HomeownerHelpful Info: Home Maintenance

Garage Doors

Garage Doors Educational Content

Regular maintenance by a professional keeps your garage door safe and functional. Between these regular maintenance visits, however, there are several ways you can make sure that your garage door is safe and working as it should. If anything looks or sounds different than normal, call a professional right away.

Visual inspection. From inside your garage, look at the garage door system. Check the cables, rollers, and other components. If anything is loose, damaged, or showing signs of wear, have a professional take a closer look.

Lubrication. Apply lubricant to the garage door hinges and springs. Do the same to the roller bearings if they are unsealed. Be sure to clean out any hardened or clumpy grease. Do not lubricate any plastic parts, and be very careful when lubricating the springs. Garage door springs operate under high tension. They can cause serious injury and damage if they break.

Door balance test. Disengage your garage door opener before conducting this test. Open the garage door by hand to confirm that it opens as it should. Then, pull the door about halfway down, and let go of it. It should stop between three and four feet above the ground.

Reversal test. All automatic garage door openers must have safety features that prevent the door from closing on anything in its path. These safety features include a reversing mechanism as well as a sensor at the bottom of the door. Testing the reversing mechanism and sensor is simple. Place a wooden beam on the floor where the garage door should close, and then attempt to close the door. The door should hit the piece of wood and immediately reverse to a fully open position.

Force setting test. A garage door opener’s force setting is a backup safety feature for the sensor at the bottom of the door. This setting ensures that the door reverses if it hits anything in its path, even if that object bypassed the sensor. To test the force setting, push against the bottom of the garage door as it closes. This should trigger the reversing mechanism, causing the door to go back to an open position.

Damaged or broken springs. Your garage door system has either torsion or extension springs. When the opener works the way it’s designed, these springs support the weight of the door. When a spring breaks, the door is no longer properly supported. If the garage door opener seems to be working but the door doesn’t move, a broken spring is likely to blame. Replacing these springs is very dangerous. Don’t ever try to do it yourself. The garage door technician should replace both springs at the same time, even if only one is broken. This makes sure that the weight of the door remains evenly distributed.

Missing or broken cables. When a garage door spring breaks, it releases a tremendous amount of energy. An uncontrolled spring can cause serious injury and damage when it breaks. If your garage door has a torsion spring system, the springs are housed inside a shaft or tube. This cover should prevent the springs from causing any harm if they break.

Extension springs are attached to safety cables. As long as they’re properly installed, the safety cables will control the springs if they fail. This safety measure prevents damage and injury. If your garage door has extension springs but not safety cables, have a professional install them right away.

Grinding or unusual noises when opening or closing. Garage door openers tend to be a little noisy. If you hear grinding noises or anything out of the ordinary, however, call a garage door pro for help. Stop the garage door opener or, if you open the garage door by hand, stop attempting to open or close it. Grinding or unusual noises can be caused by several different issues. It could be broken or loose rollers, worn hardware, or even a bad gear drive in the opener. Your best (and safest) bet is to consult a garage door professional for diagnosis.

Unbalanced door. If a garage door falls or closes by itself or doesn’t stay closed, the door is most likely out of balance. Unbalanced garage doors often appear to be uneven or slanted to one side. This causes the hardware on that side to wear out more quickly.

Broken opener. If nothing happens when you push the button for the garage door opener, first make sure the opener has power. The opener is usually plugged into a normal electrical outlet. Try plugging something else into the outlet to see if it’s working. If the outlet doesn’t have power, check the circuit breakers in the main service panel. If a breaker is flipped, try resetting it before calling a professional for help.

Steel garage doors. Steel is a popular material for garage doors. Steel garage doors are strong, well insulated, and low maintenance.

Wooden garage doors. Wood garage doors are durable and classic. Wood is especially popular for custom-designed garage doors. It isn’t a maintenance-free material, however. Wood garage doors need to be sealed or painted regularly to keep the wood in good shape.

Aluminum garage doors. Aluminum does not rust and is largely maintenance-free. The light weight of aluminum doors makes them a good choice for wide garage openings.

Fiberglass garage doors. Fiberglass doors resist corrosion from salt and humidity, so they’re a great option for homes in coastal areas. However, fiberglass does not fare as well in cold climates. Fiberglass doesn’t insulate well, and it’s susceptible to breakage in cold weather.

Plastic or vinyl garage doors. Due to their durability, light weight, and minimal upkeep, plastic and vinyl garage doors are growing in popularity. These garage doors will not rot or corrode. They are also made with UV-resistant materials, so they’re less likely to fade from sun exposure.

Painting garage doors. Most garage doors can be painted. Painting is a fun and affordable customization option if you don’t need a brand-new door.