Regular garage door maintenance is incredibly important for maximizing the lifespan of your door. The following guide takes a look at some of the most common garage door maintenance and repair tasks, with expert advice on industry best practices. Topics to be covered in this guide include:
- Garage Door Lubrication
- Garage Door Opener Maintenance
- Garage Door Spring Maintenance
- When to Replace Your Garage Door
Make a list of the important moving parts in your home, and you may not think to include your garage door. But chances are, your garage door is the biggest moving part in your home — and also one of the most important. Although these doors don’t require a ton of maintenance, they do require basic upkeep, and that upkeep includes lubricating their moving parts.
How Can I Tell If My Garage Door Needs Lubrication?
Here’s what you can look forward to if you don’t maintain your garage doors: noise. Lots and lots of noise — and eventual malfunction. The good news is that lubrication can return quiet function to your garage door system. That’s especially important if there’s a bedroom above your garage or if it’s near your neighbor’s home. You may have become accustomed to your garage door’s loud welcome, but others probably haven’t.
If you hear the unmistakable screech or grind of metal on metal, you don’t have to live with it. Tracks, hinges, wheels and springs are just a few of the parts that benefit from regular lubrication. Don’t overlook your lock either, even though it’s probably not noisy. The gears inside the tumbler definitely benefit from occasional lubrication and should make your lockset easier to work.
What You Need to Get the Job Done
Don’t grab the first engine “lubricant” you see, especially if it was designed to prevent rusting. Rust preventatives do a great job preventing rust, but they aren’t true lubricants. Check your garage door manual to see if the manufacturer recommends a particular lubricant. Some parts on your door may not require lubrication at all, while others might need a specialized lubricant such as lithium grease.
If you don’t have your manual and aren’t sure what kind to buy, make sure you go with an option made specifically for garage doors. These lubricants will sink deep into the gears and dry without becoming sticky. Use a small amount at first to avoid making a mess, and move the door back and forth after you’ve applied it. This action will help the lubricant move throughout the parts and ensure smooth operation.
Here’s a pro tip: Vacuum areas requiring lubrication beforehand. Otherwise, you could force dirt or debris into the gears or other difficult-to-reach places. Don’t forget to keep plenty of rags handy for easy cleanup, and wear goggles to prevent lube or dirt from getting in your eyes. Check all bolts to make sure they’re tightly secured after lubrication too, or the grinding and screeching could continue.
If Lubricant Doesn’t Work
If your garage door is still noisy after you’ve lubricated and tightened its parts, you may need professional service. Other problems that can cause noisy operation include loose or broken hardware such as bearings, worn rollers, worn pads and a loose chain.
Many homeowners use their garage doors as front doors, which means their garage door openers are doing a lot of heavy lifting on a daily basis. That heavy lifting, in turn, means that the openers will require proactive maintenance to continue operating as desired.
Does your garage door opener need maintenance? If so, how often should you get your door opener inspected? Here’s a look at answers to those questions — plus more.
Yes, your garage door opener and your garage door itself likely need maintenance. This is especially true if you haven’t had a professional look at your door and opener in the past year. A garage door technician can inspect your opener, provide a series of proactive maintenance services, plus make recommendations on minor repairs that can help you avoid emergency situations in the future.
How Often Do I Need Garage Door Opener Maintenance?
The more you use your garage door, the more you should get its opener maintained. It’s best to get into a yearly or twice-yearly cadence of maintenance. Find a garage door service provider that makes it easy and affordable to schedule out maintenance tasks so that you don’t even have to think about it. An expert technician should simply show up on time to conduct the maintenance, and you should get to enjoy outstanding operation from your garage door opener.
The Benefits of Garage Door Opener Maintenance
The benefits of opener maintenance are plentiful. When you get into a good maintenance rhythm and routine, you can enjoy the following:
- Longer garage door lifespan: A garage door opener that’s working at its peak potential will help your garage door operate at its peak potential too. An opener in good shape will allow your door to open and close as smoothly and effortlessly as possible, which means a longer lifespan and a great return on your investment in a garage door.
- Added value for your home: A garage door and its opener are important cogs in the day-to-day function and operation of your home. When you make sure your opener is working properly at all times, it will bring greater value to your home should you need to sell it.
- Long-run savings: The best part of proactive garage door maintenance is that it helps you avoid costly and inconvenient repairs. A good maintenance technician can identify problem areas before they spiral out of control into emergency situations.
There are plenty of other garage door maintenance benefits, but the ones listed above are typically the most important factors.
The spring on your garage door plays a crucial role in the door’s functionality and your safety. Every spring in existence wears out eventually, which means you need to be aware of the signs that one has snapped or stopped working. It’s difficult to catch when a spring has broken because the signs can be far less obvious than with other damaged garage door parts.
Check for the following signs regularly to save money and keep your home safe.
Signs of a Broken Garage Door Spring
Some of the signs commonly associated with a broken garage door spring in need of repair are subtle — you may only notice them if you pay attention to your door regularly. Oftentimes, people don’t notice anything until they try to leave their house and suddenly have trouble getting their door to function properly. Here’s what to look for:
- Noises coming from the door: Strange sounds are some of the most common signs that something has gone wrong with the garage door spring. Any noises that come from the door at any point could indicate a problem. You might hear grinding, squeaking and creaking while the door is actually in motion opening and closing. Another commonly reported sound is a loud bang while the door isn’t in motion. This is the sound of a snapping spring — and many have even feared home invasion because of it.
- Slow opening and closing speed: No garage door moves particularly fast, because speed could sacrifice safety and make these heavy doors dangerous. However, if you notice your door is moving even slower than usual, it might be a sign you’re due for a garage door spring replacement. Most doors come equipped with motors that will start their movement slowly and increase in speed after a few seconds, but a broken spring won’t support the weight of the garage door like it should, preventing the motor from reaching its maximum speed.
