Automatic Gates – Dangers, and Effects of Adverse Weather

A majority of people who have automatic gates installed do so for the purpose of security and the safety of their loved ones. Although these systems are durable, there are instances where repairs or servicing may be required. As is with anything, they are not invincible and can fall victim to severe weather conditions, no matter how durable they may seem.

Fortunately, typical everyday weather conditions shouldn’t affect the operation of your electric gate system, however, harsh weather conditions, and in particular – extreme rainfall that causes flooding- can. Problems can arise if control boxes become soaked with water causing them to short circuit and ultimately stop your gates from working. There’s nothing worse than when you need to run out into the pouring rain to open the gate manually – so how can you keep your automatic gates in good working order at all times, and what should you look out for so you can help resolve any issues quickly and easily?

Hazards and Controls of Automatic Gates

When identifying hazards and danger zones associated with electric gates, you should consider, among other things, the following:

  • Any points where persons may be injured by being crushed or becoming trapped, for example:
    • Meeting point between swing gates when closing
    • Sliding gate at “end of travel” positions
    • Trapping of feet between lower edge of gate and ground,
    • Space between a moving gate and a fixed object
    • Contact with moving parts at the drive unit


  • Hazards from being caught or hooked by sharp edges or projections


  • The impact forces produced by a gate when it strikes a person or an obstacle


  • Hazards associated with the gates being activated automatically, or by another person (for example, by a sensor under the road surface activating a gate when a car drives over it, a remote button, a key fob pressed by a third party, or a gate operated by dialling a mobile phone)


  • Possible ways in which safe operating systems (such as key-pad or key-fob systems) could be defeated, bypassed or inappropriately operated, thereby placing any person at risk. (This is particularly relevant where children, members of the public, or persons not familiar with a location have access to automatic gates and may not recognise a risk to their safety)


  • The possibility of gates becoming detached from their supports and falling over


  • All danger zones up to a height of 2.5m should be identified


  • Electrical hazards, such as electric shock or erratic behaviour due to ingress of moisture on electrical circuits

Increased Risk

Factors that can give rise to an increased risk include;

  • Use by children
  • Use by inform or elderly people
  • Unrestricted access or other instances when it is not possible to instruct, train, or supervise the gate users
  • High frequency of use or large number of people passing by
  • A high degree of automation

Generally, automatic gates, where the public may be present as users or passing by, will require the highest level of safety provision.

Protecting your Automatic Gates in Adverse Weather Conditions

Below freezing temperatures, and adverse weather can take its toll and impact on the smooth functioning of automatic gates. One of our suppliers, Beninca UK has put together a handy guide for owners of automatic gates, highlighting the impact these weather conditions can have on your system and various tips to ensure you’re correctly maintaining your gates.

  • Throughout the winter months and especially when temperatures begin to drop below freezing, we always recommend not to leave your gates unused and run them a few times to get everything moving as you’d expect. Low temperatures and moist environments can cause parts to seize, don’t let that one morning where the gates won’t open be a surprise, be prepared.


  • Especially with hydraulic operators, whilst the oil has a very low freezing point, the colder the outside temperature the more solid the oil will become, and it may cause your gate motors to stop working correctly. Special ‘winter oil’ is available but also keeping the hydraulic temperature up through regular opening and closing cycles will help.


  • This may seem an obvious one, but if there has been some snowfall, any snow can act as an obstacle for automatic gates, so please make sure you clear the surrounding area of the gate, so the snow doesn’t act as a block and stop the gate from functioning.

photocells for automatic gates

    • Photocells are fundamental to the safety of your automatic gates. They make the safety circuit via an IR beam between the receiver and transmitter. Always make sure you wipe them clean and remove any frost or snow, as if the sensors become blocked, they will stop the gate from working. You can simply wipe them clean with a damp cloth using warm water.


    • In very cold conditions it is common for locks to seize and even gate hinges to freeze and become stiff or even frozen solid. Everything has a freezing point and in the UK, we have a humid climate so the addition of moisture combined with freezing temperatures, means locks, maglocks and other moving parts can become frozen. To help avoid this from happening, we recommend adding a small amount of WD–40 to the area. Whilst the WD-40 will not stop the low temperatures, it will strip a lot of moisture so will prevent the frozen lock in some cases. We always advise that when the temperature is back to normal, to wipe clean anything that has been sprayed with WD-40.


    • Always check your safety systems and make sure all safety circuits work as normal. It should be common practice for regular maintenance of your safety devices such as rubber safety edges. Give the gates an open and close command and apply pressure to safety edges to make sure the system works as intended. It is possible that again, with added moisture in the environment, some safety edge circuits such as rubber edges can be prone to perform differently, or not at all. Whilst they should always ‘fail safe’……it’s good practice to check your gate system during this cold spell and beyond.


    • Do you have an intercom system? In very low temperatures the camera on a video intercom may be covered with snowfall and although unlikely, it is possible that the buttons on your call point or keypad could become stuck, so check them, don’t miss an important visitor in this spell of cold weather.


    We urge anyone who owns automatic gates to check the device for damage inflicted after adverse weather conditions, which could contribute to a potentially lethal accident. The aftermath of storms / heavy wind or frost is the perfect time to check your automatic or manual gates to see if there has been any damage which could lead to unexpected problems.

    According to Gate Safe, who promotes awareness of the importance surrounding the safety of automatic gates, all automated and manual gates should be checked on a regular basis. However, when an installation has been exposed to excessive weather challenges, an immediate risk assessment needs to be carried out. They also recommend that all gates should be inspected for any signs of wear and tear, rust or cracking, all of which could be signs that the system may need remedial works to maintain its safe operation.