How to Inspect Your Garage Door

Some garage doors can last as long as 30 years, but that’s only if you take good care of them. If you don’t inspect your garage door on a regular basis and take care of it, it might only last a fraction of its total potential life span. But what should you consider when completing a garage door inspection?

What parts of the garage door do you need to inspect and what should you be looking for? Keep reading and learn more about how to inspect a garage door like a pro. 

Check for Rust and Signs of Wear and Tear

Rusted garage door roller needing replacement
Rusted Garage Door Roller

It is of the utmost importance that your garage door’s mechanism stays in good shape over the years. If the mechanism starts to degrade, it will eventually become weak and unstable. This can contribute to dangerous occurrences such as the collapse of the garage door

If your garage door collapses, it might crush your car and it might even seriously injure someone that happens to be under it. In the past, there have even been deaths associated with garage doors that have worn down and become weak. For that reason, it is important to check the state of your garage door’s mechanism on a regular basis. 

In particular, you should check on the garage door’s springs at least once a month. Many garage door problems tend to originate from the springs. The springs are what help move the garage door up and down along with some help from the pully system. 

There are many things that can go wrong with the springs along with other parts of the garage door mechanism. In particular, rust might start to accumulate. This is especially likely if you live in a humid environment and moisture tends to accumulate on the mechanism. 

When this happens, rust will start to form sooner or later. Once rust takes hold, it can be hard to get rid of it. Rust also makes the metal of the springs very weak and more prone to breaking down.

What You Need to Know

Rusted garage door extension spring
Damaged Garage Door Pulley System

If you only see a small dot or two of rust, you might be able to catch the problem before it gets too serious. You can fix the problem by scrubbing the rust away and protecting the spring mechanism with a protectant spray or other product.

Besides rust, you should check for any general signs of wear and tear on your garage door’s mechanism. 

Common signs of wear and tear include scratches, dents, and deep gouges. If you see these signs on your garage mechanism, it is a sign that the mechanism is not running as it’s supposed to. The parts of the mechanism might be grinding together in a way that is damaging the mechanism as a whole. 

This, of course, will make the whole mechanism weak and more prone to serious damage or failure. If you see signs of wear and tear, it is important to call up a professional for some garage door repairs. If you leave such a garage door untreated, the problem will only continue to get worse until it becomes a problem that risks your home’s safety. 

This is certainly not something you want to deal with, especially not if you have children or pets at home that are often around the garage door. While you can try doing the repairs on your own, it is not recommended, especially if you’ve never repaired a garage door before. You might end up injuring yourself or making the garage door problem worse. 

Even though it will cost you a bit of extra money, it is best to hire a professional who has plenty of experience repairing garage doors. 

Inspect the Auto-Reversal Feature on the Garage Door

The auto-reversal feature on your garage door is a very important feature. In fact, it might be the most important feature of your garage door. It involves stopping the movement of the garage door as it’s going down if something happens to pass under the garage door’s sensor. 

Garage door safety sensor
Sensor Blinks Green When Connected Properly

For example, if you are backing your vehicle out of the garage and the garage door starts to come down, the garage door should stop coming down as soon as your vehicle passes through the garage door’s sensor. The auto-reversal feature will also force the garage door to climb back up so there is enough room for your car to leave the garage

Bad sensor connection
Sensor Blinks Red When Not Connected Properly

This feature should activate not only for cars but for anything that passes by the sensor. For example, if the garage door happens to be lowering just as your pet passes under the door, the door should stop and raise as soon as your pet passes the sensor. The auto-reversal feature is an integral part of garage door safety. 

Without it, the garage door would continue to lower no matter what might be under it. In fact, years ago, several children died due to faulty auto-reversal features on garage doors. Besides being a potentially fatal problem, if your auto-reversal feature isn’t working, it might cause injury or it might crush important objects like your vehicle. 

So, how can you make sure that your auto-reversal feature is working? Testing it is relatively simple and all you need is an object that you can place under the door. For example, you can try rolling a ball under the door to see if the sensor detects it as the garage door is making its way down. 

Test the Feature for Yourself

As long as the sensor is working and is sensitive enough, it should make the garage door stop moving and then raise. Some auto-reversal features are different than others. Instead of having a motion sensor, some garage doors have a pressure sensor instead. 

