Do you have a wooden fence around the perimeter of your yard? Is it looking a little worn or dated? If so, it may be time to address the issue. If your fence is cracked, broken, or even out of alignment, it may no longer serve the purpose that you originally intended. Pets or children may be able to sneak out through gaps between broken wooden posts. Wild animals and rodents can sometimes sneak into your yard through the smallest of cracks. Rot and deterioration may create holes that compromise your privacy. It's important to address your broken fence as soon as possible. You may be wondering, though, whether your fence needs to be repaired or replaced. That largely depends on the type and extent of damage. Here are some good rules of thumb:

Repair. The most likely scenario for repair is when the posts, beams, or panels are simply out of place. This could happen after a storm, when strong winds may knock certain elements of the fence loose. It may also happen if the fence wasn't properly installed the first time. Sometimes, posts aren't installed deep enough into the ground. Over time, shifting soil and strong winds cause the posts to become unstable, until they eventually lean over or fall.

The important thing is to check any unstable posts or beams for cracks or rot. If cracks and rot aren't present and the posts are simply unstable, then you can probably repair the fence without replacing anything. Just put the posts back into alignment and provide them with more support, either by digging deeper holes or using a concrete mix to stabilize the current holes.

Partial replacement. A partial replacement may be in order if you find cracks or rot in any of your posts or beams. A fence is dependent upon all of its components providing support. If one post or beam is cracked, it may not be able to carry its weight. That means other posts and beams may have to support more pressure, which can then lead to cracking in those pieces. Similarly, wood rot has a way of spreading throughout a fence.

If you find cracks or rot, check the surrounding pieces to see if it has spread. If so, you'll need to replace all of those elements. If the cracks or rot are isolated to a specific post, you may be able to simply replace that piece of the fence. Your fencing contractor may be able to provide you with weathered or stained wood so you can match up the new post to your existing fence pieces.

Total replacement. This is necessary when cracks, splintering, and rot are evident throughout the fence. If there are more damaged pieces than non-damaged pieces, you may be better off taking out the whole fence and replacing it.

Ask a fencing contractor like Rhino Fence & Rail to come out and examine your fence. They can identify any potential problems and recommend the best solution.