How to Repair a Chain-Link Fence

Chain Link fence repair

Many homeowners choose a chain-link fence because it’s affordable, low maintenance, and durable. But like all things, wear and tear and accidents happen, and eventually, you will have to make repairs to your chain-link fence. 

From fixing bent rails to repairing holes to replacing gates, learn how to repair a chain-link fence with this step-by-step guide.

As with all types of fences, a chain-link fence can break. Here are some common problems you may encounter with your chain-link fence.

  • Bent or Broken Rail: Everything from fallen limbs to climbing kids can bend your rail. Rails are critical to the structural integrity of your fence, so replace rails as soon as possible before you have to replace the entire fence.
  • Damaged Post: Posts can be damaged like any other fence part, and cold weather can force a post from its hole. Being the backbone of the fence, replace posts as soon as possible, or you risk further damage.
  • Damaged Fabric: Small cuts, bad weather, and climbing animals or kids can damage chain-link fence fabric. To prevent rust or further damage, make repairs when they happen. If you don’t, you may need a whole new fence.
  • Broken Gate: A gate is probably the most used part of your chain-link fence, so it’ll eventually need to be replaced. A broken gate can compromise the nearby posts and rails and hurt a loved one, so be sure to address the problem sooner rather than later.

Although chain-link fences are durable, wear, tear, and damage happens. So how can you resolve these problems at a low cost?

Looking down a chain link fence
Photo Credit: Anthony Manciero / Cnava Pro / License

Materials needed

  • Lineman’s pliers
  • Reciprocating saw/hacksaw
  • Marker or pencil
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Replacement rail
  • Rail coupling
  • Wire ties

Step 1: Prep the bent rail

Using the lineman’s pliers, untwist the wire ties from around the top rail. There will be several pieces of wire ties, so be sure to remove them all.

On the rail, find where the bend starts and ends. Cut on either side of the bend using the reciprocating saw or the hacksaw. Cut the pipe as straight as possible.

Step 2: Prep the replacement section

Slide the tapered end of the replacement rail into the cut pipe as far as it will go without getting stuck.

Use the marker or pencil to mark the new pipe where it meets the other side of the cut pipe.

Remove the replacement, and cut it at your mark with the reciprocating saw.

Step 3: Attach replacement rail

Reinsert the tapered end of the replacement rail into the existing rail. Slide the rail coupling over the non-tapered end of the replacement rail.

Align the existing rail to the replacement rail. To do this, loosen a rail end where it connects to the post using an adjustable wrench. Align the old rail with the replacement.

Slide the coupling to connect the old and new rail sections. Tighten. Reinsert the rail into the post and tighten.

Reattach the chain-link fence fabric to the repaired rail using the lineman’s pliers and new wire ties. Use about the same number of ties as originally attached.

a bent chain link fence
Photo Credit: D-Huss / Canva Pro / License

Materials needed

Note: Before purchasing new rails, use a measuring tape to measure your old rail to ensure you get the correct size.

  • Replacement rails
  • Measuring tape
  • Lineman’s pliers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Wire ties

Step 1: Remove wire ties

Use lineman’s pliers to bend the ends of the ties. Pull the ties away, freeing the old rail from the chain-link. Repeat until you remove all ties from the fence replacement area.

Step 2: Prep new rail

Hold the old rail up to the new one and slide the smaller, tapered end of the new rail over the old rail. Ensure the tapered section lines up with the soon-to-be-cut damaged part. 

Use a pencil to mark the replacement section on the old rail. There should be two marks, one at the beginning and one and the end of where the replacement will go.

Cut at the marks on the old rail. Set aside the damaged piece of old rail.

Step 3: Loosen rail from post

Use an adjustable or ratchet wrench to remove the bolts on the tension bands at the corner post where you’ll attach the new rail. Slide the rail toward the post to loosen it.