In this case, the garage door will need to make contact with something beneath it before it raises up. You can try this by putting a box or a piece of wood under your garage door. If the garage door touches the object only slightly and then raises back up, your auto-reversal system will be in good shape. 

Be sure that you don’t do this text with a fragile object. If the auto-reversal system happens to not be working, the garage door will end up breaking that object. If you find that the auto-reversal feature doesn’t seem to be working at all, you shouldn’t hesitate to have it repaired. 

As mentioned before, a garage door without this feature can be quite dangerous, especially for young children and pets. All you need to do is call up a professional and the feature should be fixed in no time. 

Keep the Garage Door Mechanism Clean

Clean garage door pulley system
Clean Garage Door Pulley System

Keeping the garage door mechanism clean is a basic way to keep your garage door in good shape. If you never clean the mechanical parts of the garage door, you will find that all sorts of gunk will eventually clog the mechanism. This will cause unnecessary wear and tear on the mechanism and it might even require some repairs down the line. 

You can save yourself the trouble by doing a bit of cleaning here and there. It is a good idea to clean the garage door mechanism once a month. This will allow you to keep up with any dust or grease that accumulates on the mechanism. That way, you won’t have to clean up a mound of gunk after months or years of not cleaning it. 

While you’re cleaning the mechanism, you’ll also have the chance to double-check the state of the mechanism. In particular, you should look for any parts of the mechanism that seem a bit unusual. For example, if there are any loose screws, feel free to tighten them so that the mechanism doesn’t get weak or unstable. 

If you find that some screws are missing, you should replace them right away. While you’re cleaning the mechanism, all you really need is some soap, water, and a rag. Try not to soak the mechanism with too much water or it might cause rust later on. 

The Details

Instead, use a damp rag or sponge with a bit of soap and get between all the crevices that the mechanism has to offer. This technique should do the trick, but if the mechanism is extra greasy for some reason, you might have to use a more intense cleaner such as paint thinner to clean away the residue. If there is rust present, remove it with some vinegar and a rough rag or sponge. 

If some parts of the mechanism tend to be squeaky when they move, try applying some lubricant to the hinges. A little bit of lubricant goes a long way and it can save the mechanism from further wear and tear. Once you apply the lubricant, the garage door should be much quieter when it moves up or down. 

If you find that any part of the mechanism is starting to flake or looks very worn down, you might have to replace that part. Hinges, in particular, sustain a lot of damage over years of use, although the brackets may also show some signs of flaking. If so, be sure to replace the part as soon as you can. 

Flaking is a sign that the part is past its prime and is no longer fit to function in your garage door’s mechanism. 

Don’t Forget the Lifting Cables

Garage door cable
Garage Door Drum & Cable

While the springs and hinges are all very important for allowing the garage door to move, the garage door wouldn’t be able to raise or lower at all without the lifting cables. The lifting cables are designed to be very sturdy, but after years of wear and tear, they will eventually start to show signs of degradation. It might be hard to detect the signs of wear at first, but you should first look at the very bottom of the cables where they are in contact with the roller bracket. 

This area involves a lot of friction between the lifting cables and the roller bracket. If you don’t use your garage door very much, the cables might actually still be in good shape even after several years. However, if you raise and lower the garage door every day or even several times a day, the lifting cables will likely show some serious signs of wear. 

In particular, you should look for signs of fraying, flaking, or thinning. If you see that a part of the lifting cable is unusually thin, it is important that you replace the cable right away. This level of wear puts a lot of strain on the cables. 

The Strain on the Cable System

If the cables wear down enough and get thin enough, the cables might snap and cause the entire garage door to collapse. This, of course, could be very dangerous if you happen to be driving your car into the garage at that moment. Just be aware that you should not tamper with the lifting cables or pulley system yourself. 

This system is very finicky and you should not try to fix it on your own since it is much more dangerous compared to fixing any other part of the garage door mechanism. Instead, hire a professional. 

All About Garage Door Inspection

Regular garage door inspection is very important, especially if you want your garage door to last a long time and stay in good shape. You can inspect your garage door by making sure that the mechanism is free of rust, the screws are all in place, the mechanism is clean, and so on. As long as you do all that, the garage door should stay in great shape.

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