If your garage door is more than 10 years old, you should be concerned about the hardware on the door that allows it to go up and down safely and smoothly. Why is this important? Well, it is a moving wall that you probably use more often than your toothbrush! Most homeowners do not know the proper maintenance tasks that need to be performed annually, and as long as the garage door opener is working they assume that all is well…
…Garage door hardware is designed to last between 5-7 years, with a small percentage that will last longer. When I say “garage door hardware” I am referring to the garage door springs, bearings, rollers, cables, drums, and other parts like hinges and brackets. Of this list, the most important parts are the springs, bearings, and rollers.
At a minimum, it is very important to visually inspect the cables to make sure they are not fraying, lubricate the hinges (and tighten the nuts on wood doors), check the balance of the garage door, and ensure that there are no obvious points of friction when operating the door manually. You can find a how to video on how to check the balance of the garage door at www.spokanegaragerepair.com/tips_tricks.htm. These maintenance tasks need to be performed at least once per year, to ensure that the garage door is not too heavy. If the springs are fatigued, and the garage door is heavy, the only way to know this is to check the balance of the door. If the door is out of balance, the garage door opener will have to work too hard to open and close the door. Most openers will continue to operate until either they destroy themselves, or exceed preset force limits. IF you check the balance periodically, you will be able to notice the problem before it destroys your opener- which is designed to ‘guide’ the door, not pull or push- and probably has a lot of plastic parts.
Even if you perform all of the proper maintenance, however, you need to consider replacing some of the key components after 10 years (note: DO NOT EVER WORK ON THE SPRINGS, CABLES, BEARINGS, OR OTHER PARTS OF A TORSION SYSTEM! THIS IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS FOR AN UNTRAINED INDIVIDUAL…CALL A PROFESSIONAL!)
During the first 10 years, you will most likely replace the torsion springs once, and generally, the rest of the hardware will still be working just fine. But after 10 years, when you need to replace the springs again, it is highly recommended that you also replace the bearings and possibly the rollers. These parts are essential to the smooth running of the torsion system and are often neglected for 20-30 years. Not only will this cause the springs to fail quicker (the springs have to work harder to spin the torsion tube), but sticky, or frozen, bearings can cut the torsion tube- which is not all that thick to begin with! You can visually inspect the bearings to see if there are any obvious signs of wear, but usually they need to be inspected by a professional while the system is taken apart. That is why I recommend replacing them with your second spring change. To visually inspect the end bearings, look on the outside of the tracks where the end of the torsion tube sticks out of the end bearings. If you see a black, greasy smudge on the tube, it means that the bearings have lost some-or all- of the lubrication that helps them spin smoothly. Another spot to check is the horizontal portion of the tracks that are just under the end bearings (you will most likely need a ladder for this) to see if there are metal shavings collecting under the bearings. IF you see this, it means that the torsion tube is not spinning freely and scraping off metal flakes. This is a definite sign that you need new bearings!