How To Maintain Your Garage Door For Winter
Garages become especially valuable when it gets cold and snowy outside since they offer a safe haven for vehicles and other items you don’t want to leave exposed to the elements. But environmental factors can also wreak havoc on your garage door itself if you aren’t careful.
Knowing how winter weather affects garage doors can give you a heads-up about potential trouble with your door and help you keep an eye out for common problems. You’ll also need to know about the routine maintenance and service your garage door needs to perform reliably throughout the winter—some of which you can do yourself, and some of which will likely require professional help.
How Does Winter Affect Your Garage Door?
Calgary can get cold. Really cold. Cold temperatures and increased moisture from snow can affect numerous components in your garage door. Here are a few of the most common problems we see with garage doors when winter hits:
Springs & Other Small Components Seize
When the temperature drops, metal components like springs contract. As they do, they can shift out of place or tighten up and stop functioning as intended. Metal springs on garage doors are particularly notorious for seizing up during cold weather, so make sure these components are properly lubricated.
Unfortunately, the metal parts in your door aren’t the only ones you’ll have to worry about. You’ll also have to keep an eye out for any grease on your door’s components since this will harden in the cold. Keeping some grease solvent handy and working it into these areas will help keep your door from squealing or sticking as it opens and shuts.
Chances are the tracks your rollers move in are made from metal. As seasons change and temperatures shift, the tracks in your door will expand and contract a few times, eventually warping the pathway for your rollers and making the door harder to open. Regular maintenance can prevent warping and slow it down, but if your tracks get too bent out of shape you’ll need to have them replaced.
Weather Stripping Tears Off
Not all garage door problems are caused by the cold; moisture can also create issues. When water collects near the opening of the door, for example, it can freeze around the weather seal. Opening your door under those conditions can pull the weather stripping right off the door since it’ll still be attached to the ground.
Panels Suffer Water Damage
Depending on what your garage door is made of, water can also have a negative impact on the panels. Metal panels made from steel or aluminum can rust, whereas wood can rot if it’s not properly weatherproofed ahead of time. We’ll talk about how to prevent both of these issues in the next section.
Maintaining Your Door Through the Winter
There are a few things you can do to help prevent the problems listed above. Try to follow these suggestions for prepping your door for winter:
- Use a silicone-based lubricant on any springs and bearings to help them move smoothly in cold weather.
- Eliminate leftover grease on your door’s components by using a grease solvent and a stiff brush. Use a toothbrush to get into cracks and other small spaces.
- Apply fresh lubricant to pulleys and bearings. Wipe away any leftover grease from these areas afterward, using the process outlined in the step above.
- Use a spray solvent on your door’s rollers, tracks, and hinges.
- Reseal your garage by adding or replacing a bottom seal and installing weatherstripping around the sides and top.
- Remove rust from metal doors using a cloth soaked in white vinegar, then wash it and apply rust-resistant paint (make sure to add a finishing coat).
- Prevent wooden garage door panels from rotting by removing any chipped or peeling paint from the panels, then sanding and repainting them. If your door has already begun to rot, you may need to replace it.
Bigger Jobs & Winter Garage Door Service
The steps above are fairly simple to follow on your own, but they won’t be enough by themselves to keep your door in peak condition forever. It’s also vital to perform a few larger jobs periodically—some of which might need to be handled by pros.
Insulating Your Garage
Your garage is likely to be a source of heat loss for your home, so having insulation installed there can help lower your utility bills. But keeping more heat in your garage can also reduce the impact cold weather has on various indoor garage door components.
Plenty of DIY batting kits exist for metal garage doors, but you may also want to spend some time insulating the walls and ceiling of your garage, especially if it’s detached from the house. The more insulation you need to add, the more complex this process can be—so consider hiring out for this job.
Routine Door Service
Hiring out for annual preventative door care might seem like a hassle, but it can save you a lot of money in the long run. Having a professional contractor inspect and service your door normally costs between $90-$145—much cheaper than a new door, which begins at $800 for single door garages and can go all the way up to $1800 for a double.
If your door has rotted, rusted significantly, or sustained major structural damage, it may simply have to be replaced. Is it impossible to replace a garage door by yourself? No. Does that mean you should try it? Also no.
Putting in a new garage door isn’t like changing a light bulb. Garage doors have to be properly balanced in order to keep strain off the opener, and the photoelectric components that let them reverse automatically when an object (or living being) enters their path are extremely sensitive.
Instead of spending money on a new door and then taking the risk of ruining your investment, it’s much better to hire professionals for this job. It’s also usually less costly in the long run.
Winter-Proof Your Door
Knowing what signs of winter damage to look for and taking appropriate preventative measures can save your door come wintertime. Use what you’ve learned above to prevent door damage this winter, and remember to call for help if you run into a job you can’t handle by yourself so that you can avoid larger expenses.