Ask Angie: Garage door maintenance tips
Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List
Dear Angie: Is it important to maintain your garage door? How often should you get it checked out or tuned up? Our house was built in 1999 and we don't know if any maintenance has ever been done on the door. What kind of problems can occur if we don’t have it serviced? Are there things we can do on our own to make sure it operates well? – Hilda F., Columbia, S.C.
Dear Hilda: I definitely recommend you have your garage door inspected periodically. The garage door is the largest moving object and potentially the most dangerous one in our homes, yet it often goes for years without needed maintenance. Usually it’s when the door stops working that the call for help is sounded.
Typically for around $100, a garage door professional will do an inspection and tune-up, which should include adjusting springs and cables, lubricating moving parts, tightening all hardware, tracks and hinges, inspecting the safety sensors and opener gears, as well as troubleshooting other issues. By staying on top of needed maintenance, you’ll protect yourself from potentially expensive repairs down the road.
One frequent problem with garage doors is a broken spring. Springs generally last anywhere from 5 to 7 years before needing replaced. Living in a cold-weather climate can cause springs to wear out even faster. Other common issues include squeaky hinges, stripped gears, and liquid or debris covering the photo sensors, which can keep the garage door from shutting.
You can keep your garage door operating smoothly on your own in between inspections by lubricating the tracks with a small amount a silicone spray. Adding a lubricant like petroleum jelly to the bottom of the rubber door seal can help keep it from sticking to the ground when the temperatures drop below freezing.
You can also test the functionality of your garage door on your own in manual mode. Disconnect the opener by pulling on the release cord or lever. The door should lift up easily. If it is difficult to lift, there could be a problem with the spring tension and you should contact a professional.
One important safety feature on most garage doors is the reversing action they take if there is something blocking the door as it closes. You can test the reversing feature by placing a small piece of wood on the floor in the center of the door and pushing the button to close the door. When the door comes in contact with the wood, it should immediately reverse back to the open position. If it doesn’t, contact a qualified service provider for repair.
Though these are some simple steps you can take on your own to keep your garage door operating smoothly and safely, you should avoid contact with springs and cables unless you understand fully how those components will react. Never take bolts out or hardware off your door. Because of the high tension involved with garage doors, serious injuries can occur if handled improperly. When in doubt, call out a qualified professional.
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