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Category Archives: Garage Doors

Your Garage Door Won’t Go Up?

broken garage door spring
Almost all garage doors are raised and lowered with the power of an electric motor and assistance from heavy-duty springs. But what happens when one of the springs break, are becoming worn, or need to be adjusted? What can you do? We’ll look at the life of a garage door spring and what to regularly keep an eye on.

Garage doors utilize two types of springs, torsion springs, and extension springs. Torsion springs are mounted on the wall directly above a garage door when it is in the down position and work based on energy created from a twisting motion. Extension springs are located above the upper horizontal tracks on both sides of a garage door.

Torsion Springs

Each day torsion springs endure extreme amounts of stress, yet they can last 4-10 years depending on how often the door is used. 10,000 cycles is a typical life of a torsion spring! Inevitably, these springs that are critical to the door’s operation will wear out and may even break.

If a Torsion Spring Breaks:

Garage doors can be very heavy so avoid injury by leaving it as it is. Don’t try to lift it. Aside from possibly injuring yourself, you also risk burning the garage door opener’s motor out when lifting the door.

Contact a garage door professional right away. Replacing garage door components, especially torsion springs, requires specialized tools and techniques to ensure they are installed properly.

(Torsion) Spring Maintenance

There are a few ways to tell if your springs need to be adjusted or replaced, and it’s easy enough to handle on your own. One of the most common adjustments that need to be made is re-balancing. Torsion springs can become unbalanced for a variety of reasons, which can result in uneven wear on parts, premature breaking, and mechanical failure.

Garage door professionals recommend customers have their torsion springs re-balanced within two years of being installed. Also, it’s important to note springs that have been installed in cold-weather months need to be adjusted before the two-year mark. Annual lubrication of the torsion springs are also recommended (a rust inhibitor lubricant is best. Not WD 40).

Extension Springs

Garage door extension springs are mounted over each horizontal track of the garage door and counterbalance the weight of the door by providing resistance through the stretching of the springs. Since no adjustment can be made to extension springs, they must be replaced when they’ve worn out or have broken. The following points are simple ways to tell if it’s time to replace your extension springs.

Replace the springs when:

  • You can visibly tell the spring is broken, cracked, chipped, or has any damage that can cause catastrophic failure.
  •  The springs have become overstretched, and gaps have formed between the rings.
  • The garage door lowers too quickly and has difficulty raising.
  • The motor is obviously laboring to raise the door.
  • The garage door is crooked when it’s going up or down.

Testing Garage Door Balance

  • The door should stay in the upright position when released from the opener. (Some movement is okay, but it shouldn’t fall below the horizontal track)
  • Position the door halfway up. It should stay in place.

Failing these two tests means the door is out of balance and requires an adjustment.

The most important takeaway from the information above is to call a garage door professional when you think there’s an issue with your system. Garage door springs can be very dangerous, even deadly, if installed by a non-professional.

Prepare Your Garage for Spring: How To Maintain Your Garage Door

Maintain Your Garage Door

The garage door is important in the form and function of your home. A well-maintained garage door adds value to the home by improving curb appeal. A garage door also serves important functions, such as securing your home or making entry easier—which go invisible when operating correctly. As you recover from the harshest winter on the books in most parts of the country, you will want to do a spring check of your garage door systems. The key to garage door maintenance is catching any potential problems early. You want to inspect your garage door for wear-and-tear issues and operating malfunctions. Your garage door is the single largest moving part of your home and requires regular maintenance.

Inspect Wear and Tear

You want to inspect the wear-and-tear of your garage frequently, perhaps once every month. But these kind of inspections can be particularly important following the severity of winter weather. You want to check the inside and outside of your garage door. Inspect the door itself (from both the inside and outside) for any cracks or damage to the material of the door. A garage door can absorb water as it melts off the garage (which can also freeze inside the door adding extra wear-and-tear during normal usage in winter months). As the weather is warming, it is a good idea to keep the garage door up for extended periods of time so that this water can drain from the door. If you notice any damage to the door, you want to contact a professional to do a more thorough inspection and get an estimate for repair. Fixing a problem with a garage door earlier can save you a lot of money.

After checking for damage to the actual door, you want to check the other components of the door. Check all hinges and metal parts for rust. Make sure that any sealing agents, like the rubber trim along the bottom, are still in-tact and in operating condition. These can be easy fixes to simple solutions that will save you time and money down the road. If you are not comfortable making any of these repairs, then you will want to consult a professional for assistance.

