Automatic Gate Maintenance: When to DIY, When to Call a Technician?

a dog dozing, resting its muzzle on a metal gate

“Don’t worry, I got this one.”

Following up on last week’s post on automatic gate problems and fixes, today we’re going to talk about when you can fix something yourself, and when it’s time to call in a technician. At the end, we’ll also cover off what’s involved in a general service.

Photocells & Control Boxes

Things you can fix yourself include making sure your safety photocells (if fitted) are clean and clear of dust or dirt. Simply using a dry micro fibre cloth, gently wipe away any residue.

Also if you have easy access to your control box, check that it’s dry and clean from any vermin/insects by using a soft brush (such as a paint brush), ever so lightly brush and clean the area.

Mechanical Parts

Depending on the severity of what’s troubling your gate, this could be a DIY or a technician job. As we mentioned before, ensure the operating area of the mechanism itself, and the gate track, is free of sticks, stones or other obstructions that’ll cause the gate to stick or prevent the motor running smoothly.

You may be tempted to spray some lubricant into the mechanism of the gate motor if it develops a little squeak here and there. We do advise against this as the compounds used in such lubricants could damage internal parts.

If this sounds like your gate motor, the squeak is a good indication it’s time to call us and book in a technician.

Ground Movement

Not something you’d think would be a concern off the top of your head, but a surprising number of our callouts deal with exactly this problem.

If there’s a shift in the foundation of where your gates are mounted, be it subsidence, minor earthquake or even a reckless driver giving them a “bump”, the gear rack may need re-alignment to ensure the gate continues to run smooth.

A misaligned gate can add strain to the motor and wear it out, or stop it from running altogether.

This job is clearly one for a technician, but again, we’ve been called into many situations where the property owner has “had a crack” at fixing it, only to leave themselves with a bigger bill.

Gate Hinges

Definitely the place that deals with the most stress and strain on your gate (especially if each leaf is over 200kgs!), so it pays to check that your gate hinges are in good working order and that your gate opens and closes smoothly.

We recommend WD-40 for this job, and just a few drops directly on the moving parts of the hinge is generally all that’s needed.

While you can do this one yourself, if you do have a concern about the hinge(s) and think they need further attention, give us a call and arrange a technician visit.

So, with all of the above in hand, you’re left with the big question:

When should I service an automatic gate?

Our general recommendation is to have a technician pay a visit every 12 months if your gate is for regular domestic use. If you have above average domestic use or have a commercial property, then every 6 months is more appropriate.

A service may take between 15 – 60 minutes, depending on the condition, access to, and the specific checks that may be needed according to your particular style of gate. The service can include:

  1. Check and reset limit switches.
  2. Check locks are aligned correctly and locking.
  3. Check photo safety sensors are mounted securely, aligned and cleaned from vermin.
  4. Check and clean any vermin/insects from control boxes.
  5. Check and tighten all wiring connections.
  6. Check Manual disconnect.
  7. When gate is manually disconnected, check if swings or slides smoothly and hinges are in good working order.
  8. Check equipment operation.
  9. Ensure stops are fitted and secure.
  10. Lubricate as required.
  11. Tighten all fixings on drive unit and gate.
  12. Check oil, hydraulic oil level and check for any leaks.
  13. Inspect motor and hinge welds for any fractures or fatigue cracking.
  14. Check drainage outlet and bleed air.
  15. Clean off all equipment (hand prints, excess grease, oil)

An automatic gate is a worthwhile investment not only for vanity, but for your sanity, so if you feel it’s time that your gate had a service, and remember – prevention is always better than a cure, make sure you give us a call. We’ll have one of our expert technicians out to your property to come take a look.

Until next time!

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