Your garage door is the biggest moving part in your home, according to Bob Vila. To help ensure it provides you easy, safe and reliable access, it is important to keep the door and its opener working properly.

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Photo: Guthmann Construction

Basic, routine maintenance can help extend the life of your garage door and opener. The International Door Association (IDA) recommends checking and testing your garage door system monthly. This includes looking at your garage door opener, springs, rollers, cables and pulleys for signs of wear. The IDA says you should also make sure the door is lubricated and balanced, and that you’ve addressed any other maintenance steps listed in your owner’s manual.

Here are some things to keep in mind to help you upkeep your garage system:

Balance

One of the first things you should do when testing your garage door, says the IDA, is check your door balance.

To find out if your door is balanced, the IDA says take the following steps:

  1. Close the garage door.
  2. Pull the door release handle to allow for manual operation.
  3. Lift the door about 3 or 4 feet above the ground. If it stays open, your door is properly balanced. If not, you may want to contact a technician to adjust it.

Lubrication

Photo: Ponderosa Garage Doors

The IDA recommends regularly lubricating all of the moving parts of your garage door during maintenance. According to Bob Vila, this includes rollers, bearings, hinges, springs and chains. To start, he says, put a drop of engine oil on the each roller, which will pull the oil into the bearings as it moves. Then lightly lubricate the hinges and springs so your system is less likely to get jammed. A home improvement column in The Washington Post says manufacturers suggest using a silicone lubricant or light oil for hinges, springs and chains, but it should not be applied to plastic parts.

Springs and Tracks

Doing a regular visual inspection of the springs, tracks and other door hardware is a great way to help prevent malfunction due to wear, says IDA. Unfortunately, Bob Vila notes there’s not a way to tell how much longer the springs will last. If you inspect them monthly, however, you may be able to detect issues. If your springs are still in good shape, Vila says, an older child should be able to open the door manually when it’s disconnected from the opener. If you find an issue with the springs, the IDA recommends calling a certified technician to handle repair or replacement, as the springs are under high tension and could cause serious injury.

To maintain the tracks, look at them each month and wipe out or vacuum any debris that may get in the way of the rollers, Vila says. Also check to see if they are aligned (parallel with each other) to avoid dragging wheels that could cause untimely wear, suggests the Washington Post. If you notice the tracks are out of alignment, the Post says to loosen the bolts in the mounts of the track, straighten the tracks and then tighten the bolts.

Sensitivity

You can adjust the sensitivity of  most garage door openers. Bob Vila explains it is possible to check the force of closing by putting a 2-by-4 under the door and shutting it. If the door bounces back up when it hits the wood, its level of sensitivity is likely appropriate. If it doesn’t, you may need to reduce the force via a setting on the garage door opener system.

Being aware of the condition of your garage door and opener is the best way to help prevent issues. Along with checking these specific components each month, look over your system for wear, rust, broken pieces and dirt. If you come across any of these problems, the IDA recommends contacting a service technician to handle the repairs.