An automatic garage door is one of life's small luxuries -- particularly if you live in an area that gets all four seasons. With the press of a button, you're able to park your car in a safe, temperature-controlled garage to avoid scraping windshields in the winter and burning your hands on the steering wheel in the summer. However, garage door repair can be expensive, and a homeowner with many competing priorities may find him- or herself putting off needed repairs and simply parking outside when the garage door stops working. What can you do to keep your garage door in good shape and avoid hefty repair bills? Read on about the garage door maintenance and inspections you should periodically make to your door, as well as the maintenance that may best be left to a professional.
What periodic maintenance should you perform on your garage door?
Most issues with your garage door can be quickly spotted -- so performing a periodic visual inspection is important. Look over each of the components of your garage door, including the springs and pulleys, to ensure that they look in good repair and that no rust is forming. Toggle your garage door up and down a few times and watch it carefully to ensure that the sides remain even while it's moving and that it doesn't shake or make any rattling noises. Often, these problems can be caused by something as simple as debris in the tracks that can be easily swept out.
Another important safety component of your garage door is its ability to stop when it senses something in its tracks. While your garage door is lowering, place a broomstick or other small item inside the door to break the beam. If the garage door doesn't instantly stop and begin to rise when this beam is interrupted, you'll want to carefully clean the sensors with a soft cloth (often they can become obscured by dust from car exhaust and stop working). Test the door again to ensure that it stops when an object crosses the beam.
After you've inspected these components, use some lubricant spray to oil the chains, pulleys, and tracks to ensure they can continue to operate smoothly.
Which maintenance and repair tasks should be performed by a professional?
Although these periodic maintenance items can help quickly identify any potential problem areas (and avoid damage from sticky, unlubricated chains), there are a few garage repair tasks that are best handled by a professional.
If your door's large torsion springs appear rusted or the metal of these springs is beginning to show signs of wear, you should contact a garage repair company for inspection and replacement of the springs. Don't try to replace them yourself -- these springs can be dangerous or even deadly. Because they're so tightly wound and require specialty tools to remove and replace, they're no match for the DIY homeowner.
You'll also want to consult a repair company if you notice any fraying or other issues with the metal cables that hoist your door. If these cables fray or break at the wrong time, this door can come crashing down -- causing damage to your vehicle or much more devastating consequences if the door strikes a child or pet. Like the door's springs, these cables are under pressure and if not properly removed by a trained professional, can lash around and cause injury.
Ensuring that your springs and cables are in good condition are the two most important tasks when it comes to keeping your garage door in safe and operable condition. With a bit of preventive maintenance, you can help keep major repairs to a minimum.