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can I burn old fence panels

Can I Burn Old Fence Panels?

Whether or not you can burn old fence panels has everything to do with what the panels are made of. There’s such a wide variety of materials that go into making a fence, you have to be really careful when trying to burn one. The first step in finding out if an old fence is OK to burn is figuring out what material it’s made of and what’s been used on the fence. If the fence is wood, check if it’s treated with chemicals, painted or coated with any substances. If it is then it’s not OK to burn. The wood has to be natural and free of any treatments or coatings to generally be considered safe to burn. In other words the fence has to be bare wood. Cedar fences are a good example of this. But watch out for stains and oils.

Check with your local building department prior to burning because in some areas you can’t burn anything. No matter what it’s made of.

Other common fence materials like plastic, vinyl, metal or composite are definitely not safe to burn.

Examine the wood for other materials too. In many cases, fence panels may be safe to burn but they have connecting pieces, screws, nails, caps, etc. that should be removed first. All you want to burn is wood.

If you burn old fence panels that are treated with other substances, you’re burning them as well. Additives such as paint, primer, stain, chemicals and other substances may release poisons into the air which is bad for you and the environment. This is why you can’t just burn old fence wood without checking it first.

Is The Fence Wood?

DO NOT BURN ANYTHING OTHER THAN WOOD.

Old fence panels made of plastic, metal, aluminum, vinyl or other materials should never be burned. This goes for the panel itself and any other parts that may be fastened to the wood. Burning non-wood materials can release toxins which are harmful to yourself and the environment. And in some areas it’s probably illegal.

Make sure to inspect the fence panels carefully for coatings and chemical treatments. Also remove any non-wood materials you may find.

Old wood fence panels are safe to burn as long as they’re clean wood that’s free of additives and coatings.

Is It Legal?

Certain items, such as some fence panels, are prohibited from being burned in some areas. In some regions, burning certain types of wood is prohibited because it releases pollutants into the air, posing a health danger. It’s possible that you’ll be charged with irresponsible burning.

The United States has announced its own set of burning regulations, known as State Implantation Plans, each of which is unique. Look up your state online to learn what policies apply to you and what requirements must be satisfied or call your local building department.

There are other methods for disposing old fences if it is illegal in your area. Your local landfill would most likely accept an old fence, and if you’re unable to transport it yourself, there are trash removal businesses that may remove it for a fee.

Older treated softwood includes arsenic, which is released from the wood when it’s burned, making the ash exceedingly dangerous and potentially fatal.

The EPA made it illegal to burn controlled waste. Treated wood, such as timbers, fence panels, and furniture, is considered controlled waste. Make sure you check before burning.

Under no circumstances should you burn any form of pressure-treated or preservative-treated wood. Heavy metals such as chromium, copper, and arsenic are found in the most common pressure-treated wood. Those three compounds have the potential to become airborne. Also don’t burn paints, stains and other additives. Make sure the old fence panels are clean wood.

Where Are You Burning The Old Fence Panels?

Burning fence panels in an open, outdoor place is recommended so that it doesn’t impact you in a restricted area. This permits the smoke to dissipate fast over a vast area, reducing the risk of injury to you and others. If you missed something when inspecting the wood and accidentally release a chemical, you don’t want to breath it in.

Not burning the fence panels outside can result in dangerous chemicals reacting in your home, as well as unforeseen occurrences with other chemicals typically found in a home (e.g. air fresheners).

Is The Fence Treated?

Keep an eye out for any chemicals on your fence. Check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website to see what chemicals you might have and how to safely burn them.Not all chemicals are easy to spot.

If your fence appears glossy in any way, don’t burn it because it’s probably coated with a chemical. When it comes to fence panels, it’s always best to be safe than sorry.

I recommend taking the fence panels apart when inspecting them. Sometimes chemical treatments can wear off the areas of the fence that see the most weathering but you can see them when the fence is broken up. They’re usually pretty easy to spot because treatment change the color of the wood.

Most treated fences appear greenish, but not all. That’s why it’s important to carefully inspect the wood as you break it up. If you find a change in color in areas that don’t see much weathering it could be from a chemical. The thing about natural wood is that it ages pretty consistently and in a predictable way.

Are There Chemicals On The Wood?

Examine the wood and how it’s been treated over time. If you’re not sure, don’t burn it.

If you ever put any kind of agent on your fence panel then make sure it’s safe to burn later. Even years later when it looks like the agent is all gone, some may still remain in the wood.

The Hazard Communication (HAZCOM) label on most agents can assist you better understand the risks that the chemical can pose. Do a little bit of research before burning anything. Some agents will release chemicals that are harmful to you and the environment. As a general rule I never burning anything unless I’m sure it’s 100% clean, natural wood.

When determining whether or not a wood fence panel can be burned, there are a few common chemicals to look for.

