It’s easy to ignore garage doors when they’re working properly. We take the easy open-and-close at the click of button for granted as long as it’s running smoothly. However, if homeowners neglect their garage doors for too long, problems will eventually appear that can require extensive repairs. The best way to avoid this is to follow a few simple maintenance steps on a regular basis. A simple residential garage door maintenance routine should be followed twice a year: spring and fall are generally good times to remind yourself to check out your garage door mechanisms, such as garage door openers, garage door springs, and garage door balance.
This is a simple step that can make a major difference. Just pay attention to the way your garage door is functioning each time you use it. Does it move smoothly or does it jolt and jerk as it opens? Is it silent or can you hear any scraping or grinding sounds? Does the garage door look symmetrical or unbalanced as it’s opening? If the mechanism is jerky, noisy, or opens unevenly, or if anything else seems “off” in the functioning of your door, these are warning signs that mean it’s time to call a professional for an evaluation before the issue escalates.
You probably don’t realize that you open and close your garage door over a thousand times a year, on average. All that frequent movement inevitably loosens the hardware that holds everything together. You can perform the maintenance to prevent this yourself by using a socket wrench to tighten the roller brackets and bolts.
Garage door rollers (made of steel or nylon), should be examined at least twice a year and replaced every seven years or so. If you notice chipped, cracked, or worn rollers, they need to be replaced as soon as possible. You can do this yourself by removing and replacing roller brackets that aren’t attached directly to the cable system. If you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself, it’s also an easy fix for a garage door repair professional.
Check the rubber weather seal strip (known as “weatherstripping”) at the bottom of your door often, especially before winter or if extreme weather is expected. If you notice any cracking or dry/brittle areas, replace the rubber seal immediately to protect your garage (and potentially your house) from the outdoor elements. Weatherstripping can be purchased by the foot at home improvement stores. Remove the old rubber, then cut the new weatherstripping to the correct size and place it into the grooves. Keep the wide angle of the flange inside the garage door.
If the door isn’t balanced correctly, the garage door opener will have to work harder than it should, which will cause it to wear out sooner. Check your garage door balance by pulling the release handle (usually a red cord) to disconnect the opener, then manually move the door up about halfway. Let go of the door. If it slides down at all, the counterweight system (springs) aren’t properly balanced. The next step is to call in professionals to adjust your garage door springs.
This simple step of keeping your garage door parts well lubricated can add years of functionality to your garage door system. Once a year, squirt the rollers, hinges, roller tracks, hinges, and latches with a solvent such as WD-40. Lubricate the bearings on torsion-spring openers and the pulleys on extension-spring openers. Apply oil to the torsion spring if it’s rusty. Next, wipe everything clean, then apply a light oil, like a 3-in-1 lubricant, to all parts. If certain rollers or hinges seem stuck, soak them in kerosene. Use an old toothbrush to apply the kerosene in the cracks. Use steel wool to remove rust. Wipe all parts clean, then apply lubricant to finish.
There are two types of garage door mechanisms: mechanical and photocell. To test a mechanical door, put a block of wood or a brick on the ground below the door then proceed to close the garage door. When the door touches the object, it should immediately reverse direction and return up. To test a photoelectric system (which has beams at each side of the door), close the garage door then move your leg through sensors in the door’s path. The door should immediately reverse. If the door does not reverse direction, this vital safety feature has been compromised and should be repaired quickly. If your garage door system is over 20 years old, it may lack this auto-reverse safety feature, which means it’s time to invest in a new garage door opener.
Check the tracks on both sides of the door to make sure they’re free from debris and dirt. You can remove debris yourself. Then use a leveler to check the plumb. If anything looks uneven, keep in mind that actual track adjustments to restore garage door balance should only be completed by a professional garage door technician.
A quick but thorough examination of the garage door itself can reveal problems that may otherwise go unnoticed and become worse over time. Wooden doors can develop water damage and begin to warp, or they can start to chip and paint can peel off due to exposure to the elements. Adding a good sealant to the surface of your door can help prevent these issues. Even steel doors can have problems such as rust spots that should be sanded, primed, and painted. Regularly washing your garage door with mild, all-purpose cleaner can prevent some of these issues. A good rule of thumb is to do this each time you wash your car.
Garage door maintenance is probably not something that comes immediately to mind when you think of your homeowner “to-do” list. But these simple steps, when done a few times a year, will help keep your residential garage door running smoothly for years to come with minimal maintenance. If you need assistance with a garage door repair, or if you would like advice on the functioning and maintaining of your garage door, we at Regency Garage Doors are here to help! Give us a call at (713) 208-5255.