Prepare Your Garage for Spring: How To 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.