Yearly Garage Door Maintenance Checklist for First Time Homeowners

When it comes to household maintenance, garage doors don’t typically top the list in most people’s minds. But a frequent inspection is important nonetheless. Not only can a malfunctioning garage door cause a major headache, but also it can be costly and potentially cause injury.

Imagine going out to your garage to get your car out and head to work, and the door won't open! Your boss wouldn't be happy. Even if it's not your first home, you may not think of this until it's too late.

To get ahead of expensive repairs, it’s important that you conduct routine performance checks. Below is a checklist of garage door tests and maintenance tips you should plan at least once per year. While, the homeowner can do most of these tasks, you should consider getting help from a garage door professional when major repairs are necessary.

1. Check Alignment and Balance

Take a close look at your garage door to confirm that it is properly aligned. You can do so by taking the following steps:

  • Start with a closed garage door and disconnect it from the opener.
  • Once it is disconnected, attempt to open the door with one hand. It should move easily if properly lubricated. If it sticks despite a follow-up lubrication, it could be an alignment issue.
  • Now open the door halfway and release it. A properly balanced garage door will stay in place (possibly shifting slightly, or even descending very slowly) and will not fall to the floor because of the spring tension holding it in place. If you put some upward pressure on it, the door should not fly open. Note that a door that closes too quickly could have bad springs, or is not properly balanced.
  • Remember to reattach the door to the motor after completing the alignment and balance test. If you suspect a problem, contact a garage door professional right away to prevent further damage to the door or the opener.

2. Look At How The Opener Is Operating

Garage doors are very powerful mechanisms and can potentially be dangerous if they are not operating properly. Perform the following tests to be sure your opener is functioning safely:

  • Your opener should have a safety reverse mechanism so that it doesn’t close on a vehicle or a person. Test this by opening the door, centering a piece of wood beneath the door and attempting to close it automatically. As the board won’t allow the door to close entirely, the door should detect it, stop then reverse entirely. A malfunctioning reverse mechanism is considered a serious safety hazard and should be reported to a garage door professional immediately.
  • Next, test the photoelectric eyes, if your garage door has them. Start with the door completely open, and then begin to close it automatically. As it descends, use a stick to interrupt the path of the sensor. A properly working photoelectric eye will sense the stick, stop the door and reverse it. Like the reverse mechanism, a malfunctioning photoelectric eye should be taken seriously and reported to a garage door professional for immediate repairs.
  • On a routine basis, look at any power cords or extension cords that aren’t directly wired into the wall. They can become loose over time, potentially locking you out of your home or causing the garage door to malfunction.
  • An automatic garage door will have an emergency release handle that should be tested from time to time. Simply pull the release handle (or cord) so that the door detaches from the opener. Once you’ve confirmed that you can do that with ease, reattach it.
  • Some garage doors have extension springs. Ideally, the extension springs will have a safety cable running through the middle of it. If your garage door does not have safety cables, it is recommended you have them installed.
  • When seasons change, perform routine tightening of chains, belts, hinges and hardware as needed. Additionally, lubricate all springs, sprockets, rollers and bearings.
  • Lastly, be sure that the open/close button for your garage door (called the transmitter) is high enough off the ground that children cannot tamper with it. In general, have the transmitter at least 5 feet from the ground.

3. Inspect for Damage

Every six months, inspect your garage door for damage.

  • Look for damaged wiring and connections.
  • Check the weather strip for any damage that could allow air or water in.
  • Closely examine cables for wear, and report any apparent damage to a garage door professional as soon as you can.

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Author Bio: Justin White is the marketing director for Garage Door Repair LLC, Living just outside of Washington DC, Justin is extremely resourceful with resolutions on common garage door problems. He has written on everything from broken garage door spring repairs to common garage door opener problems. 

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