Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Back Gate - you've got to be vigilant!

So we've got a wonderful back gate that leads out into our pretty good alley (the really kickass alleys are farther to the north up in Mile End; but I'm pretty happy with ours overall). I like to have at least two exits from any of my dwellings. The ground floor neighbour to the south of us has a wonderful Golden Retriever'ish mutt named Charlie and she uses the back gate to take her out for walks or at least to let her run up and down the alley. Finally, the back gate is supposed to be an emergency exit for the whole sixplex. By last summer, the gate had sunk a bit and was leaning and I was the only one who could lock it or unlock it (and that was with a lot of struggling), so my neighbour on the ground floor underneath me hired a guy to come and fix it (I really have pretty good neighbours). My point is there has been a decent amount of attention paid to the back gate.

In the winter, the problem is that there is bare ground on the inside where the gate opens. The gate is really tight against the ground. It blocks really easily, for many reasons. In the spring, when the ground gets wet, it expands upwards and jams the gate. In the winter, when the snow gets packed down, it's hard to open. Any melting and then freezing makes it stick as well and the water seems to accumulate on the base of the gate.

We had an early melt this winter and we weren't vigilant. It froze, and then snowed a lot. I went at it with a shovel, clearing out all the snow and making a path to the gate. The dog-owning neighbour went at the thin ice with a pick and got the gate opened about 10 degrees. I really went at it the next day (had a good podcast to listen to) and chipped away enough ice so that the gate opened far enough for man, woman and/or dog to get through.

We put down a crazy carpet right up against the edge, so that we could just yank it up the next time it snowed.

Well we slacked during this last thaw and now I'm afraid it's a doozy. I don't think man or woman power is going to get this gate open. That crazy carpet is embedded!

That's possibly an inch of solid ice. I think the real solution will be to raise up the bottom of the gate, putting a little frame at the foot, maybe 6 inches off the ground. It'll be a bit of a hassle if you are bringing things in with a hand-truck, but at least it will open easily in these kind of situations.

Finally, here is a look into Charlie's backyard. She runs around here, terrorizes the cats, takes her shits (note, the single mom with two kids has trained her children to clean up after the dog and they do it quite responsibly). As you can see, there is a lot of ice here so I don't think Charlie will be very happy until we get a good snow again.

(note: you can click on all these images to get a nice high-res look at the ice action.)


Jason L said...

Get a reciprocating saw and cut about 2 inches off the bottom of that gate. Le voila!

KM said...

I come from the land of backyards so I'm just wondering...what exactly differentiates a pretty good alley from a kickass alley?

OlmanFeelyus said...

Great question, Kathryn. My immediate answer is, I don't know but I know what I like. But upon reflection I need to think about it and do a blog post. When the ice rink has melted (and the dog shit cleared up) I'll find some of the best ones in the Mile End area and put some pictures up with some cogent analysis. Thanks!

mare said...

I had the same problem last year with our backyard gate. It even forced me to take off the hinges.
Last spring when I reattached it, I put a sill made from concrete blocks under the gate. Now it works much better. Even if I can't remove all snow/ice that would previously have prevented the gate from opening, now it just passes over it.

Anonymous said...

Why not just build a style and be done with the whole business?