Repaired fence without cementing posts

Discussion in 'Decks & Patios' started by Suma Vupputuri, May 14, 2018.

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  1. May 14, 2018 #1

    Suma Vupputuri

    Suma Vupputuri

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    Hi, I recently had my fence repaired by a general handyman who I had used before for small jobs. Part of my fence was leaning and part totally falling down. Instead of using cement to resecure the fence posts the handyman used “drywall” (I’m assuming he meant drywall mud??) which he only told me after he finished the job. The fence looks good now but are there any issues with using drywall instead of cement? Thank you!
     
  2. May 14, 2018 #2

    Snoonyb

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    Welcome and geographically, where are you?
     
  3. May 14, 2018 #3

    Suma Vupputuri

    Suma Vupputuri

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    I’m in the Mid-Atlantic region.
     
  4. May 14, 2018 #4

    Snoonyb

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    Thanks.
    If you are in the northern regions post are often set in the soil and compacted, and in the south in concrete. It has to do with the freeze line.

    Drywall compound is subordinate to moisture and will rapidly deteriorate when exposed.

    So, did he offer you anything other than a taillight warranty?
     
  5. May 14, 2018 #5

    Suma Vupputuri

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    So I think the posts were originally set in the soil as you said, but after a few years must have come loose. The handyman seems like a nice guy and said he would come back and fix for free if the fence came down again. Do you think I should ask him to come back now and reset the posts in concrete? Thank you so much for your help —much appreciated!
     
  6. May 14, 2018 #6

    Snoonyb

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    A warranty is only as good as the integrity of the person issuing it.
    At this point it will only further encumber you, to have him come back and disassemble, and reassemble.

    Your soil conditions will have a lot to do with the longevity.

    Drywall compound, in any form, is similar in consistency to plaster-of-paris or spackle, without an aggregate to bond itself together.
     
  7. May 14, 2018 #7

    joecaption

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    Just a few reasons this was a really bad idea no matter "how nice" a guy he is.
    If it was drywall compound, or even "drywall" as you though you heard.
    If compound is applied to thick even when doing a simple wall repair it cracks, caused by uneven drying.
    If it gets to thick in the container, you add water to thin it out.
    To remove texture (which is just drywall compound) on a ceiling you wet it down and it releases from the drywall.
    Ever seen what happens to drywall when it get wet, it just falls apart.
    The materials to do this right would likely have even cost less, unless he was just trying to use up some leftover materials from another job.
     
  8. May 14, 2018 #8

    MacInAction

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    I've used post hole diggers and a sledge hammer around loose/partially broken posts to minimize digging, ease extraction, and pack the hole adequately. Dig a deep hole shaped like the letter C tightly around the post, and it will be much easier to remove the old post.

    To pack the new post in this narrow hole, use the handles of the post hole diggers (it is awkward, but works very well). It is important to pack small batches of dirt in several layers. Near the top of the hole, use a sledge hammer, but don't swing it like a hammer. Use it like an actual tamper in an up and down motion, striking the surface with the top of the head. This will set the fence or mailbox post so well that it will usually feel like concrete was used. This approach will not work well in poorly drained areas that tend to be saturated with water.

    Years ago, I heard a fence installer explain that concrete would speed the decomposition of the wood post due to the lime content. Can any of the pros verify that claim?
     
  9. May 14, 2018 #9

    Sparky617

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    I've used compacted crusher run (mixed size aggregate with stone dust) to set posts. Concrete will speed their decay as the wood shrinks when it dries and water will fill the void so your posts will sit in water all the time. For deck posts I like to bring the footer up out of the ground and set the post on metal post supports bolted to the footer. That makes the posts last much longer, they are also easier to replace in 40 years. That doesn't work for fence posts as the forces on them are lateral not bearing weight to the ground.

    I'd be very curious if he used drywall compound or there was a misunderstanding between you two. Besides being a terrible option, it wouldn't be a cheap option unless he was just clearing leftover supplies out of his truck.
     
  10. May 14, 2018 #10

    nealtw

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    Sounds like a misunderstanding, what does the product look like now?
     
  11. May 15, 2018 at 12:26 AM #11

    Suma Vupputuri

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    Thank you all for your comments! We are in the midst of a severe thunder storm so I guess that should be a test. I will take a photo and post it tomorrow. I will also text the guy who did the job and try to clarify what he meant by drywall.
     
  12. May 15, 2018 at 1:41 PM #12

    Gary

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    Are you sure he didn't mean dry concrete? As in dumping dry sacrete in the hole and letting the ground moisture set the concrete?
     
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  13. May 16, 2018 at 1:26 AM #13

    Suma Vupputuri

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    B136F9EE-BC8D-4D1B-84A7-2528A3FBC59A.jpeg Update: after the thunderstorm last night the fence is already leaning again. I went to look at the base of the posts and I don’t see anything but dirt with gravel on top — pic attached. (Maybe I needed to dig down deeper)
     
  14. May 16, 2018 at 1:51 AM #14

    nealtw

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    Dig a hole 5 or 6" away and see what falls or doesn't fall away from the post. We have on outfit here that install a whole fence line and sprinkle a little concrete on top of ever hole just to fool the home owner. It the fence is leaning it was not done right.
     
  15. May 16, 2018 at 3:53 AM #15

    Snoonyb

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    Excavate around the post to see what you find.
    In 45yrs. of setting both wood and steel posts I've yet to have the concrete shrink away from any post, but then I always dome the concrete slightly so that water drains away from the post, instead of puddling on top of the concrete.
     
  16. May 16, 2018 at 3:46 PM #16

    Sparky617

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    I helped my neighbor shorten his 18-year-old 6x6 PT deck posts last year. They were set in concrete and half the wood had rotted away. We cut off the rot and raised the concrete footer to above the grade and used a post mount to fasten the shortened post to the footer. For fence posts my limited experience has been setting them in compacted stone is better than concrete. If I'm going to put any in concrete it would probably only be the posts at the gates. YMMV.
     
  17. May 17, 2018 at 1:00 PM #17

    DepotProTom

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    I am willing to bet that the fence man used the wrong wording when he explained what he did while installing your fence. Having been a fence installer for years, we often used dry bags of cement in the holes instead of mixing the cement before pouring it into the hole. Here in the Northeast, the ground is wet enough to do this as the dry cement will pick up the moisture from the surrounding area and within a few days harden like a rock. This saves a lot of time mixing the cement as well as keeping the area cleaner from splashed wet cement.
    "Drywall" is an indoor product that costs about 5 times more than an inexpensive bag of cement with stone in it and it would only turn soft and mushy and even moldy if poured in a hole in the ground.
    Hope this puts you at ease.....
     
  18. May 17, 2018 at 1:45 PM #18

    bud16415

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    I know the ready mix products even recommend the dry pour method and I have had enough half used bags harden up sitting in the garage for a year or so to know they will even draw moisture from the air and cure.


    My problem with doing it dry is whenever I pour out one of these bags the content is not mixed very well. I see big places where it is mostly sand or Portland and if I was going to dry pour I would still hoe it around first. If I’m going to do that what’s the couple minutes to add a little water and do it right. Wet pour with a little working down in the hole with a 2x4 and I know it is going to be solid.


    I have pulled lots of posts and it is easy to tell the ones that were poured dry.


    I also like to hold the pole off the bottom of the hole and let the wet mix get under the end 4-6”.


    It is not the fastest method but it is not a race.


    Of course the best method is to pour above grade and then attach the pole. But then there is a bigger cost factor involved.

    :)
     

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