Having a driveway gate has several advantages. First and foremost, it adds a layer of security for your home. Second, it can add curb appeal and increase the value of your home. Yet, like any other part of your home, you need to maintain your driveway gate in order for it to continually work properly. If you don’t, it can lead to costly maintenance issues later on and big headaches like getting your vehicle trapped in the driveway. In order to help you save money and headaches, we have put together how to maintain your driveway gate.
How a Driveway Gate Works.
Before discussing how to maintain your driveway gate and driveway gate motor, it is good to have a general idea on how it works.
- The gates are securely mounted to stout posts that are set in concrete and buried deep into the ground. Gates can also be mounted to brick pillars or stone columns.
- The automatic opener is bolted to the gate and post and then connected to either a buried 120-volt electrical cable or photovoltaic solar panel.
- Electricity flows from the cable or solar panel to a rechargeable battery. When you press the button on the gate opener remote, the battery powers the motor to open or close the gate. You can also install a digital keypad, which allows anyone to open the gate by entering a four-digit code. Some systems permit operation of the gate via an electronic swipe card, vehicle tag or mobile phone app.
Types of Gates.
We also wanted to add a bit about types of driveway gates. There are two types described below. Each type has some maintenance unique to each type.
- Swing Gates (Single and Double Swing): When you think of a traditional driveway gate, you’re thinking of a swing gate. A single swing gate only has one ‘door’ or “gate leaf” that opens, while a double has two.
- Sliding Gates: Not as commonly seen, sliding gates are great for driveways on an incline or uneven ground. Instead of swinging open, they slide open.
How to Maintain Your Driveway Gate
Keep it clean.
Sounds simple enough but while your gate may look clean from a few yards away, closer inspection may tell a different tale. Even the most minute of particles can affect the mechanics of an automatic gate so making to sure clean off any dirt or debris on a regular basis is crucial. If you have solar panels, then make sure they are clean and free from dust and bird droppings. Your panels will not work as efficiently if they are coated with a large amount of dust. The driveway gate system in its entirety (except solar panel) should be sprayed down with a hose every few months in order to wash away dirt and debris that may have accumulated on your gate system. For your solar panel, we suggest using Windex.
Consider a Wax sealant or Rustoleum.
You can use either, it’s up to your preference, but we suggest a new coat yearly. Not only will this help to keep it looking new and shiny, it will also help to keep it free from dust and debris and allow a longer time period between physical cleanings.
Keep it clear.
Bushes and shrubs can look mighty nice planted along the driveway, but if they grow a bit to high, the leaves and twigs can find their way into the moving parts of your driveway gate and make it a NON-MOVING driveway gate. Make sure to keep an eye on your landscaping growth and quickly remove any leaves or twigs that find their way into the gate mechanisms.
Check the bolt and joint.
If you have a swing gate, the bolt and joint mechanism is a key component of your driveway gate so always pay attention to this area. Make sure that rust doesn’t take over and parts of it don’t look to be wearing out. This is another area to make sure to be always free and clear of any debris.
Lubricate your Chain.
Slide gates operate on a chain. Your slide chain should be greased annually. Use heavy axle grease. To keep the job from getting messy, place a liberal amount of grease in a cloth, wrap the cloth around the chain and run the cloth with grease along the length of the chain. Make sure you get the entire chain. You will have to move the gate to get to the part of the chain that passes through the operator.
Make sure all other joints are properly lubed.
This cannot be stressed enough, metal parts that move need lubrication and in case you ever forget, think of this:
“Metal parts that move around, need lubrication or else THEY BREAK DOWN!”
Metal on metal is NOT a pretty sound and it will lead to your driveway gate parts wearing quickly and eventually breaking.
Slide Gate Chain Tensioner Adjustment.
All chain driven slide gates have tensioners usually located at each end of the chain. Over time, the chain stretches, and the tension should be adjusted periodically as needed. You can tell when it needs tensioning by how much the chain sags. 2″ of sag is normal in a 12′-16′ gate and more in longer gates. There should always be a little slack in the chain. A chain that is too tight (looks like a straight line) will wear the idler wheel and the sprocket inside the operator.
If the tensioner is fully tightened and there is still too much slack in the chain, you will have to remove some links. They should be removed at the end of the chain. This is a difficult task and you should consider having a professional do it.
Check the battery health.
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most overlooked. The gate operator may be functioning normally but will not operate very long during a power failure due to a failing battery which can no longer hold a charge. Inspect the battery for corrosion around the terminals; clean with a wire brush. Batteries should be replaced every 5 years. Most operators use gel cell batteries, although some use car batteries. When replacing, write the replacement date using a permanent marker directly on the new battery.
Take some time to care for your driveway gate and it will continue to look pretty and work properly for years to come.
Spectrum Overhead Door LLC installs and repairs residential & commercial driveway gates in the Greater Houston area. We service both sliding and swinging gates. The smooth operation of your gate will offer you the safety and security that you enjoy for your home. Our technicians can repair your broken-down gate usually the same day of your call.