Garage Door Upkeep

Garage Door Upkeep

It’s the single largest opening on a home and the most frequently used entrance. Yet when it comes to annual home maintenance, many homeowners forget to include the garage door on their list of items to inspect and repair. Here’s what you need to know to keep your garage door working year round.

Make sure the door opens and closes smoothly
Regardless of its age, your garage door should open and close smoothly. If it doesn’t, the spring system may be out of balance. Repairing this should only be done by a professional garage-door service technician.

Test to make sure the automatic reversal is working
To do this, place a roll of paper towels under the door, and lower it. When the door hits the towels, it should reverse. If it doesn’t, consult your owner’s manual or have it checked by a garage-door service professional.

Visually inspect hardware for wear and tear
Look for bent or loose hinges, broken wheels, bent shafts or worn out bearings on steel rollers, and bent or misaligned track. Tighten or replace loose or missing bolts on the door and track supports. Check the spring lift cables for proper operation. The bottom brackets, cables, pulleys and springs are under great tension and should ONLY be repaired by a garage-door professional.

Clean and lubricate hardware
Use a clean rag to remove any debris, grease or dirt build-up from the track. Lubricate all moving parts of the door (hinges, metal rollers and track) with 3-in-1 oil. Never use heavy oil or grease. DO NOT LUBRICATE nylon rollers, plastic idler bearings or locks. Use graphite to keep locks in operational condition.

Surface cleaning
Wash steel and aluminum door surfaces with a mild household detergent and rinse with water. In harsh coastal environments, apply car wax to a painted steel door surface to help maintain its finish.

Remove rust
Visible rust or flaking paint on a steel door indicates that moisture is taking its toll. Sand the rust, apply a zinc-rich primer, and paint with a quality exterior latex.

Keep the heat in … or out
Keeping the garage warm in the winter and cool in the summer doesn’t have to be a challenge. The easiest way to trap heat in and keep cold air out or vice versa is with a weather seal. If you see a gap between the bottom of the garage door and the driveway when the door is closed, it’s time to replace the stop.

If controlling the temperature in living spaces above or next to the garage is an ongoing problem, upgrade to an energy-efficient garage door. Replacing an older garage door with a new, insulated model can reduce energy loss through the garage by up to 71 percent and help keep an unheated garage 10-20 degrees warmer on a cold winter day, according to a comparison study conducted by engineers at Clopay Building Products.

time to replace?

More than 40 percent of the current housing stock was built prior to the era of energy efficiency. If your garage door is a holdover from the dark ages, here are some things to look for when making an upgrade:

2-inch thick, three-layer ”sandwich” construction
Environmentally safe 
insulation layered between two sheets.

R-value or U-factor
These are measurements of the thermal efficiency of a door’s insulation. The higher the R-value, or the lower the U-factor, the more energy efficient the insulation is.

➤ Insulation type
There are two different types of insulation used in garage doors: expanded polystyrene and polyurethane. Polyurethane insulation delivers twice the thermal performance of polystyrene insulation of the same thickness, but doors constructed from either kind are strong and durable.

➤ Low-E (low emissivity) insulated glass
Available on certain garage-door models, Low-E glass has a special coating that reduces the amount of infrared radiation that passes through, thereby reducing the overall heat transfer through the glass and improving energy efficiency. Due to the special coating, the glass has a slight greenish hue.

➤ Design
Get the most out of your garage-door upgrade. Choose a model that complements your home’s architectural style and budget. U.S. residential garage-door manufacturer Clopay offers an online design tool that allows homeowners to upload a photo of their home and mix and match door styles, window options and decorative accents until they find a perfect fit.

about the expert

Mark Westerfield is director of product development and engineering at Clopay Building Products, North America’s leading residential and commercial garage door manufacturer. With more than 20 years of industry experience, Westerfield is a licensed professional engineer in four states and an active member of the garage door industry’s technical committee.

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