Wood Post Puller

How the Wood Post Puller Started

We love living in Texas, but the storms that blow through can do serious damage. A few years back, one nasty spring storm blew down several sections of privacy fence around our back yard. We propped the fence back up as a temporary fix but it wasn’t long before the repair notices from our HOA started coming in the mail.

Storm damaged privacy fence with broken wooden post

Local fence companies wanted thousands of dollars to fix complete the repairs when all we really needed was to replace the broken posts and reattach our current panels so we decided to tackle it as our DIY weekend project.

Learn how we braced the broken posts and made temporary fixes to our privacy fence in this article.
We shared our best tips for dealing with homeowners associations in this post.

Our soil here in central Texas is heavy clay – the first post took more than three hours to dig out and left us sweaty, dirty, and exhausted. That evening I evaluated other options.

The post pullers on the market were all based on mechanical advantage – wrap a chain around the post and then jack it up. If the post was broken, many of the pullers simply wouldn’t work but some had a ‘pincer’ attachment that was supposed to grab the post. We didn’t think any of them would work safely for our situation.

Most home improvement sites recommended to simply cut off the post at ground level and install a new post to the side. We were going to go with this option until we realized how strange it would look to have unevenly spaced posts around our backyard. We needed a solution that let us replace the fence posts in their current location.

Our Lightbulb Moment

Fence post puller removal tool

One recommendation from the online forums was to soak the ground the night before to make digging easier. Our clay was hard and difficult to dig through so we set out a soaker hose. Digging the next day we found that the water had only soaked in the top 4 inches, below that was the same compacted soil.

Repeating the soak would work but would also take hours to reach the 36-inch depth. To allow the water to penetrate deeper we drove in a garden stake right next to the footing and then removed it, leaving the hole where water could run down. This method worked OK, but to avoid suction we had to wait for the water to absorb into the ground. Pulling on the post too soon formed suction in the hole and the post was impossible to pull out.

During one of our working breaks, all of these facts came together – the suction was working against us but that also meant that a tight seal existed between the concrete and the soil. If we insert a pipe to the same depth as the bottom of the post the water pressure would help to lift everything out of the ground – in effect ‘reversing’ the suction force.

The next day we purchased parts and made our first prototype – a length of black pipe connected to our garden hose and hammered to a point on the other end. Our first tests worked beyond our imagination. It took a few minutes to get the pipe inserted but then the post just slid out with a loud slurp.

Our Wood Post Puller Method

We improved our method over the next few months, adding handles to the spike tool for more control and adopting a ‘jackhammer’ insertion technique with short up-and-down motions to prevent the tip getting stuck in the clay. In many cases, we were able to remove a post and concrete footing in less than 2 minutes! See one example in the video below:

How to Remove Fence Posts the Easy Way

The Wood Post Puller method gives you the help you need on the most difficult part of fence repair – removing the post and concrete footing. Fix your own fence and save money! Because water is delivered to the bottom and the post slides out on a layer of mud – no digging required on most posts. Compare to other methods – the Wood Post Puller is the only one that works on broken, rotten posts that you can’t grab with a chain.

The best spike tool to use is the RootIRRIGATOR from Corona Tools (buy now on Amazon)Opens in a new tab.

Most homeowners want to repair their own privacy fence, using Wood Post Puller method makes it EASY. No digging required for many posts and it makes all lifting methods more effective.

  • Do It Yourself Fence Repair
  • For ALL Residential Posts
  • Posts with Concrete Footings
  • Wood or Metal Posts
  • Broken or Rotten Posts

SLIDE the Post Out with WATER PRESSURE

PROVEN results, read our Testimonials!

Our Wood Post Puller method takes the work out of replacing fence posts set in concrete. The spike tool injects water at the base of the post and loosens the soil around the post. In a short time, the water forms a layer of mud around the concrete footing that helps slide the post out of the ground.

