Simple things like basic garage door maintenance get overlooked. You have plenty of stress in your life so why add a garage door failure to the list? When winter weather hits Janesville WI and makes you uncomfortable outdoors, your home’s largest moving part is under stress, too. These large mechanical devices and their electronic components don’t operate as smoothly or efficiently when temperatures are below freezing. The worst winter weather is yet to come. Is a timely checkup worth it? You can save yourself aggravation and provide peace of mind knowing the garage door and all related components will respond when you need them most.
Begin the garage door inspection any time. Enlist the aid of family members and employ two of your most important tools: look and listen. Most of the time you’re in a hurry to get in or out and don’t pay attention to the door or garage door opener. Right now though, it’s worth a minute of your time. Watch as it goes up and down. Listen to how the mechanical parts work together. Does it go up in a smooth motion? Or does it “jerk” when it first moves? Does it struggle going up?
Listen closely. Do you hear unusual creaks, cracks and popping sounds?
Anything you see or hear that’s different from what you’re used in warm weather may be warning sign. Isn’t checking it on your schedule better than a door failure when you’re late for an appointment?
DIY Garage Door Maintenance Suggestions
Before you call in a professional to make adjustments or repair there are element you can check, including:
- Tracks and rollers – As time goes by the rollers that guide the door and the metal tracks on which they run build up grime, grit and dirt. Their axles get “gunked” up, too. The layer of grime traps moisture and stiffens as temperatures fall. Clean away debris and dirt from tracks and roller wheels move freely.
- Lubrication – Once the tracks are cleaned roller wheels need fresh lubrication. Apply a lubricant that won’t freeze or turn to gel as the temperature drops – these components are exposed to outdoor temperatures. Always wipe off excess running down the tracks – too much can be as bad as too little.
- Tighten up – A garage door goes up and down thousands of times in its lifetime and its joints wear. Seasonal temperature changes help nuts, bolts and screws to loosen. Check and tighten everything a couple times a year – both door hardware and ceiling- and wall-mount brackets.
- Weather stripping – Is there a large strip of rubber on the bottom edge of your garage door? It’s designed to help keep out drafts, snow, rain and debris. Have your seen how windshield wipers stick to cold glass and the rubber can strip away? The same thing happens to garage door weather stripping if it freezes to the surface. Check for cracks in it and when it snows scrape snow and ice away from the bottom of the door. A few minutes with a broom or shovel extends the seal’s life. If you don’t have one, consider adding weather stripping to the bottom of the garage door.
Garage Door Springs & Cables – Best Left To Pros
Torsion springs and cables are the two most important components designed for lifting and lowering a garage door. They work hard every time the door moves – with or without an additional opening system.
Garage door cables and garage door torsion springs should be visually inspected and lubricated regularly. Inspection and routine maintenance is one thing. Trying to repair or replace springs or cables is another. There’s enough force in garage door cables and torsion springs to KILL YOU! That’s not an exaggeration! Take the safety warnings seriously and don’t attempt replacing them yourself.
You can, though, regularly check the ends of cables for frayed or broken strands and any damage to the roller bracket. If you see anything out of the ordinary, call Country Door Systems for professional repair or replacement.
Even though each garage door weighs hundreds of pounds, its springs are the most dangerous. Every year thousands of homeowners are seriously injured attempting to replace these high-tension springs. No matter what you think your DIY skill level is, torsion springs are best left to professionals with experience and the right tools to do the job.
Why Garage Door Springs Break
Why do heavy-duty torsion springs to break? Created from tightly-wound, high-tension steel, after thousands of cycles (up/down) they simply wear out. The steel gets brittle and breaks. “How long can I expect my garage door springs to last?’ A fair question, and one with no easy answer. Because the life of the springs depends upon how often the door opens and closes you cannot predict a spring’s useful life. Naturally, the older your garage door springs are, the more they are at risk. Since the garage evolved to become the main entry point for most homes garage doors are used more often. More up/down cycles reduces the life of the springs. As a rule of thumb, modern springs are designed to last about 10,000 cycles – that’s roughly 10 years. Your personal use and schedule of garage door maintenance has a lot to do with it.
Wisconsin’s winter weather doesn’t extend a door’s life. Cold metal is stressed and is more likely to crack or become brittle. Springs break easier in the cold than under warmer conditions. Temperature extremes are never good –very hot weather stresses metal, too. Our seasonal changes are why garage door opener manufacturers recommend adjusting each unit’s up/down pressure at least three times a year.
More Than Old Age
You cannot escape the fact that springs break. The stress of age and daily use takes a toll. You can delay problems with routine maintenance. Beyond age and use there are additional threats that you can impact:
- Corrosion and rust – Rust on high-tension springs weakens the basic metal so it breaks easier. Rust causes friction on the coil leading and excess wear. Prevent rust with a high-quality lubricant specifically formulated for garage door springs. Note – Do Not Use standard WD-40. It is not a lubricant. The brand does make a garage door-specific lubricant, too, so carefully read labels.
- Overlooked maintenance – You have the power to prolong the life of springs and cables with regular attention. Spray the entire spring assembly with high-quality lubricants at least three times a year. Also check the door’s balance and adjust the pressure on the door opener regularly. Most springs fail in the cold or right after extreme cold – when metal expands again and is brittle from cold.
- Installing the wrong springs – One size does not fit all! Consult a garage door service technician representing your garage door manufacturer so you get the right size springs. Using the wrong wire size – springs too short for instance – leads to failure. Most doors have two springs. Using two spreads the weight and they handle the load better and last longer.
A Spring Broke – Now What
If you’ve never done it before, do you know what to do when a garage door breaks? First, never try to open or close the garage door with your electric garage door opener. If a spring has broken the weight of the door will be too much for it. Trying to lift that weight motors burn out, chains/belts break and parts snap. Homeowners often unknowingly keep using automatic openers until something else breaks. If the door struggles to go up or comes down too fast check the springs.
Costly problems associated with broken springs include:
- Crushed or caved in door panels
- Blown opener motors and stripped gears
- Broken chain or belt
- Opener’s J-arm bracket breaks off – sometimes damaging a door panel
- Opener rail bends – weight of the door can pull it out of its ceiling mounts
Garage Door Maintenance – Preventing Disaster
The best preventive measures you can take to avoid a disastrous garage door failure is being alert to your surroundings. Look and listen. Note…
- Unusual sounds
- Unusual movements
When you notice any of these changes in your system it’s time to call in an expert for professional garage door maintenance. The technicians from Country Door Systems not only repair and replace door hardware, they can make all the related adjustments to garage door openers required to keep them running smoothly, too.
Properly prepared for southern Wisconsin’s harsh winter weather your garage door will continue to respond to the needs of your family for a long time. Now’ the time to be sure your garage door maintenance meets the challenge. Country Door Systems is just a phone call away – 608-752-9537. We’re ready to inspect, repair or replace any component of your garage door system. Garage door maintenance is too important to put off – protect your family and your Janesville area home.