If Your Garage Door Is Grumbling, Pay Attention

If Your Garage Door Is Grumbling, Pay Attention

A garage door that is misaligned, has worn parts, or simply needs a good lube is probably telling you so. Listen carefully.

If your automatic overhead garage door is making grinding or screeching noises when being operated (or even milder noises), don’t ignore them. Like those paranoia-inducing noises your car produces that may be a symptom of problems requiring prompt action, your garage door and opener may be telling you things you need to hear. Such noises are most commonly caused by worn rollers, loose hardware or parts that need lubricating. These problems can usually be confirmed by a visual inspection, and you can often deal with them yourself if you are so inclined.

Another common source of noise is vibration from a loose or poorly-seated opener – something you may be able to pinpoint yourself by simple observation. Often the best recourse for this is the installation of anti-vibration pads. There are other more serious reasons a garage door may grumble, from misalignment of the door or tracks to damaged or bent doors that are not gliding normally. You may have fatigued torsion springs near the end of their cycle life (see our blogs specifically addressing torsion springs).

These larger problems, left unattended, can lead to door failure. Since you are a responsible homeowner (why else would you be reading this?) you don’t want to go down that road. Regular inspection and simple maintenance, supplemented by an annual professional servicing, will keep your automatic garage door system functioning optimally. That’s where the specialists at Automatic Door Specialists can make all the difference.

Keep It Tight!

Garage doors are large, heavy objects that operate under significant strain, and the hardware mountings will naturally be subject to loosening. This means they are susceptible to losing their tight grip over time, which can lead to damage of the door and tracks. Taking the time to check and tighten the nuts and bolts on your door’s hinges and other hardware (if you have the tools) and carefully looking for signs of wear are things you should be including in a quick monthly inspection (we have another blog on that, as well).

If you want to tackle these simpler fixes yourself, start by carefully tightening all the door and track hardware, preferably with a deep socket and a ratchet. Remember (especially when using a power screwdriver) that over-tightening can easily damage the door, whether steel or wood.

Keep It Rolling!

Overhead garage door nylon rollers.

Overhead garage door nylon rollers.

Don’t forget to check the rollers. Much of the natural sound coming from the door itself comes from the rollers – they should have a quiet, even, “murmuring” tone. If you hear sounds of friction or drag, they may be worn to the point of needing replacement. If you do not currently have nylon rollers with sealed bearings, we recommend them as quality replacements that will be well worth the minor extra cost. Older or cheaper track rollers with unsealed bearings will tend to disintegrate over time, causing a discernible wobble when in use. For product longevity and performance choose nylon, not steel.

overhead door bottom bracket

Overhead door bottom bracket.

Again, you may opt to buy and install replacement rollers yourself. If you go “DIY” (do it yourself), you should look at online videos that demonstrate the correct steps. An important cautionary note: If your door has torsion springs mounted on the header above the door (and most will), leave the rollers in the bottom brackets alone. That step is best left for the specialists from ADS –those brackets are under high constant tension and you are at genuine risk of injury if you pull out the bolts holding them in place. If you find this a little confusing, we’ll gladly review all your choices.

Loose or worn hinges may be especially noisy. In this case, “noisy” equates with “damaging”. The tongue-and-groove joints at the door sections will grate and cause uneven wear, and over time you may be looking at a new door and not simply replacement hinges. While some minor flex in the hinge is to be expected, grooved indentations around the pin and a build up of metal filings are signs the hinges are spent. Don’t ignore this.

An important final step: inspect the garage door opener chain, especially if you hear a series of muffled banging noises and the door is moving with a jerky, bouncing motion. These are signs of a loose opener chain, which can lead to all kinds bigger problems. If you want to attempt tightening it yourself, the owner’s manual should be helpful. If you want to deal with this as part of a more comprehensive inspection and servicing, call us.

Grease = Silence

With all due respect to WD-40 (not to mention butter), there are many kinds of lubricants, and some are specific to the use for a reason. There are, in fact, garage door lubricant sprays, and as simple as you might expect lubrication to be, please do your homework first. A track drive opener will need to be lubricated differently (the opener track gets the grease) from a screw drive opener (in this case, the screw threads).

Garage door hinge roller

Garage door hinge roller.

You should spray the hinges, unsealed roller bearings, and torsion springs/bearings with a garage door lube product (Prime Flo garage door lubrication kit is a good example). A garage door lube product will penetrate, in viscous form, into the seams and joints to reduce abrasion in mechanical motion, but forms a non-tacky surface when dry that won’t easily mix with dirt and dust. You may be tempted to use a cheaper oil, grease or spray-on (like WD-40) but don’t – they won’t resist the abrasive contaminants like a product specific to garage doors. Any pivot points where surface-against-surface friction occurs should be lubricated. A six-month lube schedule is recommended.

Factors to consider: The quality of the hardware, the skill of the installation, and matching the right hardware to the size, weight, and materials of the door are all important. The entire door system works best when all the parts, no matter how seemingly minor, are well matched. That is where the pros at ADS can help extend the life of your door and provide you the most security and safety.

Forget About “Good Vibrations”

Most motorized door openers are ceiling mounted, and their correct installation can be tricky. An opener that is mounted with solid, reinforced footing should be adequately resistant to vibration. If not, the tug of the chain plus the natural humming vibration of the powerful motor in operation can pull the mountings loose over time, causing problems for the opener, track, and door. If you want to address unwarranted noise levels from your garage door opener, consider installing anti-vibration pads: one between the mounting bracket and the ceiling, and the second underneath the bracket. This will insulate the opener from the ceiling mounts, buffering vibration and muffling noise. This is helpful if there are living spaces (especially sleeping quarters) adjoining the garage.

It Never Hurts to Ask…

Garage door center arm

Garage door center arm.

We realize there are those who take pride in managing their own home repair and maintenance, and we encourage monthly inspections and support homeowners who enjoy doing simple “repair or replace” projects. Many, though, will want professionals to do the heavy lifting, and trust them to complete even the relatively simple tasks with expertise and a full working knowledge of their entire garage door system. Automatic Door Specialists has been building their business one customer, one job at a time for nearly forty years. We’re locally owned and operated. Ask us about our Annual Door Service Plan – it is surprisingly affordable and the best way to ensure the safety, security and longevity of your garage door. We do gates and driveway entry systems, too. Call 858-609-6886 on click on “Contact Us” and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.