On the list of underappreciated home gadgets, garage doors have to be near the top. They keep your family and your stuff safe, seal out bad weather — and you don’t even have to lift them yourself. But like anything else, garage doors age and take abuse from the elements.
You don’t have to clean your garage door every day, or even every week, but a good rule is that you should wipe down your garage door about twice a year. You may also need to test some maintenance items more frequently, depending on the climate where you live.
Dirt, grime and sometimes even automotive liquids like oil and grease accumulate all year long on your garage door, so it’s a good idea to use something stronger than water on its own to clean your door. You can make a mild cleaning solution by adding some household low-phosphate detergent to about five gallons of water. Car soap will work as well, but it doesn’t need to be a strong solution.
Avoid using a pressure washer on your garage door. It might seem like a quick and easy way to clean the entire door in a few minutes, but the high pressure can strip away your door’s finish, possibly leading to rust or rot. If you live in a harsh climate where wind, rain and snow are frequent, a good trick is to apply car wax to hold off the elements.
Don’t forget there are more components to your garage door than the door itself. After you finish wiping down the door, you should also clean your garage door’s weather stripping and metal tracks before you can begin running through your maintenance checklist.
Garage Door Maintenance
It can be tempting to lubricate the metal tracks your garage door rolls on. Don’t do it. You’ll only risk the door slipping when it moves.
Apply lightweight oil to other moving parts, such as the lift cables and any steel rollers for the cables. If your door’s weather stripping is showing signs of age, pull it out and replace it with a new gasket. Make sure all the bolts are safely tight. If you ever have questions, you can always get a second opinion from a professional.
Finally, test the safety features on the garage to ensure they are ready in case of an accident. Check that the optical laser sensors are properly aligned, and clean the lenses on them. Be careful not to knock them out of alignment during cleaning.
Test the response time of the door’s safety reversing mechanism. Set a roll of paper towels lengthwise on the floor, then try to close the door onto the roll of towels. It should come to a stop and reverse just after touching the roll.
If you do have concerns about tracking or motor functionality, you may need to have a professional come out and reset the door on its rollers. However, many homeowners complete garage door maintenance on their own. It’s cost-effective and smart.
Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington