Your wood fence is only secure if it is in good condition. Although wood fencing is attractive and durable, it is prone to issues that aren't a concern on other types of fencing. The following can help you spot problems so you can have them repaired promptly.
Swollen boards occur when moisture penetrates the wood. The wood fibers absorb water and swell, which then causes them to break down. Once fence boards are saturated and swollen to the point where you notice the problem, it is often too late. Affected boards will likely need to be replaced as they will soon begin to rot. Failing to replace these boards can cause rot to spread to previously unaffected parts of the fence.
A wood fence needs a protective finish. This can be a clear coat finish, paint, or a simple stain. Over time, weathering will wear down the finish and it will need to be reapplied, otherwise moisture will seep in and begin the rot process. As a rule, if water soaks into the boards instead of beading up on the surface, then it is time to reapply the finish.
Sometimes the fence may look okay but the boards will begin to soften up due to moisture exposure and rot. If you suspect that soft wood may be an issue, you need to check all the fence boards and rails so you can remove those that are affected. Press a screwdriver gently into the wood. If it sinks in more than 1/4 inch, rot is beginning to affect the board.
Another sign of damage to fence boards is popped hardware. This includes the nails that affix pickets to rails, as well as the screws that hold hinges and gate hardware in place. When wood absorbs moisture, it becomes prone to temperature fluctuation effects. This means that the wood will swell and contract with changing temperatures. This swelling and contracting process can force hardware out of the wood, so you end up with loose screws or protruding nails. Replace soft, rotted boards and seal the rest of the fence with a fresh coat of finish, then resecure the hardware to solve the problem.
Splitting and Cracking
Sun exposure that dries out wood is the main cause of splitting and cracking. The problem becomes worse if a bit of moisture gets into the crack, where it then can freeze and expand. Replace badly split boards to avoid major issues. You can also use a finish that contains a UV protectant to help prevent drying and splitting.
Contact a fence repair service for more help.