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How to Fix a Sagging Fence Gate

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Well, given enough time, it seems that most fences will begin to sag and even drag. While a sagging fence-scape might not seem like the biggest issue, the problem can get worse if ignored.

    TOM: Well, luckily, repairing the root cause of a sagging gate is a pretty simple do-it-yourself task. Here to tell us more is Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor for This Old House.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Pretty simple, huh?

    TOM: Well, when you do it, it’s pretty simple. Perhaps you’re going to tell us how to make it pretty simple. It seems like the first problem with a saggy gate is usually not the gate as much as it’s the post that holds the gate, right?

    ROGER: It all starts with the post. That’s where you look first. Obviously, if the post is rotten, you’ve got to replace it.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: Start from square one. Take the hinges off, put in a new post, put some concrete in it to hold it in place properly, reinstall the hinges and then hope the gate works.

    TOM: Now, you just mentioned using concrete to hold the post. In all the years I’ve been doing fence projects around my house, I really don’t use concrete. I prefer to put stone in and pack it around the post. It seems to hold it really, really well. Is concrete more important because it’s being used for a gate?

    ROGER: I totally agree with you except when it comes to the gatepost, the one that the gate’s hanging off of. That needs the extra reinforcement of concrete to support all that weight that’s hanging off it.

    LESLIE: Well, all that weight and all that movement – consistent movement – too.

    ROGER: Yeah. Nothing like a little extra weight and a little extra movement to make you get out of line.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Now, when you put your post in, you let it run tall and cut it off later? So this way you don’t have to be too accurate about the height?

    ROGER: Yeah. Because if you’re trying to adjust the height to be perfect and the hinges and everything else, it’s a lot easier to just put the post in at the right spacing, rehang everything and then cut the top off.

    TOM: OK. So if the hardware is good, now we’re looking at the gate itself. Sometimes the gate is the only part that’s sagged, that’s sort of – I guess the term is “racked.” It’s not square anymore, it’s almost diagonal. How do you address that?

    ROGER: Well, the easiest way to address that is they make kits with a cable and a turnbuckle. You anchor them on the gate and then you tighten the turnbuckle and it’ll pull them back so they’re at – they’re back in the position they originally belong.

    LESLIE: Do you keep that there permanently or is that just until you retighten attachments?

    ROGER: No. That’s a permanent thing, because you can go out every year and turn that turnbuckle a little more and help keep it square.

    LESLIE: That’s smart.

    TOM: So what you’re saying is it’s simple.

    ROGER: Simple.

    TOM: See?

    ROGER: Keep it simple.

    TOM: And that’s where we started. It’s a very simple project now that you’ve explained it.

    Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: Oh, thanks for having me.

    LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.

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