Gate operator maintenance is an extremely important component of security for your self-storage facility. You’re expecting it to work 24/7 to allow your customers in and to keep dangerous people out. If your gate is broken, then your security suffers. To keep your gate from causing you headaches, it’s vital to perform regular maintenance on the operator and gate.

However, it’s hard to know what to look for when inspecting your gates. What components of your gate operators should you inspect, and how often? Although the maintenance needs may differ depending on the gate type and manufacturer, we’ve outlined some best practices for gate and operator maintenance.

Types of Gates and Operators:

Before we outline the maintenance schedule, here is a description of the most common gates at self-storage facilities:

  • Slide Gates. These gates are mounted on chains or hydraulic rollers that pinch a track.
  • Barrier Arm Gates. These gates have wooden, composite, or aluminum arms.
  • Vertical Lift Gates. Uses pickets and pivot points that fold as the gate rises
  • Vertical Pivot Gates. Uses a motor, belt, and counterweight spring
  • Swing Gates. Hinged gates attached to pivot arms

Monthly Gate Operator Maintenance

Slide Gates:

  • Lubricate the chain with lightweight chain oil. Do not use WD-40.
  • If applicable, check to make sure the V-track or hydraulic track is clear of debris.
  • Inspect any rollers for wear or damage.
  • Lubricate rollers as needed.

Vertical Gates

  • If the operator does not have a sealed battery backup, check the water levels.

Swing Gates

  • Lubricate hinges.

All Gates

  • Check vehicle detection loops.
  • Clear any vegetation that is near any moving parts of the operator or gate.

Quarterly Gate Operator Maintenance

Slide Gates:

  • Adjust the chain (if applicable). You should have about 1” of chain “sag” for every 10 feet of length, but no more than 3”.
  • If the gate has hydraulic rollers, make sure they are in good condition, and that there are no leaks from the hydraulic system.

Vertical Lift and Barrier Arm Gates

  • Check belts for wear and tension.
  • Check gate clutch tension.
  • Check any hardware holding the gate to the operator, and tighten as needed.

All Gate Types

  • Check mounting hardware holding the gate operator to the pad, and tighten if needed.
  • Test any reversing safety devices that the operator is equipped with. This may be an “overload” type of detection or a safety edge attached to the side or bottom of the gate itself (See below).
  • If the operator has a “gear reducer” that uses oil, then check the level and refill as needed with the specified type.
  • Check that the operator stops the gate at the proper position both when opening and closing. The gate should not “bang” into its catch forks or rest stop, but should smoothly stop as they meet.  Adjust any limit devices in the operator to achieve this smooth stop.

Semi-Annual Maintenance for All Gates

For all types of operators, you should check the “smoothness” or “balance” of the gate. How easy is it to push open and closed with the drive mechanism (chain, belt, etc.) disconnected?  Does the gate open and close without binding or jerking? Does the lift arm move up and down freely with the clutch disengaged? Do swing gates move freely on their hinges? A gate that is difficult to open and close will put a lot more stress on the operator and will cause premature wear and failure.

A Word of Caution

Please keep in mind that this overview provides a general guide for business owners. Gate operator manufacturers will have suggestions for maintenance and may have a more frequent schedule than what is shown above, or include additional items. Always defer to their instructions.

Moreover, only trained professionals should conduct maintenance on gates and operators. This machinery can be hazardous and cause harm or even death if you are not careful. Always exercise caution and keep an eye out for safety hazards around your gates. If you’d like additional guidance on all aspects of self-storage security and safety download our self-storage maintenance checklist.

By: Robert Toy

Robert works for PTI Security Systems in the Engineering Department and has worked in the self-storage security industry for over 25 years.