  • Is there any radium in it?
  • Are there any arsenic-containing substance on your panel? If that’s the case, don’t burn it because these compounds are dangerous.
  • Check to see if your fence is painted because it could contain lead. The fence color should be as natural as possible.
  • Pressure-treating might leave chemicals behind that make fences dangerous to burn.
  • Stains are probably not safe to burn.
  • Even some wood oils may be unsafe to burn.

Fence Caps

Is the fence topped with any kind of ornate fence cap? Fence caps are usually composed of metal, plastic, vinyl or aluminum. All of which can not be burned. Putting them in a fire is dangerous and potentially lethal.

Don’t take a chance if you don’t know what your fence top is made of.

If the fence cap is made from wood, do the same type of inspection as the panel. Check for other materials like screws or nails. Check for coating like paint, stains and other agents. And check for chemical treatments that may make the cap unsafe to burn. When in doubt, throw it away.

Loose Material

Remove any flammable things that are unsecured. Anything containing metal, plastic, vinyl or composite are out.

When burning old fence wood, there shouldn’t be any fasteners, poles, or other decorative materials present. Some fences have nails on the sides and bottom to keep them together, so double check for any loose fasteners.

Take your time with this step, it’s easy to miss small pieces that shouldn’t be burned.

Alternatives To Burning Old Fence Panels

Old wood is collected at many landfills for recycling into wood chips and compost. Burning it may pollute the environment, be illegal and harmful to your health.

If the wood has been treated with oil, stain, paint or chemical preservatives then don’t burn it. Take it to a landfill.

If you plan on recycling the wood, remove the nails and screws first.

Many people give away items like old fence wood. Redwood or cedar is frequently salvaged and repurposed. You build a lot out of old wood. Using older wood inside the house for shelves and mantles is very popular at the moment. If the wood is natural and in good condition you may even be able to sell it. You’d be surprised how much some carpenters pay for old boards and beams.

Caution

As you prepare to burn your wood fence panel, keep these points in mind.

  • Please check your local rules before burning wood fence panels
  • Always take extra precaution when burning wood fence panels.
  • Burning wood fence panels is usually straightforward and safe, but you must ensure that you are acting responsibly in your community.
  • Burning fence panels, if done incorrectly, can result in damage, disease, or death.
  • Only burn clean wood.
  • Do not burn chemical preservatives, paint, stain, oils, etc.
  • Remove all fasteners, caps and other decorative items from the wood.

Always be cautious whenever you burn anything.

Is It Safe To Burn Old Fence Posts?

Just like any type of fence wood, it depends on the type of wood the post is and what’s on it.

If the fence post is pressure treated wood or painted, don’t burn it. Treated wood has chemicals in it that resist moisture damage and so paint paint. Both can be toxic if you breathe in the fumes caused during burning.

Some stains and sealers also contain chemicals that can be toxic when breathed in.

As a rule, all you should ever burn in pure, natural wood that’s free of chemicals, paints, stains and additives. Most fence posts contain some type of treatment so I wouldn’t burn them. However, if you have a post that’s natural wood and free from additives, it’ll be OK to burn.

Can You Burn Old Pressure Treated Fence Wood?

No, you should never burn wood that’s been treated with chemicals even when it’s old. Some of the chemicals are likely still inside the wood even though you can’t see them on the surface.

Chemical treatments use heat and pressure to push chemicals deep inside the wood fibers. Even though the surface of the wood may seem chemical free, they’re likely still inside the wood fibers. These deep chemicals can give off harmful fumes when burned.

Summary: Can I Burn Old Fence Panels?

Whether or not you can burn old fence panels has everything to do with what the panels are made of. There’s such a wide variety of materials that go into making a fence, you have to be really careful when trying to burn one. The first step in finding out if an old fence is OK to burn is figuring out what material it’s made of and what’s been used on the fence. If the fence is wood, check if it’s treated with chemicals, painted or coated with any substances. If it is then it’s not OK to burn. The wood has to be natural and free of any treatments or coatings to generally be considered safe to burn. In other words the fence has to be bare wood. Cedar fences are a good example of this. But watch out for stains and oils.

Check with your local building department prior to burning because in some areas you can’t burn anything. No matter what it’s made of.

Other common fence materials like plastic, vinyl, metal or composite are definitely not safe to burn.

Examine the wood for other materials too. In many cases, fence panels may be safe to burn but they have connecting pieces, screws, nails, caps, etc. that should be removed first. All you want to burn is wood.

If you burn old fence panels that are treated with other substances, you’re burning them as well. Additives such as paint, primer, stain, chemicals and other substances may release poisons into the air which is bad for you and the environment. This is why you can’t just burn old fence wood without checking it first.

If you have any questions or comments about burning old fence panels Email any time.

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