Garage Door Maintenance to Keep It in Tip-top Shape

House with two garage doors

While it’s easy to ignore a slow or squeaky garage door, those little annoyances are actually signs the door soon won’t be opening at all. One of the springs, for example, could break and leave it stuck shut. Before a big problem interrupts your daily routine and becomes a costly repair, try these easy maintenance chores to keep your door working smoothly.

Stick to a Lubrication Schedule

Man greasing a garage door

Even if you buy a “maintenance-free” garage door, you probably still need to add lubricant to it on a regular basis to get reliable performance. Check the documentation for your particular model before adding any lubricant. Most garage doors perform best when lubricated with white lithium grease at least once a year. Unless the manufacturer recommends against it, apply the lubricant to the opening screw or chain first. Look for small openings on the roller units that indicate points where lubricant is needed. If done on an annual basis, this will keep the equipment running smoothly (and quietly) for years to come.

Test the Safety Sensors

Testing safety sensors

Garage doors are heavy enough to hurt a child or animal that gets caught under one. Even adults can be injured by garage doors that fail to stop closing when they should. Your garage door has sensors installed a few inches above the ground that send a signal to stop closing if there’s something in the way. Set up an object tall enough to block the sensor, such as a beach ball or a piece of lumber, and try closing the garage door. Be prepared to pull the emergency stop handle to prevent damage if the door doesn’t stop at the obstacle. A door with blocked safety sensors that tries to close is an immediate safety hazard. Disconnect it from the power supply and leave it locked open or shut until you can get it repaired by a professional.

Check the Springs and Cables

Garage door springs and cables

The springs and cables of your garage door are under extreme tension. Trying to repair or even lubricate either of them can result in life-threatening injuries. Unfortunately, these parts also tend to cause the majority of issues with garage doors. Give them an inspection for signs of damage at least once a month, but don’t touch them. Call a professional for repairs if you notice signs of rust, unevenness, or fraying in cables.

Tighten the Bolts

Tightening garage door bolts

Some parts of the door assembly that are safe to adjust on your own are the bolts connecting the brackets to the frame. Since you’re probably opening your garage door dozens of times a month — or even a week — these bolts loosen over time. Grab a socket wrench that matches the bolt head and make sure they’re all tight against the brackets. Loose bolts lead to wiggling, squeaking, and eventually uneven balance. Don’t over-tighten the bolts — you risk stripping them or denting the door.

Replace the Bottom Seal

Replacing garage door seal

Although garage doors need a flexible, weatherproof seal at the bottom to keep out dust, water, and pests like mice and insects, these seals break down eventually and make it hard to keep the temperature stable in the garage. Replacing the bottom seal is as simple as unscrewing the fasteners on the old one and attaching a new one from the manufacturer. You may need to ask for a U-shaped astragal — the official name for it — to get the right part. Make sure to lock the door in an open position by placing a locking vise grip or pliers onto the roller track. This will keep the rollers from sliding down the track and dropping the door on you as you work. To prevent damage to the door, disconnecting the power is also a good idea.

Test the Balance of the Door

Testing garage door opener

Garage doors need to open evenly on both sides. For any number of reasons, the rollers responsible for doing this often start to operate out of sync. Unbalanced garage doors wear out their openers early, are hard to open, and tend to slide closed inappropriately. Disconnect the opener from the door and set the door at halfway open by hand. If it slides upward or downward when you let go, you’ll need to get it balanced. Because this involves adjusting the tension springs, it must be handled by a professional.

Make sure to have the lubricants and tools you need for working on your garage door, and never hesitate to call a professional if the job seems dangerous.

While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.



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