A guest post by Justin White edited by Deb Villeneuve
A garage door is a deceptively simple-looking item. A door opening and closing on a series of rollers or arms does not look very threatening at all. It doesn’t take much effort to move a garage door, so it doesn’t seem like it could be very dangerous—but this is not true. A garage door is relatively easy to move because there are springs assisting its movement. If you have ever seen a garage door with broken springs, you know just how heavy they are and how great a potential for injury there is. For safety’s sake, you should never attempt to repair a broken garage door unless you have experience with them. The springs are the source of danger on the garage door, because they hold an enormous amount of potential energy that can cause serious injury or death if not released properly. Professional service providers use special tools and techniques to safely release the tension in the springs so repairs can be made.While you should not attempt to make major repairs such as replacing panels, springs or rollers to a garage door, every homeowner should conduct regular basic maintenance and inspections to spot problems before they become serious. The following garage door maintenance tips are well within the reach of the average homeowner and should be performed regularly.
A noisy garage door is an unnecessary annoyance. Do not make the mistake of attempting to lubricate your garage door with WD-40. It may be very slippery, but WD-40 was not designed to be a long-term lubricant. Use a lithium or silicone spray to lubricate metal parts such as chains, rollers and hinges. Do not lubricate the bottom surface of the track; the door is designed to operate with a certain amount of friction there.
The track may not require lubrication; in fact, improper use of lubricants can actually attract dust and interfere with the operation of your garage door. While it may not need lubrication, it does require regular cleaning. Dirt and debris can build up on the track and lead to premature failure of your rollers, springs or bearings. A damp cloth will take care of most of the cleaning needs here. For sticky residue, use a solvent metal cleaner. If you live in a cold climate, snow and ice in the track may also be a concern.
Replacing Weather Seals
The weather seals are the soft rubber or plastic material on the bottom and sides of your garage door. When your garage door comes all the way down, this flexible barrier is pressed against the floor of your garage, and against the doorjambs on either side to keep water and air out. When they become worn, they can no longer do their jobs properly. Depending on your climate, your weather seals may last five to 10 years. Most hardware stores and home centers keep garage door weather seal material in stock. On the bottom of the door, there is often a track the weather seal will slide into. Cut off a short piece of your weather seal before you go to the store to make sure you get a piece that will fit on your door.
Realigning Garage Door Sensors
Your garage door opener depends on sensors to detect when the door is all the way up or down, as well as when there is an obstruction that may keep the garage door from closing. If the sensors get out of alignment, your garage door may not function properly or the safety features may be disabled. The obstruction sensors are typically located at the bottom of the door, on either side. The sensors can easily be bumped by people, bicycles or garden tools. It should not take more than a gentle push to realign them. There are usually indicator lights on one or both of the sensors. Try interrupting the beam with your hand to see how the sensors react. Adjust the sensors using your hands until they have a direct line of sight. If your sensors are in alignment, and they are still not working properly, check to make sure they are clean. Something like a spider web may be just enough to block the sensor.
Resetting Garage Door Openers
If your handheld garage door control is no longer working to open and close your garage, your garage opener may need to be reset. Always try changing batteries first, but if that does not work, you might try resetting it. The reset procedure varies from one garage door opener to another, but it quite often involves unplugging your garage door, plugging it back in and attempting to use the control again. Consult your manufacturer’s instructions to find the proper procedure for your door.
If you have questions about any of these procedures, or think that your garage door may have become damaged, contact a trained professional immediately. Do not take chances with your home and your safety. Whether you need maintenance, repairs or a replacement door, professionals have the skills and equipment to do the job right.