Step 4: Install new rail

Slide the new rail’s larger end over the old rail’s smaller end. Insert the tapered end of the new rail into the other end of the old rail (the unbolted section). You may need to cut the new rail more to get a perfect fit.

Step 5: Secure fixed rail

Once the rail is in place, reattach the bolts at the corner post. Use pliers to replace the old wire ties around the rail, securing the mesh to the rail. There should be ties securing the mesh to the rail every 2 feet. Add additional or new ties if needed.

Step 6: Bottom rail

If needed, repeat steps 1-5 to replace the bottom rail.

a hole in chain link fence
Photo Credit: MrDoomits / Canva Pro / License

Materials needed

  • Chain-link fence roll
  • Chain-link fence ties
  • Measuring tape

Step 1: Measure the hole

Measure the length and width of the hole with your measuring tape.

Measure out a portion of the new fence a little larger than the hole. Remove it from the chain-link fabric roll.

Step 2: Attach patch

Lay the new piece of the fence over the hole. Secure it in place using fence ties. Be sure to line up the links. 

Note: This is a hole patch. Like all patches, this is a quick fix and will eventually need a more permanent solution, like a fence section replacement.

close-up of chain link fence with fabric
Photo Credit: bgwalker / Canva Pro / License

Materials needed

  • Lineman’s pliers
  • Replacement chain-link fabric

Locate the damaged area and the undamaged chain-link fabric on either side. 

Using the lineman’s pliers, straighten out the hooked end of the wire at the top of the fabric of one side of the undamaged area. Straighten the same wire at the bottom of the fence.

Unweave the wire out of the fabric. Repeat on the other side of the undamaged fabric.

Remove the damaged chain-link fabric and set it aside.

Step 2: Measure replacement fabric

Using the damaged fabric as a guide, measure out the replacement fabric. Measure the replacement about 1-2 links longer than the old fabric.

Unhook the new section from the roll of fencing. To do this, straighten the bottom hook and unweave the replacement fabric from the roll.

Step 3: Install new fabric

Using wire ties, hang the new chain-link fabric from the top rail. These ties are temporary, so don’t secure them tightly.

Hold the replacement fabric against the existing fabric. Use one previously removed wire to weave the new and existing sections together. Twist the bottom end of the wire, and bend the hook closed at the top of the wire. Stretch the fabric as much as possible and repeat on the other side of the replacement fabric. 

Once the new fabric is woven into the existing fabric, secure the fabric to the top rails permanently. Remove any extra wire ties.

A picture showing a damaged chain link section
Photo Credit: Pxfuel

Materials needed

  • Chain-link fence roll
  • Lineman’s pliers
  • Zip ties or small wire pieces
  • Chain-link fence ties
  • Measuring tape

Step 1: Remove broken section

Locate the edges of the hole and find the section of undamaged links next to the hole. Follow the chain links to the top of the fence. 

With your lineman’s pliers, unfold the hook keeping the links together at the top. Unhook the same wire at the bottom of the fence.

Remove this wire by uncoiling it out of the fence. Be careful not to damage it, as you will need it to attach the new fence section. Repeat on the other side of the hole.

Remove the broken section.

Step 2: Prepare fence replacement

Using your measuring tape, measure the width of the broken section to measure out the new fence section. 

Remove the new section from the roll. Use the same method as removing the broken section, i.e., unhook the wire ends and uncoil them out of place.

Step 3: Install new fence portion

Connect the fence to the top rail temporarily. You can use zip ties or small wire pieces. This connection will make the installation easier.

Using the wires previously removed, weave the new fence piece into place on each end. Fold the ends of the wires into place.

Remove the temporary ties and replace them with chain-link fence ties. The chain-link ties attach the top of the fence to the pole and prevent sagging.

How to Replace a Chain-Link Post

a chain link post in a lawn
Photo Credit: Phillip Pessar / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Materials needed

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Lineman’s pliers
  • Shovel
  • Post-hole digger
  • Replacement post
  • Level
  • Cement mix and water
  • Gravel
  • Wire ties

Use lineman’s pliers to untwist the wire ties holding the chain-link fabric to the top rails on either side of the post you are replacing.