- The door stops on its way up at around the six-inch mark: While it’s bad news for the life of your springs, this is actually a safety mechanism built into most garage door openers to prevent the door from opening all the way if the sensors pick up on a broken spring. This force adjustment feature prohibits the door from going up so it doesn’t crash or slam on its way back down to the closed position. In this way, the opener keeps other expensive parts of your door from being damaged and keeps your family and pets safe.
- Closing forcefully: If the door does fall fast when it comes down, you probably have a broken spring. Without a spring, your garage door is a weight with much less support, and the openers are not designed to carry that weight. For specific models, sometimes the door will go up but won’t go back down because of a broken spring.
- Crooked door: In opening systems that have a spring on both sides, the unbroken spring will still pull, which means the door still moves up but does so crookedly. This can cause it to get stuck in the tracks or even bend at the top section. Usually, the motion of the door going up on one spring will make the movement noticeably jerky and less than smooth. If the door looks crooked when it’s stationary or moves unevenly, it’s probably time to replace the springs.
- Trouble manually lifting the door: The natural next step you might take after the door refuses to open normally is to lift it manually. The springs are built to allow this manual lifting, so if you find that the door is extremely heavy, you probably have a broken garage door spring in need of repair. You’ll probably still be able to manually lift the door with the help of some extra muscle, but use extreme caution so the heavy door doesn’t fall and hurt anyone. Also, be sure to lift carefully and evenly to keep the door from getting jammed in the tracks.
- Noticeable damage on the springs: While damage to springs commonly goes unnoticed and without a visible appearance, sometimes a quick inspection of the spring can reveal that a repair or replacement is needed. If you notice a gap up to a few inches, rust, grime or breaks along the spring, it definitely needs some attention. In rare instances, you might see cables or a pulley hanging down because the force of the snapped spring caused a mess.
If any of these situations happen in your garage, you might need to quickly decide to find garage door spring repair or replacement. The springs are under a lot of tension and it can be dangerous to complete these services on your own without professional help. Contact us to find out more and get those springs replaced!
Like we mentioned above, we use our garage doors every day, sometimes multiple times. With so much use comes a good amount of simple wear and tear. Heavier use, or even just normal use over time, can wear down the springs and cause a break.
Rust is also a cause for a spring break. If your garage door experiences certain elements, rust can build up on the springs. The rust causes extra friction when it comes into contact with other parts of the mechanism, and it also weakens the springs.
The springs can also break if the wrong type was installed — different garage door systems use different types of springs. If you installed a new spring yourself or chose a less experienced garage door professional, the wrong one might have been used, which means a part is in place that’s not meant for your system. The incompatibility can lead to breakage.
The last main cause for a broken spring is failure to give your garage door the maintenance it needs. When you don’t give your garage door the right attention, you won’t know anything is wrong until it’s too late.
How to Keep Garage Door Springs From Breaking
The best way to prevent your garage door springs from breaking is to properly maintain the system. You can do some maintenance yourself, but it’s also important to call in a professional, even when nothing seems wrong.
There are a few easy DIY maintenance tasks that you can do for your garage door. As stated above, to prevent rust from forming on the springs and keep them running efficiently and safely, spray them with a lubricant. Apply the lubricant every three or four months to keep the springs in the best condition. You can also do inspections of your garage door mechanism once a month. Look and listen for anything that sounds or appears off, which could indicate an issue with the system.
Call in the professionals for routine maintenance. Being proactive in such a way will help you find any issues with the springs or other parts of the system before they become too serious. Routine maintenance saves you money and hassle in the long run.
What is the Lifespan of a Garage Door?
With proper maintenance, how long do garage doors last? The short answer to that question is somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 years. Most traditional steel and aluminum doors can be counted on for about two decades of service. Wood can last the same amount of time, though it requires more maintenance and care.
When is it Time For a New Door?
If your garage door breaks down frequently and you’re on a first-name basis with the garage repair person, it’s time to consider buying a new door. You don’t want to put more money into a door than it’s worth. By getting the door repaired over and over, you’re regularly prolonging its life by just a few months. You’re better off investing in a new door that will last for years to come rather than funneling it into temporary repairs.
You may not need a replacement yet if the repairs your door requires are limited to a single panel. You can get a single panel repaired if it has a dent or damage contained to a small section. Getting a panel replaced is less expensive than buying new garage doors, though it does require expert installation.
But not everything is solved this easily. Most people know it’s time to replace their garage doors when they face a series of problems — often recurring issues. Learn more about the right time to replace a garage door below.
Should you replace your garage doors, or will a less expensive repair do the trick? Looking at the overall health of your doors can provide the right answer. Garage door warning signs may include:
- Higher energy bills, which indicate that you’re losing heat or cold air through the garage due to poor door insulation or sealing
- Sagging or bent sections of the door, which become more pronounced over time and can interfere with garage door operation
- Loud noise when the door opens or closes, indicating that the door keeps going off track or the springs are failing
- Deteriorating appearance, such as chipping or peeling paint or insect infestations that cause noticeable damage
- Broken handles or other hardware that inhibit the function of the door, like fraying wires or loose hinges
- Missing safety features may be the most significant warning sign that you need a new garage door. You never want to compromise the health of your family. If you notice that the door doesn’t close all the way anymore, you could leave your home vulnerable to intruders, who can take advantage of the slightest gap to try to break into your home.
If you decide to purchase new garage doors, check out our selection of high-quality Clopay® residential options. Each one is backed by the prestigious Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, and we offer a 3-year warranty on all our doors. Get in touch to schedule a free new installation estimate.