Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
Whilst we recommend getting your sectional garage door professionally serviced at least every 2 years there are some things the home owner can do to help ensure their garage door and automatic openers longevity and smooth operation. We recommend the following DIY garage door maintenance procedure at least once a year. Familiarize yourself with the components below. (click on images to enlarge)
A can of degreaser
A can of CRC, Innox, WD -40 or Silicone spray
A can of White Lithium Grease
Before conducting any maintenance to your garage door please switch off the power at the power point. Then, with the door in the down position pull the manual release cord to disengage your door from the opener.
Starting with degreaser and clean rags, thoroughly clean out the tracks. Most people would be amazed at how much dirt and grime accumulates in garage door tracks especially the horizontal section where years of dirt and dust can build up. This can lead to extra pressure on the rollers and wheels affecting the smooth operation and longevity of your door.
A common thing we see is that well meaning home owners have put grease in the tracks. DO NOT DO APPLY GREASE TO TRACKS and if there is any evidence of this remove all of it! The reason for this is twofold, firstly the wheels that run in the tracks are designed to roll. Most quality garage doors will have roller bearing wheels and if you put grease in the tracks the wheels may start to slide instead of roll. Once this starts to happen the sliding action will wear a flat spot in the wheel surface and make it difficult for it to run smoothly. Secondly, grease is not so good in an open environment as the accumulation of dirt, dust and salt flying around in the air will build up and turn it into a sticky, gluggy paste. This will really place added strain on your opener and other garage door components.
Look at your rollers and the axles. If they are covered in grease it should first be removed and the axles wiped clean (as much as you can get to). Gently move the door slightly from side to side to expose more of the axle from the shaft of the hinge. Once again the reason for this is that the old grease that has been exposed to the elements is more likely to inhibit the axles free movement rather than aid it. At this point you can spray some white lithium grease into the roller bearing (if applicable) section of the wheel. Do not spray CRC or Silicone spray etc into the bearing as it is too thin and will dissipate any existing lubrication inside the bearing. This can lead to noisy wheels that may seize up. White Lithium grease is thicker and better for bearings.
Inspect all of the hinges to make sure they haven’t come loose, aren’t cracked and are not warped. If they are warped or cracked this can cause the door to scrape on your bricks and put the opener and other components under added pressure. There are a number of different metal and plastic hinges depending on the manufacturer of your door but they all have the same basic operation. At this point you can also spray the hinge joints with White lithium grease or any other lubricant. This will eliminate most garage door creaks and groans instantly.
Never undo the bottom bracket, it is under extreme tension and could cause injury or death if tampered with.
Locate the torsion springs. These are usually at the front of the garage near the ceiling. On some older doors they may be towards the rear just in front of the motor. Most single size doors will only have one. Most double sized doors will have two but up to four springs depending on the weight and height of your door. The torsion springs hold an enormous amount of energy and are what does all the heavy lifting of the door. Contrary to popular belief the electric motors aren’t designed to lift a lot of weight and ideally they should only be an actuator to the garage doors movement.
Springs lose some of their tension over time and neglecting to have them re-tensioned by a professional as part of regular garage door maintenance will put extra strain on your opener and other components of the door which will lead to failures, burnt out motors, warped and split panels, worn or broken drive sprockets etc. The other affect under tensioned springs can have is they may run out of tension at the top of the door travel. This can cause cables to come off the drum and can result in a catastrophic event that could require the entire door to be replaced.
You can check your doors spring tension by lifting it manually, regardless of the door size it should be fairly effortless to lift and if you place it in the halfway position and let go, it should stay where you put it without falling down. Also if you push the door all the way up to it’s normal open position have a look at the cables on either side, they should’t be slack. If you believe your springs may need re – tensioning call us or your local garage door professional. Attempting to retension them yourself without the proper tools or know how can result in serious injury and we don’t recommend it as a DIY task. The horrific injuries sustained by the man below whilst trying to re-tension his springs should serve as as a warning.
If however, you have the know how springs can be purchased as a DIY option from parts wholesalers such as Aus Garage Door Parts
It is a good idea to lubricate your spring. Spring coils that are rubbing together are not only noisy but they can change the tension and the whole dynamics of your door can be thrown out. We recommend spraying them with some CRC, WD -40 Innox etc and then lifting the door up and down a few times and re applying. A top layer of white lithium grease spray can also prevent the coils from binding. Spray the springs with the door down and also with the door up, this will help you reach more of the spring. This also stops rust spots from forming on the springs which can cause weak points and ultimately lead the spring to snap.
On average garage door springs will last between 5 -12 years before they will snap and they need to be professionally replaced. Usually one spring snaps shortly before the other and for that reason we always recommend replacing both springs at once even if only one is broken. We calculate the ideal spring size and gauge for your garage door to ensure it travels smoothly. The wrong size springs will burn out your automatic opener prematurely. Never try to lift your door manually or with the automatic opener with a broken spring. Read more on broken garage door springs.
Inspect your torsion cables. They run all way from the cable drum above the top of the door down to the bottom bracket on the door. If there is any sign of rust, fraying or unraveling call us or another garage door professional immediately. Never try to replace or adjust the torsion cables yourself as they are under extreme tension. Also make sure they haven’t skipped off the drum and into the wrong groove.
Inspect the track hangers for broken or loose screws or deformed metal.
The automatic opener pole or rail should be free from grease, dirt and debris. It is good practice to degrease the pole or rail and wipe clean with a rag. In most cases we do not recommend applying anything to the chain as often this drips down inside the opener and gets into the electronics causing failure. However, if the chain is rusty or in an environment prone to salt, silicone spray, CRC or WD- 40 can be applied to the chain sparingly and the excess wiped off with a rag.
In general, garage door chains and belts do not require tightening and an over tensioned belt or chain can place excessive strain on the drive sprocket and motor. If you think your chain is loose call a garage door professional as this can be caused by a worn drive sprocket. Inspect the drive carriage for excessive wear and test the safety reverse system of your garage door opener. In general it should stop and reverse if it comes into contact with a a 40mm high obstacle placed on the floor and you should be able to stop the door travelling up or down by applying a minimal amount of force. Consult the user manual specific to your garage door opener to find the manufacturers test procedure.
The steps above do not replace a professional service as there are crucial components that can only be serviced using the right tools and know how but has been written to help garage door owners aid the smooth running and longevity of their doors in between professional services.
The correct garage door maintenance can help your garage door run smoothly and issue free for many years.