Here in Louisville Kentucky most of my requests for fence repairs involve a problem with gates. Gate repairs are the one thing most homeowners get frustrated with and for good reason, gates are usually the only means of entrance/egress from a fenced in area and if it’s constantly dragging the ground requiring you to lift up when opening or closing it can become quite an annoyance. Whether you are attempting a DIY repair yourself or wanting to educate yourself before you contact a home service provider to complete the project, the information below will help familiarize you with common fence gate problems.
When a request for a gate repair comes in it’s usually for one of two reasons: the gate is dragging the ground or it is binding at the latch post and often times it’s both. Below you will find the steps I take when troubleshooting gate repairs.
Step One: Identify the Problem
This is the source of frustration for the homeowner, it’s why they called me in the first place. With gates the issue is usually the bottom of the gate dragging the ground making it difficult to open and close or the gate is binding at the latch post and preventing smooth opening/closing. Once you have determined the problem you are now ready to find out what is causing it.
Step Two: Check the Hinge Post
In many cases the hinge post, the post the gate swings from, is the cause of a poorly functioning gate. Check to see if there is any movement in the post around the ground. Really give it a firm push and pull in all directions. Do you notice any movement in the post around the ground? If so this could be the problem and may require replacing the post. If there’s no movement in the post then check to see if it is level. A post can be out of level as a result of it not being firmly seated in the ground, but it can also occur if the post has prematurely warped as a result of weathering. This is seen in many older posts, but can also occur in newer fences on a less frequent basis.
Step Three: Check the Hinges
Two factors usually play a role in poorly functioning gates if hinges are the culprit: using the wrong type of hinge and/or poor quality hardware used for attaching the hinges.
The hinge used should be strong enough to support the size of the gate you have. This is an area you really don’t won’t to cut corners on. If you are replacing hinges spend the extra money to get a heavy duty set of hinges. It’s money well spent.
Sometimes even properly sized hinges can cause problems if the mounting hardware is insufficient. You can find quality hinges at the big box home improvement stores but rarely are the mounting screws adequate for the job. Whether I’m doing a new install or repair I always discard the screws that come with the kit and purchase the largest galvanized lag bolts and carriage bolts that will fit. This adds extra strength to the hinges and reduces the likelihood of problems with the hinge assembly.
Step Four: Check the Latch Post
The latch post is the opposite of the hinge post, it’s where the gate fastens to the striker bar. Just as the hinge post can warp or become loose, the same can happen with a latch post even if it is less likely to happen. Check the latch post the same way you would the hinge post by pulling and pushing the post to determine if it is set properly and then check with a level. If it is loose or out of level it may need to be replacing.
Step Five: Examine the Overall Bracing of the Gate
All gate have some type of bracing. This is done to add support to the gate as well as provided something for latch hardware to mount to. Occasionally one or more of the braces on the gate will warp and cause the gate to bind at the latch or possibly the hinges. Correcting this may require replacing the warped brace to bring the gate back into alignment.
These are the steps I follow when looking for causes of problematic gate functioning. I hope these will assist you identifying problems with your own gate if you are attempting a DIY repair or at least allow you to communicate the problem more effectively if you are hiring someone to do the repair. If you are in the Louisville, KY area and would like for me to repair a gate or any other fencing work you may have you can reach me at 502-389-0368.