A security gate is an important addition to your home or business. It provides a sense of security, helps to lower insurance premiums, and in most cases provides an aesthetic upgrade as well. Of course all the benefits of the item are lost when your security gate begins to malfunction.
A malfunctioning security gate puts your property at risk and has a weird way of actually attracting mischief instead of repelling it. Sometimes a simple fix that would have set you back $5-$10 ends up costing your business $1000s in damage to property and lost merchandise. Other times a simple “patchwork” fix is too risky and a security gate replacement is recommended.
So how do you know whether a security gate needs replaced, repaired, or requires some overdue maintenance? These tips will help you self-diagnose and give you the keys on how to take the next step.
1. Make Sure There Is Power
Most security gates work electronically instead of just lock and key. If this is the case with your model the very first thing you should self-diagnose is if the motor is receiving power. Security gates are generally wired into the main power line of your home or business so the first place to begin troubleshooting is the breaker box. Many times flipping a circuit or replacing a fuse will be all that’s needed to regain full access to your gate.
Of course the electrical of your security gate is something to keep a keen eye on. If you have to trip the breaker more than once it’s a sign of problems either with the gate itself or the power draw that it is using. If the gate is binding or sticking the motor could be pulling too much current to try and fight it. The same holds true if the gate is unbalanced, damaged, or simply not powerful enough for the desired operation. Repeated circuit trips should be professionally inspected.
2. Check the Sensors and Your Opener
Even if you aren’t completely familiar with how a security gate operates, you can compare it with your garage door for most troubleshooting. Specifically, the security gate requires an opener/code to communicate with the sensors to tell it when to open and close. Just like with a garage door, the sensors can become dirty, blocked, or damaged or the opener could be out of batteries or malfunctioning as well.
Clean off the sensors and change the batteries in your security gate opener. Hopefully either fixing the power or doing maintenance on the opener/sensors restores the security gate to normal operation. If not, it’s time to check the mechanics of the unit.
3. How Does The Gate Open (Slide or Swing)?
Your security gate will usually either slide side-to-side to open or have a swinging arm that allows access in and out of your property. The different opening/closing types will dictate the maintenance that needs to be done when troubleshooting.
A sliding gate for example operates mostly via wheel bearings, a track, and a chain. The wheel bearings are under heavy stress and will almost assuredly fail over time. Even with full power and operating sensors a gate cannot move if the bearings are damaged. Similarly the track can become bent or blocked and the chain can break as well.
For a swinging gate the main sources of operation are the arm and a swinging hinge. Swinging gates are also famous for becoming blocked either physically disrupting the opening/closing or getting in the way of the sensors tripping a safety stop. The hinge can become rusted, damaged, or blocked as well which is going to be restricting the function either fully or partially.
There are also some lift-up gates that function in very much the same way as a garage door. Check for bearing issues, track problems, or in the case of these units a broken spring.
4. Does the Gate Operate Manually?
Besides an inspection of the main components used in both the swinging and sliding gates, it’s very helpful to operate the gate in manual mode. Operating the gate in a manual mode will help identify whether the issues are hardware / component related or something in the automation / electrical system. To shift the gate into manual mode turn off the power and disconnect either the chain (slide gate) or arm (swing gate).
If a sliding gate is having hardware issues it will be incredibly hard to move. A wobbly gate is the sign of bad wheel bearings. If the gate moves easily but then gets stuck in a spot it means the track is damaged. When opening and closing the gate look for areas where the movement is slow or sticky and it will identify the source of your problem.
A swinging gate will also be hard to move if the hinge is damaged. Sometimes all it takes is lubrication on the hinge or the wheel bearings of a sliding gate to regain full operation. Other times the replacement of these components is necessary. If the gates open and close without any issues, it’s a sign of a problem somewhere within the electrical system or the motor of the gate.
5. Check for Any Inputted Codes or Actions from Other Users
Severe problems should always be fully identified and subsequently fixed by a gate professional. One thing that industry personnel experience often in the field is a gate losing functionality because of an inputted code. For example, a hold open command is often used when frequent traffic is expected on-site. If somebody forgets to clear the code or enters it on accident the gate will be stuck open. Reset your key pad and see if full functionality returns to the gate.
Another thing to inspect is the fire department key switch. Your local first responders need access to your property in the case of an emergency and is often required by city codes. A fire department override device exists on your gate. Sometimes during training exercises or via random inspections this override gets flipped but is forgotten to be put back into operational mode. Check the position of this switch as well before calling a service tech.
6. Look for Any Obvious Corrosion and Damage
Your final inspection before contracting a professional should be for any obvious damage to the gate or surrounding components. Rust and corrosion will prohibit movement as will frayed wires, obvious water exposure, and other damage. It never hurts to have your gate inspected on at least an annual basis anyway. Small issues that are left unattended over time can become serious problems that are not only costly, but also put your safety and property at risk. Your security gate should be restricting, not inviting.
If you’ve gone through this rundown of basic problems and still haven’t regained full operation of your security gate it’s best to bring in a professional service tech. Even if you “fix” your gate but issues keep arising, it’s best to have it serviced because there’s likely more severe underlying problems. When your gate doesn’t work properly, you lose both access and security so it’s best to not let these issues manifest.