Having your own enclosed garage is great. You’ve got privacy, security, and greater energy efficiency. However, as with anything in your home, the experience becomes a lot less enjoyable when something breaks. A quality garage door should last a long time, even decades. However, anything can malfunction or even break. So here are some solutions to a few of the most common issues when keeping a garage goes wrong.
Inspect The Hardware On Your Garage Door
First we’ll cover issues with the garage door itself. First let’s cover a garage door tune-up, which you should do on annual basis to make sure that everything’s working as it should and to prevent problems before they start. Your garage door may open and close a thousand times a year. That much movement puts strain on all of the garage door’s parts, including the hardware, which may be loosened. Make sure that all the hardware, including the roller brackets and all of the nuts and bolts are as tight as they need to be. Tighten them if not.
Inspect The Rollers
If your rollers are made of nylon, it will be easy to spot wear, because the rollers will be cracked or chipped. If they’re made of steel, when the bearings wear, the wheel will start to tilt. Any quality hardware store will sell replacement rollers. All you’ll need to do them is remove the roller bracket and then reinstall it. This goes for any roller brackets EXCEPT the bottom one. It is attached to a cable that is under heavy tension—don’t remove it.
Inspect The Lift Cable
You’ll need to check it as well for wear, which you will be able to tell by broken strands. The cable is exposed to moisture where it’s attached to the bottom roller bracket, so that’s where you’re most likely to find damage. Grab that old toothbrush and clear away the build-up so you can get the best look. If it’s need of repair, consider hiring a professional to replace it. As mentioned in the last step, it’s under a lot of tension and it can be highly dangerous if you’re not very experienced with working with them.
Inspect The Opener’s Chain Or Screw
If you have a screw opener, check your manual because some of them will not require lubrication. For all others and for chain openers, you should lubricate them annually, using spray-on white lithium grease.
Inspect The Springs
The overhead torsion springs and the extension springs (above the roller tracks) get a workout, so all of them fail eventually. However, you can help prevent corrosion (a leading cause of breakage) by lubricating them annually. Luckily, this doesn’t require anything more complicated than WD-40. You likely already have it home, but even if you don’t, it’s a smart (and cheap) investment that will really pay off for the longevity of your springs.
Inspect The Weather Seal
If your seal is worn, it’s no good to you and you’ll need to replace it. For a wooden garage door, take off the old seal with your pry bar. Then place the wide angle of the new seal to the inside of the door. Attach it to that side with a few nails and then pull the seal under the door and attach it on that side. After that, put a few nails in the center. This will keep the seal straight while you nail the whole piece in place, putting nails every 3 or 4 inches.
If your door is steel, your seal should be a U-shaped astragal. Using a flat-blade screwdriver, open the ends of the channel that holds the seal. Do this on both ends of the door and then pull out the old seal. Lubricate the channels with silicone spray or with rubbing alcohol.
Inspect The Door And Its Components
If you’ve read the previous section on the annual checks and maintenance you should be doing, this step will be familiar to you. Inspect the tracks that the door runs on and inspect the brackets that mount the tracks to your garage walls. Tighten any loose bolts, brackets, or screws. If the tracks have any dents or damage, pound them out. You can use a rubber mallet for this or a basic hammer and a scrap wood block. This is only for basic repairs—if the tracks are in severe disrepair, you should replace them.
Check all other hardware, tightening as needed. Check the hinges and replace any damaged ones. For cracked wood at the hinges, remove the hinge and fill in the crack and the screw holes with wood filler. Once the filler dries, replace the hinge. For enlarged screw holes, remove the screw and replace it with a longer one. The new screw should be the same diameter, of course. Dip a hollow fiber plug in carpenters’ glue and put it back in with the screw.
If you have a roll-up garage door with one center torsion spring, you should consult a professional for any repairs. The spring is under a tremendous amount of tension and if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing with it, you’re at risk of serious injury.
Check The Alignment
Using your level, make sure the tracks are aligned as they should be. The vertical parts should be plumb. The horizontal sections will slant downward toward the back of the garage. Both vertical and horizontal sections should be at the same height on the walls. If there is an issue with alignment, loosen the mounting bracket screws or bolts—don’t remove them—gently tap the tracks back into their positions. Check again with the level. Once they’re in the proper positions, retighten the screws or bolts.
Simple annual maintenance can go a long way to preventing most minor issues with your garage door. If you haven’t made this a habit, there’s no better time to start than today. Taking a few minutes to make some checks and simple repairs, if needed, can save you a lot of grief (and money) in the long run.
However, even the most diligent annual maintenance can’t prevent everything. In that case, you can fix many of your garage door problems with basic repair. Most repairs don’t take that long and they’re all fairly easy to do.