Removing old, damaged, or unneeded fence posts is a satisfying project that can be done on your own. With some planning, the right tools, and a bit of hard work, you can remove metal fence posts without having to hire a professional. This comprehensive guide will walk you through how to safely and efficiently remove metal fence posts all by yourself.
From preparing your workspace, gathering the correct tools, cutting off post tops, loosening the soil, knocking and prying the posts, and pulling them out of the ground, this step-by-step tutorial covers everything you need to know. With the proper techniques and safety precautions, removing metal fence posts is an achievable task for the motivated do-it-yourselfer. Don’t let old, ugly metal posts clutter up your yard. Follow the instructions below and you can dismantle those fence posts like a pro.
Prepare Your Work Area
Before you start, make sure your work area is clear of debris and obstructions. Have all the necessary tools on hand nearby. It’s also a good idea to call 811 beforehand to get underground utility lines marked so you avoid hitting one accidentally when digging.
Wear sturdy gloves, eye protection, and closed-toe shoes. Remove any loose materials or vegetation around the posts. Expose approximately 12 inches of the post above ground so you have something to grip.
Tools You’ll Need to Remove Metal Fence Posts
- Shovel – A rounded point shovel is ideal for scooping loose soil.
- Post-hole digger – The long handles provide leverage to loosen packed soil.
- Sledgehammer – A 10-12 lb sledgehammer provides force for knocking the posts.
- Pry bar – A 36-inch pry bar gives leverage for rocking and lifting posts.
- Metal cutting saw – A reciprocating saw with a metal blade or angle grinder to cut post tops.
- Wrench – To remove any bolt anchors securing posts in concrete.
Having the right tools makes the job much easier. The shovel and post-hole digger help loosen the soil around the post. Use the sledgehammer to knock the post back and forth until loose. The pry bar provides leverage to rock and wiggle the post out. And the metal cutting saw slices through post tops flush to the ground.
Cut Off Any Post Tops
Use a reciprocating saw, hacksaw, angle grinder, or Sawzall to cut off any protruding post tops. Make the cuts as close to the ground as possible. This gets them out of your way so you can focus on the below-ground portion.
Wear eye protection, long sleeves, and pants when using any power-cutting tools to avoid injury from flying debris. Also, watch for any utilities inside metal posts. Making the flush cuts leaves less of a tripping hazard in your yard afterward.
Loosen the Surrounding Soil
Dig a trench all the way around the post about 6 inches out from the post. Go down at least 8-12 inches deep. The key is to loosen the soil so you can rock and wiggle the post to break its footing free.
Use a post-hole digger to break up and scoop out soil. Really works to disturb the soil so it’s loosened up down along the entire post. Use the shovel to remove loosened soil.
For larger posts encased in concrete, you may need to dig down 2 feet or more and break up the concrete with a jackhammer to loosen the footing. Wear protective eyewear when breaking concrete.
Knock The Post Back And Forth
Here’s where the sledgehammer comes in handy. Give the exposed post some forceful hits back and forth to rock it out of position. Focus strikes near the base to detach it from the footings.
Wedge the head of a pry bar into the ground near the post base. Use this as additional leverage to really rock and wiggle the post. Keep loosening the soil around the perimeter too.
Having a partner use the sledgehammer while you pry allows for simultaneous force from different angles.
Pull The Post Straight Up
Once you feel the post move freely, try pulling straight up on it. Place a block of wood under the post head to protect your pry bar while leveraging upward.
Have a helper pull upward on the post using vice grips or a come-along tool while you pry if needed to get it moving. The goal is to pull the entire post and its concrete footing out together. This prevents having to dig a deeper hole or break up the footing further.
For really stubborn posts, you may need to pound in wooden stakes beside the post to attach a come-along tool for added lifting force.
Refill Any Holes
Once the posts are out, refill any holes with the surrounding soil. Pack it down firmly with a tamping tool or rental compactor. Consider adding new grass seed or sod over disturbed areas.
If holes are near foundations or walkways, fill them with compactable gravel or concrete mix to prevent settling.
Dispose of the old fence posts responsibly by taking them to a metal recycling center. Many scrap yards will buy used metal. Or repurpose posts creatively as garden structures, trellises, etc.
Safety Tips for Removing Metal Fence Posts
- Wear gloves and eye protection when dismantling fence posts.
- Call 811 to mark any buried utilities before digging.
- Cut off protruding post tops to avoid injury.
- Use proper lifting techniques to avoid back strain.
- Keep children and pets away from the work area for safety.
Removing metal fence posts takes some determination and muscle, but it is very doable. Just remember to use proper safety precautions. With the right approach and tools, you can get those unneeded posts out of the ground for good.
Time for a New Fence?
Now that you’ve removed the old, worn-out fence posts, you may be ready to install a brand-new fence in their place. Our team of professional fence experts can help you design and build the perfect new fence for your home. We offer customized fencing solutions including wood, chain link, vinyl, and ornamental metal fences. Contact us today for a free instant quote and make your fence dreams a reality!
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