residential gate repair

The 12 Most Common Reasons for Gate Malfunctions

gate malfunction

Installing automatic gates is a complex process, but troubleshooting maintenance afterward can be just as confusing. As with any device, gate operators are bound to experience some degree of malfunction which impacts their functionality. 

The key is identifying the underlying issue based on sounds, movements and obstructions. If you’ve been experiencing issues with your gate, our team at Top Quality Doors is here to help. Today, we’ll be sharing the most common reasons for 12 gate malfunctions — and our favorite tips for fixing them.

12 Common Gate Malfunctions and How To Fix Them

1. The gate isn’t moving at all.

Think of your gate as a breaker box. Every once in a while, you’ll experience a short and may need to flip a switch to reactivate it. Before calling for reinforcements, check that the breaker and switch are working and that the power is actually on. A good way to do this is by checking the outlet where the gate’s plugged in by testing another device in the plug.

Next, review all your outlets to see if the ground fault interrupter (GFI) is tripping. If that still isn’t it, the problem may be the remote controller.

For swing gates, you’ll troubleshoot a little differently. Sometimes the safety loop sensor will prevent the gate from moving if it senses a person, animal, or object in its path. Check that the sensors are working properly, and if they’re not, go ahead and call one of our technicians.

2. The gate isn’t stopping where it should. 

If your gate isn’t stopping where it should be, the issue may be the switch nut or a cam failing to hit the limit switch correctly. In a well-operating gate, a lever is holding the limit nut in place, riding inside the slots of the limit nut. You’ll need to press it back out of the slot on the limit shaft, returning it to its correct place.

For sliding gates, this issue most often occurs because of loose racking that’s no longer in contact with the motor’s output gear.

For automatic gates, we recommend contacting one of our specialists to avoid potential damage with a DIY remedy.

3. The gate doesn’t open unless you’re up close.

Electric gates can sometimes experience interference transmitting from radio stations, airports, or even a military base. If you have one of these sources nearby, you’ll need a special receiver and antennae. 

Another reason your gate won’t open at a distance could be the antennae itself — which could be cut or shortened. Try placing it as high as you can and ensure it’s not touching any other metal surfaces.

4. The gate isn’t closing.

Much like your garage door, automatic gates have sensors and won’t close if something’s in the way. Check for any vegetation or objects blocking its path. If you’re not seeing anything, check the wheel bearings, chain, and track for any damage. For swinging gates, you should check the around the gate arm and hinges.

If you still can’t identify the cause, turn off the power. Try detaching the chain (for a sliding gate) or the gate arm (for a swing gate) and try moving. If it moves, it’s an electrical issue. If it doesn’t, it’s a mechanical malfunction and you’ll need to contact a professional.

5. The remote control isn’t working.

If the remote isn’t working, check the batteries. Most controllers feature a small red light near the top. If it isn’t glowing whenever you command the gate to open, your remote has probably aged and you’ll need to ask your technician for a new one.

6. The gate is stuck in manual mode.

Every once in a while, you’ll need to manually operate your gate. This usually occurs when there’s a power outage. Switching the gate to manual release avoids any damage to the automated system. Check to see if you have a release key; a specialist should’ve given this to you during the time of the installation to test the gate. If you can’t find it, call Top Quality Doors and we’ll help troubleshoot the issue.

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7. The gate keeps making odd sounds.

After a big storm, your gate may experience some beeping. Usually, the noise will subside. But if it doesn’t, your gate may be indicating low power. Try adding another battery. If the noise continues, contact your gate company’s customer support.

8. The gate lock keeps jamming.

If you have a wider gate model, sometimes severe weather can knock gate posts loose, causing them to move and electronic locks to jam. If this happens, you’ll need to install sturdier gate posts or implement an alternative locking system.

9. The gate isn’t sliding smoothly.

If you have a sliding gate, you may notice it having some difficulties moving along the tracks. When this happens, check for obstructions like leaves, twigs, or stones and use a broom to clear the area. If the gate is still screeching along the tracks, check the wheels and track itself for any physical damage.

10. The keypad is malfunctioning.

Similar to the remote, you may encounter times when your keypad isn’t working. If this is a consistent issue, you may need to reset your codes. Refer to your owner’s manual and see if you can troubleshoot. If it still isn’t working after you’ve reset the code, there may be wiring issues or electrical malfunctions preventing it from working. When this happens, you’ll need to call an expert.

11. The light sensors aren’t responding.

Sensors play a crucial role in automatic gates. If you notice the gate isn’t responding like normal, try cleaning off the sensors. Often you’ll find they’ll come coated with dirt and dust which prevents them from detecting light. Also, check to see if they’re facing the correct direction.

12. The gate’s functions are disabled.

During autumn, your gate can play home to a variety of insects and vermin. Most often, we’ll see mice and gophers that have chewed wires in gate operators. Or, we’ll see insects like hornets and spiders establish their nests around sensors and control boxes.

For automated gates especially, we recommend destroying nests as you see them and frequently cleaning these areas of your gate.

Have You Come Across a Problem We Haven’t Mentioned?

As a family-owned gate company in Oklahoma, we’ve seen just about everything you can think of. From small malfunctions to complex breaks, we have the knowledge and tools needed to get your gate back in working order. 

For more information about our services or help troubleshooting, reach out to our team at (405) 579-3667.

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