How to remove fence posts that are cemented in

Written by tom king
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How to remove fence posts that are cemented in
Removing old posts is easy unless they are cemented in. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Pulling up old fence posts that have been cemented into the ground can be more work than it's worth, especially if you aren't replacing the posts. You may be able to get away with sawing off the post below ground level and covering the evidence with a few inches of dirt and grass. If not, prepare for some hard work. Whoever cemented those posts in place meant for them to stay.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Post-hole diggers
  • Shovel
  • Medium weight chain, 10 to 12 feet long with towing hook at one end
  • Bumper jack or hi-lift jack
  • Drill and screwdriver bits
  • 3-inch-long heavy wood screws
  • 1 board, 2 by 4 inches by 1 foot long
  • Metal grinder with cutting blade
  • Hammer drill with post-sized bit
  • Concrete patch mix

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Instructions

    Digging

  1. 1

    Dig a post hole along one side of the original hole with a posthole digger, taking care to get as close as possible to the concrete footing without striking it.

  2. 2

    Enlarge the post hole with the posthole digger and shovel until you have an excavation about 2 to 3 feet across along one side of the old fence post and its concrete footing.

  3. 3

    Push the post toward the open hole and rock it back and forth until the concrete foot falls over into the open hole beside it.

  4. 4

    Cut away any dirt holding the bottom of the footing with your shovel to loosen it completely from the old hole.

  5. 5

    Wrap the chain around the concrete foot and hook the other end to a tractor or truck and pull the footing and post out of the ground.

    Jacking

  1. 1

    Screw the 2-by-4 board to the side of the post to act as a cleat for lifting purposes, using a drill and screwdriver bits. Position the cleat so that the bottom end is 1 foot above the ground. Use at least four screws to give the cleat strength and hold it securely to the post.

  2. 2

    Hook the tip of the lifting bar of the bumper jack or hi-lift jack under the cleat. Move the base of the jack so it is outside the circle formed by the concrete footing.

  3. 3

    Shovel dirt away from the edges of the concrete post and jack up the post. Work slowly and the concrete footing should pull out of the ground along with the post.

  4. 4

    Cut away at the dirt around the footing with a sharpshooter shovel, if the post sticks. When you feel it give, jack some more and it should come on out. If not, repeat until it does.

    Removing From Slab

  1. 1

    Cut off the post at the slab with a cut-off wheel and power grinder. If the post is built into the slab, the only way to remove the post is to ream out the hole it was set in.

  2. 2

    Drill out the remnants of the old post with a hammer drill and a bit the size of the replacement posts. If not replacing the posts, use a smaller bit and drill out enough so that you can fill the socket with concrete and level it flat with the old slab.

  3. 3

    Enlarge the hole sufficiently to accept a sleeve big enough to fit the new posts into if you are replacing the posts. It may take several increasingly larger bits to enlarge the hole sufficiently to accept the sleeve.

  4. 4

    Drive the replacement sleeve into the hole you've drilled with the top flush to the top of the slab.

  5. 5

    Fill the hole with concrete if not replacing the post. Fill the hole with concrete mix and smooth the top of the hole flat with the top of the surface of the surrounding concrete.

Tips and warnings

  • With a metal post, simply wrap the chain around the post and tie it off. Hook the loose end to the jack. The pressure on the chain should keep it tight with no need for a cleat.
  • Wear eye protection and gloves while operating the jack in case the cleat shatters or the hook slips off.
  • Do not wet the ground around the post to "soften" it. The water will only add suction and increase the pressure holding the post in place.
  • Corner posts often have large footings because of the extra pull the fence exerts on the corners. You'll have to dig a larger hole around it to work the footing loose. It's unlikely you'll be able to remove it with a jack without doing some excavation around the hole.

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