Thousands of people sustain injuries every year due to garage door accidents. These accidents usually involve pinched fingers, lacerations from broken glass, or malfunctions due to lack of regular maintenance.

Regular garage door maintenance helps you to avoid mechanical failures that can cause accidents or result in a broken garage door. A broken door can cost more than regular maintenance.

Garage doors are often ignored until they need to be repaired. But checking that your garage door is functioning is also important to ensure:

  • You don’t have the inconvenience of not getting into and out of your garage
  • Gaps don’t develop around and under your door causing water to get into your garage
  • You avoid the cost of unexpected repairs
  • You prevent rust which can cause further damage to garage components

You should familiarize yourself with the make and model of your garage door. This will assist you in knowing and checking the door’s important elements. Regular checks will let you know if your garage door is on the fritz.

Types of Garage Doors

There are five types of garage doors:

  • Carriage style (swings outward)
  • Tilt-up canopy
  • Tilt-up retractable 
  • Roll-up
  • Sliding (to the side)
  • Canopy
  • Sectional
  • Side-hinged

Garage doors can be wooden, aluminum, vinyl, steel, fiberglass or PVC material. 

Knowing the type of garage door you have will guide you on the best way to maintain it.

The ability to identify other basic elements that make a garage door work will also be useful. 

Garage Door Elements

The basic garage door elements include:

  • Door panels
  • Hardware components
  • Weather Stripping

Door Panels

The garage doors have panels or sections. They can have a variety of designs and styles. 

Garage door configurations include double doors or single bay doors. These usually open either vertically (up and down) or horizontally (left or right.)

They can be insulated or non-insulated, depending on the climate. Insulated doors have an R-value. The R-value tells you how effective the panels are at insulating your garage. Doors with higher R-values have more insulation.

This helps your garage maintain a constant temperature even through extreme weather fluctuations. This is important if your pets sleep in the garage or if you keep your vehicle in your garage. If you store antiques, plants or liquids, your garage should stay warm. Insulation also prevents cold air from getting into any room of your home that may be near to the garage.

If you have a paintable garage door, repainting regularly will be part of your garage door maintenance. This is necessary as the paint will peel or chip because of rain, hot sun or cold weather. Buy high-quality paint and apply it correctly to limit this from occurring.

The door panel can have windows as part of their design. This is an additional element that will require proper care depending on the configuration. 

Depending on where you live, your doors should be able to withstand hurricanes or tropical storms. In some states, garage doors have to meet the hurricane code. Ensure your garage door compiles to the code by checking with a professional garage door company.

Hardware Components

Garage doors include several hardware components that work together to open and close the door. They are usually located on the inner side of the door. They include:

Lifting Cables – usually made of steel and attached according to the total weight of the door panel. They lift and lower the door.

Springs – the torsion spring is an essential part of the counterweight system used in garage doors. It is a metal, coiled piece located above the garage door. It extends along the horizontal tracks and relies on tension to raise and lower the door. Heavier doors sometimes have secondary springs over the door tracks.

Hinges – found between each section or panel of the door. They help keep the door sections static but allow them to flex as they move along the track. You can determine the quality of a garage door by its hinges. High-quality doors use double hinges to support the weight of each section.

Door Rollers – are also known as door wheels. They are small and located at the side of each door. They should turn freely inside the door tracks as the door lifts and lowers. Nylon door rollers allow the door to open with less noise than galvanized steel rollers.

Door Tracks – are metal pieces attached to the sides of the door. They act as guides for the rollers to glide up and down on. They are usually suspended and fastened to the garage’s ceiling. Doors can open either horizontally or vertically. Thicker options ensure the steel doesn’t twist.

Garage Door Opener – is a motorized device attached to the door. It has its own parts and components including a lifting arm, manual disconnection and chairs. The operator of the door opener is attached to the ceiling and encases the motor that powers the system. It can be controlled by a keypad, wall button, or remotes. Modern openers are WiFi-enabled so they can be remotely controlled with an app from your tablet, phone or other devices.

Sensors – are also part of the door opener system. They are also known as photo eyes or photo eye safety sensors. They are located on either side of the door, at the bottom of the door tracks, about four to six inches off the ground. One sensor emits a beam or laser signal across the opening of the garage door. The other sensor picks up this signal when the door is closing. They communicate seamlessly when working properly. Any break in the beam or signal sends a signal to the opener that immediately opens the door.