Use an adjustable wrench to remove the tension bands holding the tension bars, removing the rails from the post. The post is now disconnected from the fence.

Step 2: Remove old post and prep hole for new post

Using the shovel, dig out the old post. 

With the post hole digger, fix or re-dig the hole for the new post. The hole should be about 10 inches wide and 2 to 3 feet deep (depth depends on the post type and the frost line). 

Be sure to dig the hole in a bell shape, meaning the bottom is wider than the top.

Step 3: Install new post

For proper drainage, add a few inches of gravel into the hole. Then, put the new post into the hole. Use the level to be sure it’s straight.

Add the concrete mix according to the manufacturer’s directions, filling in the hole. Leave the post to set, letting it harden completely.

Step 4: Reattach fence

Once the concrete is dry, reattach the rails and rail end brackets. 

Hang the fence from the rails with wire ties. These ties are temporary, so hang them loosely.

Reattach the tension bars, pulling the mesh tightly to the new post. With the tension bands, secure the fence in place. Remove the temporary wire ties.

a chain-link gate in a lawn
Photo Credit: Pxhere / CC0 1.0

Materials needed

  • ½ inch socket wrench
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Chain-link fence gate
  • Galvanized Gate Set (2 if you have two gate panes)

Step 1: Remove hinges

Spray lubricant, like WD-40, on the hinge bolts, making them easier to remove.

Using a 9/16 inch socket wrench or a crescent wrench, remove the bolt from the hinge strap on fence posts, and wipe off any excess lubricant.

To remove the pin, slide the loosened hinge strap up.

Repeat steps to remove the bottom hinge.

Step 2: Remove gate

Slide the gate away from the fence. Set the gate pane (door) aside. Repeat steps to remove the second pane if your gate has two panes.

Remove the loose post hinges from the fence posts.

Step 3: Open galvanized gate set

Note: The post hinge has a pin, and the gate hinge has a loop.

Open the Galvanized Gate Set and verify you have all the parts.

  1. Two hinge pairs (4 total pieces): 2 post hinges, 2 gate hinges
  2. Four bolts
  3. Four nuts

Step 4: Attach new post hinges

Separate one of the hinge pairs.

Top hinge: Slide the hinge strap (with the pin) onto the post, so the pin faces down. Slide bolt into holes in the strap. Put a nut onto the end of the pin and tighten it using a socket wrench.

Bottom hinge: Slide the hinge strap (with the pin) onto the post, so the pin faces up. Slide a bolt through the holes in the strap. Add a nut onto the end of the bolt, and tighten using a socket wrench.

Step 5: Attach new gate hinges

Grab your gate (the new one if you’re replacing the gate pane). Attach the two gate hinges (top and bottom) to the side of the gate frame. Be sure the loops are facing out.

Slide the bolts through the strap holes and tighten them loosely with your fingers.

Note: The straps must be loose enough to slide up and down the gate frame. You will need to adjust them once the gate is in position.

Step 6: Attach the gate

To support the gate while attaching hinges, place blocks on the ground where you’ll connect the gate. Lift and place the gate panel into the desired position. The gate needs to line up with the fence. Adjust the blocks as needed.

Connect the top hinge first. Slide the gate hinge into position. The gate loop goes over the post pin. Tighten the nut on the gate hinge straps (the one we previously kept loose). Repeat for the bottom gate hinge, sliding the bottom gate hinge up and down to get the correct position.

Test out your gate, making sure it swings freely. Adjust bolts as needed.

Step 7: Second pane (Skip if you only have one pane)

Follow steps 1-6 to replace the second pane.

Step 8: Attach the latch

Place the two latch plates inside the gate frame where you want the latch. Slide one bolt into the inside hole (non-latch side) and attach a nut. Using a ½ inch socket wrench or adjustable wrench, tighten the nut.

