4 Ways Winter Weather Can Affect Your Garage Door

There's a good chance that your garage door has performed flawlessly over this past summer. As you prepare your home for the winter weather ahead, however, you should also consider how the season's colder temperatures will affect how your garage door operates. Here are a few ways your garage door reacts to cold temperatures, as well as ways you can mitigate those effects.

Shrinking Metal Components

During exceptionally cold temperatures, you might start having trouble opening and closing your garage door. This is usually due to the metal tracks, hinges and other components shrinking due to the cold weather. Metal, along with a host of other materials, is subject to thermal contraction and expansion as the metal loses and gains heat energy - the colder it gets outside, the more metal contracts.

Unfortunately, these contractions can cause the various metal components to lose their alignment and jam up when opening or closing the door. To get your garage door moving again, you'll need to lubricate the springs, hinges, tracks and other metal components. Silicone-based lubricants are preferable when lubricating these moving parts, since heavier lubricants like axle grease can harden in cold weather, as explained in the next section.

Hardened Lubricant

While attempting to lubricate your garage door's moving parts, you may encounter old grease that's been hardened due to cold temperatures. This can also cause your garage door to jam up and, if left unchecked, allow rust and corrosion to form on vulnerable areas that would normally be covered in lubricant.

Fortunately, dealing with hardened lubricant is a relatively simple task you can undertake on your own:

  • Start by removing the old grease with paint thinner or another similar solvent capable of breaking down and dissolving grease. Use an old toothbrush to work the solvent into various nooks and crannies.
  • Use a clean cloth to wipe away any leftover grease and solvent. Make sure all of the surfaces are completely clean before applying your new lubricant.
  • Apply your silicone-based lubricant on all of the metal components that were recently cleaned.

It's actually recommended that you lubricate your garage door at least every six months, to ensure that it performs well year-round.

Cracked Weatherstripping

Cold temperatures also come with relatively dry winter air. It's a combination that can easily cause rubber to become dry and brittle, especially if it's several years old. It's not out of the ordinary for rubber seals and weatherstripping to turn brittle and disintegrate under winter weather conditions. Without anything to help block drafts from coming through, your garage area becomes even more vulnerable to the cold.

Check your weatherstripping for cracks, tearing and breakage on a regular basis and replace it as needed. It's usually not recommended to attempt to restore moisture to rubber weatherstripping by lubricating it, as certain lubricants can break down and eventually destroy the rubber material. Be wary of ice and snow buildup on the weatherstripping, as this can cause the garage door itself to stick shut.

Sluggish Garage Door Opener

Extreme cold can cause the garage door opener's electric motor to run sluggishly and perhaps even stop working at all. Keep in mind that some units aren't designed to deal with temperatures that regularly dip below freezing, which could be a problem if you live in northern climates where severe cold is the norm.

If you've already ruled out or taken care of the shrinkage and lubrication issues, then your next step should be to increase the amount of force the unit needs to open and close the garage door. Most models feature a dial setting for increasing and decreasing operating torque. Increase the torque by small increments until the door opens smoothly and without issue.

In a few rare cases, you may need to swap your garage door opener for a more robust and capable model. You should have your contractor take a look at your current garage door and recommend an upgraded opener that's capable of handling your garage door's wintertime demands. For more information on garage door repair servuices, click here.