If you’ve invested into automating your gates with one of our gate automation kits, there’s nothing more frustrating than finding they’re locked into an open or closed position, hindering anyone coming and going from your property. But before you pick up the phone to call one of our engineers, there are one or two things it’s worth checking first. Once you do, you may find that your problem is far more easily solved than it might first appear, which can save you a lot of hassle and money in the process!

1. Your photocells are blocked

We’ve talked about photocells before, so you may already be clued up on them, but we’ll give you a quick rundown just in case. They are essential safety devices that are mandatory on all automated gates, from electric sliding gates to those automated by swing gate kits. Photocells come in pairs, and work by establishing a connection between them using an infrared beam. If this beam is broken while the gates are in motion, it sends a signal to tell the gates to stop moving, pause, and then fully open again. They’re designed to stop gates from closing on cars waiting near the gates, or – most importantly – human beings.

Once this beam is broken, the photocells will wait ten seconds, and then attempt to re-establish the connection. If they still can’t, then they’ll wait another ten seconds before trying again. You can probably already see why this may cause your gates to be stuck in the open position.

But what if there’s nothing between your photocells? Well, here’s the thing – there may well be. Whenever anyone calls us about a set of automated gates that are stuck in the open position, the very first piece of advice we always give is to check each photocell and make sure nothing’s blocking them. The very tiniest obstacle can break the connection, and even things nearby. Our engineers have been called out to stationary gates before to find the photocells blocked by leaves or plants leaning into the beam’s path, or blown there by the wind. For this reason, you should always check each photocell thoroughly, and make sure there’s nothing even vaguely close that could be causing the issue. Otherwise, it can be a very expensive callout for a simple issue!

2. The gate’s rails are dirty

Automated gates run on either V-shaped or U-shaped rails. The letters refer to the shape of the indentation in the wheels where they meet the rail. (We tend to recommend U shaped rails, as it’s easier to drive cars over them.) However, whatever shape the rails are, they’re still vulnerable to the same issue – if they’re not thoroughly maintained, they can end up hindering the smooth motion of the gate.

The rails need to be regularly inspected to ensure that they’re free of dirt and debris such as dried leaves. Otherwise, these can end up getting caught in the area where the gate’s wheels meet the rail, clogging up the mechanism and eventually even preventing the gate from moving. Before you give us a call, it’s best to inspect this area first – again, even if you’re sure it’s clear already. Trust us, it’s a very simple job that can end up saving you a lot of money.

3. The batteries are dead

Your automated gates may not run on batteries, but some critical components may do. Devices like wireless photocells and safety edge transmitters are powered by batteries, which will typically give you a warning long before they fail. However, if you fail to act on this – whether through accident or neglect – they can effectively stop your gate from moving entirely.

company gate

Similarly, the batteries in the remote control for your gate can also fail or die, so before you give one of our engineers a call, it’s worth taking a second to quickly switch out the battery and see if that solves the problem. You can also try using your intercom or exit buttons to see if your gate works normally then, which is another useful way of helping to you determine if a dead battery somewhere is to blame.

4. The safety edges are making contact with something

The safety edges of an automated gate comprise some of its most vital safety components. To use a rough analogy, they basically function as artificial nerve endings, helping your gate to ‘feel’ when it’s made contact with something. The force sensors on the safety strips are extremely sensitive, and will automatically stop the gates and reverse them once they detect an obstacle. To give you a clearer idea of how sensitive they can be, the gate can be reversed easily by someone pressing on one of these strips with an outstretched thumb. (Although obviously we recommend you don’t do this unless absolutely necessary.)

This means that overhanging branches and overgrown hedges can be more than enough to cause your gates to reverse, apparently for no reason. Therefore, it’s best to check the entire length of your gates, and ensure that the tracks are clear of large stones, branches and similar inconspicuous obstacles.

Here at Gate Auto, we have over 30 years in supplying and fitting high-quality gate automation, we provide a wide range of electric gate kits and garage door openers alongside an array of accessories to ensure you get the most out of your investment. Feel free to browse them right here on our site, or give us a call on 01282 677300!