Repair of a leaning fence post doesn't have to include removal and replacement of the concrete pier that holds the rotted or broken post in place. Nor does it have to involve replacement of the post. Most of the time this kind of repair can be made with nothing more than a pair of metal braces called fence-post-repair brackets. However, not every post can be reused. If the rot at the post base extends more than 8 or 10 inches above the concrete pier, the post should be replaced. Also, there must be at least 3 inches of concrete between the edge of the fence post and the outside edge of the pier.
Fence-post-repair brackets are available in two sizes, 3 1/2 and 4-inch. One size for rough-cut posts and another for finished ones.
One manufacturer claims that when using his brackets, you can repair your leaning fence posts permanently in 10 minutes. This might be true with some styles of good neighbor fences where the fence boards rest between the posts. But, such would not be the case with most other types of fences, especially where the fence boards are on one or both sides of the fence posts. A repair that we made took about 45 minutes, and included attaching a temporary brace to the post, digging and cleaning away dirt at the post base and at the top of the concrete pier and removing and replacing a couple of fence boards. Our work also involved reattaching the top rail of the fence where it had separated from the leaning post.
Only a few items are required: a small block of wood, a piece of scrap 2x4 about 6 inches long, a hammer, a flat pry bar, a shovel, a sledge hammer and a few screws or a handful of 10d galvanized nails.
First, the 2x4 is used to brace the fence and hold it in a plumb position until the repair is completed. Holding the fence in an upright position, wedge the low end of the 2x4 into the landscape and nail the other end of the brace to the fence post you intend to repair. Don't drive the nail all the way in. The brace is temporary and the nail will have to be removed once the repair has been made.
The next step is to remove fence boards that cover the area to be repaired. A block of wood should be used to buffer the blow of the hammer. Lay the block against the fence board and strike the block with the hammer. The flat pry bar can be helpful here.
With the post braced and the fence boards removed, shovel the dirt away and expose the base of the post and the top of the concrete pier. The area should be swept clean so that the outline of the post in the concrete can be clearly seen. This is important because attempting to drive a fence-repair bracket in the wrong location can easily bend it. As the bracket is driven into place with the sledge hammer, it crushes the post and wedges itself into the concrete. The first bracket usually goes in easily, whereas the second is more difficult. This is because the first usually uses up all of the available space between the post and pier. Therefore, be prepared to apply more force to each blow of the sledge hammer to properly seat the second bracket.
At this point the brackets can be bolted, nailed or screwed into the post. Since the brackets are tightly wedged between the pier and the post, the method of attachment usually is not overly important. However, where substantial post damage exists, bolting is wise.
With the brackets attached, replace the fence board(s), remove the temporary brace and refill the post hole. You have just saved more than $100.