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Can Chain Link Fence Be Recycled?

If you’ve ever installed or replaced a chain link fence then you know how hard and heavy they can be to deal with. The first time I had to replace one I wasn’t sure what to do with the old fence. Can you just throw it away? Can a chain link fence be recycled or re-used in some way. I try to recycle as much as I can from jobs I do and it seemed like something I should look into. Luckily the answer I found was yes. Chain link fencing is very easy to recycle and re-use in lots of ways. These days, whenever I get a job replacing a chain link fence I’m almost always able to re-use the fencing somewhere else.

Chain link fencing is designed for outdoor use so it generally ages well. It’s resistant to rust and unless it’s damaged, is easy to take down and put up somewhere else. And it’s a painted product, so with a fresh paint job the fencing will look like brand new. And even if you can’t find a way to re-use the chain link, it’s easy to recycle because it’s metal.

The best way to recycle a chain link fence is simply to install it somewhere else. Most people replace them because they want a different style fence, not because the fencing is bad. Try a post on your local community board online and you’ll be surprised how many people may love to use the fence. Generally the poles need replacing because they’re cemented in the ground but luckily they’re not that expensive to replace. And sometimes even the fence poles can be reused.

Yes. A Chain Link Fence Can Be Recycled.

Chain link fencing is actually one the easiest fencing types for recycle and reuse.

The chain link and poles are made from metal and designed for outdoor use. They typically don’t rust or wear out.

Chain link fencing is flexible so it’s easy to transport and install in someone else’s yard. Simply roll it up and take it anywhere for re-install. But get a friend to help because long sections can get heavy.

If you don’t have enough fencing for a new yard, you can re-use what you have with other chain link sections because it’s generally all the same product. And chain link fences are painted so once you paint it no one will know you’re actually using multiple fences.

The best way I’ve found to re-use old chain link fences is to post it on community websites. You can sell it or just give the fencing away. It’s a great way to recycle. I’ve always found someone in need who could re-use the fence.

Concrete footings are usually attached to the fence posts which makes them harder to recycle. In some cases the posts can be wiggled and pulled out of the concrete but usually it’s hard to do. I dig most posts out and then break off the concrete with a sledge hammer. As long as the post is undamaged when you free it from the concrete, it can be recycled too. Be careful when your hitting the concrete with a sledge because it’s easy to damage the pole. One hit will dent most fence poles.

A Recycled Chain Link Fence Makes A Great Donation

As long as your chain link fence is in good condition it makes a great donation. You may be surprised how many people in your local community could use a good fence. Before scrapping your chain link fence, consider giving it away to someone in need, it’s a great way to recycle. Here’s a few things you could try.

  • Many local animal shelters keep animals behind chain link fences.
  • Some animals shelters deal with rescued animals and generally work off of donations. That includes money and supplies.
  • Farmers use chain link fences to keep in animals.
  • Community gardens use chain link fences to build trellis and separate plots.
  • Community wreck centers for kids generally take donations including money and supplies. They may need a new fence for all sorts of reasons like building a basketball court, skate area or playground.

Giving away the fence is a great way to recycle. Most chain link fences are replaced while still in great shape but the owners just throw them away. It’s a shame because they’re so easy to re-use. And honestly, the time it takes to find someone who wants it is sometimes less than the effort it takes to scrap the fence.

Scrap Metal Recycling

If decide not to donate your old chain link fence and don’t want to sell it online, consider taking it to your local recycling center. Most will pay cash for the fence based on it’s weight. But there are some stipulations so call the center first before hauling the fence in.

Most chain link fences are made from either galvanized steel or aluminum. The metal your fence is made of will dictate whether or not the recycling center will take the fence.

Prices paid for metals vary and change. Call you local recycling center to find out what they pay per pound.

If you don’t know what metal your fence is made of, I recommend taking a small piece to the center. They’ll be able to tell you what type of metal it is and what they pay per pound.

  • Aluminum typically sells for around 50 cents a pound
  • Ferrous (iron containing) metals generally only sell for around 1 cents a pound

The good thing about selling your old fence as scrap is that your recycling it, but it’s not going to pay as much as selling it. The price of a usable chain link fence is much higher than it’s weight in metal.

Fencing Contractors

If your hiring a fencing contractor to demo your chain link fence and put up a new one, they may be interested in buying it from you or giving you a discount on the new one. They may also bundle the removal and installation work into one price. We make these kinds of deals with customers all the time. It’s a good deal for us and them because we have a lot of uses for chain link. Generally it’s cheaper for you than handling the removal yourself.

If your installing your own fence, you could try calling a few local contractors to see if they’d be interested in the old fence. If it’s in good shape a fence isn’t that hard to give away. Contractors like us use them all the time to protect job sites as we work.

Is A Chain Link Fence Reusable?

Usually a chain link fence can be re-used. They’re designed for use outdoors and made from metal that resists rust so they hold up really well over time. Most people replace them for cosmetic reasons and not because there’s anything wrong with the fence.

Most chain link fences will last between 20-30 years. This has a lot to do with the climate where the fence is installed and how much wear and tear it sees.

