How to Maintain and Repair a Chain Link Fence

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The white picket fence is a classic depiction of a charmed home life, but reality doesn’t always fit classic molds. Many homes, businesses, and locations use chain link fences instead. They’re durable, affordable, and effective, but they are not impervious to harm.

If you have a chain link fence, learning a few maintenance and repair tips can help you keep it in top shape for many years. Whether DIY projects are a bit of a hobby or you just prefer to take care of things yourself, this guide will help you manage your own fence.

Maintenance Tips

As the old saying goes, a little maintenance will do you a lot of good. Fortunately, chain link fences are durable and made for outdoor endurance. They don’t need frequent, extensive maintenance. Keep them clean and stay on top of small signs of damage, and your fence can easily last a lifetime.

More specifically, you can clean your fence, treat it, inspect it, and weed it. Those are the essential tips, and if you keep up with them, your fence will do just fine.


Clean and Treat Your Fence

Weathering and rust account for much of the wear and tear that eventually harms your chain link fence. With regular cleaning and treatment, you can prevent most of it.

Cleaning your fence is easy. Grab a pressure washer and give the whole fence a once-over. If you do this at least annually, you mitigate any buildup of dirt, grime, and materials that can corrode or wear your fence. 

If you see rust when cleaning, use a stiff brush to scrub it away.

When your fence is dry, you can treat it to prevent rusting in the future. You can use paint, zinc treatments, or vinyl treatments. Each has its own pros and cons (usually cost vs. longevity). Follow the instructions for the treatment you choose, and you should be fine.


Inspect for Damage

Beyond cleaning, it’s important to stay ahead of damage to the fence. An annual inspection helps you spot issues before they get out of control.

When you look for damage, first focus on the posts, horizontal polls, and joints where you attach things like gates. If you see any bending or other signs of damage, you will want to repair the problems sooner rather than later.

You also want to inspect the links themselves. At a glance, you can usually spot areas where the chain links are damaged, and you can replace or repair them as needed.

An eyeball inspection is sufficient. No special inspection tools or techniques are needed.


Control the Plants

The last aspect of maintenance involves plant life. If trees, bushes, vines, or other plants grow into your fence, they can easily destroy it. So, weed the area around the fence to prevent this issue. If you notice trees sprouting, dig them up quickly. 

Grass and other plants that can’t grow into the fence are fine, and they can actually help prevent the growth of more destructive species.


Repair Tips

Maintenance will improve the longevity of your fence, but the forces of nature can be unforgiving. When damage does occur, most fences can be repaired rather than replaced, making the effort easier and more affordable.

The specifics of your repair job vary depending on the fence and scope of damage, but two key tips can help you regardless.


Use Good Parts

It sounds obvious, but you need good replacement parts for a quality repair. For a standard chain link fence, parts are easy to find. If you have something a little more substantial, like security chain link fencing, you might need a specialized parts provider.

As long as you find and use good parts, you can trust your repairs to last long and function well.


Cut and Replace

As for how you actually carry out a repair, it depends on the extent of the damage. In most cases, you want to cut away the damaged metal and replace it.

The advantage of chain link fences is that they are made to be lighter, and that makes repair work easier. Most fences cut pretty easily with a reciprocating saw and a blade rated for cutting metal. 

So, assess the damaged areas, and cut them away so that the remaining portions are all in good repair. From your replacement materials, you can cut what you need to fit the newly created gap. Chain link poles fit into each other with couplings, so you do not need any specialized tools or to do any welding.

When the pole structure is secure, you can replace the links to fill the gap in the fence. For this, a sturdy pair of pliers (like lineman’s pliers) makes the job easier. Twist the links back into place, and you’re set. That’s really all it takes.


Wrapping It Up

Chain link fence maintenance is an easy way to make your fence last longer and save you money. It is a task you can learn by doing, and it does not require a significant amount of time each year.

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