrete and where the posts protrude from the concrete.

Even if I want to go the route of removing the concrete, I am not sure it's practical to do without disturbing the ground a lot. If I cut say one post 8" above ground, there seems no easy way to remove the concrete below without digging a much bigger hole around it so I can break it up and extract it in smaller pieces. This much bigger hole will be a lot bigger than what is needed for a new square tub with concrete.
 
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Old 03-27-20, 11:09 AM
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Totally off the wall, not sure if it's possible, but is there a coring machine that could core say a 6" hole 2 feet down? If so, then all he would have to do is re-pour some concrete with new posts? Not sure if it would be cost-prohibitive.

Just spitballing....
 
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Old 03-27-20, 11:30 AM
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How about cutting the side rails off and replacing the whole post with new. Still a repair but you would have a new post and can have concert a little higher than ground. May have to cut bottom rail back to first upright and weld there.
 
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Old 03-29-20, 11:56 AM
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Totally off the wall, not sure if it's possible, but is there a coring machine that could core say a 6" hole 2 feet down? If so, then all he would have to do is re-pour some concrete with new posts? Not sure if it would be cost-prohibitive
I have hired core drilling before, to drill some slabs and driveways about 6" diameters.

The machine they use is big, about the size of a dorm refrigerator on wheels, they position it over the hole then go down. That means I will have to clear about 24" of pickets on both sides even for that to be a possibility.
 
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Old 03-30-20, 03:10 AM
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Here is another off the wall suggestion.
Sounds like you can take the top caps off the posts.
I would then get a rod and push/compact the debris in the post down as far as possible.
Hopefully down further than the concrete.
Then fill the post to a foot or so above ground level with hydraulic/anchoring cement.
You may need a small diameter rod (coat hanger) to help get it down without air pockets and it would need to be fairly soupy.
 
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Old 04-01-20, 08:50 PM
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Here is another off the wall suggestion.
Sounds like you can take the top caps off the posts.
I would then get a rod and push/compact the debris in the post down as far as possible.
Hopefully down further than the concrete.
Then fill the post to a foot or so above ground level with hydraulic/anchoring cement.
You may need a small diameter rod (coat hanger) to help get it down without air pockets and it would need to be fairly soupy.
The post caps do not come off, they are welded on.

However, I could cut them off, and try to pound a post just smaller than the current tubing, and see if I can pound them below the current ground level. I would think I need to sink an additional 18" minimum to have some strength, if I am only able to go 4" 6" or 8" below grade it may not be enough. I know dirt, pebbles, leaves, dead lizards or whatnot have fallen in, and probably there is concrete at the bottom too. It may be worth a shot if I can find a round tubing just smaller.
 
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Old 04-02-20, 12:12 AM
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I know dirt, pebbles, leaves, dead lizards or what not have fallen in
I purchased air gun w/a long nozzle at HF for a few bucks. It's great for sticking into places w/limited access and blowing out stuff. I set the compressor to about 90 psi and it will get rid of most stuff. Just don't be looking in that direction!

https://www.harborfreight.com/air-bl...ion-68257.html
 
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Old 04-02-20, 05:25 AM
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"...and try to pound a post just smaller than the current tubing..."
Can't hurt to try, and it might work. If you measure the inside diameter of the fence post, you should be able to get a square tube with a thicker wall whose outside diameter matches the inside diameter of the fence post. This will give the most contact between old and new, and thereby the most support.

It may be an idea to bevel the penetrating end to minimize surface contact during the pounding process.

The top end of the new support will likely deform under the pounding of the sledge hammer. This will occur whether you use round or square tube, so be prepared to cut the upper end of the support off so it will "sleeve" into the existing post. (Think of a automatic radio antenna on a car, where smaller sections fit inside larger sections.) You may be able to minimize the deforming by using a steel cap over the upper end of the support.

That first photo of your yard is gorgeous, btw. Here in Virginia we're just starting to think about Spring, nothing to compare to your sub tropical climate!
 
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Old 04-02-20, 05:34 AM
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Forgot to mention, you won't find square steel tube at Lowes or Home Deep (and it would be horrendously expensive if they did carry it). You can google the phrase "buy steel online" to find the usual suspects, or you can find it on ebay. If there's a steel supplier near you... and if they have a retail operation... you might ask if they sell "drops", the cut-off ends from previous transactions. For this application i'd say find something with 1/4" wall.
 
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