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How to Remove a Chain Link Fence

How to Remove a Chain Link Fence

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According to the poet Robert Frost, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

But not all fences are created equally.

While a chain link fence is utilitarian and sturdy, it is not the most aesthetically pleasing fence type. Joe Raboine, Director of Belgard Residential Hardscapes, advises,

“Though chain link is a cheap way of fencing in a yard, it may clash with the style of your home and doesn’t quite cut it as privacy fencing or a noise barrier.”

Chain links fences degrade over time. An old deteriorating chain link fence can be a safety hazard to pets, children, and others.

If you have an old or unsightly chain link fence, it might be time to replace it with a “good fence.” An upgrade to a wooden, wrought iron, or vinyl fence might be just what you need to improve the look of your outdoor living space.

But first, you need to take out your old fence. Removing a chain link fence is a fairly straightforward process. By doing it yourself, you can save money on fence replacement. Fence removal can cost from $3 to $5 per linear foot, so this can be significant cost savings if you have a long length of fence to get rid of.

Before removing the fence along your property line, make sure the fence is indeed yours. Double check your property lines and talk with your neighbor to confirm the fence belongs to you. Even if the fence is on your land, you might want to give your neighbor a head up that the fence will be coming down. This is especially important if you will not be replacing your chain link fence with a new fence; your neighbor will have time to put up a new barrier if they need one for a pet or small children.

Learn DIY tips to learn how to remove a chain link at your house.

Tools Needed for Chain Link Fence Removal

  • Work gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Work pants
  • Fence pliers
  • Wrench
  • Bolt or wire cutter
  • Bungie cords
  • Twine tie
  • Spade shovel

Safety Considerations

The ends of a cut chain link fence can be sharp and dangerous. If you are snipping the fence, there could be metal pieces flying around. Wear safety glasses, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, and work gloves.

Preparation for DIY Fence Removal

Remove Vegetation in the Yard

First, remove or dig out any plants or vegetation along the fence. This is important to do before working on the fence, especially if you have vines clinging to the fencing. Use a trimmer to cut grass close to the fence. Pull weeds from the area. Doing this makes it easier to tackle the fence removal. You will need enough space on one side of the fence to lay it down once it has been removed in order to roll it up for disposal.

Chain Link Fence Removal

Step 1: Remove clamps from corner post

Remove the clamps from one of the corner or end posts one end at a time. The fence is usually attached to the fence post with brackets secured with a nut and bolt. Loosen the bolt and remove the bracket. If there is a tension bar which runs vertically along the edge of the fencing, take it out it by weaving it out of the chain links and set it aside.

Step 2: Cut fence ties and detach the chain link

Next, cut the wire fence ties or metal strapping that holds the chain link fence to the top rail. A small sharp bolt cutter or wire cutter works well for this. You don’t have to fully remove the ties. You can simply bend the wire ties back. Cutting the fence ties will result in lots of sharp metal points, so be sure to wear work gloves during your fence removal.

A long fence section will need to be removed in sections so that it is manageable during disposal. In general, you’ll want to cut the fence every 20 feet or less to keep the sections small enough to work with. At the end of the section you’re working on, cut the chain link down vertically. Slide the top rail out of the top of the chain link fence. Lay the fence section down on the ground and roll into a tight cylindrical roll. Secure with wire or tie at the top and bottom to keep it from unrolling during disposal. If the space around the fence is tight, you may have to roll the fence as you remove it instead of laying it down. As you remove the fencing, secure it with bungie cords to keep it from unraveling as you work.

At the corner or end, you may have a cap attached to the top rail. You can remove this cap and rail by removing the nut and bolt holding them in place. After removing the cap, the rail can be twisted apart. Some fences have welded railing and will need to be cut into manageable sections. Use a reciprocating saw fitted with a metal-cutting blade or a hacksaw to cut a long railing into manageable sections.

Step 3: Remove the Fence Posts

Once you’ve removed all the chain link fencing and the top railing, you will be left with the fence posts. These are often set in concrete and can be difficult to remove. To remove the posts, first soak the ground around the concrete to loosen the dirt and make digging easier.

Dig around the concrete with a spade shovel to the bottom of the concrete. If the concrete footer is small, you can push and pull the post after digging around it to loosen it. If the concrete is not too deep, you may be able to pull the post out, especially if you have the help of another person.

But sometimes the concrete is larger or set too firmly in the ground. Continue digging to the bottom of the concrete section. You can then slip a chain under it and use a come-along or ratchet puller attached to a solid anchor to lift it out of the ground.

If the post is too difficult to remove, you can dig down and cut the post below ground level grade with a reciprocating saw or a hacksaw. However, this will leave the sharp cut edge of the post in the ground. The edges can be hammered down and covered with dirt to keep the hazardous edges out of the way.

an infographic explaining how to remove a chain link fence
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How to Dispose of a Chain Link Fence

Most residential trash haulers will not accept materials such as chain link fence bundles. But there are several alternatives for disposal. You can rent a small dumpster. This is a good solution if you have a lot of fencing to remove. If your fence removal is part of a larger landscaping project, then getting a dumpster rental is the perfect solution to handle all the debris from your yard.

You could also offer the fencing free on a neighborhood group like Nextdoor or Facebook Marketplace. A fence in decent condition can be reused by another homeowner. You can also hang onto your fencing until you have a bulk trash pickup day or community cleanup in your area. These services are offered by your city or county. Finally, you could haul the fencing to a local recycling center or even a landfill.

Tips & Tricks

  • While removing a chain link fence is not particularly difficult, it is some work and takes some elbow grease. Having another person help with the job will make it easier and faster.
  • If you are posting your fence for free on a neighborhood social media group, you can post that it is free to anyone who will remove it. You may be surprised at how easy it is to find someone to do it for you.
  • A recycling or salvage company may offer to pay you for the scrap metal. Call around to find out if your fencing material could bring in some money.

Final Thoughts

Removing an old or unsightly chain link fence can give your property an instant better look. If you ended up cutting the fence posts below grade and covering them, be sure to mark those locations. Then when you are installing a new fence, you will know where those concrete areas are. If you are installing a new fence, now is the time to clean up any landscaping and get rid of any bushes or trees that might impede the installation of a new fence. With a clean slate, you’ll be able to install the perfect fence for your land.

Need to Remove a Fence?

A dumpster rental gives you everything need to deal with chain link fence removal, and we'll get you the right dumpster at the most affordable price. Call now to get your dumpster fast at (888) 316-7010

About Monica Mayhak

I am an expert content writer with a depth of experience in the waste management and dumpster industry, with over 25 years of experience writing about construction, home improvement, property management, and education topics. As lead research writer for Discount Dumpster, I have expanded my knowledge and understanding of waste management, construction, and environmental issues over the past several years.

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