When you are confident that the garage door is fully functional, then you will want to follow with an inspection of the opening system. Check all tracks and cables. You want to look for any fraying in the cable system of your garage door. The good condition of your garage door cable is important because not only can a malfunction of this component be quite costly to fix (particularly given the relatively inexpensive solution of changing a cable), but a cable snapping can be quite dangerous as the garage door is likely to slam shut. You want to look for any bending or rusting in the tracks of the garage door. Once again, this is both an operational and safety concern. You can also do a general sound check of the garage door. Open and close the door multiple times (while standing in different places around the garage) and listen for irregularities. A garage door that makes grinding noises is not functioning properly. If you notice any issues with the movement system of the garage door, then you will want to consult with a professional.

Lubricate Moving Parts

One easy task in garage door maintenance, is lubricating the moving parts of the garage door. This is a particularly important task following such a harsh winter. The cold weather will likely cause many of these components of the garage door to expand. And heavy precipitation (particularly stagnant frozen water) can also be hard on these parts of the garage door system. Home expert Bob Vila recommends using common engine oil on the moving parts of your garage door, regardless of the type of garage door system (e.g., belt-drive, chain-drive, or screw-drive). You want to specifically target the following areas in your garage maintenance:

  1. Combination Hinge and Rollers. Use a generous amount of engine oil to prevent these components from jamming up or sticking. The key is to apply the lubricant liberally.
  2. Hinges in the Field or Center of the Door Panels. You can use either an engine oil or lubricating agent such as WD-40 to lightly lubricate these components. You do not need to use much of the oil. You just want to lightly wet, and not saturate, these parts.
  3. Lock Mechanism on the Door. You want to just use a simple lubricating agent, such as WD-40 in and around the locking mechanism of the door.

Garage Door Opener Maintenance

There are several tests that you will want to run for garage door opener maintenance. You will want to begin by testing all of the power sources for your garage door. Primarily, you should use spring cleaning as an opportunity to replace any necessary batteries for your garage door. This is a simple and inexpensive garage door opener maintenance task.

Next you will want to run a series of tests to inspect the operation of your garage door. It is important that your garage door is fully functional (and passes all of these tests) for the health of your garage door and the safety of your family.

  1. Door Balancing Test. Disengage the automatic garage door opener. You want to manually lift the garage door so that you can feel any difficulties or threats to the smoothness of the open. You also want to make sure that the door is balanced such that the door will stay open even with the system disengaged. If the door will not remain up or there are any bumps or difficulties in opening the door manually, then the balance of the door is off and requires further garage door opener maintenance from a professional technician.
  2. Reversing Mechanism Test. You want to open your garage door fully. You next want to place a sturdy object, such as a 2×4 piece of wood, at the base of the garage door. Close the garage door using the automatic opener and make sure that the door does not fully close onto the object. Your garage door is designed to not close when it detects the resistance. If your garage door does not reverse when an object provides this resistance, then you will want your garage maintenance completed by a professional.
  3. Photo Eye Test. You begin this test with the garage door fully open. You want to close the garage door using the automatic opener. As the garage door is closing, you want to wave an object, such as a broom or piece of wood, in front of the photo eye system at the base of the garage door. You want to make sure that this safety feature of your garage door is operable. If your garage door does not reverse the process of closing, then you will want to consult a professional technician.
  4. Force Setting Test. You want to be sure to complete this garage door opener maintenance test after all of the other tests for safety reasons. You begin with the door up and close the garage door using the automatic opener. As the garage door is closing, you want to hold your extended arms under the garage door and provide resistance. You want to catch the bottom of the garage door and provide resistance. If your garage door does not reverse and open, then the force settings could be set inappropriately. You will want to consult the manufacturer’s manual and a professional technician for correction.

If your garage door does not pass each of these garage door opener maintenance tests, it is important that you refer to the manufacturer’s manual and contact a professional. The safety of your family could be at stake.

Always Refer to the Manufacturer’s Manual

As a general rule of thumb, you probably want to consult with a professional when repairing or altering your garage door—particularly the garage door opener. In addition to a professional, you also want to refer to the manufacturer’s manual because it will contain key information in the maintenance of your garage door. For example, the year of your garage door will inform the features of your garage door; garage doors built after 1993 are mandated to have an operable photo eye at the base of the track. The information in the manufacturer’s manual will not only describe optimal performance, but it will give insights into the likely malfunctions of the system. The manufacturer’s operating manual is essential in garage door opener maintenance.

The garage door serves aesthetic and functional purposes. It keeps your house locked up from intruders. It makes your easily accessible to you and your family. And it contributes to the general appeal of your home. Spending an afternoon on garage door maintenance is an investment you cannot afford not to make.

Get the Most from Your Insulated Garage Door

Choosing an insulated garage door is the first step to keeping your garage and house energy efficient through the heating and cooling seasons. But choosing an insulated garage door is not all you need to do in keeping extreme temperatures out. Check out the tips below to get the most from your insulated garage door. They will likely reduce heat and air loss if you have an attached garage…not to mention reducing your utility bills.

