Last week, the Consumer Reports Home & Garden blog brought you the top five house problems caused by winter weather. This morning, a colleague stopped by with grease-smudged hands to remind us of another—faulty garage door openers. If you have an automatic garage door, its system of springs, cables, brackets, and other hardware might not be functioning properly after months of freezing temperatures. You should inspect those moving parts before warmer weather brings increased traffic in and out of the garage.
Start by checking that the door is balanced by releasing it into the manual mode. The door should lift easily and smoothly by hand and it should stay open on its own about 3 feet off the ground. If it doesn't, its overhead spring probably needs to be counterbalanced. Because springs are under extreme tension, this fix should be handled by a garage-door technician.
Next, check the door's reversing safety feature. Set the opener's reversing force as low as possible and place a 2x4 board on the ground under the door, wide side down. The door should pop back up when it hits the 2x4. If it doesn't, call the pro. Finally, test the door's photoelectric eyes by holding the 2x4 between them. The door should reverse direction.