Garage door maintenance is important year-round. When Madison WI winter weather makes you uncomfortable outdoors, your home’s largest moving part is under stress, too. Mechanical and electrical devices seldom operate as smoothly or efficiently when the temperatures dip below freezing. Now, before the worst winter weather hits, give your garage door and all related components a checkup.
Put two of your most important senses to work: look and listen. You might be in a hurry to get in or out and not pay attention to the door, but it’s worth a minute of your time. Watch as it goes up and down. Listen to how the mechanical parts are working together. Is the upward motion smooth? Is there a “jerk” when it first moves? Does it seem to struggle going up?
Are there unpleasant creaks, cracks and popping sounds as it moves?
Anything you see or hear now that’s different from what you’re used to may be the sign of a pending problem. Better to check it out on your schedule than have the door fail when you’re late for an appointment, right?
Quick Winter Garage Door Maintenance Moves
Before you get into detailed maintenance efforts and/or repairs, consider these check points:
- Weather stripping – there’s probably a large strip of rubber on the bottom edge of your garage door. It’s designed to help keep out drafts, snow, rain and debris. Have you noticed how windshield wipers stick to cold glass and the rubber can strip away? The same thing happens to garage door weather stripping if it freezes to the surface. Check for cracks in the stripping. When it snows, take time to scrape snow and ice away from the bottom of the door to extend the seal’s life, too.
- Tracks and rollers – throughout the year the rollers that guide the door and the metal tracks on which they run build up grime, grit and dirt. The axles for the rollers get “gunked” up, too. This layer of grime traps moisture and stiffens as temperatures fall. Take time to clean debris and dirt from tracks so roller wheels move freely.
- Lubrication – roller wheels need fresh lubrication once they and the tracks are clean. Wipe off excess running down the tracks – too much is almost as bad as too little.
- Keep it tight – your garage door goes up and down thousands of times in its lifetime and its joints wear. Seasonal temperature changes help nuts, bolts and screws to loosen, too. Check and tighten everything a couple times a year – both brackets and door hardware.
Cables And Garage Door Springs
The two most important components lifting and lowering most any garage door are its cables and springs. These pieces of hardware come into play every time the door moves, with or without a mechanical opening system.
Garage door cables and garage door torsion springs should be visually inspected and lubricated periodically. But take the warnings of professionals seriously and don’t attempt replacing them yourself. There’s enough force in garage door cables and torsion springs to KILL YOU! No joke!
Routinely check the ends of cables for frayed or broken strands and any damage to the roller bracket. If you see anything out of the ordinary, call Northland Door Systems for professional repair or replacement.
Of all the moving parts making up a garage door its springs are the most dangerous. Every year thousands of well-meaning homeowners are seriously injured attempting to replace these high-tension springs. No matter what you think your DIY skill level is, torsion springs are best left to professionals with experience and the right tools to do the job.
Stresses On Garage Door Springs
What causes heavy-duty torsion springs to break? The springs are tightly-wound, high-tension steel. After thousands of cycles (up/down) they simply wear out and break. Because how often the door opens and closes makes such a difference, you cannot a predict a spring’s useful life. Of course, the older your garage door springs are, the more they are at risk. And as the garage evolved to become the main entry point for many homes, garage doors are used more often. More use reduces the life of the springs. Modern springs are designed to last about 10,000 cycles – that’s roughly 10 years. Understand, that’s a “best guess.”
Wisconsin’s winter weather takes a toll, too. In the cold metal is stressed. It is more likely to crack as it become brittle. Springs break much easier in winter than under warmer conditions. Temperature extremes are never good – in very hot weather metal expands, etc. These climate changes are why garage door opener manufacturers recommend adjusting each unit’s up/down pressure seasonally.
When A Spring Breaks
Springs break for many reasons. You cannot do much about the stress of age and dail y use, but you can help delay problems with routine maintenance. Consider these additional causes you can impact:
- Rust and corrosion– rust on high-tension springs weakens the basic material so it break easier. Rust causes friction on the coil leading to excess wear. Prevent rust with a high-quality lubricant specifically formulated for garage door springs. Note – Do Not Use standard WD-40. It is not a lubricant.
- Shabby maintenance– all springs break. But, you can prolong their life with regular attention. Spray the entire spring assembly with high-quality lubricants at least three times a year. Additionally, check the door’s balance regularly. Adjust the pressure on the door opener. Most springs fail in the cold or right after extreme cold – when metal expands and is brittle from cold.
- Putting up the wrong springs– one size doesn’t fit all! Consult a garage door service technician representing your garage door manufacturer so you get the right size springs. Using the wrong wire size – springs that are too short for instance – leads to failure. Most doors have two springs – although some small, light doors work fine with one long one. Two share the weight and handle the load better so they last longer.
What if your garage door spring breaks? How do you know and what should you, shouldn’t you do? First, never try to open or close the garage door with your powered garage door opener. If a spring has broken the weight of the door will over-stress the unit. Motors burn out and chains/belts break and parts snap. If the door struggles to go up or comes down faster than it should, check the spring. Homeowners often unknowingly keep using automatic openers until something else breaks.
Your First Call For Garage Door Maintenance
If your garage door spring is making uncommon sounds or moving erratically don’t wait for the resounding “crack” or crash. Get advice from a trained profession right away. If the door’s spring is obviously broken, heed the common warning pertaining to replacement: Do not attempt this at home!
Costly problems associated with broken springs include:
- Crushed or caved in door panels
- Blown opener motors and stripped gears
- Destroyed chain or belt
- Drive-chain bracket sheers off its door mount
- J-arm bracket breaks off – often damaging a door panel
- Door opener rail gets bent – or weight of the door pulls it out of ceiling mounts
It takes experience and job-specific tools to replace broken garage door springs safely.
Properly prepared for harsh winter conditions with routine garage door maintenance garage doors operate for years. You winterize your vehicles this time of year, so why not winterize your garage door and its opener, too?
Northland Door Systems represents an elite group of garage door manufacturers but technology only goes so far. Moving parts wear out and break. Then skilled and experienced garage door maintenance protects your investment. Northland Door Systems repairs, installs and stands behind the best garage door brands. Don’t hesitate to call or email Northland Door Systems at 608-251-3627 to set up a repair or pre-winter garage door maintenance checkup for your Madison WI home.