Once loosened, use two pry bars to lift the post and concrete footing out of the ground. Leave the water running to automatically relieve suction force and help push the post out of the ground. Alternatively, turn the water off and disconnect the hose but leave the spike tool inserted to prevent suction.

Create the Mud Layer – ‘Cut’ the Broken Post and Footing Out of the Ground

Step 1:  Clear the area around the post and concrete footing. Remove anything attached to the post, such as railings or old nails/screws.

Step 2:  Turn on water flow to the Wood Post Puller. Insert the spike tool fully into the ground at the edge of the concrete footing.

Step 3:  Repeat step 2 at equal spaces around the concrete footing. Most posts will require no more than 4-6 insertions of the spike tool. Difficult posts may require insertions spaced 2-3 inches apart until you have circled the entire concrete footing.  If you are unable to lift the post and concrete footing in Step 4, repeat Step 3 at additional locations around the footing.

The Wood Post Puller method works when the post is rotted or broken off. It even works when the concrete breaks up – simply keep injecting water around and underneath and remove concrete pieces by hand. This situation can get messy so use a hose-end shutoff to control the water flow.

Slide the Post Out of the Ground

Step 4: Alternate lifting methods may be used. Firmly drive a pry bar into contact with the concrete footing at approximately a 45-degree angle from the ground.  Repeat the setup on the opposite side of the concrete footing. Placing the fulcrum closer to the concrete footing increases the leverage applied.  Two 5-6 foot pinch point bars are ideal, but San Angelo bars, crowbars, and even shovels are suitable.  Fully insert the spike into the ground next to the concrete footing. With the water turned on fully to the spike, apply even downward pressure to both pry bars (requires two people).

The critical step is to get the post moving – even the slightest movelent allows the water to rush in and fully form the mud layer around the concrete. A few firm hits to the concrete using a sledgehammer will frequently break it free. Once it moves even a little bit the battle is won and you will get the post out of the ground.

No chains or jacks could remove a broken post this easily
Broken posts are easily removed with the Wood Post Puller

The concrete footing and fence post will lift up a short distance. Do not rush this step – allow time for the water to create hydraulic pressure on the bottom side of the concrete and assist in the lift. The water MUST be on during this step or lifting the plug will create a suction force pulling the plug back down.

Step 5:  Alternately remove one of the pry bars and reset back to the 45-degree starting position. Using the other pry bar to hold the plug during the reset.  After both pry bars are reset, repeat Steps 4 and 5 until the concrete plug is fully removed from the hole.  Caution – the fence post and concrete together are heavy (often over 100 pounds)!

If the concrete stays intact you will be able to lift the post and concrete together as one solid piece. If the concrete has cracked we will often see the pieces lift out together because the pry bars squeeze them against each other like a puzzle.  Even if the post is completely rotten within the concrete and pieces break off they are easily removed after taking out the main section. Just reach into the hole and peel the broken cement off the sides of the hole and from the bottom.

Immediately cover or otherwise secure the hole to prevent any accidental entry or injury.

Helpful Tips

  • Try wiggling the post after the first insertion. Any movement of the concrete footing in the ground (even a vibration) will allow the water to spread along the concrete surface. Any little movement is enough for the water to form the mud layer.  On broken posts, try to jam a pry bar into the stump area and then push back and forth on the top. Or hit the concrete footing firmly side to side with a sledgehammer.  Now try lifting the post and footing using the instructions in Step 4 – often the post will come right out!
  • Support the bars with scrap pieces of 4×4 or old post to prevent them from sinking into the ground.
  • Start the pry bars at 45-degrees or less. If they are too vertical the bars will be pushing against each other and not push the concrete plug UP.

The Wood Post Puller method gives you the help you need on the most difficult part of fence repair – removing the post and concrete footing. Fix your own fence and save money! Because water is delivered to the bottom and the post slides out on a layer of mud – no digging required on most posts. Compare to other methods – the Wood Post Puller is the only one that works on broken, rotten posts that you can’t grab with a chain.

Check out other helpful tips in our DIY section.