Thermacore Garage Doors

Thermacore Garage Doors from Overhead Door of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City

Seal leaks.

Doors, windows, garage doors and even the foundation can allow outside air to seep into your garage and let your temperate air to escape. Check for air leaks with a quick hand test and seal up windows or holes with caulk or spray foam. Also check your entry door and garage door seals. The garage door bottom seal and perimeter seal should fit properly with no air or light gaps.

Insulate walls and ceiling.

If your walls and ceiling are not insulated, your insulated garage door won’t help your energy efficiency much. With two or three non-insulated walls, you’ll quickly lose the air you’re trying to maintain. And, since warm air rises, much of your heat during the winter will escape through the ceiling. Minimize this by adding a layer of high r-value insulation and sheet rock to your walls and ceiling. Learn more about insulation >

Find the right R-Value for your area.

The R-value of insulation is measured by the amount of heat the insulation is able to resist. The higher the R-value, the more thermal protection your garage will have against wind and extreme temperatures. For garage ceilings, choose an R-value of 38 or higher when installing insulation. For walls, choose insulation that is at least an R-13 value.

Choose a reputable door company to install and service your doors.

When buying a garage door, your r-value will be important but proper installation is crucial. Garage floors can be uneven and garage doors will wear prematurely if not installed properly and well-maintained. Choose your doors from a door company that has a knowledgeable staff and service department. Overhead Door Company of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, has expert service technicians available 24/7 to make sure your doors and openers are always working properly through every season.

Choosing a Garage Door Style and Color

In today’s market you can find garage doors in all sorts of materials, styles, sizes and colors. This opens the door (no pun intended) to some great design opportunities to compliment your home. Whether you’re looking to add some personality or charm to your property, opting for a quicker sell, or just improving the function and protection of your home, an upgrade to your garage door’s style and color will likely do the trick. Here’s a checklist to help you unlock hidden potential:

steel garage door

Overhead Door Traditional Steel Garage Door Collection pictured above.

Select the Material
A crucial part of your garage door decision should lie in the functionality of the door and protection from outdoor weather and intruders. Safe to say, garage doors offer a variety of solutions depending on your needs. So consider the following:

  • What sort of climate do you live in?
    For properties with colder climates and winter, consider an energy efficient insulated door.
  • What is the exterior of your home made of?
    When considering the material of your garage door, choose materials that are complimentary to the rest of the home. For instance, if your home has a lot of stone detail, consider wooden doors or maintenance free metal options with a wood grain finish. Homes with flat or stucco finishes might consider a modern, aluminum door. Homes with siding will generally work with most materials, while color and design will play a larger role.
  • Safety and Security precautions to consider: 
    New automatic opener systems such as the Overhead Door Odyssey 1000, feature the latest in safety and security technology for families with pets and children. The opener has Rolling Code technology, a super quiet DC motor and comes belt or chain driven.
aluminum garage door

Overhead Door Modern Aluminum Collection pictured above.

Match the Design
Once you’ve chosen one or two materials to work with you can start looking into your design options. If you’re designing for an attached garage, this is where it can get tricky. When choosing a garage door, the design of the door should fit the design of the home. For better visualization use tools like our Overhead Door Design Center to upload a picture of your home and match different door styles.

For modern homes like the one featured above, choose a door with strong lines that move in the same direction as the other exterior features. In this case, sleek aluminum doors with light filtering glass compliment the home’s look. View more examples of modern garage doors.

Steel and wooden doors offer both minimal and ornate variations that draw in the level of attention you want. View some examples of Custom Wood door designs.

wood garage door

Overhead Door Custom Wood Collection pictured above

Accent with Color
Whether you’re drawing attention to or trying to blend in, don’t overlook the power of color on your doors. This is where a little planning goes a long way. If you’re looking to minimize the appearance of the garage, painting the doors the color of your siding is often your best bet. This reduces the visual attention seen from the street. If you want to give the doors a bit more character, choose a door that allows for an accent color (light colors are almost always better). A little pop of white or a light accent color can draw attention to a beautiful design. Traditional white or natural wood grain will likely draw the most attention depending on the style and color of the home.

Overhead Door Courtyard Collection pictured above.

Enhance with Accessories
Some understated accessories and accents can add a lot of charm to your doors and distinguish them from your neighbors. Here are a few accessories to consider:

  • Adding painted trim around the door can define your door space with little work.
  • Doors that come with accent trim can add additional character and design to fit your house’s style.
  • Windows add contrast and detailing to your doors while letting natural light into the space of your garage and almost always add value to your home.
  • Decorative hinges and handles add charm and detail to carriage style doors.

So there you have it. Keeping these four areas in mind will help you choose a complimentary door for your garage and add to your curb appeal. Check out our residential door gallery for more styles and examples or Overhead Door’s Design Center to get started customizing your own doors.