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Tips on Using and Maintaining Your Garage Door or Gate

General Sensible Use Maintenance


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Like all things mechanical, manual and automatic garage doors and automatic gates need to be looked after by maintaining them regularly. By looking after them you will…

  1. Ensure your garage door or gate lasts longer, delaying imminent replacement.
  2. Ensure your garage door or gate works reliably, minimizing the inconvenience of a breakdown, and…
  3. Ensure your garage door or gate works safely, minimizing hazards associated with opening and closing the heaviest moving part of your home.

Garage doors and automatic gates should be maintained according to the instructions supplied with the product. If the procedure cannot be easily carried out by the average homeowner, then a professional needs to be called in to do the work. This is especially true in respect to the springs that counterbalance the door's weight as it opens and closes. These springs are capable of applying lethal force if adjusted incorrectly, and must be adjusted only by a qualified Service Technician.

So what is the least you ought to do as the owner and user of a manual or automatic garage door or gate?

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Sensible Use

  • Study any instructions supplied with your door or gate, and follow those instructions. Instructions may cover issues such as safe and proper use and care of your garage door or gate, and how to disengage it in the event of a breakdown or power failure, so that you can use it manually.
  • Use the product sensibly; avoiding misuse or abuse, particularly when you know something is wrong with the equipment.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open while the door or gate is opening or closing electrically. If it's noisy or jerky, if it automatically reverses while closing or automatically stops while opening, or if you notice that something is loose or broken, or working abnormally, stop using it immediately, stay clear of it, and call in a professional immediately. If you have a manually operated garage door, you may also "feel" that something is wrong, particularly if the door is unusually heavy to lift.
  • Take a second or two to confirm that nothing and no-one is in its path before you open or close it, especially if it's electrically driven. Although all modern electrically driven garage doors and gates have in-built safety features that prevent excessive force from being applied by the door or gate, they can and will cause damage, potentially lethal to a small child or pet, if they strike while operating.
  • Observe the door or gate operating until it has completed its movement. In most cases if you see imminent danger while it's opening or closing, you can press your remote control transmitter which will either stop or reverse the door or gate, avoiding the accident.
  • Keep children away from garage doors. As we know, children must be taught the utmost respect for garage and driveway areas. Just as a moving car can be deadly to a child, so can a moving garage door or gate. As adults, we must maintain our awareness of what is going on around us, especially from the comfort of our cars.

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The following tasks can be carried out by confident, competent homeowners. Alternatively, we can take away that stress and offer a Maintenance Service by an experienced and qualified Service Technician. Contact us to book a service, ideally once every 12-18 months, or we'll send you a reminder if you like, when your service is due.

  • Every 6 months or so lubricate the parts that need lubricating with the correct lubricant. If unsure of what to do or use, call the manufacturer, or call us for advice. If in doubt, use nothing until advised, because the wrong lubricant could damage a component.
  • Take care with all lubricants, follow the instructions on the container, and use sparingly or it can make a mess of your door, garage floor or ceiling.
  • Clean the painted surfaces of your door once or twice a year with warm soapy water (perhaps when washing your car). Avoid getting water into the door opener. They are not waterproof and will be damaged if allowed to get wet.
  • It is recommended by most manufacturers and the International Door Association that the auto reverse function of your garage door opener be tested monthly by placing a length of 100mm x 50mm timber flat on the floor (50mm high) in the centre of the doorway, where the door closes, and allowing the door to close on top of the timber. If it is working correctly, when the door strikes the timber on the floor, the door opener will recognize the timber as an obstruction and stop and reverse the door back to the open position. If it hasn't stopped and reversed, the door and/or opener need urgent professional attention. Remove the timber you used to test the door, stand clear and close the door with your transmitter. Turn the power point to the opener off, and do not use the door until it has been repaired. Advise other members of your household that the door is unsafe and must not be used.
  • All timber components (if any) need to be repainted or stained/oiled regularly. If timber is allowed to weather, it will be irrepairably damaged and the door is likely to require premature replacement. Use the best quality paint or stain available, and always follow instructions on the container.
  • Check that all bolts are tight. Loose bolts holding springs or cables should not be touched by the homeowner, as they may break in the attempt to tighten them. Call in a professional. Do not use the door.
  • Check for visible signs of wear in all pivot points, bearings and bushes. If something looks worn, it may be dangerous. Have it replaced before the door breaks down.
  • When the maintenance procedure is complete, disengage the opener (if fitted) and operate the door manually. It should now operate almost as smoothly and as quietly as it did when new. It should be relatively neutral in weight, although large doors can naturally require more inertia to get them moving. A properly balanced and correctly tensioned door will usually remain stationary when lifted up to the half open point. If it tends to drift down, and won't remain parked at the half way point when you let it go, the door springs may require adjusting. This is vitally important, even if an opener operates the door, because the unnecessary effort that needs to be applied to the door to lift it will cause excessive wear and tear, and premature failure of the opener.

Throughout this website we hope to have made the point perfectly clear, that door springs must be adjusted only by a qualified Garage Door Service Technician. Springs are difficult, dangerous and potentially deadly when adjustment is attempted by a person without the correct tools, training and experience. So if you think your door springs, including the parts the springs are connected to need adjusting, or your automatic door does not reverse after performing the test described above, call us at Garage Door & Gate Solutions. The cost and delay associated with getting a professional to attend and repair or adjust your garage door is trivial compared with the potential disaster caused by adjustments gone wrong, attempted by a well-meaning but unqualified person.

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