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Quick Tip Tuesday: Savvy Garage Door Maintenance

My neighbors suggested this blog post because several of them have the same recurring issue. Garage door maintenance isn’t sexy but it can save you from hearing that screeching sound every time you hit the door opener. Since on average we open and close our garage doors 6 times every day you can only imagine how much wear and tear occurs. Read further if you want to eliminate these annoying sounds and ensure your garage door is safe to use.Traditional Roll Up Garage Door

Our garage door definitely was in need of an inspection. So this weekend I decided to do just that. Besides, the HomeSmarts app I installed on my iPhone reminded me I should have done this back in June.

The first thing I did was to open the door while standing underneath it. This allowed me to listen and look for any signs of trouble. As you can see from this short video there was a lot of squeaking which could drive anyone nuts, especially if you need to open the door at 5 am without waking anyone else!!

 

Garage Door Maintenance Tips
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You can hear from the video that the main sources for noise were the rollers, roller hinges, and chain. The rollers looked terrible.

 

Dirty Garage Door Rollers

 

After cleaning all the rollers with a rag I then sprayed them with Blaster garage door spray lubricant.

 

Blaster Garage Door Lubricant

 

There are two reasons to use a special garage door lubricant like this one:

  1. It will loosen up all moving parts
  2. It will prevent dirt and grime buildup because it’s silicone based
Because it’s tack-free you can spray this product on the roller and not worry about it getting on the garage door track. I sprayed it on both the left and right sides of the roller where the pin meets the wheel then wiped off any excess spray.
Lubricating Garage Door Rollers

The rollers look and move a lot better after this step. Make sure not to spray any nylon roller wheels with lubricant and if you get any on the track remove it as this may cause the garage door to slip.

 

Clean Garage Door Rollers

When it comes time to work on the garage door opener unplug it from the outlet. Do this to eliminate any injury from someone else unknowingly opening the door while you’re working on it.

Check all the roller hinges for loose bolts.

 

Tightening Garage Door Roller Hinges

 

Even if you don’t use the manual lock mechanism you’ll want to make sure it’s working properly. Slide it back and forth to verify  it won’t accidentally engage and lock you out of your house. Take a look at lock mechanism mounting bolts for looseness as well.

 

Garage Door Manual Locking Mechanism

 

Check the track brackets for tightness. They are fastened to the wall inside the garage door. Look for any irregularities on the track like dings or bumps. Pound these out with a rubber mallet or just replace that particular section. If the tracks are dirty use brake cleaner to remove any buildup.

 

Garage Door Track Mounting Brackets

 

Use a level to inspect the garage door tracks on the left & right side as well as the front & back. The vertical section of the garage door tracks should be exactly plumb. If they are not plumb unscrew the track support bracket bolts just enough to move the track to the right or left. If you need to move the track out from garage door frame to make it plumb then use a wood shim behind the track bracket before tightening its bolts.

 

Plumb Garage Door Track

 

Test the garage door reversing sensors to see if they work. Press your garage door opener and then place your hand in front of one of the sensors. The garage door should reverse and move back to the open position. If it doesn’t you will need to check the wire connections, sensor alignment and clean the sensor lenses. Sometimes dirt or spider webs cause the garage door sensors to malfunction.

 

Garage Door Reversing Sensor

 

Don’t try this at home. Here’s a video of me testing the garage door sensors. Hopefully if you did this your door would do the same thing as mine!!

 

Garage Door Testing the Unorthodox Way
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Inspect the garage door support arm that connects the garage door opener to the door itself. Specifically make sure the cotter pins that hold the arm to the door and opener are in good shape.

 

Garage Door Support Arm

 

Carefully look at the garage door traveler that sits on the rail. The chain to the garage door opener is connected to the traveler. The chain tension can be adjusted by tightening the nuts that connect it to the traveler. Tension will be different for each door opener so check your owner’s manual.

 

Garage Door Traveler & Chain

You can adjust the travel of the garage door down or up by turning the limit screws on the garage door opener. Run the garage door through a cycle and adjust the limit screws as necessary to get the door to close or open properly. This picture is pretty self explanatory :)

Garage Door Opener Adjustments

Check all the brackets holding the garage door opener to the joists. Any loose bolts need to be tightened if the brackets are moving when the garage door is operating. Do the same inspection for the brackets holding the track to the joists. In this example, the drywall is covering the bracket attachment to the joist. I’d have to knock out the ceiling to reach the bolts but it would be worth it to fix an unsafe garage door.

