For most households, the garage door is the biggest moving mechanism on the property, yet it is often taken for granted. Whether your door has a chain-drive, belt-drive or screw-drive opening system, every garage door needs annual care and maintenance. Like any other moving part, a garage door can have issues and even break down. Because of this, it should be inspected regularly and maintained as needed.
Many garage door manufacturers suggest that systems be tested every one to two months to make certain it's functioning properly. No matter what type of opening system your door has, common maintenance issues as well as the necessary steps to keep the tracks lubricated are essentially the same:
Tracks. Look over the tracks and check for debris that could catch in the rollers. Wipe or vacuum them out as needed.
Lubrication. Lubricate your garage door rollers with standard car engine oil. A drop or two is plenty on each roller, then open and close the door so that the oil is drawn into the bearings. Lightly lubricate hinges, bearings, chains and springs if needed. Garage door springs should always appear very lightly lubricated.
Cables and springs. Inspect the cables for signs of wear. Replace if needed.
The door. The door itself should be inspected as well. Make sure all screws are tight and that all connections are lightly oiled.
Door force. Some aspects of garage doors can be adjusted; for example, the force with which the door closes. Test its sensitivity by placing a piece of wood where it closes, then close the door. When the door makes contact, it should immediately open. If it presses down on the wood at all, this means the force should be lowered. You can usually find the means to make the adjustment on the back of the door's housing. Remember that door weight will vary at different times of year depending upon current weather, temperature and humidity; a door force of 6 may be fine in winter, but 5 could be better for summer conditions.
Garage door springs. Make sure the springs are secure and taut. Unfortunately, there's no foolproof test to determine a spring's current strength or remaining life span. However, you can try disconnecting the opener then raising the door manually; if this feels easy to do so, the spring is likely fine. As a safety measure, make sure springs are on safety cables so if they ever break, they won't pose a hazard to people or property.
Garage door sensors. All garage door openers must, by law, have optic sensors that will detect people or objects in its path. If your door has mysteriously stopped functioning, this is usually the cause. Optic sensors should be pointed at each other so that the beam of light they send and receive is uninterrupted. If the sensors go out of alignment, your system will stop functioning. Make sure there are no items or obstructions blocking them and that they are properly aligned. Rotating or moving them slightly can usually remedy the problem.
The more sensitive the door opener, the greater the chance of a shutdown. These measures are in place for safety reasons, but homeowners should be able to discern the cause. Some of the more state of the art openers have diagnostic lights that flash a code to indicate the specific issue. Misaligned rollers, dirty tracks and broken springs will all cause the door to stop functioning.
If the maintenance steps above don't remedy your garage door issue or you sense there's a more serious problem, contact a professional who specializes in repair of garage doors, such as Shank Door. Scraping, grinding, or whizzing sounds can mean there's an issue in the door's motor, gears or sliding mechanisms.