Maintaining A Garage

by Darwin Hall

Detached Garage

A garage can be one of the best used and most serviceable areas of your home.

Yet all too often people relegate the area to junk storage, leaving just enough space to squeeze in the car.

One reason why your garage may not be giving you the service you expect is a difficult-to-use garage door.

After all, if its hard to get into the garage, its hard to use the space efficiently.

Adjusting a garage door, repairing an automatic door opener remote control, or making any number of other minor repairs or improvements will put your door and garage on the active list.

If you plan on installing a new garage door, look for a product manufacturer that provides complete instructions and video with the garage door opener.  Most doors ride on a set of tracks.  A cable and pulley system usually does the actual lifting, with the help of some type of spring system That supplies the required tension.

The doors either mount to the door jambs with vertical mounting brackets or ride in tracks that mount to the jambs.

Troubleshooting Garage Doors

Unlike an electrical or plumbing problem, which may take a professional to diagnose, garage door problems are not difficult to locate.  If the door opens or closes too easily, look to the spring system.  If the door sticks, check out the tracks or the door trim.

Why do garage doors malfunction?

Though not the sole culprit, moisture plays a large part.  It warps doors, rusts hardware, and causes framing members to rot away.  So while you’re looking for problems, check to make sure that water is not building up around or dripping onto the door.

If it is, find the source of the water and make the needed repairs at once.  With swing-up garage doors, sagging is the biggest problem.  The reason: The lifting mechanisms usually aren’t adequate to support the weight.

Garage Tool Hanging StorageIf this is the problem, replace — don’t repair — the mechanisms with extra-heavy-duty ones.  Position them so the screws will be driven into new, solid wood.  Never try to repair or replace the spring on torsion doors.

These springs are under tremendous tension and can cause sever injury if not handled properly.  Call in a garage door contractor to repair or replace these.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Cable slack causes pulley-type doors to malfunction.  Tighten the cable without stretching the spring.
  • On doors with tension springs, tighten the spring by hooking it into the next hole in the door framing or track.
  • Bar locks won’t lock if the assembly is out of alignment.  Adjust either the lockset or the bar guide.
  • Tracks must be parallel or the door will bind.  Measure between them in several places and make adjustments.
  • If the door rubs against the trim, move the molding back or adjusting or shim out the track brackets.

Maintaining Garage Doors

Keeping your door hardware clean and lubricated will prevent most problems.  Keep an eye out for failing paint or rust on a metal door — a sign that moisture is beginning to take a toll on the door.  Blackish marks near the base of a wood door signal rot.

Tend to these signs of danger as soon as possible to keep trouble to a minimum.  If your door is wood, remove the peeling or flaking paint down to the bare wood.  Then prime the bare areas and apply two coats of exterior paint.

If the door is metal, remove the rust or corrosion to the bare metal, prime the spots with metal primer, and apply two finish coats.  You may have to repaint the entire door — wood or metal — so the new paint patches won’t show.

Replace damaged hardware, such as hinges, locksets, and tracks.  These non-functioning parts put additional strain on other components and result in future damage.

  • Wipe grease buildup from the track with a rag.  Grease, combined with dirt, can cause the door to bind and jump.
  • Lubricate the tracks with graphite or light machine oil.  Distribute lubricant by opening and closing the door.
  • Oil hinge pins, too.  If the pins are rusty, remove and clean the metal with steel wool or fine sandpaper.
  • Keep door edges, panels, and bottoms sealed with paint.  Repair damaged concrete at the base of the door.

Creating Storage Space In A Garage

Most garages have far more storage potential than we give them credit for.  The name of the game is to get everything off the floor, making way for the more important things, such as the family cars, which garages were designed for.

Obviously, you can’t hang your lawnmower or motorcycle up on the wall, but you can lift most everything else out of the way.  The sidewalls of your garage are natural spaces for storing a multitude of items.

See also:  Where to Find Storage At Home

So is the back wall.  Hang garden tools and other small items from nails fastened to the studs or top plate.  You can also purchase hanging brackets intended for this purpose from hardware or home improvement centers.  Or, devise a series of shelves mounted on the surface or between studs.

For large items, consider making or buying cabinets, which can be as simple as a plywood box with a door on the front or as fancy as used kitchen cabinets.  Don’t forget overhead storage, either.

Adding cross ties and nailing up plywood opens an entire level of new space.  This area is good for storing seasonal gear.  Time to get your garage shipshape once and for all. 🙂


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