Swimming Pool Blog
by Rob Cox, April 23, 2013
How to Fix a Wooden Pool Fence Gate that Sags
A pool fence gate that is sagging can be a real safety hazard - Why? Because a sagging pool gate won't self-latch as it closes, and could be left open, inviting a very unwelcome tragedy to your pool.
For a new pool to pass the final pool inspections, a pool fence must be built to specific standards - and, the pool fence gate must be self-closing and self-latching.
It's not uncommon for a pool fence to begin to sag under it's own weight after a few years. Here's what you can do to correct a sagging pool fence gate.
What Causes a Sagging Pool Fence Gate?
- Gate Posts that are no longer level and plumb.
- Gate Hinges that are loose or bent.
- Diagonal support brace is loose or warped.
Gate posts that are loose, decayed, warped or leaning to one side present an obvious problem. Posts provide most of the support for your fence gate, and when one post pulls in the wrong direction, the gate can begin to sag, and when it sags, the latch will no longer line up correctly.
With the use of a carpenter's level, you can check the post for level (horizontal) and for plumb (vertical), to see which post (or both) is giving you problems. You may be able to see this with the naked eye, without the use of the level.
The next test will be to apply some light force to the posts, to see if they are loose at the base. Most fence posts are set in concrete, and if the entire concrete base is moving, you have discovered the root cause of the sagging fence gate. In this case, remove the gate hinges from the post, disconnect the fence from the post, and either replace the post, or reset it into a new (deeper and larger) concrete base. Use pressure treated wood, and set the post in concrete, 18 in. deep.
Loose gate hinges could be your only problem - if you're lucky. If you find the hinge screws to be loose, prop up the gate by placing a block of wood underneath, until you have the gate level and straight. Retighten the lag screws into the posts, and the screws that go into the gate.
If the holes are loose and stripped, take the screw to the hardware store, and buy the next larger size, so that it will bite into the wood. In extreme cases, usually a result of decay and age, you may need to move the hinge, slightly higher or lower on the post. Drill a small pilot hole first, to avoid cracking and splitting when tightening the lag screw.
Replace your gate hinges if they are bent, or appear to be too small for the job. You can find replacement gate hinges at any hardware store or home store. Larger and stronger hinges will hold more weight, and reduce the strain and pull on the posts.
Safety Gate Hinges are those that have a spring mechanism on the inside, and will self-close the gate, as code requires. The Tru-Close hinge, made by Magna-Latch, is an example of an oversized, self-closing pool gate safety hinge.
Diagonal Support Braces
If your posts and hinges appear to be solid and tight, the diagonal support brace that is run from top to bottom could be the cause of a sagging pool fence gate. There should be a board that runs from the top of the latch side, to the bottom of the hinge side, but - you may discover that on the inside of the fence, that there is no diagonal support brace!
If there is no support brace on the inside of the fence, or if the support brace appears to have warped, decayed or broken, you have 3 options to repair.
- Install a new brace. Lift up and support the gate so that it's level and square. Measure carefully and cut a piece of wood to fit, cutting the ends at a 45° angle, to mate up to the horizontal beams, on the top and the bottom.
- Install a Guy Wire. Screw in a small eye hook into the corner of the gate, at the upper hinge side, and another at the lower latch side. Connect wire and a turnbuckle, to tighten the guy wire from corner to corner.
- Install a steel Gate Brace system, which will hold the fence square with the strength of steel. These are available under names like EZ-Brace, Adjust-a-Brace, and Homax Easy Gate.
Take some time this spring to give your pool fence gates a bit of maintenance, so that they always self-close and self-latch!