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I have a privacy fence in my backyard that includes a large double gate. It was built maybe a year and half ago. The whole span is about a 11' 4" opening. The gates to meet in the middle with double hinges on each gate and a rod at the bottom of both going in the ground. There is one latch in the center (a small one I might add). The latch and rods do not adequately keep the gates from rocking during high winds (Oklahoma winds!!!) so both the bars rocked loose in the ground allowing the gates to swing even more and not stay latched. As mowing season began, I figured out I could not even open the gates because they had sagged so badly and buried the bottoms into the ground.

I had the bottoms trimmed off and the hinges raised everything back up too. This lead to a wider gap between the gates and now the latch really doesn't reach across well. Tried again yesterday and moved the latch in as much as was left to move. Unfortunately the gates are wide open this morning after a storm last night.

How should this be repaired?

Front Side Latch Post Angle

Click for full size image

  • The posts are metal. I forgot to mention that. – AMBER Apr 27 '16 at 15:26
  • Its unclear from your pictures, but it looks a bit like those 'gates' are just fence panels with hinges attached ... Do they have any additional bracing on the other side? – brhans Apr 27 '16 at 17:11
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    please post a picture from the other side so we can see the back of the gates and the posts. – dotjoe Apr 27 '16 at 17:37
  • Is adding a post to the middle out of the question? Between where the gates meet add another metal post/4x4 with a socket into the ground. Attach some sort of latch for the gate to the post. When you need to open it wide, you can take the post out, toss it to the side. When you're done, put the post back in and latch it up. – Zymus Apr 27 '16 at 21:26
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    I've gotta repeat the previous comment - the most important image is on the inside so we can see the posts and framing. Post that. – JPhi1618 Apr 28 '16 at 15:47
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The first thing I would do is cross-brace the gate. You need to do something like this:

Cross-brace

If you Google search for "wood gate diagonal bracing" you'll get lot's of images showing the proper way to do this.

  • This used to be well known. Now people who professionally build fences don't know it? – Jasmine Apr 27 '16 at 20:57
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    I'm sure people who build fences professionally know it, but that people who professionally build fences may not... :-) – Steve Ives Apr 28 '16 at 9:35
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    If your having a problem with winds you should also consider more latches in the center. Perhaps lowes.com/pd_309003-37672-605556_0__ for example that you could engage during a storm. Or even spacing out the fence slats so that air can pass trough and the gate acts less like a kite. – coteyr Apr 28 '16 at 15:07
15

Gates that wide are going to need extra support, otherwise they'll surely sag (as you've found out).

An easy solution might be to put wheels on the gates, so that the wheels support the weight of the gate.

Other options include compression/tension bracing built into the gates, and/or making the gates out of a more rigid material. Heavier duty hinges might work, but they'd have to be pretty heavy duty for that span.

As for holding the gates in place when closed. Pipe driven into the soft ground, will certainly not do a very good job. To reduce the amount of movement, you'll want a tube just big enough to fit the drop rod. Using concrete to set the pipes in the ground, will prevent them from loosening up over time.

7

Two things are key to eliminate sag:

  • Rock-solid posts that are anchored in the ground well
  • Gates that have diagonal bracing built in

If your posts are leaning, or if they wobble with the wind, you won't be able to accomplish much. They must remain plumb, and they must be stout enough to not flex appreciably.

If your gate panels are sagging in parallax, a simple wire turnbuckle may help, or additional wood straps.

The latch isn't really part of the equation. If the other issues are resolved, nearly any latch will do.

5

Use a turnbuckle and steel cable. Not only will it keep the gate level but it will also torque it laterally, depending on which side you put it on. Thus, straightening it in its entirety. Luckily, the "ugly side" is the side you need to put it on.

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(source)

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(source)

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    Good idea, but gates that wide will sometimes "potato chip" (think Pringles-shape) if you crank on them with a buckle. Cheap to try, though. – Aloysius Defenestrate Apr 28 '16 at 1:13
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Adding a stronger latch ought not to be difficult.

Are the gates made from wood?

It reads as if the (wooden) gates were not braced correctly and have consequently sagged and are no longer rectangular (i.e. are out of square). That could be why adjusting the hinges leaves a gap. This might be harder to fix but it depends how the gates are constructed.

You can straighten up some structures using something like fencing wire, a strainer and eye-bolts.

  • I would post more pictures but I can't figure out how? Anyone? – AMBER Apr 27 '16 at 22:26
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    @AMBER Edit and add the links to them, then someone can in-line them for you. – Mazura Apr 28 '16 at 0:31

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