When you’re doing home maintenance each fall, add the following tasks to your to-do list to keep your garage doors working well.
Look and listen closely
Begin with a visual and auditory inspection of your garage doors.
When you open and close the doors, listen closely and observe what’s happening.
Are your garage doors moving smoothly and quietly, without a lot of squeaking, jerky movements?
Are they making a grinding or scraping noise?
Do the pulleys, cables, and springs look symmetrical?
Test the system
Is the garage door balanced?
An unbalanced garage door makes your garage door opener work harder than it should. This shortens the life of the opener, which means you’ll need to replace it sooner than you should have needed to.
Begin by disconnecting the garage door opener. Next, pull the release handle (typically a red cord) until the system is disconnected from the door.
Then, manually open the door halfway. If it fails to stay put, the springs (counterweight) aren’t balanced properly.
Inspect the rollers
Each fall and spring inspect the rollers – both plastic and metal – looking for chips and cracks. Experts recommend replacing rollers every seven or so years.
You could need to replace them more often if you use your garage doors a lot every day.
Rollers that aren’t attached directly to the cable system could be a DIY project. Otherwise, have an expert replace them for you.
Check the cables
Inspect the condition of your garage door cables. Look for any signs of frayed or broken strands near the bottom roller bracket.
Replacing cables are definitely NOT a DIY job. They are under so much tension they could seriously injure or even kill you if you try to replace them yourself.
Test the safety features
Garage doors installed after 1992 come with one or more kinds of auto-reverse safety features; mechanical and photocell.
The photocell safety feature sends out a beam on either side of your door. Should something break the beam the door should not only stop lowering, but it should also go back up into place.
The mechanical safety feature keeps the door from crushing anyone or anything. When it touches something lying in its path it should stop and go in reverse.
Test that the safety features are still working by doing the following:
- Photoelectric system – put your leg in the door’s path. The door should stop dropping and go back up.
- Mechanical system – put a brick, a piece of wood or another object on the ground in the door’s path. When the door hits the object it should stop and reverse back into position.
It’s time to get a new garage door opener if:
- Your garage door opener is older than 1992, or
- The safety features aren’t working
Tighten up loose hardware
Your garage door is used…a lot, so it’s not uncommon to find loose hardware.
Check all the fasteners and tighten any loose bolts and brackets with a socket wrench. Use large, self-tapping screws to replace any missing fasteners.
If the rubber seal strips on your garage doors are loose, brittle and/or cracked it’s time to replace them.
Remove the old weatherstripping. Then, cut the new rubber strip to size and insert it into the grooves of the door. To keep debris out of your garage, put the wide angle of the flange on the inside of the door.
Clean out the tracks
Check for dirt and debris in the tracks. Clean them out and if you’d like, you can use a level to make sure the tracks are still plumb with the structure.
Contact a professional garage door tech if they need a major adjustment.
Check the door itself
Your garage doors encompass a large part of your home’s exterior so you want them looking their best.
For wood doors, check for any chipped or flaking paint. If your garage doors are steel, look for rust spots as well.
If you catch these issues early you’ll only need to sand, prime and paint them. A much less costly option than replacing them, right?
Lubricate your garage door
Finally, now that you’ve inspected your garage door system it’s time to add lubrication if needed.
But before you grab that can of WD-40 or some other lubricant understand what you’re trying to achieve.
The point behind lubricating your garage door system is to protect it from wear and tear. You need to ensure that any and all parts that rub against each other are coated in a thin film of protection.
Note: The common household lubricant known as WD-40 works as a cleaner, not as a greasing agent. It’s great for helping to loosen bolts…something you definitely don’t want to do to your garage doors!
Using a lithium or silicone grease, start with the hinges, pivot points and stems. Then, if the rollers are metal with ball bearings, lubricate them. If they’re sealed plastic you can skip greasing them.
Next, lubricate the end bearing plates and pulleys. Grease the torsion springs too because the coils rub against each other.
Then, lubricate the bottoms of the rails where the trolley moves back and forth, but not the tracks. As noted earlier, the tracks should only be cleaned with a rag; they don’t need greased.
Once you’ve applied the grease, open and close the door several times to work it in. This is what successful garage door maintenance looks like.