The garage door: it’s the largest door in your house but also, and too often, the most neglected. Sooner or later it may remind you of this lack of attention by refusing to open or close completely, making an unpleasant sound with every movement, or letting cold air leak through seals that have become inefficient.

There are some simple actions, requiring very little time, that can help prevent such nuisances.

Checking proper operation

The first thing you should do is to operate your garage door manually at least once a year. Why manually? Because many operating problems go unnoticed when your garage is equipped with a mechanical garage door opener. Though practical, such systems prevent you from hearing or otherwise detecting strain on your garage door.

The manual test will reveal broken rollers or misaligned panels, which usually manifest themselves as friction on the tracks. More important, the exercise will test spring tension. Any improper adjustment in this regard will prevent the opener remaining in neutral when the door is ajar, and make it too heavy to lift.

You should be able to easily lift a properly counterbalanced garage door with one hand, because its apparent weight should be between 7 and 12 pounds (3.2 to 5.5 kg), while the actual weight of a standard 7 foot x 10 foot (2.1 to 3 metre) door is at least 140 pounds (64 kg)! Without the proper counterbalancing, the door opener motor will be strained and its useful life will be considerably shortened. Adjusting the lifting system of a garage door (springs, cables and other parts) is a delicate task that poses a risk of injury, so hire a professional to do the job.

During your manual test, also make sure that the garage door opens and closes completely. If necessary, consult the door opener manual for instructions on how to proceed safely when adjusting the travel or power, and when adjusting the chain or belt tension.

Cleaning and lubrication

In terms of maintenance, moving parts (rollers, hinges, pulleys, springs and lock) and the tracks should be lubricated twice a year with a non-petroleum (e.g., silicone-based) oil, after checking the sturdiness of their assembly or anchors.

The door’s exterior finish will last longer if the panels are washed regularly. Use the same products (mild soap) and tools as you would to clean an automobile. Applying a layer of car wax once a year will make maintenance easier. Avoid using a high-pressure water sprayer.

Weatherstripping, noise and safety

The weatherstripping around the frame and the bottom of the door should be cleaned with mild detergent and lubricated with a silicone-based product (avoid petroleum-based lubricants, which can alter the flexibility of the rubber). Weatherstripping should fit the contour of the door perfectly to prevent costly cold-air infiltration. Replace it if necessary. Pay special attention to the condition of the moulding at the bottom of the door: animals in search of shelter may gnaw at it.

Lubrication of hardware will reduce door operating noise. Another way to help cut noise is to use white nylon rollers with ball bearings. Or you can opt for a system that uses a belt (instead of a chain) and is attached to the frame of the house on rubber pads.

If you have a bedroom or den above the garage, it’s a good idea to use a variable-speed door opener that mounts on the wall (instead of the ceiling), just above the door. As well, there are more sophisticated anti-vibration systems specifically designed for garage doors.

To ensure maximum safety when using your garage door, follow these recommendations:

  • Regularly check the proper operation of the safety reversing system that automatically lifts the door when it detects or comes into contact with an obstacle (person or object);
  • Make sure that there is power to the photoelectric eyes installed near the ground on either side of the door and that they are properly aligned;
  • Inspect the condition of the steel counterbalance cables connecting the extension springs to the door and tracks to prevent injury and damage in the event of breakage.

A garage door offering significant safety improvements is now available on the Quebec market. Its panels and tracks are designed such that it is impossible for fingers to become trapped.

Our thanks to Jean-Claude Thiffault, President of Moisan portes de garage Expert inc., a CAA-Quebec Approved Residential Supplier, for his contribution to this instalment of Tips & Tricks.