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Why winterizing your fence is an important part of home maintenance

Winter rain and storms take a toll on metal gate hardware. Inexpensive gravity latches function fine when new. However, as soon as rust sets in or gates fall out of alignment, these latches no longer close without manual assistance.

A well-maintained fence can protect your home and possessions, prevent young children and pets from venturing out of your yard without your knowledge, and keep unwelcome intruders out.

A fence that has been allowed to deteriorate, particularly if the gate no longer closes and latches securely, is a liability. It won’t provide constant reminders that repairs are needed, like a leaking roof, but it still needs to be fixed. You could be subjected to a lawsuit if someone enters your property, even without your permission, and is injured. A well-maintained fence surrounding your property can reduce that liability.

Professional fencing contractors can be consulted for minor repairs, as well as new or replacement fencing, but there are many “do-it-yourself” steps homeowners can take to preserve the appearance as well as extend the useful life of their fences.

For wood fencing:
* Protect against dry rot. If it’s already invaded the wood, pry or cut the damaged section out, scrub the remaining fence with mild detergent or diluted bleach and replace the section you removed with the same type of wood that was used in the original fence. Then, prime and paint or stain the entire fence.

For metal fencing:
* Powder-coated aluminum needs little maintenance, but if the coating has worn off in areas, it will need to be sealed and repainted before winter weather causes the metal to rust.

* Steel or wrought iron fencing needs to be repainted when it rusts. Use a stiff metal brush to remove rust, wash thoroughly, then prime and paint with a rust-proof paint.

Gates and gate hardware are the only moveable parts on a fence system, so they’re subject to the most wear and tear. Rust and gate misalignment are the most common problems that prevent latches from engaging properly. If the gate does not latch each time it’s closed, the entire fence is ineffective.

Selecting the right gate hardware can prevent most of these problems. An investment in quality when buying new, or when replacing defective or old hardware, can mean that little or no maintenance needs to be done to the gate. Gate hinges and latches by D&D Technologies, made of strong engineering polymers and stainless steel that will not rust, are adjustable during and after installation to easily correct for gate alignment issues in seconds.

It takes just a few minutes to update your gates so they close automatically after opening (self-closing) and the gate latch engages without manual effort (self-latching), improving the security and overall look of your fence. Most D&D latches feature built-in key locks, which eliminate the hassle and extra cost of a separate padlock or pull-string. The company’s hinges have a built-in self-closing spring that is tension adjustable for different gate weights with a twist of a screwdriver.

Rust-free gate hardware by D&D Technologies is now available under the Stanley or National Hardware brand through select Lowe’s stores or online at www.lowes.com, and through other hardware retailers. See www.ddtechglobal.com, e-mail info@ddtechusa.com or call (800) 716-0888, ext. 292 for details.

The gate is the only part of the fence that is used daily. Ensuring that your fences and gates are functioning properly and are protected from rust is an essential part of maintaining your property.

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