Automatic garage doors are such a common feature of the contemporary home that you probably don’t even give yours a second thought. When something goes wrong, however, a garage door can become a major headache. If yours isn’t working properly, it’s important to know when you can repair it versus when you should consider a replacement. Though only a trained technician can tell you for sure, here are some tips to get you pointed in the right direction.
By law, all new automatic garage doors sold in the United States must include safety sensors that automatically reverse the direction of a closing door if something gets in the way. It’s easy to understand why if you consider the fact that the average garage door weighs upwards of 150 pounds, enough weight to kill or seriously injure a child or pet. If your door doesn’t have these sensors, the Consumer Products Safety Commission strongly recommends you replace your door with one that does.
If your garage door does have safety sensors and suddenly stops working, you may be able to affect a simple repair. Improperly aligned sensors can trick the mechanism into thinking the path of the door is obstructed when in fact it is not. The actual sensors are called “eyes” (because they work by receiving light). Try gently jiggling the receiving eye if your door stops working for no apparent reason. This is often enough to realign the sensors.
Reinforcing your garage door is a good idea if you live in an area prone to storms or high winds. Doing so can prevent damage and protect any valuables stored in the garage, including your vehicle. However, it’s not always possible to simply add material. Extra weight affects both the door itself and the counter-balance mechanism. If your door is new or in good shape, you may only need to replace the counter balance mechanism, but you may have to replace the entire door if the current one is old or worn out.
Insulating your garage door can help save on energy bills and can help keep your family cozy, especially if there’s a room above the garage. Despite what garage door dealers might tell you, you don’t have to replace the whole door in order to improve insulation. Keeping the cold out usually requires nothing more than adding or repairing seals. You may, however, want to replace the door if it has any large air gaps as a result of age or open-concept design.
Problems with Specific Parts
Garage doors have many parts, such as springs, a motor, gears, and chains. While there is no foolproof way to test for wear or remaining life for springs or chains, these rarely give way when the door is open. If they squeak, you can often resolve the problem by applying a lubricant. Use one specifically designed for garage doors and make sure to follow the directions, so that you don’t expose yourself or your family to any dangerous fumes.
Grinding or whirring noises are potentially more serious. These indicate a possible issue with the motor, sliding mechanisms, gears, or chains. If you hear any of these noises, disconnect the power and operate the door manually until you can have the door checked by a qualified technician, who can tell you if repair or replacement is needed. If you are quoted a price that seems unreasonable or excessive, get a second opinion before making any major changes.
Garage Door Maintenance
Proper maintenance will help ensure you don’t have to repair or replace your overhead garage door before it is really time to do so. All parts of your garage door need periodic inspection and a few minor touches. First, inspect the tracks. They should be free of any dirt, leaves or other debris that could get in the way of smooth operation. If you find any, brush them out with a stiff-bristled brush. If there’s a lot of accumulation, a shop vac may be a better option.
You should also periodically check and lubricate your garage door’s rollers. To do this, use regular engine oil and not grease, which could gum up the works. Place a drop of oil on each roller and move clear of the rollers. Then trigger the mechanism, letting the rolling action pull the oil into the bearings. Make sure to keep your hands, arms, and all clothing well clear of all moving parts.
Next, check the cables and springs. Cables should show no signs of wear, tear, or any fraying, while springs should be tightly seated and appear lightly lubricated. Springs with chips, cracks, or that are dried out are at greater risk for breaking. If you have a chain drive system, check the chain for any cracked or broken links and for lack of lubrication.
Finally, inspect the garage door itself. All screws and nails should be tight, with no visible gaps. Connection points should move easily without catching. The door itself should not show any cracking, chipping, or signs of wind, snow, or water damage. If you find any damage in any of your garage door parts, consult a qualified technician. Remember, safety and security are always worth the investment.
This article on garage door repair and replacement was supplied by M.K. Greenwood from Constant Content.