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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
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    3

    Default movement in new fence posts

    A fence company came to repair my leaning wood fence. But when I apply light to moderate pressure to the new fence posts, they move up to about 3/4'' to 1'' when measured at the top. The posts are about 7' high and there is 3' of post below ground. I asked the fence company and they said movement of up to 1'' at the top is considered acceptable.

    I was wondering what others thought...should I pay my bill or should I insist that the fence posts be reinstalled? How much movement would you accept in a new fence post?

    Thanks for any advice!

    Jon

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,481

    Default Re: movement in new fence posts

    Flexing of the post and rails is irrelevant, movement of the post in the ground is unacceptable. The caveat to that is whether or not the ground is firm enough to hold a post solid. Saturated ground is not conducive to immovable posts, this doesn't mean the fence is going to fall over, just that there will be some movement until the ground dries out and firms up.

    Other things that can affect the post is whether it was dry packed with dirt, gravel, cement, or if it was wet set in cement. Not compacting the fill around a post enough can cause a loose post, again, not a big issue as long as the dirt is allowed to settle and compact around the post.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
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    5,084

    Default Re: movement in new fence posts

    Do you know how they placed the post in the ground? With concrete?

    The way I do it, I place the post in 12x12x24" deep concrete, wait a few days before I do the fence, and there is no 1" movement at the top. You know it's built right just by touching the post.

    You haven't paid? good, hold on to your wallet, call your fence company to secure the post.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: movement in new fence posts

    Thanks for your replies.

    A. Spruce-It is definitely movement in the ground as I can see the concrete block moving as the post moves. The company removed the fence panels, removed every-other post, installed new posts, then put the panels back up in a few hours (maybe three max). There are about ten fence posts and they replaced six of them. They only replaced every-other post because oddly only every-other post was weak. Maybe the original installer got lazy and did every-other post shallow. Anyway, the original odd-numbered posts barely move if pressure is applied while some of the new even-numbered posts are moving. If it was a saturated-ground issue, would I expect every (new and old) post to be moving, or would it just be the new posts moving? The installer did say that it might firm up when the ground dries, but I won't know if that is the case for a while, and by then I would have paid him so if it doesn't firm up, he would have little incentive to come fix it.

    dj1-It was set in some kind of quick-setting concrete. I've asked the installer to fix it but he's saying 1'' is acceptable. I haven't paid but figure that if the installer and I don't come to some kind of agreement, the installer can put a lien on my house or mess up my credit.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,084

    Default Re: movement in new fence posts

    If you don't come to some kind of agreement to fix the moving post soon, call your state contractor board, and file a complaint. Make sure the fence company knows that. You'll see how fast they will respond.

    Putting a lien on your property is more involved and I don't think it will get to this.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,481

    Default Re: movement in new fence posts

    There isn't much that can be done about ground movement, especially if an old post and core was pulled and a new one was put in its place. If they were able to get the old cores out without disturbing the surrounding ground, this would make for a more stable post, even in wet ground. However, if they had to dig out the old core, the backfilled the hole before digging and installing the new post, then the ground will have been soft around the new core, allowing movement. Once this ground settles and dries out, it should firm up considerably.

    From the descriptions you've provided, the most that I can see happening is to brace the fence until the new posts have a chance to set and settle, which will be months. Unless the contractor was grossly out of line or did crappy work, there would be no reason to withhold funds. Again, I'm not there, I can't see what was done or the amount of movement, but it does seem "normal" so far.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: movement in new fence posts

    Thanks guys for all your help.

    Maybe I can pay under the condition that the installer amend the contract to state that if the post does not firm up after the ground dries (say, six months from now), he will come back and redo it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,096

    Default Re: movement in new fence posts

    As I often point out here, if someone didn't know how to do it right the first time they won't know how to fix it right when it goes wrong. You can try to get the contractor to fix this, but I can tell you what he's going to find and claim: That the ground is unstable and that his work was done in an acceptable manner.

    I might disagree with the 'acceptable manner' part though, as they should have discovered and mitigated unstable ground as part of the repair process before setting new posts. Whether you have any legal claim there will depend on the exact wording of the contract or work offer. If it specified only replacing the rotted posts (etc) they've got you. If the wording was to repair unstable or unsafe parts then you've got them. You might as well let them do what they can and pay them but I doubt that they (or any other fence company) will really know how to fix the problem.

    Most of the time soil is firm enough so that a concrete base works OK for a post. With concrete-fitted posts in soil, the concrete should be seen more as ballast and a hole filler than a stable mount for the post.It does not pack the surrounding soil at all, so you can get a loose post quite easily. The proper repair is to ensure proper compaction of the soil around the post to the depth of the posthole. This needs to be done at 6" levels, starting by excavating to 6" above the bottom of the post then compacting, repeating this in 6" lifts until finished grade is reached. The excavation/compaction process should resemble a cylinder with the radius at the top of the 'cone' equal to the depth of the post to about one foot maximum radius in most soils. You'll probably need more soil to add as neded. After that add a little more soil around each post (somewhat compacted) so that water drains away from the posthole and not into it. Topsoil and grass goes above that. It's a lot of work and unless you know something of soil engineering you'd never know why it needs to be done this way.

    To be honest, I usually just avoid the extra work myself and concrete them in too unless it's a special customer or if I know ahead of time that I'm going to have a soil compaction problem. The difference is that I know how to fix the few that get loose where most guys don't, and I know how to roughly test soil compaction so that I know where I need to add extra attention before starting. I charge extra for the compaction work and specifically disclaim any post loosening warranty if you don't want it done where I recommend it. AFAIK, I'm the only guy here who does this- all the rest here just keep adding concrete till they give up in failure or till the darn thing becomes too heavy to move. They fix the symptom; I fix the problem

    Phil

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