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Replacing a Termite Damaged Pergola Post

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I know I have posted a lot of projects that a whole lot sexier than this, but sometimes you just have to go back to basics.  DIY projects aren't always about making something beautiful. In fact, frequently they are about uglynasty things that just need to get done.  Home repairs fall into that category.

This project actually sprouted from a "beautifying" project where I was hoping to replace the ugly lattice air conditioner surround with something prettier.   Of course, like a lot of projects, things were NOT going to go as planned.

As I showed you during my backyard tour, I have a teenie patio with a pergola over the door.  

Attached to the pergola was a shoulder high "fence" (I use that term lightly) that surrounded the A/C unit.  The fence was really wobbly and was falling apart.  The lattice work was falling out and leaves and debris were getting stuck under it..   Like a dimwit, I forgot to take a true "before" photo, but here is my virtual rendering of what it looked like.  
Trust me. It was UGLY.  And it was too tall.  There was no need to have it shoulder height.  So I decided to tear it out:

My original idea was to replace it with something a little less, um, lattice-y.  I liked the look of a shorter louvered screen, maybe even with flower boxes on top.  This was my inspiration photo:

All was going well, until I realized that the reason the screen was falling apart, was because it had severe TERMITE DAMAGE.  *duh-duh-duuuuhh...* 

The post next to the A/C unit was completely destroyed. I had to replace it. 

To get the old post out, I loosened the bolts that were holding up the top of the pergola. 

The nut was a little more stubborn than I had hoped, but with a little help from my favorite penetrating lubricant. 

(This is the same stuff I used to loosen up my 100 year old cast iron steam pipes in the money pit 1.0) I was able to get the nut loose.

Before removing the support bolt, I rested the weight of the pergola on my ladder, and only then did I take out the bolt and remove the post:

This is what I pulled out:

After seeing the post was rotted completely through I was so thankful the pergola was still standing.  In fact, when I pulled the post out, the bottom half  was still embedded in the dirt and required a crow bar to remove,  it had been completely severed!  YIKES!

The next thing I did was remove all the wet, compacted clay from the hole.  I knew that if I wanted to prevent further rot I would have to get better drainage under the post.  

I filled the hole in with pea gravel, which packed easily, but still provided good drainage:

The original post was an 8x8 (a biggie) and had NOT been pressure treated. That is another reason it didn't last more than 15 years.  8x8 pressure treated posts are not standard so I had one custom milled from my lumberyard for about $80.

I painted the post with oiled based primer on the areas that were going to be in contact with the ground and with any other wood surface.  I eventually will paint the whole post but I was in a hurry to get the new post installed and only did the critical areas first.  I used the old post as a template for where to drill a hole for the support bolt.

Measuring the bottom (how deep into the ground the post needed to sit) was a lot harder. Since the post was rotten and split in half, I had to measure down from the top to mark how low the post would be below the patio surface:

Finally I was able to drop the post into the hole and made sure the top of the patio lined up with the mark. Then I replaced the long bolt that attached the top of the pergola to the post.

To prevent any shifting or swaying (especially in an earthquake) I decided I would attach the post to the patio on two sides  using L-brackets, large screws and wedge anchors.

Wedge anchors are pretty straight forward.   You drill into the concrete with a masonry bit and you also make a pilot hole in the post.
 Using a turkey baster, you suck all the dust out of the hole and then drop in the anchor.

Put the L-bracker over the anchor and then attach the top part to of the L to the post with a large screw.  Finally, screw a nut over the top of anchor using a ratchet.  

And there you have it.  A super secure post:
 A little gravel back fill and we are finsihsed! 
   $78 and a few days later.. and we are right back where we started.  But now I need a break.  I don't feel like looking at that stupid pergola anymore! 

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