Zen and the Art of Garage Door Maintenance

Garage Door Maintenance with WD40

Regularly maintaining your garage door can preserve its lifetime, save you money and, most importantly, keep everyone in your home safe.

On average a garage door lasts 20 years. It will only be reliable though if it is well maintained.

If not properly maintained, one risk includes a garage door spontaneously falling down on a family member or vehicle. Or the opposite may happen, where a garage door will all of a sudden not close completely, leaving your home exposed to burglary. This is why good maintenance and occasional adjustments are a must.

It only takes about 30 minutes every couple months to maintain and make a few adjustments, and much of it you can do with some simple tools and household cleaners.

What Happens if You Put Off Garage Door Maintenance?

Homeowners tend to ignore the importance of a garage door’s functionality until an issue arises. However, garage door maintenance is very simple, like taking ten minutes out of your day to grease the appropriate parts, and can prevent a variety of inconvenient issues from occurring, including:

  • The door getting stuck
  • Uneven movement
  • Excessive noise
  • Falling garage door
  • Remote control malfunction

Simple garage door maintenance and minor adjustments can help you prevent these issues from developing and can save you money and hassle.

Failing to perform regular maintenance and necessary adjustments can result in loosened springs and having to fix broken cables. This results in what could be a very serious safety hazard, and typically goes beyond a general homeowner’s ability to fix, making it necessary to call in a professional to make large adjustments or replacements.

Read: Broken Garage Door Torsion Spring Safety Tips

Tools for Garage Door Tune-Up

  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Screwdriver or screw gun
  • Pliers
  • Wrench
  • Broom

Specialized components:

  • Spray-on white lithium grease
  • Lubricant
  • 2×4 (for propping open door)
  • Replacement rollers, for when original get worn out
  • Weather seal – particularly important with all the rain in the Pacific Northwest
  • 1-inch galvanized roofing nails, for installations such as weather stripping
  • Silicone spray or rubbing alcohol for cleaning
  • Extension spring containment cables for when the originals get worn out
  • Fender washers & locknuts for securing, adjusting and tightening screws

What Lubricant to Use on a Garage Door

Lubricating your garage door keeps it running smoothly and quietly. The best lubricant for rollers, springs, hinges and bearings would be a non silicone-based product. We generally recommend motor oil. You should avoid lithium based grease, as it doesn’t stick well and often picks up dirt.

Which Garage Door Parts Require Lubrication

In terms of what to use to lubricate garage door tracks – we’d recommend not oiling them at all. Lubricated garage door tracks can pick up grit easily, which could inhibit opening and closing. Lubricating or greasing your garage door parts should be done at least every six months to ensure smooth and noiseless functioning.

Routine Maintenance and Adjustment for Garage Doors

Lubricate metal parts: Parts that have become rusted can be soaked in kerosene and scrubbed with a wire brush before oiling.

Check bolts and screws. There are many problems that can be caused by something as simple as loose screws or bolts. Over time, they can loosen and cause your garage door system to go off track or function oddly.

Inspect controls. The box located near your garage ceiling is the door opener and closer. Remove the cover, then check for damaged wiring and adjust anything that looks wrong. You should also check the remote control box for signs of damage.

Wooden Door maintenance. If your garage doors are made from wood, you will need to paint or seal the wood yearly. Proper care prevents exposure and rotting and lowers the odds for needing to replace or adjust the garage door.

Weather stripping. Inspect the weather stripping that is attached around the garage door. This weather stripping exposes the inside of your garage, its contents, and garage door system parts to the environment. Weather damage can be an issue, so replace worn or torn pieces to adjust to changing seasons. In Oregon and Washington, this is especially important to do before winter.

Read: Winterize Your Garage Door Maintenance Tips

Standing inside of the garage and with the door closed, do a visual inspection of:

Torsion springs

  • Are there signs of rust or corrosion? Rust is a very common cause of breakage, and given the humidity in SW Washington and NW Oregon, the potential for oxidation is pretty high.
  • Are there any uneven spaces between the coils? This means they’re worn out and need to be adjusted.
  • Make sure there is a steel safety cable running inside the spring. It’s a crucial backup in case of torsion spring failure.
  • Check for any loose fittings. Adjust if needed.  

Safety cables

  • Any signs of fraying or overwear? Worn out cables must be replaced.
  • Check for loose fittings. Cable should be securely fastened to bracket holding the track to the joist

Rollers

  • Lubricate and adjust.
  • Check for any loose bolts.

Pulleys

  • Lubricate and adjust.

Mounting hardware

  • Are there any signs of wear or damage on the hinges? Is the mounting hardware itself becoming loose?

Track brackets

  • Check for tightness. Adjust appropriately.

The track itself

  • Check for any irregularities such as dings or bumps.
  • Use a level and make sure it’s properly aligned.
  • Remove any debris. If there is any residue build-up, give a light wipe-down as well.
  • Adjust parts that seem loose.

Reversing sensors

  • Inspect for any dirt or spider webs. Clean if necessary with a soft tissue.

Support arm

  • Inspect the cotter pins holding the arm to the door and opener.

Traveler that sits on the rail

  • Make sure that the chain to the garage door opener is properly connected to traveler.
  • If chain is loose, tighten and adjust the nuts connecting it to traveler.

Monthly Garage Door Tests

Balance test

  • Close the door and disconnect the automatic opener.
  • Next, attempt to lift the door manually. The door should lift smoothly with little resistance and stay open.
  • Make note of any tendency to stick or close, as this may indicate a balance issue with the door. In this case, consult your installation specialist.

Photo eye test

  • With the door fully open, use the garage door opener’s transmitter or wall button to close the door.
  • As it’s closing, wave a long tool, such as a broomstick or mop, in front of the photo eye so as to interfere with the beam. This should cause the door to reverse.
  • If the door does not reverse, remove the broom/object and close the door.
  • Then, use a soft, dry cloth to clean the photo eyes, and adjust them by hand if they appear misaligned.
  • Repeat the test. If the door does not reverse and reopen, call your garage door service provider for a maintenance check.

Settling test

  • When the door is open, push the opener’s transmitter or wall button to close the door, then hold up the bottom of the door with your hands. The door should easily reverse.
  • If it continues to close, pull your hands away and call your garage door specialist in to examine the excessive force of your door.

Summer Maintenance and Adjustments for Your Garage Door

Every once in awhile, you’ll want to do work beyond just the usual tuneups. Summer is a great time, given the lack of rain and longer hours.

Wash and remove rust. Washing will keep the door working more smoothly by preventing a buildup of grease, dirt and grime. Use a mild detergent and water. Consider using a pressure washer if the door has significant buildup. If your steel door shows rust, you can sand away the damage before touching up with a primer and exterior latex paint.

Give Your Door a Facelift: After you wash the door, freshen it up with new paint. When choosing paint, keep in mind that most doors look best when they blend in with a home. Don’t choose a color that draws attention to the door unless the door has architectural features you want to highlight. Instead, paint the garage the same color as the house.

When to Call a Professional

If you have questions about lubricating your garage door parts, need to replace your door or if any of the above issues prove too much, we advise calling our office so we can give it a look, and answer your garage door maintenance questions. If you think your garage needs repairs or adjustments that are beyond DIYing, definitely call in the professionals. Garage door repairs can result in all types of injuries if they aren’t done properly. When you are in need of a professional, call us at Ponderosa Garage Doors (503) 730-0444.