Posted on

6 Quick troubleshooting tips

Here are some basic trouble shooting tips to help speed up any electric gate repair. However, before we start, please remember that electric gate system can be dangerous to you and dangerous to other gate users.

Any changes to the electrical system should be carried out by a qualified electrician or gate engineer. If you make any changes or adjustments always consider the dangers that you may create.

If you ever feel out of your depth, stop, contact us or find an installer. With that warning out the way let’s get started!

1. Look at the warning lights

Check to see if the warning lamp is flashing

Many systems will have a warning, or a flashing light fitted to visually indicate what the gate systems is doing. Warning lights can be set up in several different ways, often giving a slow steady flash when the gates are operating normally. If you see your light flashing followed by a long break, count how many flashes there are between each pause. This number will correspond to a troubleshooting table on some Control Panel PCB’s, such as the Gate 1 and Gate 2.  Once you know where the problem lies take a closer look at the affected part of the system.

2. Check for power failure.

A common problem is simply that the mains supply feeding the gate has tripped. Check all the attached devices like intercoms and code pads for any lights that will indicate they still have power. On accessories like photocells you can wave your hand in front of the photocell beam and listen for a click. If there is no response a power supply problem is possible, check your fuse board to see if the power can be turned back on.

3. Is the Gate stuck open or closed?

Here a Sprint barrier is on manual in the open position, ready for commissioning.

If the gate is stuck open it means the gate was closed, responded to a start signal and drove open before having a problem. This situation often indicates a problem with the safety equipment, typically the photocells which allow opening when they are broken but prevent closing. With sliding gates this could indicate a failure of the limit switch.

When a gate is stuck halfway it will be down to one of 3 things. A power cut as mentioned in tip 2, a point of high physical resistance as in tip 4 or an interruption from a safety edge or rotation sensor reacting to an impact. If a safety edge is activated they can sometimes become jammed. Clicking or squeezing the edges can often cure a failed system.

On the other hand, if the gate is stuck in the close position it means it is not receiving a start signal or cannot drive open. This is a little harder to solve. Normally, it will be either a problem with the start device not linking to the main PCB, a safety device preventing operation or an issue with the gate operator. For example, the gate being forced, which brings us to tip 4.

This gate looks great from a distance but a closer look shows it has been hit by a vehicle.

4. Check for signs of damage.

Check for any signs of damage on the gate or motor. Often problems with an operator not moving can be traced back to an accidental hit by a vehicle or an act of vandalism. Damaged brackets, motor cables, and scuffed paint work all point to the gate being forced. Sometimes the signs are subtler so when in doubt try tip 5.

5. Manually open and close the gate.

If the gates look ok and you can hear the motor trying to run but nothing happens wait until the system stops and then put the motors on to manual and slowly push each gate leaf open and closed using the minimum force possible. On you can try to move sliding gates with just a finger, but swing gates will need a little more force. If the gates run free the problem could be electrical but if you encounter one or more points of resistance do some more investigation in these areas.

For example, on sliding gates it is not uncommon for the wheels which support a sliding gate to wear out over time. Often the gate motors are powerful enough to keep going. However, if the wheels wear enough the gate will drop and begin to bind on the toothed drive rack the gate motor pushes against. Meanwhile on swing gates a similar situation caused by wear in the hinges can lead to the gate dropping, sometimes even to the point where it will drag on the floor. If you are finding it hard to put your system into manual mode, his can show that the gate is mechanically jamming. Binding issues like this can cause a gate to work perfectly well in certain positions and not at all in others.

Full Tank key manual release
Half Tank Motor manual release
For best results use the compacts internal manual release.
Saturn 60 manual release

6. Check the start inputs.

If you are clicking away with a key fob, nothing is happening, and the gates will not open, try using the code pad, a neighbour’s key fob or an intercom to give a start signal to the gate in a different way. This will tell you if there is a problem just with your key fob, with all key fobs or with all start devices.

SEA Siemens K42 & K44 code pad
Intratone GSM intercom
SEA Key Switch
SEA Ladybird Transmitter, also known as a Coccinella Roll

Finally, an often over looked source of annoyance for many gate installers is the unknown hold open switch, timer, intercom latch or ground loop. Check with the home owner to see if they have any way of holding the gates open for deliveries, or if the gates open automatically at certain times of day. After all there is nothing more infuriating than finishing your work on site only to see the gate open and stay open for seemingly no reason at all. When the home or business owner isn’t available double check the system for time clocks and hold open switches. If none are found and you are Electrically competent, you can open the main control panel check the control panel and check for signs of a permanent start (as per the control panel instructions).

Open the control panel and look at the digital display or LED’s if a safety device has failed or a start signal is permanently applied this can be ascertained here. We can then advise you where to look next.

In the end

Gate systems are sophisticated, often complicated pieces of technology. They are exposed to driving rain, flooding, freezing temperatures and scorching heatwaves, year after year. Needless to say, this is by no means an exhaustive list of troubleshooting strategies. We would urge end users to seek the help of a qualified electric gate installer sooner rather than later. We would also urge gate installers not to feel embarrassed about contacting a technical help line as there are hundreds of minor issues which could potentially cost you days on site and our technical team is ready to help!