Garage Door Opener Bracket Inspection

Garage Door Track Bracket Inspection

The extension springs and pulleys should be inspected for loose fittings. Springs hold so much tension that they’re perhaps the most dangerous component of the door. Make sure there’s a steel safety cable that runs inside the spring. This cable should be securely fastened to a bracket that holds the track to the joist or the the track itself. If the spring breaks the cable will prevent it from hurting someone or something in the garage. Replace any frayed cables.

Garage Door Spring Safety Cable

f one of your garage door springs needs to be replaced you should install two new ones instead of just one. This will maintain the garage door’s balance and keep it working more efficiently. As you can see from the picture below my springs have uneven spaces between the coils, indicating they’re worn out. I’m saving this project for another blog post.

Worn Garage Door Extension Springs

Take a look at the garage door weather strip that rests between the door and the garage floor when the door is in the closed position . This helps prevent drafts and rodents from entering your home. As much as I love my children they always forget to close the basement door that’s in the garage. Since I’m the designated mouse catcher I make sure this seal and the the surrounding weather stripping on the garage door frame is in good shape.  The following picture is me pointing at the garage door weather strip on the bottom of the door.

Garage Door Weather Strip

Here’s a picture of weather stripping around the garage door frame. If you don’t have any make sure to get some at your local hardware store. It can save you money on your heating and cooling bills :)

Garage Door Frame Weather Stripping

The final step is to lubricate all moving parts of the garage door opener. I sprayed the chain, pulleys in the garage door opener, and the rail. Any excess lubricant should be wiped off with a rag.

Lubricating Garage Door Chain and Rail

This pulley at the end of the rail (closest to the garage door) should be lubricated, too. Sorry for the spider webs, we don’t dust the garage that frequently.

Garage Door Rail Pulley

Garage door maintenance is important because of the next picture.

Keep Your Kids Safe

Nobody would ever want their kids or grandchildren to get hurt because of a faulty garage door. If not for yourself do it for your loved ones-conduct semiannual maintenance checks. I realize we’re all busy but 30 minutes is all it takes.

Thanks for your time and make it a great day!

Jeff Patterson

 

 

 

 

 

P.S.

You can also follow me on Facebook by clicking this link www.facebook.com/homerepairtutor. I like to post pictures and other random stuff that doesn’t quite make it to the blog (like my Dad playing checkers with my daughter Kate, it’s cute).

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26 comments… add one

  • Merrie July 5, 2012, 2:25 PM

    Don’t put this off! Hubs and I kept saying we needed to run a check every time our door screeched but never got around to it and one day the spring snapped. Not a simple replacement; the door bowed and buckled, requiring an entire new garage door (actually two, as we have two separate doors.) Turned out the insulation we’d put on the door added just enough weight to place too much tension on that single spring, which we would have noticed had we done a good look over. We love the new insulated doors but it was an expensive lesson in not procrastinating on maintenance!

    • Jeff July 5, 2012, 2:38 PM

      Thanks Merrie for your story-replacing one garage door is expensive and having to buy two isn’t any fun! Your comments will hopefully encourage us all to diligently check our garage doors for wear and tear.

  • Paul Ogle July 6, 2012, 8:54 AM

    Thanks for the checklist.. Well done.

    • Jeff July 6, 2012, 9:31 AM

      Thanks Paul for your kind words. Let me know if anything needs to be added to the list. I love getting great tips from others.

  • Jack Reynolds July 6, 2012, 9:11 AM

    Don’t forget that you must keep the drive chain aligned. Usually 1/2 inch above the bottom of the drive track. This keeps uneccesary strain off of the garage door motor and prevents the loud screeching of the motor.

    • Jeff July 6, 2012, 9:29 AM

      Thanks Jack for the nice tip. I will add it to my own checklist :)

  • bob Thomspon August 1, 2012, 1:38 AM

    Having experience with mechanical engineering and garage doors, I can greatly endorse all these tips except one. I would recommend not making the vertical tracks plumb with the wall because they all built to be tilted out exactly 2 1/2 inches at the top for the door to fit nicely against the frame. You will notice the hinges progress in how much they push the rollers out, the bottom roller being flush with the door and the top roller being two inches out from the door. If the track is made plumb with the wall, the door wont seal correctly. It would tilt in towards the bottom. Just a thought. :)

    • Jeff August 1, 2012, 7:15 AM

      Thanks Bob for your great tip. I really appreciate any advice that can make garage door maintenance less of a mystery :)

  • Amanda Z August 2, 2012, 2:41 PM

    So glad I found this today! We have been having an issue with our garage door not wanting to stay closed. It will hit the bottom and then automatically start opening again. I’ll definitely be using your guide to go through and see if I can spot the problem.