Many of the garage door components consist of galvanized steel. This resists corrosion a lot better than regular steel. It is important to know the gauge rating to know the quality of the steel. The lower the gauge, the thicker the steel. High-quality components have a lower gauge rating.

Weather Stripping

The bottom of the garage door should have rubberized weather stripping. There should also be weather stripping on the exterior frame of the door as well as the exterior and interior sides of the door. Higher quality doors also have stripping between each section or panel of the door.  

Weather stripping keeps rain or water from getting into the garage. Once sealed correctly, it also blocks out the wind.

Once you know the garage door elements and how they work, it will be easier to identify if they are working well or if they may need repairs.

Broken or rusting components will affect how well the door operates. There are signs to look for to know what component may be responsible for your door not working properly.

10 Ways to Identify a Broken Garage Door

Most garage doors should last between 15 to 30 years. This would be dependent on the quality of the door’s construction, local climate conditions and maintenance.

Despite regular maintenance, wear and tear and constant use of your door can result in some components malfunctioning or breaking. Some telltale signs let you know when it is time to call for garage door repair.

1. Broken Cables

Cables can become brittle with age which can cause them to break. This can also happen due to the stress placed on them when the spring breaks. 

One side of the door usually appears to be sagging. When opening it may also angle slightly on one side. 

If all the cables are broken, the door may not stay in place when opened. It will probably fall as you lift it. This can pose a serious safety risk. 

2. Broken Springs

Springs have an open-close cycle. This means that they open and close the door a certain number of times before they eventually break. 

When the spring breaks it usually makes a loud noise, similar to a firework. If you hear this noise, don’t attempt to open the door.

Attempting to open the door can be dangerous as there can still be tension left in the spring which can knock the door off the tracks. This can cause serious injuries, especially if the spring snaps off. Stay out of the garage and call a company that provides garage door services

 3. Worn Rollers

When the rollers on the side of the door are working well, they spin and turn. If they become stuck or are sliding, the door can come off the tracks.

Opening or closing the door may become noisier if the rollers are stuck or sliding. The tracks may also require cleaning.

If the door comes off its tracks while opening or closing, leave it in the position it gets stuck in. Trying to open or close the door after it becomes stuck, can cause the cables and springs to break as well.

Sticking rollers might be due to excess humidity. They may also need lubrication.

4. Misaligned Track

The continuous opening and closing of the door can sometimes cause the door to shift out of place. 

The track can also become misaligned. This will only get worse over time if not repaired. The track will continue to move out of place. This can damage other parts of the garage door.

5. Door Closes Then Reopens

This usually occurs when the automatic door opener needs some adjustments. The opener’s door limit settings control this function. They determine how far the door should move to fully close or open. It will need slight adjustments to these settings periodically during normal usage. 

When the settings are out of sync, they interpret the door touching the floor when closed, as an obstruction, so the door will reopen.  This can also happen if an object is in front of the sensors.

6. Door Opens But Will Not Close

This also occurs when something is wrong with the sensors. If there is something directly in front of the sensors or the lenses are dirty, the door will not close.

If the door still doesn’t close, then call a garage door repair technician.

7. Opener Runs But Door Does Not Move

If this happens, make sure the garage door is not locked. If it isn’t, then check that the automatic door disconnection cord has not been pulled. You can check this by trying to open and close the door manually. If it can open, then you need to reattach the door to the opener’s lift arm.

8. Door Sticks or Stops

This can be due to:

  • Lack of lubrication of the moving components of the door
  • Change in humidity levels
  • If the door is not levelled or needs realignment

If none of these resolves the issue, contact a garage door repair company.

9. Remote Opener Does Not Work

If this occurs, try to open the door by using the switch inside the garage. If the door opens, the remote may need new batteries.

If the remote still doesn’t work with new batteries, reprogramming with the opener may be necessary or you need a replacement.

If you have power and the door does not open, check that the opener is plugged in and that the breaker hasn’t blown. If the door still doesn’t open, it could be an electrical problem or that the opener needs to be replaced.

10. Worn Hardware

The door’s components can get worn over time or become rusty. When this happens, the door won’t open properly.

Check the door’s hardware regularly and tighten any loose components. Use an oil-based lubricant to ensure everything is working smoothly.

Repairing the Problem

Broken garage doors are inevitable, especially with constant use. Routine maintenance can help with these problems.

Repair any issues immediately. This will keep repair and minimize or prevent damage to other components.

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