15 Tips for Garage Door Maintenance
Your garage door is an essential feature in your home. You can’t get your cars, recreational vehicles, or your large yard tools out without a working garage door. A garage door can also be dangerous if it’s not properly maintained and its safety ensured. A malfunctioning garage door could hurt your car or, worse yet, a family member.
The good news is that you can ensure your garage door’s safety and prolong its life with some garage door maintenance. The average cost of a new garage door is $1,192, but the actual cost varies based on materials, location, and the size needed, and it is an investment you should protect.
Taking care of your garage door prolongs your investment and ensures the safety of you and your loved ones.
How Should I Maintain My Garage Door?
There are many steps to maintaining a garage door, but the most critical thing is semi-annual maintenance. Consider doing it in the spring and fall to ensure a properly working door. The steps below will help you understand your necessary garage door maintenance, some can be done twice a year, and the rest may be done more frequently.
Why is Garage Door Maintenance so Important?
You might think it’s just a garage door; what’s the big deal?
Think of it this way.
Your garage door is the protector of your house. It keeps the weather elements and critters out of your garage, keeps your cars safe and dry, and provides an area for more storage. The garage door is an integral part of your house and has many moving parts.
Without proper maintenance, not only can a garage door stop working, but it can also endanger your family’s lives. The springs on garage doors are nothing to mess around with, and if they malfunction, they could be dangerous.
Having your garage door professionally maintained is the key to keeping everyone safe and ensuring you have easy access to your cars and other items in your garage!
There are some garage door maintenance tasks you may handle yourself, but most tasks are best left to professionals. Here’s what you must know.
Do These Things to Maintain Your Garage Door
Garage door maintenance may feel like a pain or something you can’t do, but many tasks are easy enough for you to handle, while others require a professional.
1. Use the Door as Little as Possible
The key to garage door maintenance is to use it as little as possible. That might sound crazy; after all, it’s how you get in and out of your house, but limiting use will prolong its life.
Yes, the garage door is more convenient. You don’t have to worry about house keys or pets escaping, but each time you use your garage door, you shorten its life. The average garage door springs last 10,000 cycles, which should be 7 to 10 years. However, if your entire family uses the garage door, opening and closing it 10 – 20 times daily, you significantly limit its life.
Garage door spring replacement can cost $150 to $350, depending on where you live and the number of cycles the springs can last. It’s not super expensive, but it’s something you don’t want to do too often.
2. Listen to your Garage Door With Each Use
Each time you open and close your garage door, listen to it. If you hear any strange sounds, look into it immediately. Letting strange sounds go will only create bigger and more expensive problems.
It might be as simple as the garage door needing lubrication, but if you let it go, the hardware will continue to rub together, and more parts could malfunction. A simple pause each time you use the door could save you money.
3. Thoroughly Inspect it Twice a Year
Listening to your garage door is great, but a professional inspection twice a year is essential. If you’re comfortable, you can do it yourself, but be sure to unplug the garage door before attempting it.
You should check the panels, pulleys, hinges, rollers, and springs during the inspection. Ensure everything is in good working condition and no parts are on their way out. Worn-down parts can stress other parts of the door, costing you more money if you wait.
The average garage door repair company charges $80 an hour. An inspection doesn’t take more than an hour, but the investment can prolong the life of your garage door.
4. Check Hardware Frequently
Garage doors vibrate a lot, which can cause the hardware to loosen. The hardware can also break down, causing serious issues with the garage door. Take a few minutes periodically to tighten loose fasteners and bolts.
Also, inspect the cables closely. Call a garage door professional immediately if the cables are worn down, rusted, or broken. Letting the cables break down could be dangerous for you and your family.
Something as simple as tightening or replacing hardware could ensure everyone’s safety and save you money from unnecessary repairs.
5. Check Garage Door Balance
Your garage door is heavy and could easily become unbalanced, which can be dangerous for anyone using it. A balanced door puts equal pressure on the springs, allowing the door to open and close easily. An unbalanced door, however, puts uneven weight on the springs and could cause a spring or cable to snap.
To determine if your garage door is balanced, consider these steps:
- Close the garage door while you are inside the garage
- Remove the door from the garage door opener
- Manually open and close the door; it should move freely and shouldn’t feel too heavy
- Lift the door halfway and leave it; the door should remain in position if balanced; if it slams shut, it’s unbalanced
Other signs your door is unbalanced include:
- The door looks uneven from the outside
- The door makes loud noises when opening or closing it
- The door doesn’t open or close like it normally does
- The door won’t open at all
If you discover your garage door is unbalanced, don’t reattach it to the door opener; instead, call for garage door repair immediately.
6. Replace Rollers as Needed
It’s important to inspect your garage door’s rollers twice a year. Rollers should last 10 – 20 years, depending on their material; however, they may need replacement sooner if you have plastic rollers.
When you check the rollers twice yearly, determine if they have enough lubricant. If not, apply a spray lubricant. This keeps the rollers moving smoothly and reduces stress on your garage door.
Rollers are made of steel, nylon, or plastic. Nylon and plastic rollers may crack as they age or are overused, and steel rollers will have worn-down bearings. If you notice any cracks or excessive wear, it’s important to call a garage door repairman immediately, as the rollers are an integral part of the garage door’s function.
