Changing of the Seasons: Inspect Your Fencing and Gates

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Fencing and gates made from wood or metal are outside, exposed to the elements through the cold winter, the rainy spring, and the hot summers of Australia. These yearly changes in temperature and humidity can cause the wood and metal to expand and contract, leading to rust and weak gates and fences.

Weak fencing, rusty locks and gates that don’t work properly can leave you and your property vulnerable. Fencing and gates are meant to be there for safety, security and privacy, but if they are not taken care of your property is not safe, secure, or private.

The most important times of the year to check your gates and fencing for signs of wear and tear are during the biggest seasonal changes: at the end of the summer, and at the end of the winter. Now that summer has almost arrived, it’s time to inspect your fencing and gates for signs of weakness that should be repaired or replaced.

Check for the following signs of wear and tear when you are inspecting your gates and fences.

New or Growing Gaps

Gaps between timber or metal slat fencing that have grown or appeared since your last inspection are a sign that the change in weather has started to wear on your fence and gate. The winter cold causes the slats to contract, while the summer heat causes them to expand. These variations in temperature can result in permanent changes to your fencing, like the gaps you may see.

broken fence

Cracks in Timber or Metal Panels

Moisture and humidity changes combined with varying temperatures can increase the expanding, contracting, and weakening of the materials your fence and gate are made of. Moisture can cause wood to rot from the inside or cause metal to be more fragile. Look for cracks and signs of weakened materials. If you find the timber of your fence to be soft, flaking or spongy it’s a sign that the wood has rotted and may be too late fora link of paint or varnish to fix it and it’s time for a replacement. If you still want to stick with the look of a timber picket fence but don’t want the same issue again next year or the year after, consider switching to ‘smartwood’ aka wood-look aluminium fencing – it gives you the durability of aluminium while retaining the nice traditional look of a wooden fence.

Corroding Metal Parts

Even if your gates and fences are mostly made from timber, the hinges, locks, clasps and fencing bars may be made or held together by metal pieces. However, variations in humidity can cause the metal to rust or corrode at the points where your fence is held together, leaving room for your fence to literally fall apart at the seams.

rusty fence lock

Misalignment of Gates and Fences

This can happen when the metal hinges, locks or clasps are rusting or corroded, or due to warped wood, or just when an old gate has been through many seasons and the fluctuations in temperature and humidity have left it worn out. Often, these changes cause the gate to be difficult to close in the summer when the wood and metal have expanded, and can leave the gate too small and lose in the winter, when the materials have contracted.

Cracked or Loose Metal Connectors

The metal hinges, clasps and locks that hold your fence together can also be weakened by the changes in weather and contracting and expanding throughout the seasons. If there are cracks or loose parts holding your fence together, it is left weak and vulnerable to intruders, storms, and even everyday use.

rusty chain

Protect Your Fences and Gates from the Elements

The best way to keep yourself and your home safe, secure, and private is to inspect and maintain your fencing and gates. Be sure to replace any timber or metal parts that have been warped, cracked, corroded, or broken as soon as you notice deterioration, rather than waiting for the problem to compound.

If you choose materials made of timber, select a fence and gate company you trust, and regularly clean and seal the wood. Make sure you use materials that are made for the climate where you live, and keep your fence and gate coated with weather treatment.

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About Author

Ricky Hee is Managing Director of Fencemakers, a leading provider of quality aluminium and steel gates and fencing in Perth, Western Australia. View the Fencemakers range at http://www.fencemakers.com

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