Spring is the ideal time to take a look at the largest moving part of your house – the garage door – and make sure that it is operating safely and properly.
A typical garage door goes up and down between 1,500 and 2,000 times a year. Taking just 10 to 15 minutes to do a garage door checkup will help ensure safe operation and avoid serious problems.
Here are some key areas to check:
The real job of lifting the door is done by the springs, which counteract the weight of the door.
An electric opener attached to the door simply applies a little pressure to take the door through its motions, but the springs do the heavy lifting.
To check how well the door is balanced, start with the garage door closed and pull the red rope to release the door from the opener. See how hard it is to lift the door by hand.
A well-balanced door should stay in place when lifted to the height of your belly button. If it is lifted above your head it should travel up on its own; when placed below your knees it should slowly fall to the ground.
While some garage door maintenance can be performed by the homeowner, spring balancing is dangerous. Unbalanced doors should be repaired by a professional to avoid harm to the homeowner and the door.
Springs are the main wear item on a garage door and will break after approximately 10,000 cycles due to metal fatigue. Replacing springs is best done by a professional due to the hundreds of pounds of force involved.
Remaining spring life can not be determined by visual inspection.
Cables can fray or rust through over time, which can lead to a broken cable, causing inconvenience or even a safety hazard. A simple visual inspection is the best way to check for fraying or rust.
If fraying or rusting is found, you should contact a garage door professional to replace the cables. Like the springs, the cables are under hundreds of pounds of pressure.
There will be nine to 15 hinges on most residential garage doors. Check all hinges for cracks or missing screws.
Most hinges will have four screws in a vertical line. Use a socket wrench to check that each screw is tight.
If the door makes creaking sounds when opening it can often be because of the hinges needing oil. A small drop or two of oil placed in the hinge joints can reduce this noise and lengthen the life of the hinges. Machine oil or a 3-in-1 oil can be used on the hinges.
Rollers move the door panels through the tracks on both sides of the garage door. These small wheels will be made of plastic or steel.
Plastic rollers can be lubricated by placing a drop of oil in the gap between the plastic wheel and the metal stem.
Metal rollers will have ball bearings in a circle around the stem. Lubricate metal rollers by placing some oil in the small gap circling the stem.
Run your door up and down a few times after lubricating the rollers to distribute the oil.
You can lubricate the chain on your opener, but it is very difficult to do and quite often drips oil on the face of the door when it is open.
Wipe off the photo eye lenses – safety devices attached to the bottom of roller tracks of newer garage doors – to remove any dirt or cobwebs.
These simple steps can help you avoid breakdowns and lengthen the life of your garage door and opener.