Whether you're using a low-tech mechanical model or an electronically operated version, your garage door is still a piece of machinery and will need an occasional tune-up to function at its best. Even the best quality garage door systems can be affected over time with heavy use and exposure to the elements.
To keep your garage door operating properly, quietly, and safely, give it a good once-over every year or so using these steps as your guide.
Step 1 - Power Down
Safety first. Disconnect your garage door's electrical components so that it won't accidentally turn on or begin to move while you're working.
Step 2 - Look For Obvious Issues
Inspect the garage door system and take stock of any potential problem spots. Some of the key parts of your garage system that may cause trouble can be diagnosed with your eyes alone like checking if the rollers are intact and in good working order, or making sure the weatherstripping or sealant around the door is still pliable. If these parts look damaged, you will need to replace them.
Pay special attention to the weatherstripping on the bottom of any steel doors. This piece is called a U-shaped astragal, and it's particularly prone to damage since it's pressed directly against the ground whenever the door is shut.
Step 3 - Lubricate Rollers and Replace Weatherstripping
Assuming everything is still physically intact and undamaged, breathe some life back into the garage door parts. If the rollers are metal, lubricate them with WD-40.
- WD-40 can damage non-metal materials, so if your rollers are made of rubber or vinyl use an appropriate alternative lubricant.
If the weatherstripping is cracked or brittle, replace it. Use a tape measure to obtain the length and width of the door, and then buy the needed size from a hardware store or garage door supplier.
Step 4 - Check for Misaligned Locking Bars
One of the most common garage door problems is misaligned locking bars. This can cause problems when locking the door, as the lock bars will not slide smoothly into the slots on the door track.
To fix this, loosen the screws on the guide brackets that hold the lock bars. Tap them gently with a hammer until the bars line up with the slots. Then tighten the screws.
Step 5 - Inspect Moving Parts
Inspect all hardware, bolts, and hinges. A garage door, by design, has many parts that are meant to be free-moving, but as a consequence, they can easily loosen over time.
Use a screwdriver to tighten any loose screws or bolts.
Alternatively, you may notice that parts that should move well are sticking or restricted in their movements due to gunk or dirt buildup. Soak gummy hardware in mineral spirits to clean them.
- Avoid mixing parts up and possibly inserting something into the wrong spot, do not remove more than one piece at a time.
Step 6 - Lubricate Chains and Springs
To keep the garage door opening and closing smoothly, pay special attention to the chains and springs. Keep springs in good condition by lubricating them with a silicone-based spray. For chains, lubricate with a white lithium grease product.
In more dramatic cases, your springs or chains may need more than simple greasing. They may need to be physically adjusted.
- Garage door springs are under high tension and can cause extreme injury if they break or are released spontaneously or improperly. Have a professional adjust or replace springs.
Step 7 - Inspect the Tracks
Use a level to make sure the garage door tracks are oriented perfectly vertically. If they are not, contact a professional for an adjustment.
Step 8 - Make a Final Check
After the tune-up is done, test the garage door by opening it only halfway and leaving it there. If it stays on its own, then perfect. However, if it doesn't, that means the springs and cables are improperly balanced and need to be adjusted by a professional.
Chances are if you keep up with this garage door maintenance regularly, any problems you discover will be small ones that are fixable since nothing will have enough time to get out of hand and grow into a serious issue.