    • Jeff August 2, 2012, 9:28 PM

      Thank you so much Amanda for your kind words. Please let me know how you solve the problem, I’d love to know in case someone else runs into the same thing ;)

  • Banny August 13, 2012, 3:50 AM

    garage door maintenance was such a technical thing for me that only can engineers do this. But now after reading your post i can say i will try and surely maintain my garage door by myself..

  • garagedoorpartsusa August 24, 2012, 2:13 AM

    Thanks for these great tips. I really hate that screeching sound everytime I open my garage door. So I will definitely spray lubricant this weekend.

    • Jeff August 24, 2012, 6:59 AM

      You’re so welcome Jerry. I feel the same way about my garage doors. Let me know if you have any more questions after lubricating:)

  • Libbie Olivas September 13, 2012, 4:27 PM

    Check-ups on the garage door and all its mechanisms should be done regularly. Repairing anything on the garage door should never be put off. There’s no telling the kind of damage that can be done by faulty garage doors. Well-oiled hinges are always best, and sturdy cables. Cables are susceptible to breakage, so it’s good to replace them every few years or so to keep them fresh and strong.

    • Jeff September 15, 2012, 1:18 PM

      Thanks Libbie for the great tips

  • Matt@theDIYvillage January 4, 2013, 11:39 PM

    Jeff,
    I’m really glad to have found this post on garage door maintenance. After we moved into our current house last year, I checked for loose bolts, but definitely see now that I’ve got some other maintenance to perform! Thanks for the tips, I’m a fan of the blog, consider me a regular from here on out!

    • Jeff Patterson January 5, 2013, 8:16 AM

      Thanks Matt, I really appreciate your support. By the way, I’m a big fan of you, too.

      I’m tapped into your RSS feed and really enjoy reading about all your projects. The travertine tile installation in your kitchen was especially good.

      It shows homeowners that with a little elbow grease they can transform a kitchen into a unique space that radiates their own style.

  • Calgary Garage Builder March 21, 2013, 8:14 AM

    Thanks for sharing tips. Find very useful.

  • bill July 10, 2013, 4:11 PM

    Great info on garage doors EXCEPT how often do you need to lubricate roll up garage doors???

    • Jeff Patterson July 11, 2013, 5:19 AM

      Hey Bill, probably once a year is good just to keep the door running smoothly.

      :)

      Jeff

  • Robert Stringer February 19, 2014, 6:28 PM

    Jeff, just read your advice regarding Garage Door Maintenance. All great ideas and will begin the practice tonight. I was reading this because I’m looking for a reason and solution to stop or prevent my garage door from buckling. The top panel seems to have developed a bow at the center hinge between the top & second panel. I’m confused as to why this would start now after so many years of use. I will begin by cleaning all the parts & lubricating them…..but I would really appreciate your feedback on my problem….Please.
    The door is 14 ft wide and 5 panels high. My garage is almost two storeys high, so they used angle struts. Also, the door seems to be tracking off center more roller & shaft exposed on top left & bottom right. Less exposed on Top right and bottom left.
    Last but not least, I have been in the house 15 yrs and have had to replace the shaft spring three times. I don’t think this is right!

    • Jeff Patterson February 19, 2014, 7:40 PM

      Hi Robert,

      Boy I wish I could help you but your problems is over my head as well. Especially since your door is almost two stories tall.

      One thing I will say is that if your door has a torsion spring make sure to consult a professional garage door installer. Torsion springs are under tremendous pressure and I’d hate to see you get harmed.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful on this one :(

  • shon morkel March 25, 2014, 1:07 PM

    Thanks for sharing tips. Find very useful.

  • tad October 19, 2014, 8:18 PM

    Nice of you to mention that I should get a bottom weatherstrip at hardware store. Be even nicer if you tell how to install it.

    • Jeff Patterson October 20, 2014, 5:53 PM

      I hear ya Tad. Wish I had a tutorial on this. Hopefully that’ll be down the road.

  • Diego G November 20, 2014, 5:48 PM

    Hi,
    Does any knows what is the reason for the Slide Lock has a box? Couldn’t the system be just simpler (I know there is a spring inside of it? Or there is an important reason for it.

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