7. Inspect Cables and Pulleys
The cables and pulleys are the next most important mechanism on a garage door. They are the ‘glue’ that holds the springs and the door together and keep the door safe when opening and closing it.
If, upon inspection, you notice the cables or pulleys are worn, have tears, or show any other signs of wear and tear, call for a professional inspection. Like springs, this is one area of garage door maintenance that only professionals should handle.
8. Check Auto Reverse Twice a Year
Your garage door’s auto-reverse feature should send the garage door back open if something is in its way when closing. It should auto-detect a car, person, or anything else in the way of closing safely.
Like anything on a garage door, there’s no guarantee the auto-reverse is working, so test it at least twice a year.
To test the door, put something, like a board or something else small, in the path of the door’s closing. As the door closes, it should sense the board from the pressure and reverse, opening again.
If the door doesn’t reverse and continues to close on the obstacle, it’s time to call for garage door maintenance, or if you have a garage door without this feature (usually 20+ years old), it’s time to consider garage door replacement for your safety.
9. Check and Replace Weatherstripping
Just like the weatherstripping on your doors and windows, the weatherstrip at the bottom of your garage door keeps out cold air and water. It also keeps critters out of your garage. In other words, it provides a seal between the outdoors and your garage and is an important part of your garage door system.
Inspect the seal and see if there are any worn or broken spots. If so, it’s time to replace it. They may be one area you can DIY, but it’s always best to call a garage door technician if you’re unsure.
10. Keep the Surface Clean
Garage doors take a lot of stress not only from regular use but also from the weather elements. Cleaning the surface of your garage door will help you see if it has any areas of concern that should be addressed. It also helps with your home’s curb appeal.
You can wash a garage door with a hose, mild soap, or an all-purpose cleaner. Avoid using a pressure washer, as you might peel the paint off it. After cleaning the garage door, inspect it carefully for holes, chipped paint, or any other areas that need attention.
11. Paint Your Garage Door
After cleaning your garage door, you might notice it looks dingy. The paint may have faded or chipped, taking away from your home’s curb appeal.
Before painting, look for areas of concern, such as rust on steel doors, warped wood doors, or water damage. Address any areas of concern before painting or staining the door, including chipped paint that should be sanded down before being repainted.
Choose a color that will complement the color of your home, and be sure you use the appropriate type of paint that will last a few years.
12. Check and Clear the Tracks
The garage door tracks allow the door to go up and down. With regular use, they can accumulate a lot of debris, slowing the garage door down. A few times a year, climb a ladder to check the tracks, ensuring they are clear.
Call a technician to inspect them immediately if you notice they look uneven, worn, or have any cracks.
13. Check the Battery and Lights Every Couple of Months
It’s obvious when a garage door’s battery or lights are no longer working, and you should replace them immediately. However, there is a way to check the battery.
Unplug the garage door from the remote garage door openers. Next, try to open the door from the wall opener. If the door doesn’t open, the backup battery needs replacing. Try this a couple of times a year so you aren’t stuck with a garage door that won’t open because the backup battery died.
Of course, you can tell immediately when the lightbulbs burn out. Before replacing them, ensure you use the recommended size and wattage in the owner’s manual.
14. Adjust the Speed
If your garage door suddenly seems to be opening or closing too fast or too slow, it may need a speed adjustment. This job is best left for garage door repairmen because it involves dealing with the garage door springs, which is one area only professionals should handle.
15. Have Regular Inspections
Like any home appliance or major home structure, there’s value in regular professional inspections. Even though you can do many of the inspections yourself, nothing replaces the value a professional can provide.
Professionals can identify problem areas that might not have symptoms yet, but, if fixed now, can prevent much more serious problems.
Even though it costs money for a professional inspection, it’s worth every penny because it could save you a lot of money in the future by sidestepping major problems.
Garage door maintenance is the key to a properly working garage door and will lengthen its life. A garage door is a big investment, so proper care is important. Check out these frequently asked questions about garage doors.
How often should you lubricate your garage door?
It’s best to lubricate your garage door every six months, or sooner, if it seems to be moving slowly. Lubrication is often one of the first things homeowners do to determine what’s wrong with their garage door. If lubricating doesn’t help, it might be time for a garage door inspection.
Can you lubricate your garage door with WD-40?
It’s best to use a silicone-based lubricant on your garage door which isn’t WD-40. They can handle high temperatures better and repel water. You’ll get more life out of your garage door, avoiding WD-40 and using silicone-based lubricants instead.
What is the most common problem for garage doors?
Many homeowners have problems with a garage door’s photo eye or the sensors at the bottom of the garage door that stop it from closing on anything in its way. Sometimes it’s a quick fix, such as wiping the lenses on the ‘eye’ clean, but if that doesn’t work, it’s time for an inspection.
What Routine Maintenance Do Garage Doors Require?
Garage doors should have regular maintenance, including lubrication, testing the auto reverse, inspecting the hardware, and clearing the tracks. Every few years, you may need new springs, rollers, or to have the door rebalanced.
Regular garage door maintenance helps keep your garage door in working condition. If you want to save money on this important investment, take care of it! Routinely clean the garage door’s exterior and tracks, inspect the hardware, and have the garage door professionally inspected annually.
With the right care and limited use, a garage door can last many years. Use your front door as the main way to and from your home, and only use the garage door when parking cars or using other items inside the garage that can’t go through the house.