Garage Door Maintenance: Tips to Avoid Costly Service Calls

Kenneth Wilson

Knowing how to properly maintain your garage can save you thousands of dollars in maintenance fees over the life of the unit and can even extend that life for many years.  

If you’ve ever groaned at a bill for repair work that could’ve been avoided, you’re not alone. Unexpected bills are a hassle and a stress on any family or living situation. It’s best to try to avoid these unhappy house calls whenever possible, especially when it comes to your garage, which can be one of the more expensive items in a home to replace.  

Instilling a maintenance schedule and knowing the steps to take is key here, and we are here to help!  

Garage Maintenance Safety

Before diving in, it is important to remember that there are some things that are better left to professionals.  

Any piece that is under high tension should be left alone unless you are a dedicated garage repair person, as it can pose a great risk if not handled correctly. This applies to cables, springs, or anything else that is under high tension.  Anything that is electric and could cause a shock risk should be left to a professional, as well as any complete redo of a tracking system that has gone awry.  

When in doubt, if you don’t feel like you can do it safely or comfortably, please always consult a professional. Safety is the top priority and at the end of the day, you’re not really saving money if you wind up with a hospital bill.  

Daily Maintenance for Garages

Every time you use your garage, or at least every few times, you should be listening and looking at the door. A garage door that is well functioning is going to be very quiet, but you know what your normal garage door sounds like.  

If you notice any new noises, movements, or anything that just looks off-putting, it may be time for maintenance.  

Monthly Garage Maintenance

To maintain the integrity of your garage door, make sure you’re cleaning the outside! It seems simple, but it will save you so much money in paint if you keep it maintained properly.  

Fill any holes promptly with filler. You can wipe down the outside with a hose and a rag in most situations but if you have a wood garage door, it will require more maintenance and regular oil applications. Check into the specific kind of door you have to understand proper cosmetic maintenance!  

Semi-annual Garage Maintenance

Every six months, you should be performing basic maintenance on your garage to aid in its operation. Depending on your usage, you may find that you need to do some of these tasks more or less than recommended. It is best to start out doing them all once a year and then make your own judgement call from there, but due to the constant operation of garage doors it is better to overdo it than underdo it.  

Clear the Tracks for Your Garage Door

Maybe there is debris that got stuck up in the tracks, maybe it was a windy day and a bunch of leaves got caught up there. Sometimes, even birds or other animals build nests on the tracks if it hasn’t been in operation in a while. Always clear the tracks and make sure that they are clear. They shouldn’t have any rust on them, and they should be perfectly vertical. Using a level will help you determine this.

As stated previously, any major track adjustment should be done by a garage repair person, but smaller ones may be done at home with the right tools.  

Check on the Rollers

Have you looked at your garage’s rollers lately? If not, it’s definitely time to! Your rollers are along the edge of your garage door and should be inspected every six months, at a minimum. As with everything, there are quality differences when it comes to rollers but in general, they should also be replaced every five to seven years.

During your inspection, you’re looking for anything that looks wrong. If they look super old, have cracks in them, or just in general look very worn down it’s time to replace them. This is a simple fix, as they are easily removed. Simply remove the brackets that are keeping them in place.

Do not remove the bottom roller brackets. While the others are perfectly safe to do yourself, these are under a lot of tension as they are attached directly to the lift cables. This is something for a professional to handle.  

Lubricate Your Garage Door Parts

A great way to reduce replacement costs and keep the moving parts on your garage door going for longer is to keep them lubed up. This relieves a lot of the stress on them and keeps them quiet. It’s best to keep a basic lubricant on hand so that if anything seems like it’s not rotating properly, you can apply it. For this six month maintenance though, you’ll want something more top shelf than WD-40.

All you have to do is apply the lubricant and wipe off any noticeable excess. It’s the simplest maintenance possible!  

Tighten Everything That Needs Tightening

Moving parts move and when they move over and over again, they get loose. Twice a year or more during your garage inspection, grab a wrench and tighten up anything that looks loose. Make sure you’re looking at the door, the tracks on the ceiling, the brackets holding everything to the wall and ceiling, and your garage door opener on the ceiling.

If it looks loose, tighten it. Simple as that!  

Inspect Your Cables and Pulleys

This part is simply an inspection, as trying to fix any cables, pulleys, or springs is a pretty dangerous idea so you should leave it to the professionals!

Check out the parts that help the door lift. These are going to be located on the bottom roller brackets on the actual door itself. If you have no idea what you’re looking for, look for springs and cables. If you see any that look snapped in half, overly worn, or damaged in any way it’s best to contact someone to take a look and not use the door until they come out.  

Test Your Garage Door’s Balance

Opening your garage door should take no more than a few fingers worth of pressure. If it takes any more, odds are it is out of balance. Contact a professional with assistance for this repair.  

Test the Pressure Sensor and Photoelectric System

This is something you’d more than likely notice with everyday use, but it never hurts to check it! The pressure sensor is what keeps your garage door from hitting something you place right underneath it. The photoelectric sensors keep your from hitting you on the head when you close it and then forget your purse and walk back underneath it. Any new garage has an auto stop feature, as mandated by building codes, that is going to make it reverse and go back up at the first hint of motion. If your garage is more than twenty years old, it probably doesn’t have these features and it is time to replace it.

To test the pressure sensor, place a piece of wood or another object that you don’t care about directly in the path of the door. Close the door and observe. If the door doesn’t come down and touch the object and then immediately retreat and go back up, something is wrong.

To test the photoelectric system, start closing your garage and wave an object in front of a sensor. Again, the garage should immediately go back up. If it doesn’t, contact someone for repairs.  

Check On and Replace Weather Stripping

Weather stripping keeps bugs, critters, and obviously weather out of your garage. It is important to inspect it regularly and/or if you notice a leak. If you notice anything that is loose or damaged, assess and decide whether you need to replace it entirely or if you can get away with reattaching the loose spots.  

You Don’t Need an Expert to Inspect Your Garage Door

If you’ve been paying an expert to come out and inspect your garage door every six months, take that money, and go on a trip! Regular maintenance of a garage is simple and very easy to accomplish as long as you do your research. (Related: Garage Door Replacement Cost & Consumer Guide) By following this list, you will have a properly maintained garage door that will last for years to come!

There’s no better feeling than doing something yourself and saving money while doing it!  

Kenneth Wilson
October 6, 2021
Contractor Tips, Exterior

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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