What is an erosion fence? Do they work & when do you use them?

During many construction projects, you may find contractors setting up temporary barriers around the property they are working on. This barrier is what we call an erosion fence or a “silt” fence.

Erosion fences primarily function as a structure that prevents sediments from passing through another area, which is what usually happens in many construction sites. This way, the disturbed sediment is retained in the job site until the work is complete.

Temporary barriers can help control the sediment from going into nearby sewers, streets, or bodies of water that will clog them. However, owners will not have to worry about flooding or water clogging up their property. This is because erosion fences are made with materials that will still allow water to pass through the barrier.

Do silt fences work?

Silt fences are still being used in the present for the reason that they are indeed effective in preventing erosion in a construction site. In fact, they can be reliable for both residential and commercial properties as long as they are installed in the right manner.

If you are still unsure about their effectiveness, this piece of information may guarantee their importance. In many states in the U.S., local governments may require property owners, contractors, and developers to place silt fences or another type of barrier before they can start with their construction project. This is to prevent the blockage of nearby systems or bodies of water and also to keep the safety of the neighbors or establishments in place. If codes and regulations have not been complied with, owners and professionals must prepare to pay the price.

Reasons why a silt fence may fail

A silt fence will not be able to do the work they are supposed to do if the owner makes the following errors:

Mistake #1: Not choosing the right type of fence for the purpose

There are many types of erosion fences you can choose from. The particular type that the owner should install must be the best fit for the purpose they want the barrier to do: For example:

a.) Standard Staked Silt Fences

This type of erosion fence works for most residential and commercial properties that do not require extreme sediment filtration. It makes use of a fabric that can provide standard filters to hold back the displaced materials from being transported to another location.

Standard staked silt fences are also commonly known as Types A and B fences. Type A’s use a fabric that spans around 36 inches while Type B’s require around 22 inches of fabric.

b.) Wire Back Silt Fences

This type of erosion fence works for construction projects that are near bodies of water such as ponds or creeks. It makes use of woven geo-textiles with the added assistance of welded or field mesh wire fencing for better support. Wire back silt fences are also called Type C fences and are often one of the best choices for areas that have strong downhill flow.

c.) Orange Safety Fences

This type of erosion fence works for construction sites that require high visibility. Because of its bright color, it is often reliable when warning off visitors or wanderers to go into the property. Orange safety fences provide high amounts of support due to their plastic mesh material and are often the go-to for projects that have a higher chance of accidents or hazards.

d.) Higher Control Staked Silt Barriers

This type of erosion fence works for areas that have high amounts of water flow. In situations like this, fences must be made of a combination of high-strength materials to control both sediment and water from hindering the completion of the project.

Mistake #2: Not placing the fence in a proper location

Aside from not choosing the right type of barrier, it will also not do good to place the fences in the wrong location. Sadly, many construction sites are not able to get the full benefits of having a silt fence just because the area where it is placed does not maximize their efficiency.

To prevent this from happening, it is important to make a proper plan as to where to start, run, and end a fence in a particular location. This is why an assessment comes to save the day. Professionals often analyze the contours in the job site in order for them to have an idea of the best placement to maximize the structure.

As much as possible, remember the following tips:

a.) Always consider site terrain and slope

Placing the fence in the right location will always require the knowledge of the slope and terrain in the particular area. Because of this, you should know the highest and lowest points in the property to have an idea of the possible water flow and where the sediment will stay on.

Since the contours of the land will be a huge factor in its drainage, this will allow you to prepare a better plan during the actual placement of your fence.

b.) Mark with stakes

Before the definite placement of your silt fence, do not hesitate to use your stakes and distribute them around your property. This will allow you to see what the end results may look like in order for you to make the necessary adjustments. Doing this will also help you know if you have the right number of stakes or if you will need to get more for your project.

c.) Avoid long-running fences

If possible, experts will not recommend long-running silt fences. This is because it will make the water in the area pool in a specific spot instead of being properly distributed. To prevent this, most would suggest breaking the width using J-hooks for proper water flow and sediment control.

What do they look like?

Silt fences can appear in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Usually, it makes use of a dark-colored fabric that is held up by multiple posts installed into the ground. Depending on the type of barrier that is necessary, some materials such as wood or metal are crucial for it to function as a sediment barrier.

When should I use a silt fence?

Most property owners will need an erosion fence during certain construction projects. For example, if they need to fix the negative grading in their area, setting up a barrier to prevent the sediments from transferring to another location can be crucial to the completion and success of the job.

Since silt fences are affordable and quite easy to install, many owners will also have them installed to warn neighbors and visitors from entering the area during a hazardous building project.

How long does a silt fence last?

As mentioned earlier, erosion fences are often used temporarily for several construction sites. Most silt fences usually last for at least six months. However, it will usually depend on a couple of factors such as:

The type of material used

What type of fabric did you use for your fence? Were you able to make use of stable and reliable posts? Did you add more support such as a wire mesh? The more rigid and durable your materials are, the longer the fence will last.

How good it was installed

Did you call a pro to install your erosion fence? If you put them up yourself, did you follow the necessary methods and techniques? One of the most important factors that will determine the lifespan of your barrier lies in its proper installation.

The maintenance done

Finally, your barriers will last longer than expected if they were properly maintained. Erosion fences should be inspected now and then to fix the small issues before they turn into a huge headache. You will also need to remove sediment deposits in certain spots to reduce the stress tour structure needs to hold back.