Garage Door Tune-Up

Inspect and maintain your garage door annually for safety and convenience sake.

An annual garage door tune-up helps ensure reliable, quiet operation and safety. Each step of the tune-up takes 10 minutes or less and is worth it to keep your garage door in good working order.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Overview

Perhaps no other part of your home experiences as much wear and tear as your overhead garage door. The average garage door will go up and down more than a thousand times a year. When kept in good working order, it provides convenience and security. But a neglected door can not only become as noisy as a locomotive but also pose a significant safety risk to your family, especially your kids. In this article, we'll show the steps involved in the annual inspection and maintenance of your automatic overhead door for reliable, quiet operation and safety. Many of these tips also apply to overhead garage doors that don't have an automatic opener.

The simple maintenance steps shown in the following photos require no special skills and take less than 10 minutes each to perform. Any materials you may need are available at home centers and garage door dealers.

The vast majority of garage doors have either torsion springs, which mount on the header above the door (opening photo), or extension springs, which float above the upper roller track. Except for the installation of containment cables shown in Photos 10 and 11, all the steps featured in the following photos apply to both types.

CAUTION

To be safe while working on the door, take the following precautions:

  1. Unplug the automatic door opener so it can't be activated.
  2. If the door is open while you're working, clamp a locking pliers onto the roller track below a roller to keep it from dropping.
  3. Never remove a lift cable while a door spring is under tension. If released, it'll cut like a knife.
  4. Never attempt to adjust or release the tension on an overhead torsion spring. This is a job for garage door professionals only.

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Inspect your door's hardware

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Maintain springs, chains and seals

Replacing a U-Shaped Astragal on a Steel Door

The hollow rubber weather seal on the bottom of steel doors is called a U-shaped astragal and is subject to damage from wear and mice. U-shaped astragals are sized according to their width as they lie flat. Choose the width that best fits your situation. Use a larger seal if you need to fill a wider gap between the door and the garage floor. The best source for U-shaped astragals is a garage door dealer.

Use a flat-blade screwdriver to open the ends of
the channels that hold the old seal on both ends
of the door. Then pull out the old seal.
Slide the new seal into the channels. To make the
job easier, lubricate the channels with silicone
spray or rubbing alcohol. After the seal is in place,
crimp the channel ends on both ends of the door
with pliers.
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Steps to a safer door

Safety Improvements

Manufacturers have made great strides in improving the safety of garage doors and garage door openers. One of the biggest improvements is the addition of photoelectric eyes on door openers manufactured since 1993.

Photoelectric eyes are mounted above the floor and cause a closing door to reverse when movement is detected in the door opening. If you have an older style door opener, consider replacing it with a new one that has all the latest safety features. A new opener costs from $100 to $150 and can be installed by a homeowner in two to four hours.

A second safety improvement is adding a containment cable to extension spring- type doors (Photos 10 and 11). (Extension springs are mounted above the roller tracks.) When an extension spring breaks, the spring and cable become a heavy whip that can smash into cars or unsuspecting victims. A containment cable stops the recoil.

Containment cables cost only $4 each and are available at home centers. Follow the steps in Photos 10 and 11 to install one.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Screw gun
  • Pliers
  • Wrench set

You'll also need an old toothbrush and a flat-blade screwdriver

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Spray-on white lithium grease
  • lubricant/cleaner such as WD-40
  • 2x4
  • You could also possibly need replacement rollers
  • weather seal
  • 1-in. galvanized roofing nails
  • silicone spray or rubbing alcohol
  • 2 lift handles
  • extension spring containment cables
  • fender washers and locknuts