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Old 02-09-2014, 04:08 PM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 10,509,598 times
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Old 4X4's of treated wood encased in 4' deep concrete footings with 1' worth of steel sleeve (on the outside of the footing) at ground level. Every one of them is rotting out at ground level after less than 10 years in the ground. Some are rotted all the way to the bottom of the 4X4. Some sheared off on their own. Those in more wind-protected areas (with flatter ground and poorer drainage) are still in okay shape. Mediterranean/semi-arid climate with a 3-month rainy season. Loose, light, well-drained soil mostly dirt with some rocks. Hillside with 3-to-10 degrees of slope. Strong winds shaking the fence for aggregate several weeks a year.

The soil dries out pretty quickly. I'm thinking that the 1' of steel casing at ground level trapped the moisture and helped accelerate the rotting process. The wind working at the fence probably didn't help either.

Which of the following do you think will help, so I don't have to take the panels off and dig these *&%$ing footings out again in another 10 years?

1. 2 foot deep concrete footings, since 4' is way overbuilt (the wood fails long before the concrete)
2. No steel casings this time, to allow the soil--once it dries--to leach water out of the concrete (and thus the wood).
3. Buttress braces to give horizontal support against wind shaking.
4. Sloped tops on the footings to guide water away from the post.
5. Water seal on the 1' of post above the footing and on the top of the footing.
6. OR dip the entire end of the post in tar all the way up to 1' above ground level (will this waterproof it, or just trap the water and accelerate the rotting?)

I've also heard it suggested to use crushed rock instead of concrete, but I'm not sure if that will provide enough support. The soil is pretty loose and dry, and I'm afraid a bed of rocks will just allow the fence to sag as the wind works it back and forth.

Let's hear your ideas.
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Old 02-09-2014, 04:11 PM
 
Location: Johns Creek, GA
15,497 posts, read 57,932,217 times
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1st- 4X4 are NOT RATED FOR GROUND CONTACT!

2nd- use a material that won't rot; problem solved.
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Old 02-09-2014, 04:20 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
36,363 posts, read 66,135,624 times
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What kind of wood? I have fence posts that were treated cedar in the ground almost 30 years. That's in a climate that gets 40" of rain/year. In your case, I would suggest what I did with a recent installation i did for some short posts for a bonsai display bench. Pour enough concrete to go above grade by an inch or so, then use your trowel to taper it away from the wood, so the water runs off and away from the wood. Also, have about 2" of concrete at the bottom of the hole, so there is no wood in contact with soil.
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Old 02-09-2014, 04:25 PM
QIS
 
920 posts, read 4,707,638 times
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You are on the right track sponger; 2 ft of concrete is enough. You could finish it above grade and have is slope away from the post on all sides. Pressure treated 4 x 4 s does actually help
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Old 02-09-2014, 05:07 PM
 
Location: Berkeley Neighborhood, Denver, CO USA
16,421 posts, read 25,230,371 times
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Default Do it properly

1. Dig the holes to at least 1 foot BELOW the maximum frost line.
2. Fill the bottom foot with gravel. Place filter paper on top.
3. Insert pressure-treated posts.
4. Fill holes with concrete and stabilize posts to the perpendicular.
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Old 02-09-2014, 05:09 PM
 
Location: Riverside Ca
22,156 posts, read 27,573,895 times
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Why can't you use steel 4x4 posts.
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Old 02-09-2014, 05:38 PM
 
Location: Cold Springs, NV
4,572 posts, read 11,039,066 times
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I placed a concrete curb around my entire property with Simpson fence post brackets embedded in the mud like this.
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Old 02-09-2014, 07:03 PM
 
3,436 posts, read 5,276,691 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davebarnes View Post
1. Dig the holes to at least 1 foot BELOW the maximum frost line.
2. Fill the bottom foot with gravel. Place filter paper on top.
3. Insert pressure-treated posts.
4. Fill holes with concrete and stabilize posts to the perpendicular.

NEVER do #4

Ask a contractor who builds pole barns and those poles last 30+ years.

NEVER FILL POST HOLES WITH CONCRETE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 02-09-2014, 07:06 PM
 
3,436 posts, read 5,276,691 times
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In the mid 70's, I took a pasture fence down on the old original farm.

White oak fence posts that were installed in dug holes at least 40 years earlier.

All the fence posts were still rock solid and I cut them up for firewood. Not a rotted spot anywhere !
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Old 02-09-2014, 07:56 PM
 
Location: Cold Springs, NV
4,572 posts, read 11,039,066 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teddy52 View Post
NEVER do #4

Ask a contractor who builds pole barns and those poles last 30+ years.

NEVER FILL POST HOLES WITH CONCRETE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I will agree with this in areas that have a lot of moisture. However, here we have wind, and only 7 inches of rain a year, so we use 4x6 in concrete.

The theory behind what Teddy is claiming holds value. Concrete absorbs moisture, whereas rock allows it to drain away. My brother lives East of Seattle taught me this.
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