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Diagnosing a Faulty Security Gate Motor

Security gates are designed for providing safety and convenience, but they do not always work as they should. Automatic gates are made up of motors, batteries, hinges, and tracks, and these parts can cause trouble for a variety of reasons.

There are many types of security gates and motors for operating them, and security gates are used in many different ways. Nonetheless, the problems that happen with security gate motor operation often have simple solutions almost anyone with a small amount of hands-on skills can fix.

Then, there are problems which are best tackled by a professional security gate repair expert. Here is information to help you diagnose a faulty security gate motor problem and decided if you can fix it yourself, or if you need help from a pro.

gate motor

Electrical Problems

The solution to many gate operation difficulties lies in one of several simple-to-fix electrical problems. The most common one is dead batteries in the remote device, or a remote that has reached the end of its service life. Having back-up batteries and more than one remote is a simple fix for this problem. Another way to stay ahead of this problem is by watching the the battery indicator light on the remote and changing batteries as soon as the light goes out.

If the remote is working, the next electrical component to check is the breaker switch or battery. If the security gate has its own solar power, check inside the box with the battery and controller and make sure all switches and connections are set properly and that the battery is charging. If the gate is powered by AC current coming from a building, look for the breaker box and check that the breaker to the gate is on.

Another common problem is that someone in the house has activated the “hold open” command on the opener or remote. If so, just reset the button to its regular setting.

The key switch for the manual opening mechanism is another potential culprit for a gate motor that does not open or close the gate.  This mechanism is crucial for being able to open the gate by hand in an emergency. However, the cylinder can become corroded or damaged. If the key does not fit in the lock, or the lock does not turn, or the gate does not open when the lock has been switched off, call for professional repair services.

Some security gates have photo eyes which control the gate. Photo eyes can become covered with debris, dirt, or insects, making them inoperable. If the gate motor does not activate, check and clean the photo eyes and make sure they are working. Regular maintenance of security gate photo eyes prevents this problem in gate operation.

Insects, lizards, slugs, and rodents can also deactivate a security gate motor by getting into the battery component box and short-circuiting connections. Make sure the entire box is sealed and caulked, although it is extremely important to have adequate ventilation at the top of the box for the battery to vent. Make sure these vents do not get closed off.

The security gate circuit may also be connected to the power source using a regular outlet plug. If so, make sure the plug has not become disconnected. In some cases, the outlet the gate opener is plugged into is on a circuit controlled by a Ground Fault Interrupt (GFI) outlet further back on the line. If the GFI trips on another outlet, say a bathroom plug tripped by a hair dryer, power will be cut-off to all outlets further down on the power line. GFIs are reset by pressing the reset button on the face of the outlet.

Temperature Problems

Low temperature is another common problem resulting in failure of security gate motors. Often, the solenoid switch in the motor will make a clicking sound in this situation, but the power will be too low to move the gate. Cold temperatures can cause batteries to work less efficiently. Whether the gate is operated by a solar panel or AC power from a building, there is usually a battery in the system located near the gate.

This battery provides back-up power on AC gates when there is a power failure. On 12V and 24V systems with small transformers, the battery also provides some of the power each time the gate is opened. This installation set-up keeps the battery in use and helps it stay charged better.

On solar powered security gates, the battery is the direct power source for opening the gate all of the time. Low temperatures are more likely to affect the battery power and motor operation on these kinds of security gates. Regardless of which kind of power source your gate uses, you can help keep the motor working in cold temperatures by doing the following:

  • Regularly inspect and clean the battery terminals and wires to the solenoid.
  • Use ridged insulation to insulate the sides and bottom of the box containing the battery, but do not insulate the roof, because fumes from the battery can cause an explosive hazard, unless the battery is adequately vented.
  • Check battery charge seasonally and replace battery when it gets low.
  • Use a battery rated as having ‘high cold cranking amps’. This type of battery delivers more amperage for short time periods and works better in cold temperatures than ‘deep cycle’ batteries.

Mechanical Problems

A mechanical problem with a security gate can cause the motor not to be able to open or close the gate. If hinges have come loose and the gate is dragging on the ground, the motor may no longer be strong enough to move it. Posts can also become loosed in the ground over time or in heavy rains, causing the gate to lean out of balance and rendering the motor ineffective in moving the gate.

Another common source of problems on sliding security gates is tree roots growing under the tracks, causing them to buckle and bind the rollers. In this case, the motor will activate, but move the gate slowly, if at all. Repair of problems with security gate hinges, posts, and tracks are best left for a professional security gate technician.

The output gear in the motor can also become disconnected from the rack or arm that opens the gate. This may be visible by looking closely underneath the opener mechanism while the gate is being opened manually. Nearby upheavals in the ground, and wear over time, can cause the gear to become disengaged. Fixing this involves realignment of the gate and possible replacement of the security gate motor.

Installation Problems

Problems with security gate motors can also be a result of poor choices during installation. The motor may not be sized properly for the gate. If this is the case, the gate may work for a while, then bog-down and the motor eventually burn-out.

Security gates installed on slopes and those with buried electrical lines, motors, and other components are also prone to malfunction, unless careful attention is paid to design and installation. Wind can also have a significant effect on the operation of a gate motor, and installing a gate and motor of correct design for local wind conditions is essential for good operation.

Having a security gate installed and serviced by a professional security gate company is the best way of avoiding problems with security gate motors and gate operation. Properly maintaining batteries, photo sensors, motor, and other components keeps security gates functioning properly all of the time.

Looking to install a security gate for your New York based business? Get in touch with New York Gates at 718-614-0616.

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