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DYI Garage Door Tuneup

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

Next ProjectFamily HandymanAn 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 MagazineGarage Door Tune-Up Overview

Garage door safety

Follow all safety precautions when working on your garage door. If any of these steps feel overwhelming or you are unsure of how to complete. Please call Scandia Doors for help. (612) 300-7736

Read more on garage door opener repair.

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 garage door 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.

Inspect your door’s hardware

Garage Door Tune-Up

Photo 1: Tighten the nuts and bolts

Because your door moves, the hardware can loosen. Inspect and tighten all roller brackets and the bolts that hold the rails to the support brackets.

Maintain springs, chains and seals

Garage Door Tune-Up

Photo 4: Lubricate the chain or screw

Lubricate the chain or the screw on your opener annually with white lithium grease. Spray-on versions are available at most home centers. Lubrication will make the opener’s operation smoother, quieter and extend the life of both chain and opener.

Note: Some screw openers do not require lubrication. Check your Owner’s Manual.

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.

Remove old weather seal
Install new weather seal

Steps to a safer door

Garage Door Tune-Up

Photo 7: Test your door

Test the balance of your door. A properly balanced garage door is less likely to crush someone or something and keeps your door opener from working too hard. To know how to balance a garage door, first, disengage the opener from the door by pulling the opener release handle (see opening photo). Then lower the door about halfway. A properly balanced door will hold the halfway position without assistance. If the door rides back up, the springs are under too much tension. If it falls, the tension needs to be increased. Adjusting the spring tension is tricky and dangerous. Call a garage door professional to perform the service!

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.

Required Tools for this Project

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

  1. Hammer

  2. Pliers

  3. Screw gun

  4. Tape measure

  5. 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.

  1. 1-in. roofing nails

  2. 2 lift handles

  3. 2×4

  4. extension spring containment cables

  5. fender washers and locknuts

  6. lubricant/cleaner such as WD-40

  7. silicone spray or rubbing alcohol

  8. Spray-on white lithium grease

  9. Weather seal

  10. You could also possibly need replacement rollers

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