The most common areas where a chain link fence goes bad is actually not the fence itself. The posts, rods and connecting pieces generally go bad before the fence does. In these cases many people just replace the whole fence even though it may still be fine.

Another area where a chain link fence could show some age is the paint. Most chain link is painted. That’s the reason why they’re green. When the paint wears off and starts showing metal, many people replace the fence thinking it’s going bad, but actually all it needs is a new paint job.

It’s easy to re-use chain link fencing but the poles are another story. If they’re cemented in the ground they can be hard to remove. In most cases I just re-use the fence and replace the posts, rods and connecting pieces.

Cementing the posts in the ground is important because the posts are what gives the fence it’s strength. Without strong posts the fence would fall right over. If the posts are installed correctly then they won’t be easy to take out. However, there are a few tricks you can use which we’ll discuss below.

How To Recycle Chain Link Fence Posts

Removing and recycling old chain link fence posts can be hard work. I generally recycle the fence but scrap the posts. But if you want to try it I can give you some good tips.

The best way to remove fence posts is with a machine like a back hoe or bobcat. I realize most people won;t have those and they’re expensive to rent so let’s talk about some ways to do it by hand.

To remove the fence posts by hand, first attach a 2×4 board to the post with a rope or chain. Attach it very tight because you’ll be using it to pry the post out of the ground.

Next I use a long lever and fulcrum or a car jack.

The lever should be about 8 feet long. A 4×4 post works great. As a fulcrum I use a thick log. A round fulcrum is easier to work with than a flat one. Slide the level under the 2×4 attached to the post and use force to lift the pole out of the ground.

Using a car jack is basically the same as a lever only the jack does all the work. Position the jack under the 2×4 and on top of a block of wood or concrete. Don’t jack right on the ground or it’ll sink into the dirt.

If the concrete is buried under the dirt, dig until you find the top of the footing. You can also dig a little around the concrete to help loosen it from the earth. Shaking the pole as you dig helps loosen things too.

If the ground is frozen it’ll be harder to dig and remove the concrete. I’d recommend waiting until the ground thaws.

Taking Apart A Chain Link Fence DIY

If you plan on recycling or re-using a chain link fence, the first thing you’ll need to do is take it apart.

Begin by removing the bolts from the fence. A good socket set will come in handy or an adjustable wrench.

Next, remove the ties, tension rods and wires. You’ll need a good set of pliers to remove the ties.

As you remove the ties the fence will come down. I always try to roll it up as I go.

Once the fence is down all that should remain are the posts.

Remove the posts and concrete.

If you’re installing a new fence you can re-use the same holes as long as the poles are in the same place. And even if the middle posts move, you can generally re-use at least the end and corner holes. If the new footings are bigger, dig them wider and deeper as needed.

If you’re removing the fence and not installing a new one, backfill the holes with fresh dirt. Try to use the same dirt as what’s existing. Tamp the dirt down every 4-6 inches as you fill the hole or you’ll end up with a sink hole.

How To Move Chain Link Fencing

I try to roll the fence as I take it down. To do this I slip a tension rod through the end of the fence which helps keep it upright. Then I start rolling as I remove twist ties.

If you don’t roll the chain link as you go it’ll fall to the ground. In this case I pull it out and roll it up like a carpet. I still use the tension rod to help keep the fence stretched as much as possible. Sometimes I’ll use more tension rods to keep the fence together as I roll. This is really helpful when working alone. Slip in a rod every 5-6 feet to make rolling easier.

Once the chain link is rolled, I slip a long bar through the center. The bar makes it much easier to carry the fencing to my truck. Two people are generally needed because a long roll of fencing can be very heavy.

Before I start carrying the roll, I wrap some rope or wire around it to keep the fence together.

If you did a good job rolling the fence it should be a cylinder shape. This makes it easier to roll to the truck if you don’t want to carry it.

Summary: Can Chain Link Fence Be Recycled?

If you’ve ever installed or replaced a chain link fence then you know how hard and heavy they can be to deal with. The first time I had to replace one I wasn’t sure what to do with the old fence. Can you just throw it away? Can a chain link fence be recycled or re-used in some way. I try to recycle as much as I can from jobs I do and it seemed like something I should look into. Luckily the answer I found was yes. Chain link fencing is very easy to recycle and re-use in lots of ways. These days, whenever I get a job replacing a chain link fence I’m almost always able to re-use the fencing somewhere else.

Chain link fencing is designed for outdoor use so it generally ages well. It’s resistant to rust and unless it’s damaged, is easy to take down and put up somewhere else. And it’s a painted product, so with a fresh paint job the fencing will look like brand new. And even if you can’t find a way to re-use the chain link, it’s easy to recycle because it’s metal.

The best way to recycle a chain link fence is simply to install it somewhere else. Most people replace them because they want a different style fence, not because the fencing is bad. Try a post on your local community board online and you’ll be surprised how many people may love to use the fence. Generally the poles need replacing because they’re cemented in the ground but luckily they’re not that expensive to replace. And sometimes even the fence poles can be reused.

If you have any questions or comments about recycling chain link fencing Email any time.

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