It is thunderstorm season in the Midwest which typically leaves us with a great deal of damaged fence. Just recently, a large storm moved through the area and left my neighbor with his wood fence blown over. A handful of the wood fence panels and posts where flattened where shear winds made their path. The rest of the fence was downed panels but the wood posts remain. My neighbor knocked on my door after a couple days of clean-up and asked if we would be interested in building him a new fence. Surveying his yard, I noticed he had removed all the old fence and cut the existing posts off flush to the ground. My neighbor was so proud of all his effort in removing all the debris. I didn’t have the courage to tell him after all his hard work that cutting those posts off significantly increased the cost of replacing his damaged fence. It also promoted me to write this blog and share some storm damaged fence advice.
- Don’t cut off existing remaining posts. Let your fence professional assess your existing posts. Treated pine posts are extremely resilient and often can be reused in your new fence. Long vertical cracks in these posts are not the result of storm damage but of the natural maturation process of the posts. These cracks have no impact on its structural performance.
- Don’t cut off existing remaining posts regardless. Even if it has been determined that the posts must be replaced, do not cut these posts off. The contractor will need the post as a point to grab-on to and pull it and the footing. When there is no post and only a remaining footing, it is very difficult and time consuming to remove the remaining footing. It results in a great deal of hand digging around the footing until it can be broken-up and pulled-out piece by piece.
- Check your fence warranty and not your neighbor’s fence. If your recently installed fence was damaged during the storm, your fence may be covered under warranty. Most fencing does not fall under any local or national building codes because it does not relate to a habitable structure. However, it can be reasonable understood to withstand typical storms with lower wind speeds. On the other hand, shear winds can be very misleading. Your fence may be the only fence damaged on your block. Not because it was improperly constructed but because shear winds were able to wind through your neighborhood.
- Can you be patient? After damaging storms sweeps through your community, fence contractors are inundated with phone calls to repair and replace fencing. Often times, these contractors will estimate these repairs with overtime wages and higher margins as they know they will have to ramp-up to meet customer demands. If you can wait to repair or replace your fence, consider giving contractors a couple weeks to get caught-up. The best time to estimate your fence is late fall or first thing in the spring as contractors are aggressively looking for work to keep everyone working.
- Is your vinyl fence damaged? After strong storms sweeps through a newer community or neighborhood, you will see an abundance of vinyl fencing damaged versus chain link or wood. Bottom line, even well-constructed vinyl fencing is going to get damaged in severe storms with high wind speeds. It is very typical to see all the rails and pickets blown down with the posts remaining. Don’t be misled? Often times, these posts should not be reused. These posts may appear fine but look closer for small crimps or cracks at the base of the posts. Once these posts are evenly slightly crimped; these posts are assured to fail during the next storm.
- Coincidence or consideration? After storms blow through a neighborhood, you will typically see a handful of fences that are blown over. Rarely do you see all the neighbors’ fencing blown over. This is usually the result of shear winds finding a path between homes and other structures. If your fence is one of those fences that was blown over; you should give consideration to your next replacement fence. Instead of going with another privacy fence, you might want to consider a more open design that allows for wind flow. It is no coincidence your fence was blown over. High winds will once again find your fence in their line of sight.
American Fence Company has been repairing and replacing storm damaged fence for over fifty years. We recognize we are building not only fences but relationships. We want to make this a positive experience for you.