Performing some basic inspections and maintenance on your garage doors every year is a great way to keep them in good shape and avoid any large surprise repairs. While you're looking over your garage door system, make sure to include the components that are responsible for keeping wind and rain out of your garage, keeping your doors opening and closing smoothly, and protecting your doors from warping, bowing, and rotting.
By themselves, garage doors don't offer a weatherproof seal to keep the wind and rain and other elements out of your garage. The weatherstripping installed around your doors provides this valuable protection, but it can wear out quickly. If you live in an area with consistently temperate weather, you can probably get away with keeping your weatherstripping for a few years at a time, but inspecting it should still be part of your annual maintenance; even long-term exposure to the sun can cause it to start to crack and lose its effectiveness.
There are a few ways to check the state of your weatherstripping. First, give it a direct examination; look for signs of cracking or breakage or places where the weatherstripping has started to pull away from the door or adjacent wall. Next, go into your garage and keep the lights off. Look for any sunlight coming through the cracks between the doors and walls. Finally, hold your hand near the weatherstripping; you shouldn't feel any air coming through, and if you do, it's a sign the weatherstripping needs to be replaced. If it is allowed to deteriorate too much, it could allow water inside and potentially cause damage.
Have Your Tracks Inspected and Aligned
If your doors use torsion springs to open, you likely have a system where your doors open via metal tracks that guide rollers either to the side of your garage or above where you might park a car. While the springs do the heavy lifting, the tracks are responsible for guiding your doors in the right direction smoothly. If your tracks start to become misaligned or loose, they can add friction to your doors as they open and close, which puts more strain on your rollers, springs, doors, and garage door opener motor.
Alignment issues aren't often easy to spot just by eyeing the tracks themselves unless the problem is severe. Alignment issues show themselves in several different ways. Here are some things to look and listen for:
- Doors making rubbing or grinding sounds as they open and close.
- Doors moving in a stuttering motion rather than gliding smoothly.
- Doors closing unevenly or leaving a gap between the door and the ground.
- Signs of doors rubbing up against the molding.
Minor alignment problems can start out as only a nuisance, but they should be taken care of quickly to prevent possible damage to multiple components of your garage door system.
Examine Wood Doors and Repaint/Refinish
Wood doors are a beautiful addition to a home, but they come with additional considerations and maintenance needs to make sure they stay in good shape. With good care, a wood garage door can last about 20 years, but it needs to be protected from the elements, and catching any signs of trouble early can help you make simple fixes rather than extensive repairs.
While you're taking a look at the rest of your system, check your wood doors inside and out for any signs of cracking in the finish or a change in the finish's color. If the finish looks flaky or if it's starting to chip, this is a sign the door needs to be repainted or refinished. Depending on the severity of the weather and climate in your area, including sunlight, you may need to do this once every three to five years
The risks of leaving a wood door unprotected or with inadequate sealing are primarily warping and bowing, where moisture making its way into the wood causes it to bend. Minor warping and bowing can often be fixed, but when it gets too severe, it will need to be replaced.
Another risk is wood rot, which can occur when damp wood is infested with fungi that slowly damage the wood. This generally happens only when wood has been damp for an extended period of time when fungi have a chance to grow, but this is more likely in colder weather when dampness in wood takes much longer to dry. Making sure your protective seal doesn't break or fade can prevent serious damage and replacement or repair costs.