Garage Door Maintenance
Maintenance on a sectional garage door:
• If you have the manual for your door and opener, the maintenance instructions are usually on or near the last page. Honestly, someone spent a lot of time writing a manual and you’ll be surprised what you could learn by reading it. This applies to many, many things in life. It’s worth trying. Many times you ask an expert about something…but how did she learn it? She may have just read the manual and become an instant expert. In fact many professionals have been shocked after reading the manual to learn something new.
• If you can’t find the instructions then this article is for you:
• Warnings: Be careful kids, you don’t want finger shaped dents in your door. Ouch.
1. Before we do any maintenance, always check the status of the door and opener, if it needs professional help there’s no point in squirting lube on things.
2. Start with the door DOWN. (why?)
i. If you have a broken spring and the door is up and you actually manage to release the red handle you will go for a ride (concrete skiing) as the door comes crashing down. This may even break any glass and could easily result in injuries or DEATH!
3. Pull the red handle and lift the door to waist level. NO HIGHER. Don’t hurt yourself, the door should come up easily. a. The door should stay at waist level by itself. If not – stop reading and call us. There’s something wrong with the springs. (what’re springs? – Do I have springs on my door?)
i. (what’re springs? – Do I have springs on my door?)
1. A common two car garage door weighs between 150lbs and 320lbs. Yet a healthy adult should be able to lift it easily with one hand. The springs are what counterbalance this weight. That’s why when a spring breaks, all of a sudden the door gets REALLY heavy. Your garage door isn’t any stronger than you are so it doesn’t like it either when the springs break.
2. Most Common doors sectional – This article is written with this type of door in mind.
5. Antique Extremely rare now, there are no springs on this kind of door, just a heavy bucket of bricks for a counterweight. This hasn’t been used in probably 80 years in a residential application and is unlikely it can even have an automatic opener installed on it.
o Don’t try to push the door all the way up if it doesn’t want to go. You may cause something to go awry! Maintenance calls are less expensive than repairs! And you may save major damage to your door.
• Check rollers – When your rollers are worn out the door will still likely go up and down, but it will be harder. This wears out your automatic opener much faster. 2 types of rollers – Ball bearing and nylon bushing
o Ball bearing
With your thumb and index finger, wiggle the roller in the track. You may have to lift the door slightly or push the door into the jambs gently to free the roller. If the ball bearings have a lot of free play and it looks like it may just fall apart, then it’s time for new ones. DON’T EVER UNBOLT THE BOTTOM BRACKETS. EVER.
o Nylon – When these get worn out, they literally just get smaller in diameter. Then as they go around the radius of the track they will wear a groove into the shoulder of the roller. The roller will just stop rolling and be more of a sliding action.
4. Look for Loose bolts, missing nuts especially on wood sectionals, or the opener’s header bracket pulling out of wall.
5. Let’s check the opener – Chain drive opener opener only. You can see if the chain is hanging loose or dragging on the way up. A common problem, but will probably need to be repaired by a professional. You can try to tighten the chain, but as a rule, a chain that is a little to tight is worse than one that’s a little too loose.
• With a ladder – Look on top of the drive to see if you can see metal shavings or if the sprocket is pulling off of its own axis. If it is, probably best to just stop now, call us and we’ll take care of it. It isn’t long for this world. This one was too late.
• Now that we’ve checked everything, we can do some maintenance!
• We’re going to lubricate anything that has metal-on-metal contact and tighten anything that looks loose.
• What to use?
o The best thing to use is a kit from us you can buy. This includes a can of aerosol ‘Heavy duty garage door lubricant’ and a tube of ‘Lubriplate Low temp white lithium grease’.
o Other things what work well include
Sewing machine oil
Spray grease (can be messy though)
Silicone KY (We had a customer ask us this once, we couldn’t find a reason not to) [we doubt that the water based stuff would last very long]
o What not to use?
WD-40 – Actually WD-40 is ok, but seems to have a lot of solvent in it and doesn’t seem to last very long. The one place you ABSOLUTELY DON’T USE WD-40 is on a ball bearing. It will wash the grease out of the bearing and unless you do it frequently [ain’t no one got time fo dat] in a couple of months the thin oil will be gone and you won’t have any grease left either – you’re worse off than you were before. WD-40 actually works pretty well as a cleaner.
• Where do I use it?
You especially want to look for the hinges with little black puffs of shavings underneath them. These are the ones that have been squeaking, dragging on the motor, and wearing themselves out.
Worth noting – An old brand of garage door by the name of Taylor. They were the only ones to ever have these nylon hinges.
These hinges are known to break in any of several places. The company has been out of business for about 20 years now and replacements don’t really exist. We usually recommend replacing the entire row of hinges as all replacement hinges have a different pivot point that will stress the next hinge significantly.
Even though these hinges don’t squeak, they still need lube.
• Check the opener and lubricate:
o Chain drive or belt drive opener:
Sprocket or pulley on top shearing off
• Chain is loose dragging on trolley
Chain: Take your tube of grease and put a squirt on the inside of the chain.
Belt drive, don’t put any grease on the belt teeth, but you can put some on the top and bottom edges and the backside of the belt to minimize friction with the retention cap.
Put some grease on the bottom, edges, and top of the rail.
• Watch it after the first time you run, the grease will collect on the leading edge of the trolley. Wipe this off with a paper towel and discard so it doesn’t fall on your car or get tracked into the house.
o Screw drive opener
There isn’t much you can inspect unfortunately.
Put a stripe of grease down the screw.
• After running, wipe off drips with a paper towel.
• Spray all the metal-on-metal joints with your spray lubricant now.
o Spray the springs too
o Spray in between the springs (there’s a little bushing in between them)
o Spray the ball bearings or bushings at the end of the spring tube.
• Tighten all hardware on a wood sectional door. It is very common for these little 7/16” hex nuts to become loose. If after tightening you become aware they are loosening again very quickly, you may try some thread locking compounds such as green loctite 290, or use lock washers, or double nut.
• Check the force-kickback o Lay a 2×4 flat on the floor on center of the door.
Help! I’m still hearing funny noises!
a. Could be the bearing on the spring tube. With a heavy door these do get worn out, but is unusual. Try spraying more lubricant into the bearings to see if it gets quieter. At some point it will have to be changed but may make it until next major service. Alert your professional before. DO NOT ATTEMPT REPAIR YOURSELF!
b. On chain drive opener, the chain could be too tight, try loosening slightly until chain just starts to drag.
2. Springs are making chunking sounds – keep hosing em. If this noise really bothers you, there are things that can be done by a professional only.
3. Buzz – Lens cover on opener – Very common to get an extra buzz out of this guy. One trick is to take the lens cover bolts loose (if it has them), wedge the cover down slightly, and re-tighten the bolts. Other tricks may include putting some tape in a strategic location.