How to Tell If You Need a New Chain Link Fence

How to Tell If You Need a New Chain Link Fence

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If your chain link fence is looking a little shabby, it can be hard to tell if it needs to be replaced or if you can simply repair it and save some money.

A good chain link fence company near you should be able to tell you what they recommend, but there are a few clear warning signs that your fence is beyond repair. Here’s what you need to know.

Posts Are Broken Above the Footing

Sometimes, water pools around fence posts and causes corrosion right above the top of the concrete footing. This might not be noticeable from a distance if they are line posts since the rest of the fence will hold them up.

Physical damage, like being backed into by a vehicle, can also break line posts off at the base, and it doesn’t always look like your fence is that badly damaged.

Take a walk down your fence, and wiggle each fence post as you go. If they’re sturdy and stable, they’re probably okay.

There’s More Than Surface Rust

Many galvanized chain link fences develop surface rust over time. This is a thin film of red rust on the surface of the metal. You can still see the galvanizing through the rust layer though.

If your fence structure has gone beyond surface rust and there is pitting or holes in the metal, it probably can’t be saved, and you will need to replace the fence.

While you’re walking the fence line, look for any areas of rust that have started to degrade the fence structure.

The Mesh Is Rusted, Cut, or Broken

Over time, chain link mesh can start to show signs of wear and tear.

Sometimes, sand or snow that is against the fence can cause the mesh to stretch in places.

Chain link mesh can also rust, and when rust is severe, you can break the wires between your fingers. If this happens, but the fence structure is still good, you might simply be able to replace the mesh and wire.

If chain link fence has been cut or broken, it’s usually possible to replace just that section of fence. Fence companies will “spiral” new wire mesh into the affected area, and your fence should be good as new.

Missing Fittings and Hardware

As you walk your chain link fence line to assess it, pay attention to all the bands, bolts, rail ends and tensioning equipment on the fence. If they are broken or even missing, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need a new fence. You might simply need to replace the damaged hardware on your fence.

Loss of Tension

Chain link fences need to be properly tensioned to look and perform at their best.

This includes not only the chain link fence fabric itself but also any tension wires, and if you have barbed wire on an overhang or extension, those strands too.

As long as the wire and mesh is not rusted or damaged, it can be tightened instead of being replaced.

Damaged Top Rails

If your chain link fence has a top rail (and or mid rails and bottom rails) pay close attention to them when you’re inspecting your fence.

Top rails, especially, are a crucial part of the structure of your fence, and they should be undamaged and properly connected.

If one or two top rails are damaged or not properly connected, your fence company should be able to replace those sections or add new sleeves where necessary.

How Long Do Chain Link Fences Last?

The last thing you might want to know when you’re wondering if it’s time to replace your chain link fence is how long chain link fences usually last.

It really depends on where they are installed (marine and heavy industrial environments are much more corrosive) and the type and quality of your fence.

However, in a non-marine location, and assuming your fence is made from quality materials, it could last 20 or 30 years or even more. That’s especially true if you inspect your fence regularly and repair any small issues as they arise.

How to Decide Between Chain Link Fence Repair or Replacement

If the inspection of your fence has revealed some damage that you hadn’t noticed from far away, you might still not need to repair your fence. However, there is a point at which repairing a chain link fence becomes uneconomical. This means that the cost to repair the fence would be close to the cost to replace it, which makes repairing it not feasible.

The best way to figure out if you need to fix your chain link fence or get a new one is to contact a local chain link fence company and ask them to offer their professional opinion. Many would be more than willing to offer a quote for repairs and replacement, and there are even some fence companies that offer fence maintenance programs.

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