Maintain and Weatherstrip a Garage Door
If properly maintained, a garage door can last for the life of your home. Whether your door is steel, wood, or fiberglass, regular maintenance is crucial. Taking care of your garage door not only ensures that it lasts for a long time and operates properly, but also gives you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your garage is energy efficient. If you have a heated garage, you already know the importance of your door's insulation value, but even if your garage isn't heated, efficiency is still important. In a two story home, there is often a bedroom or an office built right over the top of the garage. If the garage is not properly sealed, the cold air in the garage will suck the warmth right out of the room above, causing your furnace to work even harder and driving up your heating costs.
While looking at maintenance tips for your garage door, also take a quick look at the best way to seal and weatherstrip the door. These steps will allow you to maximize the energy efficiency, appearance, and longevity of your door.
The most obvious maintenance step to take with a garage door is painting. When exposed to the elements, wooden doors can crack, steel doors can rust, and fiberglass doors can begin to peel, fade, or become brittle. By taking the time to make sure that the foundation of your door is properly covered, you will extend the life expectancy of the door. There are a few key things to remember when painting.
Always make sure that all loose paint has been removed. Use a scraper and a wire brush to knock loose any paint flakes. An orbital sander can also be a very helpful tool to have around when trying to prepare a door for painting. Once the loose paint has been removed, then the material underneath must be prepared to accept paint. In the case of wooden doors, this means that you must prime the bare wood that is exposed. With steel doors, you need to use sandpaper to make sure that all of the loose rust has been cleaned off, and then use an appropriate metal primer before painting. Use a high quality exterior paint to apply two thin coats to the door. Two thin coats will bond much better and dry with a much harder finish than one thick and heavy coat.
By taking the time to freshen up the paint every three years, you prevent the elements from being able to work their destructive magic on your door. Not only will you keep the door looking clean and new with fresh paint, but also you will have minimized the possibility of rotting, warping, cracking and rusting. Any of those things sounds a death knell for an overhead garage door.
If your door has been properly maintained, then it should have even spacing all the way around. The door covers the opening to your garage, but there is still a small gap all the way around that is typically covered by weatherstripping. This flexible rubber material flexes as the door opens and closes and forms a seal between the door and the door frame, thus limiting the amount of airflow in and out of the garage. Over time, this rubber can dry out and become brittle. Sometimes it is damaged and torn if it is hit by a car, bicycle, lawnmower, etc. In order to maintain the efficiency of the door, damaged weatherstripping should be replaced.
Replacement weatherstripping can be purchased at most hardware stores or home improvement stores. It usually comes in brown or white, which are the two most popular garage door colors. The stripping comes factory attached to a plastic piece that can be nailed directly to your existing garage door frame.
Begin by carefully removing the existing weatherstripping. Use a hammer or a pry bar to pull out the nails. Take extra care to make sure that don't damage the doorframe itself. Once the old weatherstripping has been completely removed, begin to attach the new. Start with the overhead piece, using a handsaw and a utility knife to cut the new weatherstripping to the correct length. After the headpiece is installed, then you can install the sidepieces. It is best to install the new weatherstripping with the door in the closed position, that way you can visually check to see if the stripping is tight enough against the door to prevent wind from swirling through.
Utilizing these regular maintenance techniques for your garage door will not only increase the efficiency of your home, but will increase the life of the door. Though it may seem like an unnecessary expense, if you check the price of a new door it will become apparent to you very quickly why it is important to take good care of the one that you have.
One word of caution concerning garage doors, if you are having problems with the operation of your door and are unfamiliar with how they work, please contact a professional to do the maintenance. There can be thousands of pounds of pressure built up into your garage door springs and one wrong move can inflict a pretty serious injury. Regular garage door maintenance is something that you can do yourself, but if you need help with the springs and rails, don't be afraid to ask.