If you’re like many homeowners, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about the garage door – press a button to open and close it. While the garage door is fairly basic in design and is likely to last you for a good 15-20 years at the minimum, it still needs some attention to keep the moving parts like the springs in good shape, since the weight of the garage door and the repeated opening and closing will take a toll eventually. An unexpected garage door failure can potentially leave you with your car stuck in the garage if you can’t open the garage door, for instance. While major repairs to the garage door aren’t advised for a do-it-yourself type – you can still be proactive and attend to some routine maintenance tasks on your own – allowing you to keep your door running right and catch any potential problems before they do cause a major breakdown.
Springs: Garage door weights vary widely based on the material used, but on average, a garage door will weigh at least a couple of hundred pounds – making it impractical for most people to lift easily. The springs are designed to balance the weight of the garage door and make it easy to open/hold it in place when opened. Depending on the garage door, you may have a single torsion spring mounted above the garage door opening or an extension spring mounted on each side of the garage door opening. The springs are prone to wearing out and breaking over time, disabling the garage door until they are replaced. Due to the extreme tension involved in winding springs properly, it is NOT recommended that you attempt to replace them yourself since serious injury can easily occur even to a trained professional – but some basic maintenance will help extend the life of your springs.
- Visually inspect the springs – they should be tightly coiled with no gaps or bends in the coils, which can indicate that they are beginning to wear out
- Lubricate the springs. If you have unused motor oil available – apply some to the coils of the springs, otherwise you can use a product like WD-40. This will help lubricate the springs and protect them against rust that can reduce the useful lifespan of the springs.
- With the garage door fully closed – pull the emergency release on your garage door opener. This will disengage the garage door opener so you can open the garage door by hand. Open the garage door halfway and let it go – it should remain open. If it does not remain in place, the springs may need to be adjusted or replaced.
Tracks: If you have a sectional garage door on tracks – keeping the tracks in good shape is equally important to ensuring your garage door runs properly. If the tracks are jammed, misaligned or otherwise damaged, this can cause problems with the proper operation of the garage door.
- Visually inspect the tracks to be sure they’re not dented or clogged with built-up dirt.
- Check the track alignment with a level to be sure they are straight and that they slope gently towards the rear of the garage. Misaligned tracks can cause extra wear on the rollers. If necessary, you can loosen the mounting bolts and use a rubber mallet to re-align them gently, then re-tighten the bolts.
- Clean the tracks with a mild solution of soap and water to remove any built-up dirt as needed.
Rollers: The rollers attach to the sides of the garage door and allow it to glide up and down on the tracks. Normally, the garage door should operate smoothly without jamming or squealing, which can indicate a problem with the rollers.
- Visually inspect the rollers for cracks or wear
- If you have metal rollers – lubricate the rollers with motor oil or a lubricant product such as WD-40. Vinyl rollers do not need to be lubricated since they have sealed bearings.
Cables: The garage door cables are typically attached to the springs and the garage door opener, allowing the garage door opener to pull the garage door up with assistance from the springs. They are typically made from braided steel, allowing strength and flexibility to last for a long time.
- Visually inspect the cables to make sure they aren’t kinked or frayed
- Lubricate the cables with motor oil or WD-40 where they wrap around the cable drums on either side of the garage door
Door Panels: The garage door itself needs routine attention to keep it in good shape, especially if you have a wooden or metal door. Wood is vulnerable to water damage or fading from the sun while metal can be prone to rusting or denting.
- Visually inspect the door for any signs of rot or rust, depending on the material used
- The exterior of wooden and metal doors can be cleaned with a mild solution of soap and water to remove dirt. To protect a wooden door’s exterior, you may want to re-apply paint or stain per the manufacturer’s directions. With a steel door, you can apply a car waxing product to help protect it.
- Clean the inside of the garage door with a broom or brush to remove cobwebs and built-up dust