Place the latch between the two plates outside the gate frame. Slide a bolt and nut into place. Tighten the nut to secure the latch.

Test the latch. The latch should be loose enough to swing up and down.

Step 9: Post holder (Two pane gate only)

Bolt the two post holders onto the gate frame — one in the middle of the gate and one near the bottom.

Slide the post down through the post holders and secure it in the ground.

a broken chain link fabric
Photo Credit: Aquatarkus / Canva Pro / License

Repairing your fence is easier and cheaper than replacing it, but sometimes you’re better off starting from scratch. How do you know the difference? Here are a few tips.

  • Bent frames: Fixing one bend is a relatively easy repair. However, you’ll want to replace fence rails, fence sections, or possibly the entire fence if you have multiple bends. Repairing multiple bends can jeopardize your fence’s structure, leading to a replacement in the long run.
  • Fraying: If your chain-link fabric is coming apart, you’ll need to replace your fence or, at the very least, whole sections. Fraying means the mesh fabric is broken, likely affecting the rails and the posts.
  • Rust spots: Rust on a chain-link fence means the protective coating is compromised, and oxidation has begun. If there is an isolated rust spot, you can repair it. However, if you see several spots, you may need to think about replacing your fence before it spreads. Rust can even spread to your lawn.
  • Extensive damage: One or even a few damaged spots can be repaired. But if you notice more damage, it’ll be worth your while to start over with a new fence.
  • Gate doesn’t work: If your gate doesn’t work properly, there’s a good chance your fence posts are tilted or off-center. Crooked posts will increase strain on your chain-link fabric, rails, and other fence parts, causing leaning and damage. A broken gate may indicate you need to start over.

As a general rule of thumb, a repair will do if it’s one small problem. But multiple issues mean you’ll need a new fence.

What should I do with the old chain-link fence?

After you’ve replaced or repaired your chain-link fence, you’ll have extra chain-link fabric. What should you do with the old chain-link fabric? Here are a few ideas.

1. Trade it: A chain-link in good condition is worth some money. You can look for someone to haul it away in exchange for keeping any profit. If you’re unsure where to start, try Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or similar local listing sites.
2. Donate it: Many organizations need or use chain-link fences. Consider donating it to a place in need. Check with your local animal shelters, farms, garden centers, and recreation centers for kids to see if they could use your donation.
3. Sell it: If you take your extra chain-link fabric to your local scrap metal recycling center, they’ll pay you for it. Rules, stipulations, and metal value varies, so call them before you make the trip. 

Can you install a chain-link fence post without concrete?

Yes, but it’s not recommended. The cement ensures that the fence post stays sturdy for a long time. Because a fence post is structurally critical, skipping the concrete will lead to a loose post. The loose post will cause the fence to sag and eventually fall, significantly reducing the lifespan of your chain-link fence.

How many bags of concrete do I need for a chain-link fence post?

A fence post requires one to four bags of concrete. The number of bags will depend on:

Soil type
Fence design
Fence height
Type of post
Size of the post
Size of the bag of concrete

Terminal posts need to be deeper than line posts to sustain the additional strain they support. The hole depth needs to be about half the height of the fence, but this will vary depending on the soil type. The post hole diameter should be three times larger than the post.

Don’t be chained by fence repair

Fence installation and fence repair are challenging DIY projects. They take planning, preparation, and patience. You’ll need to devote days to this task. But you don’t need to be chained to your fence to get this huge project completed. FenceGnome connects you to the best fencing pros near you.

Main Image Credit: Supersmario / Canva Pro / License

Nicki DeStasi

Nicki DeStasi is a writer, author, and teacher who grew up in western Massachusetts and currently resides in the Austin area. She enjoys flower and vegetable gardening, reading, cooking, listening to true-crime podcasts, and spending time with her husband, three children, dog, and cat.