How To Lift A Sagging Wooden Fence Gate To Prepare It For Use With An Electric Gate Opener

A sagging wooden fence gate can not only be annoying, it can also prevent an electric gate opener from working properly. Many gate openers, like one from Perimeter Security Systems, require that gates be level and balanced for proper operation, so if you are considering purchasing one, it is important that you correct any problems first. Below is how you can easily and inexpensively lift a sagging wooden fence gate:

Tools and materials you will need

  • Dual eye bolt turnbuckle with a minimum 200-pound capacity
  • 2-½-inch, Number 8 wood screws suitable for outdoor use
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Electric drill with ⅛-inch drill bit
  • 9-gauge stranded utility wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Measuring tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Eye protection
  • Gloves

Step-by-step procedure

1. Work safely - lifting a sagging fence gate is a safe procedure as long as you take the proper precautions. The biggest potential hazard is a whipping wire end that could happen due to a sudden break while under tension. That's why you must wear eye protection when applying tension to a wire. In addition, be sure to wear gloves so you don't cut your hands and to prevent wire splinters from embedding themselves in your skin.

2. Identify the direction of the sag - in almost all situations, the sagging gate will have its lowest point at the corner opposite the topmost hinge. There are rare occasions when it could be reversed where the lowest corner is nearest the bottom hinge, but the forces of gravity acting upon the unsupported side of the gate usually result in the former.

To identify the direction of sag, simply measure the gate from corner-to-corner. The longest dimension of the two will form an invisible line pointing to the lowest corner and also indicates where the wire reinforcement should be placed.

3. Install the support screws - once you identify the direction of the sag, you will need to install support screws at each corner of the longest dimension. Drill pilot holes using a ⅛-inch drill bit into points located about 1-inch from the sides and top or bottom edges of the gate. Avoid drilling too close to the edge of the gate so that you don't splinter the wood.

After the pilot holes are drilled, insert Number 8 wood screws into the holes with a screwdriver, but allow one-half of an inch protruding for wire attachment. Be sure the screws are firmly in-place before proceeding, and re-drill and refasten any screws that are loose.

4. Cut the tension wires to length and attach them to the gate - once you have installed the support screws, measure the distance between the them and add 12 inches. Cut a length of wire equal to this length. For example, if the measured diagonal distance is 48 inches, then you will need to cut 60 inches of wire.

Next, cut the wire into two equal halves and bend back three inches of wire at each end of the pieces.Fasten one end of each wire to the screws by twisting the wire around the screws twice at the point of the bend, then wrap the remainder of the bent section around the main length of the wire. Use a pair of pliers to finish the wrapping, so it is snug and won't slip. Tighten the screws to hold the wire ends firmly in place.

5. Attach the turnbuckle to the wires - prepare the turnbuckle by opening the eye bolt ends all the way; take note that one end is opened fully by turning clockwise, and the other end is opened by turning it counterclockwise.

Once you have opened the turnbuckle completely, insert the ends of the wires into the eye bolts and tightly wrap the three-inch bent sections you made earlier around the main length of wire. Use the pliers to ensure the final wraps are tight.

6. Tighten the turnbuckle - after the turnbuckle is wired to the fence gate, use an adjustable wrench to begin the tightening process. Slowly rotate the turnbuckle in the direction that causes the two wire ends to draw closer to each other; make three turns, then stop and remeasure the diagonal distance between the screws. If you are successful, the distance should be decreasing from its original measurement.

Continue turning while periodically pausing to measure the distance as well as the opposite diagonal distance. Once the two distances are equal, the gate is squared and should no longer be sagging.