When the gate suddenly breaks

Wednesday February 24 2021
By Shabibah Nakirigya

There was a time when having a perimeter wall or a gate was not a priority. Then homesteads were communal, families shared backyards and almost everyone knew who the distant neighbour was.

But a lot has changed, a perimeter wall and an accompanying gate today are priorities of any place referred to as a complete home. This is because today, privacy and security are a priority. Some homeowners build a perimeter wall and install a gate even before the actual house construction kicks off.

Yet, even with the known importance of gates, some often break, even after what many consider a good installation job.

Hardware and material issues

Richard Mulindwa, a construction engineer, says a number of issues lead to metallic gates breaking down. He, however, says most problems start with the material people buy while starting the process.

Mulindwa says that some people buy damaged material while installing and welding. He says that others, in a bid to save opt for second hand gates which also come with unforeseeable challenges.


“After construction, gates are some of the few house items that will be in the open under changing weather conditions such as rain. It, therefore, needs to be a genuine one,” he says.

Mulindwa adds that swing gates need a lot of attention during installation considering that they use a lot of force while opening and closing. He also notes that some hard ware such as pivots, handles, swing arms and chains need regular inspection to ensure they are not loose or rusty.

Place of installation

Many times, while building a home, people have everything thought out. For instance, they know where they need the perimeter wall to pass and where the gate will be installed.

Unfortunately, since many buy and eventually construct in swampy areas, the choice may come back to bite in future.

For example when a gate is installed in a soggy place that is always waterlogged, there are many chances that the metallic material used will rust, which in the short run will not only affect the gate but the walls as well. 

There are many things that Mulindwa says one must think about before starting to build in a wet place altogether, for example, he says one must plan for soil amendment, which may include transportation of soil from other places to your plot.

But above it all, he advises that no one should build in a wetland.

Bad weather

Often, people believe little or no thought should go into gate installation. This explains why they rarely hire professionals to handle the job, yet on the contrary, a lot of thought needs to be put in the process.

For instance, the direction a gate faces could determine its short or long life. According to Mulindwa, when one builds on a hilly location, they have to ensure they install the gate in a position where it will not be acting as a direct windbreaker.

“It is not just the wind, other weather conditions may also come into play such as lightning, especially with automated gates,” he says.

Mulindwa says that sometimes, however, even when people do many things right, nature may take it out of their hands, for instance, the times when storms strike a tree next to the gate.

In other cases, raindrops may affect the joints causing them to rust, something that may slow movements, especially with gates that slide.

Poor installation

But above it all, poor installation is the main reason gates get destroyed after a short time.

Mulindwa says that it is worse if the bad installation was done with an automated gate because then, besides breaking down, it will be a disaster in waiting.

“Normally, issues may arise from wiring, substandard accessories and working with inexperienced technicians,” he says. 

Mulindwa says that contractors need to hire accredited professionals to handle such sophisticated jobs. He says, if poorly wired, electric gates can cause many accidents that could lead to injuries and sometimes death at home.


 In any gate system there has to be a gate of some sort. It can be installed to either swing or slide and it can operate horizontally, vertically or in some combination of both motions. Gates can be moved manually or have automatic motor controls. Most vehicular gates operate using some sort of automatic motor controller.