Updated July 14, 2021
Removing an old fence post can be a pain in the neck (or back). Not only are fence posts set in a concrete footing typically two feet underground, but if the post has become rotten and is no longer sturdy, it will make removing it even more complicated.
Of course, you could dig out the post and concrete with just a shovel and some muscle, but digging two feet underground is hard to do, especially if the soil is full of clay or rock.
Instead, we'll show you how to remove your fence posts and concrete footings using simple, inexpensive tools in a way that requires minimal digging.
Whether you are looking to replace the existing fence post with a new one, or you want the entire fence gone, this method makes it as easy as possible without hiring someone else to do it.
Tools You'll Need:
- Steel chain (should be about 3 - 6 ft. long)
- Slip hook
- Grab hook
- High-lift jack (48 inches is best)
- Digging bar (for hard/rocky soil)
This video does an excellent job of showing the fence post removal process:
Step 1: Dig around the fence post.
Use your shovel to dig around the fence post until the top 3 - 4 inches of the concrete footing is exposed.
Generally speaking, the wider the hole is dug, the easier it is to remove the post, so don't be afraid to dig the hole on the wide side.
Step 2: Wrap the chain around the concrete footing.
Once enough of the concrete footing is exposed—usually around 6 inches below ground—securely wrap the chain around the concrete footing.
Pull the chain so it's wrapped tightly around the concrete, then use the slip hook to securely connect the chain to itself.
If you're using a 48-inch chain (which is what we recommend), then you should have roughly 12 inches of the chain left, with the grab hook at the end of it.
If you have less than a foot of chain left to work with, you will likely want to get a longer chain (or adjust the length of the one you have by relocating the slip hook to a different chain link).
Step 3: Hook the chain to the high-lift jack.
With the remainder of the chain in hand, securely connect it to the top of the jack.
Then, use the grab hook to latch the chain to itself and lock it around the jack.
Keep the chain as close to the bottom of the jack as possible to prevent the jack from being pulled forward or from slipping off once you start jacking it up.
Step 4: Lift the concrete footing out of the ground.
With one hand, keep the jack sturdy and straight, then use your other hand to crank the jack's lever.
As the tension in the chain increases, you may notice the jack start to lean toward the post. This is OK, but it should be limited as much as possible.
If the jack leans too far forward, you'll likely need to stop to adjust the jack and start over, in some cases from a different angle.
Once you've cranked up the jack enough, the post should come right out of the ground.
However, if the post is in soil that is full of clay or rock, getting the soil wet with a hose may help ease the process along, as it helps to loosen dry, hard-packed soil.
Learn more about fence removal: