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Background

I live in an extremely windy area where it is not uncommon to get gusts up to 40, even 50-60mph. My property is completely fenced in. The fence itself has metal reinforcement posts that have kept it stable the couple years we've owned the house. Our gates, however...

Gate Anatomy/The Issue

I have three wooden gates: One single-wide, standard entrance gate and two sets of double gates. All three sets of gates are... unusable at this point. The single-wide is held on by bungee cords, and the double-wides have planks and garden stones keeping them closed. I've even malleted 2x4s and wedged them into the fence and the ground to give it some top support. The "eye" of the hinge is attached to a metal rod on the gate itself and the peg is attached to a metal rod on the fence. The two double gates have wheels (though I detached them from one). One set of the double gates has cane bolts. Every time the winds kick in, at least one of the gates goes down -- completely. It slips out of the top hinge, bends the bottom hinge, and hits the ground. We have dogs, so opening the gates during the wind is just not an option for us as the wind can last several hours - even days.

Things I've Tried

I've done minor repairs, like replacing the hinges, but I'm a new homeowner and I'm learning all of this as I go. I'm planning on picking up more hinges (all of the gates use chain link fence hinges, I call them "wishbone hinges." -- here they are on Amazon), but I've swapped them out before and I just want a more permanent solution. I've considered cutting holes in the tops of the gates, like a window, for the wind to get through so it takes the pressure off the top of the gates. But I can't help but notice, no one else seems to have issues with similar fences in the area. So I can't help but think this is a hardware issue. We discovered after buying our house that much of the remodeling was DIY so we're under the assumption best practice wasn't taken into account when these gates were built (an assumption backed up given the nature of the somewhat inconsistent hardware between the three gates).

The Ultimate Question/TLDR

I'm not in a position to pay for a professional to come out and completely re-do my gates, so I need to figure out how to reinforce these bad-boys until I am in such a position so the next person who owns this house doesn't have to deal with this.

Are there better hinges for standard wood gates in high-wind areas instead of the chain link/wishbone hinges they're currently using? I know part of the issue is the reinforcement rods only go halfway up the fence, which works fine for the rest of the fence but offers no top support for the gates when the winds kick in (which seems to be the issue, just based on my observation). That being said, I know if the top was TOO stiff, it wouldn't flex as well and potentially create an even bigger problem. I'm just spit-balling. There is some damage to the fences, but all of them are actually in decent shape, just a few splinters missing here or there.

Here is a video I recorded for my dad a couple years back when I was asking for his input when our standard entrance gate first blew down. The hinges are slightly different than the double gates, but it offers a visual for what I'm attempting to describe. At the very least, a handier person than I could recognize flaws in the execution that I don't and possibly advise me on a solution. And yes, all of the gate locks on all of the fences are just drilled into blocks of wood and yes, all of them have come off at some point after a fence hit the ground. Ideally, while fixing the gates, I'll come up with a way to lock them, also.

I'm pretty handy and a quick learner, so I'm more than willing to get dirty and do the work myself when I've come up with a game plan. My biggest obstacle is I'm on a budget. I love an excuse to buy new tools and hardware, but there's a huge difference between a $10 pair of wire strippers and, I dunno, a $100 impact wrench (thought about picking one up to make the bolts on the fence hinges extra tight). So I am keeping my fingers crossed some magic human out there will say, "Pick up XYZ for $5 a pop and you shouldn't have any issues." but I'm also realistic and realize I may have a pricy repair on my hands... I'm rambling at this point.

Any help/input/recommendations would be very much appreciated! If it was just me, I may take them off completely. But my biggest fear is one of these big gates landing on one of my dogs, and it's really time for me to do something about it.

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  • The main issues are the posts and their foundation, which can cost you a bundle to repair. I suggest installing kickers spiked in the ground, so the fence will not displace no matter the direction of the wind. The double leaves door is tricky though. You might have to keep one leaf fixed when no need to open both.
    – r13
    Jan 1, 2022 at 1:47
  • Are the hinge pins on the problem gates pointing up, or are they one up/one down like in your video? Flip the top one so it's pointing up for starters. Jan 1, 2022 at 2:26
  • @AloysiusDefenestrate I did try that on my main problem gate because I thought it was really weird that it was pointing down (I thought, at least for the double gates, it was due to the spring wheels and maybe the pin pointing down acted as a catch to keep the gate from bouncing out?).
    – Vanderbeam
    Jan 1, 2022 at 5:31
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    If you are on speaking terms with your neighbors, ask to examine their gate hinge arrangements, explaining your problem (which they are likely aware of) and desire to solve it. Let those inform your approach. Likely "chain link hinges" are unsuitable for "not chain link gates" as chain link fence is fairly wide-open for wind purposes.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 1, 2022 at 14:57

3 Answers 3

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To reduce pressure from wind, you can make holes in the door.

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Just remove all planks except the two at the edges, set aside one of them, and put the rest back in place with a bit of spacing between them.

If people seeing through the gate bothers you, you can put planks on the other side like in the above picture, shifted a bit to the left and right and also spaced. This leaves a path for the air to go through the door.

If people seeing through the gate don't bother you, then you can make the spaces between planks wider. The wider they are, the more wind will go through instead of pushing on the door.

It won't be perfect, but it should reduce the wind force on the door, and it should be pretty cheap, since all it'll cost you is a bunch of screws.

This won't fix the hinge, but it'll prevent it from breaking again.

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You have 2 root problems here.

Cheap: Looks like whoever built the gate is in love with cheap construction and flimsy gate hardware. They don't want to spend the money to get serious. The pipe is small diameter and isn't the full height of the fence, which puts severe cantilever forces on the upper hinge. Which was also cheap and flimsy.

Overextended: From the height of the posts, it's clear the fence was originally built to be 3-4 feet tall, i.e. to keep honest people out, and for dog containment. That would have worked. But somebody wanted a 6-7' tall privacy fence, so they just put tall panels on short fence hardware. The problem with tall fence + short posts is it puts a tremendous amount of "cantilever" lever action on the upper fence hardware, and more side-load than the posts are intended for. The taller fence probably catches more than double the wind, and the force is amplified further by lever action, so probably 3-4x the force on that fence hardware.

These two factors, combined with the wind, make a hopeless case.

I would say you are at the hinge of a decision, whether to cut the fence down to a height the hardware is designed for, or rebuild the fence with better hardware.

I would start by replacing the hinge post with one at least 3" diameter, and the height of the fence. Set deeper into the ground, also. Now, hardware for larger diameter poles will be naturally tougher, but I would make an effort to go for tougher and quality fence hardware.

The top 2-3 feet of the fence are "cantilevered" above the fence posts, and are not suitable attachment points for a latch. This is part of your problem; the unsupported top few feet "flex in the wind" making the latch's job much harder. The latch should be no higher than the highest hinge.

Ideally the latch should be halfway between the top and bottom hinge, so it puts forces on the hinges evenly.

Feel free to set up the door so it swings either way. (or "both" is possible with careful design).

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I needed some hinges and used some 20mm or 3/4” threaded bar, several nuts and a welder.

Drill out the threads on 4 of the nuts and weld them to studs to fit to the gates as the hinge.

Cut 1” or 2” lengths to weld at right-angles to 10” (or whatever is need to go through the post allowing for two nuts one on each side of the post.

Weld a small plate to the 10” length so it will stop the bar rotating in the post.

If you use metal posts the weld to that - easier or drill holes and nut them up.

And as I was hanging wrought iron gates I welded washers on the top of the hinge pin to stop the gates being lifted off, but one up one down could work.

As for posts, I put at least 1/3 of the height needed into the ground, so for a 6’ gate I needed a 9’ post minimun and if the gates are heavy then nearer half - 4ft gate had 2ft in ground as they were longer cf height.

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