Chicago garage door expert advises on maintenance, repairs

What can a homeowner do to extend the life of their garage door and opener?

The two most common repairs are problems with the opener's main gear and replacing the spring on the door.

Homeowners could lubricate the opener's main gear every five years, but it's really involved and I wouldn't recommend doing it. There's not a whole lot you can do to extend the life of the spring, but occasionally lubricating it with oil can extend its life.

The most valuable piece of information I can give is that homeowners lubricate their garage door's track rollers, hinges and springs monthly to annually, depending on how frequently the door is used. That's the best thing they can do to prevent us from having to come out and fix things.

For ease, my favorite lubricant is WD-40. It's not the best lubricant, but most people have it and it's easy to apply.

How long should a garage door last?

A door's average life span is about 20 years, but that's relative to how often you use the door. I've repaired 50-year-old doors and I replaced 5-year-old doors, so it's tough to say what's average.

A spring's average life span is about 10,000 cycles, which lasts most customers about 12 years. A garage door's life is done when it's more cost efficient to replace it than repair it.

The average repair cost is probably about $200, and the average new door installation probably costs $1,000.

What safety features should a garage door have?

At a minimum, every automatic garage door opener should have a safety reversal system. When the door comes in contact with an object, it should detect it and go back up.

In 1993, they made it a federal law that every door has to have infrared sensors, so the door stops and reverses if anything crosses the path of those sensors. The Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association recommends doing a monthly safety check.

What happens if the garage door opener breaks?

Every homeowner should also be familiar with how to open his or her door manually, so you can still get out if the opener is broken. If your opener is broken, there should be a red emergency release handle or rope, which you can pull straight down to manually operate the door.

The information can be found in your owner's manual, or you can have someone teach you. If the door itself is broken, call a company that can get there quickly. If the spring is broken, you won't be able to lift the door because it's counterbalanced by the spring, so it's very heavy without it.

We offer 24-hour emergency service 365 days a year and depending on location, emergency calls generally cost $120 to $175 more than a standard service call.

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