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How to inspect and maintain your garage door

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Hard to believe, but your garage door probably goes up and down several hundred times every year.

Obviously, you want to keep it working smoothly and safely so that there’s no damage or inconvenience to you, your family members or your automobile.

The really big repairs, however, are probably best left to professional garage door companies, mainly because that door weighs 300 pounds.

But with simple and regular maintenance, your garage door is likely to operate smoothly for at least a dozen years.

So here are a few tips on how to keep your garage working safely:

— Test the safety of your door every six months. Lay a two-by-four on the floor directly under the door and close it. The door should automatically reverse once it senses an object in its way. Likewise, the door should reverse if you place your hand in front of its photo eye.

— Even if your door seems to be working properly, it’s a good idea to get a garage door technician to do some preventive maintenance now and then. It will cost very little to lubricate and adjust the door and head off problems before you get stuck in your garage with a door that won’t open. You never want to try to remove a lift cable and you never want to adjust or release tension on an overhead torsion spring. You can, however, tighten all roller brackets and bolts that hold the rails to the support brackets.

— Between professional check-ups, check out the hardware and moving parts like cables and rollers. If they look worn or if your door isn’t rolling up and down normally, you’ll know it’s time for repairs.

— Lubricate the moving parts of your garage door frequently. Don’t overdo the lubricant, though. Oily hardware attracts dirt, and built-up dirt can interfere with smooth operation. Before you try even minor repairs yourself, refer to the owner’s manual for your door.

— Weatherize your garage door, especially if it’s old and uninsulated. In our Arizona summers, the temperature in an uninsulated garage can bake up to 100 degrees or more. If there’s a gap between the bottom of the door and the garage floor, replace the weather barrier—or stop—on the bottom of the door.

— Keep your steel or aluminum garage door surface clean by hosing it down regularly. Wash it with mild detergent and a cloth as needed.

— If your door is made of wood, you’ll probably need to sand it down and refinish it almost every year. The plentiful sunshine takes a toll on wooden doors. Without annual maintenance, the wood surface can bake, flake, crack and peel.

— Likewise, check your wood door for signs of rot, especially at the bottom. Thoroughly sand away any black spots, and then refinish. If you’ve had the same garage door for many years it’s time to replace it. Doors built more recently have more safety features, like door openers with a redundant safety device.

— If it’s time to replace your garage door, you will have lots of options. Consider investing in an energy-efficient insulated door. You’ll have the choice of wood, aluminum, steel and even glass. The newest super-low-maintenance doors feature a composite with a skin made from melamine or polymers and backed by steel and foam insulation. Some new steel doors are painted with a textured, wood-grain finish that can fool anyone who’s looking at them from the street.

Rosie on the House

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