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Gate motors work hard to open and close large, often heavy gates at the push of a button. But during winter months they often have to work a bit harder still. An understanding of the specific issues is important in understanding how preventative maintenance can help avoid problems with the reliability and safety of automated gates.
The onset of winter means electric gates and their accompanying motors will require an altered maintenance routine based on the obstacles and conditions the new season presents. Winter typically means higher rainfall and lower temperatures (which can regularly go below freezing at night), leaves and other detritus on the ground, possible snowfall and darker mornings and evenings. All of these can affect automatic gate operation, so here’s our guide to the ways that winter maintenance can help maintain reliable and safe automated gate operation.
Any machinery that alternates between stationery and moving can face issues in colder conditions. This is because it can require more force to get things moving. Think of your car and starting it on cold, winter mornings. It usually takes a bit longer to get going than it does when it’s warmer, and the same happens with gate motors.
This can be overcome by increasing the force applied by the motors during the winter, but this needs to be done by a professional installer. To ensure that the gate automation is still safe, by holding the gate at the leading edge, you should be able to stop it moving. If you can’t stop it, the torque is set too high. Once the weather gets a bit warmer, the motors should be returned to their lower torque settings.
Sliding gate tracks should be regularly checked for leaves and debris, but checks should become more regular during the autumn and winter months. Furthermore, snow should always be removed from the tracks before operating a sliding gate.
Strong winds may prevent swing gate operation. As strong winds are usually periodic, the best option here is to leave gates open while the weather remains adverse. Snow and other debris should always be cleared from the area before operating swing gates. Snow that is deeper than the bottom of the gates may trigger the gates obstacle detection system and prevent them from moving.
Articulated arms, gears, sliding stainless steel rams and wheel hubs and bearings all need to be lubricated to ensure smooth movement with as little friction as possible. Hinges also need to be greased regularly to ensure minimal resistance from the gates so as not to strain the motors.
Photocells provide essential safety for gate automation systems. However, they are also attractive to slugs and insects which can damage circuit boards and obscure sensors. Regular cleaning inside the photocell casings and sealing joints and cable grommets with silicone sealant can all help keep safety photocells doing their job.
Underground motors should be installed with adequate drainage to ensure the motors don’t sit in water for any period of time. Rotting leaves and other debris from driveways can block drainage holes. Regular checks to ensure water is draining properly from underground motor boxes are required.
It helps to mount ram motors at a slight angle so that the gate mounted arm end is 4 to 8mm below the gate motor end. This allows rainwater to run down the arms away from the motors rather than into the motors. As a result, this prevents water from entering the motor casing and dispersing the water-soluble grease used to lubricate moving parts, potentially causing gears to wear due to insufficient lubrication.
Regular use of automated gates is often at the beginning and end of the day when homeowners go to and from work and the school run. In the dark, gates may move into areas where street lighting or car headlights don’t illuminate their full range of travel. In these cases, it can be very useful to install additional lighting that illuminates the gates throughout their full range of operation. This can be with motion detectors or triggered by the gate operation itself.
Gate automation safety is a vitally important aspect of any automatic gate installation. If you have any questions, call Linkcare on 01895 232 626, and we can offer advice, for more information take a look at how to make automatic gates safer.