Common Problems with Your Garage Door Parts
Your garage door is one of the most important parts of your home. A well-functioning and secure garage door protects your family and your belongings from everything including the elements and potential thieves. To keep your door in working order, you need to familiar with its parts. In particular, you should know what the common problems with various garage door parts are, how to fix them, and how to anticipate them before they become problematic.
One of the biggest complaints homeowners have about their garage doors is how often the springs need to be replaced. This is not because these parts are cheap or designed to be disposable – it’s because they bear the brunt of the work when it comes to raising and lowering your door. This seemingly simple act puts those springs under an enormous amount of pressure, which means they are more susceptible to damage than other parts.
Thankfully, these springs have a predictable lifespan. When you purchase them, look at how many cycles they are rated for. A garage door cycle consists of the door opening and closing once. For example, if you leave your home to go to work and then park your car in the garage again at night, your door has completed four cycles. Cheaper springs are typically rated for about 10,000 cycles, while more expensive ones can offer you double or triple that amount. Knowing your cycle count can help you figure out when these springs should be replaced.
Another issue you may come across when examining your torsion springs is rust. Rust eats away at the springs, weakening them and leading to premature breaking and bending. This issue can be prevented by applying lubrication to your springs once every three months or so.
Track and Track Hardware
Ideally, your garage door tracks and rollers should last about 10 years, as long as the door itself. However, frequent use, improper installation, or failing to follow through with maintenance can cause a lot of damage to your track.
The track is what keeps your garage door properly aligned. If there are issues with the way your door opens and closes or if it doesn’t seem secure when open, it could be a problem with your track. Track-related issues must be fixed as soon as possible since a track that doesn’t function right is a huge safety risk. In a worst-case scenario, the door could fall closed on its own without warning or could come completely off the tracks.
One way to prevent this issue from happening is to pay attention to how your door moves. Any changes in the way it opens or closes could be a sign of something bigger, so watch for things like speed, the sound the door makes, and how secure it feels when you manually adjust it. Call a garage door repair company immediately to have any issues professionally examined. You should also be sure to lubricate the tracks and the rollers once every six months or so.
Garage Door Seals
The piece of plastic rubber that lines the bottom of your door is the seal. Despite being so small, it is one of the most important parts of your door. Cheap seals crack, chip, and break easily, letting the elements into your garage. Homeowners with broken garage door seals often see sky-high energy bills and may even wake up to water, snow, or ice inside the garage itself. Depending on the size of the seal, pests and small rodents could even enter.
If your seal does become damaged or falls off, you may be tempted to just go without it. After all, how important can a few inches of plastic really be? The answer, surprisingly, is crucial. In most cases, garage door floors are not perfectly level. Even if you could get your garage door to go all the way down to the floor, without your seal, there are going to be gaps. These gaps cause the same range of problems for homeowners as a broken seal.
Garage door seals are not necessarily designed to last upwards of 10 years, like other parts of the door. Given the function seals perform, you can expect to replace them once every two years or so. If you live in climates with extreme temperatures, temperature fluctuations, or you use the door frequently, you may want to replace the seal once every year. Regardless of your replacement schedule, make sure you include the seal in your routine inspection of the door and its parts.
Your hinges are another vital part of your door. Broken hinges can cause serious damage to the door itself, can make opening the door difficult, and pose a safety risk. Like your springs, the hinges experience a lot of pressure each time the door opens or closes. Unlike springs, well-made hinges are meant to last about 10 to 15 years – the lifespan of your door. If you happen to have cheap hinges or ones that were not installed properly, they are not going to be as durable. In situations like these, you may need to replace them every two or three years.
One of the first signs that something is wrong with your hinges is a loose or missing screw. Screws become loose when the metal plate securing them deteriorates or rusts. You can, temporarily, replace the screw with a nut and bolt, but one loose screw does mean that you need to replace the entire hinge sooner rather than later. Hinges can also become rusted or corroded over time. To reduce the risk of this causing serious damage to your home, make sure you inspect your hinges once every few months to ensure they are clean, in good working order, and have not rusted. Take this opportunity to lubricate them as well.
Most garage doors that can be opened manually have a keyed lock as a security feature, keeping others out when the door can easily be rolled up or down by hand. Locks are intended to last as long as the door does but can become misaligned over time. This can make it hard to physically engage the door lock. Thankfully, it is an easy fix – all you need to do is unscrew the lock, realign it, and screw it back into place. During the process, you can look for any parts that may have warped or rusted over the years. Replace those damaged pieces before reinstalling the lock.
Make sure you examine your door’s alignment the first time you notice an issue with the lock. The longer the misalignment goes on, the worse it is for your door. Not only does it make it progressively harder to unlock, increasing the risk that you may break your key or become locked out, but it also puts a lot of stress on the rest of your door.
It really depend on the brand and model. In general, you should expect around 10 years from a reliable brand like LiftMaster. Unfortunately, cheaper opener brands often use cheap capacitors and other internal components to cut costs, and their lifespan may be much shorter.
If you are experienced with soldering, it is possible to purchase the same capacitor for a few bucks and replace them by yourself. But it’s very important to follow all the safety guidelines as electric openers contain very powerful capacitors that can be very dangerous if handled incorrectly!
If you decide to install an electric opener, make sure you disable or remove the lock to prevent future damage to your door. Trying to open your door when a manual lock is engaged can cause damage to your track, rollers, hinges, springs, and the motor itself. Some homeowners remove the manual lock altogether, while others prefer to keep it as an extra security measure if the electric opener fails. If you do decide to keep it, contact your local garage door repair company to find out the best and most secure way to temporarily disable the lock.
While you should always contact a reputable garage door repair company for regular inspections and maintenance, it is also a good idea to be familiar with how your door works yourself. Perform a general inspection of your door often, about once a month or so, and contact the pros if you notice any new or worsening signs of damage. Being able to anticipate issues and to recognize problems before they become too big can help you save time and money when it comes to repairs.