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The original 4x4 wood fence post for my home's side gate (that holds the catch part of a gate latch) is very loose and wobbles.

The post is surrounded on 3 sides with my concrete walkway, and the 4th side is right next to my house.

I'm pretty sure the home builder company that installed the posts and fence (and built my home) didn't dig deep when they installed all the posts for my fence, nor cemented the base of each post at all (after 15 years at the house, all the wood posts are in fact wobbly and very very loose).

I'm pretty sure I can just yank out the post (hopefully).

I want to replace the wood post with something like the Halco Postmaster steel post. I was hoping I can get the 8 foot version and somehow get the steel post 2 feet into the ground and then cement it (so that 6 feet of the post stands above the concrete base).

But as you can see from my pictures, the hole is only slightly larger than the 4x4 wood post.

For a proper steel post install, would I need to cut the surrounding concrete walkway to make a 10" or 12" hole, and then dig out a 2 foot deep hole to properly install and cement the steel post?

Or can I still install the Postmaster steel post somehow (e.g., hammering it down with a sledge hammer) down the existing 4x4 hole, but then I can't cement (or pour gravel) down the tight gaps to make it strong and stable, correct?

I read that using something like the Simpson Strong-Tie EZ-base product isn't good/ideal for fences, right?

Something like this:

https://www.strongtie.com/fences_decksandfences/ezproducts_productgroup_wcc/p/e-z-base.e-z-mender.e-z-spike

Any suggestions?

Thanks!

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Just attach the post to the wall.

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  • Even for a gate latch that experiences such regular heavy vibrations? Maybe I'm just naive, but it seems that unless the wall is sufficiently reinforced behind its exterior in that particular spot, the repetitive stress of latching a swinging gate closed might wiggle loose any drilled-in supports. How would you suggest securing it? – maxathousand Sep 14 '20 at 15:38
  • @J... Of course it won't pull the wall down. My question wasn't whether it would hold the gate post without collapsing, but rather how would you suggest securing the post to the wall such that the fixture will withstand the regular abuse of a swinging gate. – maxathousand Sep 14 '20 at 17:02
  • Honestly, I didn't consider securing it to the wall. That would be a big job since I would have to bust out the stucco and find a wood stud that make the attachment secure, then patch up the stucco/wall. I'll have to think about that one. All the houses in my neighborhood have the same fence setup that the home builder used. I'm sure all of their posts aren't secured by concrete at all and have the same issues (unless they changed out their gate and properly secured the new posts with concrete). Do some people resort to cutting out a bigger hole in the surrounding concrete to do it right? – Jixer Sep 14 '20 at 17:26
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    I wouldn't attach anything to the wall except as a last resort. Penetrations in stucco are problematic, and you don't want that vibration tearing things up. – isherwood Sep 14 '20 at 18:11
  • It depends what the wall is made of. I could see the render surface, but not what is behind it. if it is render over fibre-cement then yeah attaching will be hard - probable the easiest is come at it from the other side to install blocking to attach the post to. – Jasen Sep 14 '20 at 19:43
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Have you tried tightening the nut on the bolt that holds the post to the saddle anchor?

I had a very similar setup though my saddle had two lag screws. My post was quite wobbly so I pulled the lag and drilled through the saddle to get a setup like yours. Once I tightened the saddle to the post it was quite a bit more stable. My setup has two bolts and nuts. If tightening the one in your saddle doesn't work then you might want to consider drilling the metal and adding an extra bolt and nut.

Since the legs of the saddle are facing the direction of swing for the gate the force should be put against the saddle. If you wobble the post does the saddle wobble or is the post wobbling within the saddle?

If the saddle wobbles then I'd chop it off and drill a new hole, epoxy a new saddle in place and put a new post in. You can get heavier duty saddles or you could even add lengths of plate steel (choose a sufficiently thick piece and bolt it to the saddle to extend the vertical resistance).

Since the saddle wobbles I'd remove it. I've attached an image of my setup. This post does not wobble at all in the direction of the saddle legs. You can drill into the concrete and epoxy threaded bar to secure the saddle to the concrete. I didn't originally install this saddle but it seems to me it was installed after the concrete pathway so I'd bet my saddle is only secured by wedge anchors and they appear to be doing a fine job 25 years on.

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  • The saddle wobbles with the post when I grab and wiggle the post from above. So, it leads me to believe that the saddle and post aren't secured by concrete from below the walkway. My initial thinking was yanking the post and saddle out (somehow) and then get a metal post like the Postmaster and sledgehammer it down that hole 2 feet. I would want to fill it with concrete, but then the space would be pretty tight to dribble any kind of concrete down the spaces that the metal post doesn't cover. Even then, I don't know how stable that'll be in the long run. – Jixer Sep 14 '20 at 17:18
  • "tighten the bolt" and "add another bolt" were the first 2 things I thought as I looked at the picture. @Jixer, your comment appears to be focused solely on your solution which has, as you've noted, drawbacks. This answer is suggesting an alternative to your solution that would avoid all the drawbacks you've noted. – FreeMan Sep 14 '20 at 18:20
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You really have two options, and you've mentioned them both. Either attempt to drive the post into the soil to a depth of at least two feet (three would be more reliably stable), or cut out the concrete and pour a base around the post.

The challenges to driving the post will be overhead swing room and risk to the stucco. You could stand a sheet of 1/4" plywood against the wall to deflect accidental strikes. You'll need to constantly check plumb and adjust as you go. Obviously there's no moving the post once it's set unless you pull it and start over.

The challenge to cutting out the concrete is that it's tight against the building. However, if you rent a "maniac saw" (large diamond wheel on a chainsaw body), you can cut out a 12 or 16-inch square fairly easily. A rotary hammer would let you punch holes through the remaining concrete at the corners to crack the section to be removed free.

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  • That's a lot of work. Why do you not like replacing the saddle so that it looks like mine? You'd only have to drill the concrete and insert wedge anchors and tighten it up. Also if the post ever needs to be replaced it is simple. – Fresh Codemonger Sep 15 '20 at 23:40
  • If the post is as floppy as they say we can assume that either it's not embedded very deeply or there's a cavity under the slab. In either case a new saddle probably won't solve the problem. It doesn't look to me like the movement is at the slab, where a saddle will help. – isherwood Sep 16 '20 at 12:52

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