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Don’t Become Unhinged When Your Chain Link Gate Won’t Close

Chain Link FenceCertain chain link gate clasps are liable to become sticky or even non-operational over time. Oftentimes, when a chain link gate won’t close, it’s not a problem with the fence design – it has more to do with the passage of time.

As days and nights of extreme temperature change pass, the soil around the gate posts shifts, moving the posts into slightly different positions. This isn’t a problem for “drop fork” latches, which feature a simple u-shape that drops down into place around the closing post. However, for latches with doorknob-style handles, and for latches that feature a bar that strikes closed, this shifting soil can be enough to throw off the vertical alignment of the gate posts, making it difficult or even impossible to close the chain link gate.

Another way to think about this: A door doesn’t have the same problem because it is surrounded by a jamb. When the door jamb moves, so does the door. This is not true for a chain link fence design – instead, with a chain link fence, the posts move when the surrounding soil moves.

If your chain link gate refuses to close, chances are inconsistent post heights are to blame. Fortunately, the fix is accessible for a DIY-type. Begin repairing your chain link gate by loosening, but not removing, the hinges on the chain link gate. (Any broken hinges will need to be replaced.) Be careful to tighten the top and bottom bolts by the same number of turns, using pliers. From here you can adjust the vertical and horizontal alignment of the gate, using a level to judge evenness. Retighten everything once the chain link gate is straight, and check that the latch now glides easily into place.

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