If you have an automatic gate that sits in front of your driveway and allows you to access your home, then your property is likely quite secure. However, this security also means that you may not be able to drive onto your property if the gate malfunctions and does not open when you need it to. If this happens, then you may need to contact an automatic gate repair person. You can try a few things first, though, to see if the problem is an easy fix.

Clean the Sensor

Your automatic gate will have a photo sensor much like an automatic garage door will. This sensor is a safety feature of your gate that will prevent injuries and damage from occurring. Specifically, the sensor will emit a beam of infrared light that will hit a sensor on the other side of the gate. If the light does not reach the sensor, then the gate will not open. The sensors will sit in front of the gate if it swings open towards the road, and it will be behind it if the gate swings towards your home. Some of the sensors will be mounted on poles, and others will sit on the ground close to the gate.

While most gate sensors will be made with small overhangs that keep rain and mud from collecting on the photo eyes, the sensors still can become dirty. Also, the sensor housing can be a good hiding place for beetles, ants, geckos, and other small creatures. Inspect the photo sensors to see if any bugs or animals are seen sitting on them. If not, use a small amount of rubbing alcohol and a clean cloth to clean each photo eye lens. 

Check the Actuator Rams

Swinging automatic gates are activated with the assistance of two steel devices that are bolted onto each side of the gate. These devices are called actuator rams, and they push the gate open and then pull it closed. A metal pin inside the actuator housing moves in and out to do this. To check to see if the rams are moving correctly, make sure your gate is set to manual mode. You can set the mode with a key that comes with your automatic gate. This key can be placed somewhere within the motor or the control panel. There is usually an obvious place to put the key in the front, top, or side of the panel. You will generally need to turn the key clockwise to put the gate in manual mode.

Afterwards, try to move the gates back and forth and check to see if the ram pins are moving in and out of the housing in a smooth and continuous manner. If the pins do not seem to move well, check for rust, bends, and the buildup of debris. Also a small rubber seal will be secured between the housing and the pin. Make sure the seal is still in good condition, and also inspect the wires that run from the rams to the control panel. If you see debris and dirt, clear it away, place the door on automatic mode, and try the gate again. If you see any other issues, then you will need to contact a repair person to have one or both of the rams replaced.

Change the Battery

Many automatic gates are connected to solar panels that charge batteries to provide the gate with power. This is a wise choice due to wiring concerns and lack of function during a power outage. However, the battery connected to your gate will need to be changed on occasion. If your system was installed within the last 5 to 15 years, then you may need a new battery. Since lead-acid batteries can begin to leak fluids from their casing as they go bad, you should not attempt to change the battery yourself if the battery is corroded or covered in a fluid. If the battery appears clean, then place rubber gloves on your hands and remove the battery from the terminals. 

Take your old battery to your local home store so a new one can be found that matches the old one. Also, most stores that sell solar batteries will take your dead products and recycle them when you purchase a new one. 

If none of these tricks fixes your problem, contact an automatic gate repair company.