The cold weather is enough to make anyone grumpy. But what really puts me over the edge is when I am late to work, and my garage door won’t open because it’s cold out. Automatic garage openers certainly help, but they aren’t bulletproof, either, because mental expands and contracts in the cold, among other issues.
Most of the time, a garage door won’t open during cold weather due to the metal expanding and contracting. However, it may also be thanks to grease hardening, a frozen weather seal, broken springs, and many other culprits. However, with regular maintenance and some tricks here and there, you can keep your garage moving up and down with ease.
To fix the problem, we really need to understand why our garage isn’t opening. For many reasons, it can take some trial and error. But when you know what the possibilities are, it’s a lot easier to address quickly. Let’s take a look at what’s going on during the winter.
Common Reasons Your Garage Door Won’t Open When It’s Cold
There is about two hands’ worth of problems that can occur when your garage doesn’t open in the colder months. That sounds like a big headache but rest assured, they are usually easy to fix. It just takes a minute to evaluate which one you have on your hands.
Grease Had Hardened
Grease naturally thickens in colder temperatures as water behinds to freeze. This becomes an issue for garages because it becomes hard for the parts to glide back and forth to open and close. It doesn’t act as a very good lubricant when it is hard to pass through.
In the garage, you will notice that grease lubricates the springs and the bearing plates. This will allow the rollers to operate smoothly, and no force will occur. Without the right amount of grease, the door can scrape and scratch its way to opening and closing.
The Metal Has Seized
When the temperatures start to change, the shape of the metal starts to as well. When colder temperatures hit, the metal will contract and seize up. They become less ductile and stiff. Many assume because metal is stiff that, it doesn’t matter. But when you look at a garage, it has to bend in order to work correctly and fold upwards.
The answer to this is normally using more lubricant to keep the metal running smoothly. But as we have just learned, the lubricant can also start to harden and become an issue hand in hand with the metal seizing.
A frozen weather seal freezes your garage’s bottom to the ground. This can be problematic because your garage will start fighting the pulley to lift it up. This can break the automation system and parts.
The weather seal is the rubber lining on the bottom of the garage door that cushions the door from hitting the ground hard. It also provides heat retention by closing the gap from the outside to the inside of the garage. Since it is rubber, sometimes moisture can get caught between the ground and the garage weather seal and freeze it shut.
Garage Door Track is Not Aligned
The garage door track consists of two tracks that the garage wheels travel through to help lift the garage up and then move horizontally along the ceiling. The vertical track goes from the ground to the ceiling, and the horizontal track runs along your ceiling.
When the two are not aligned, or the pulleys come apart, the garage can’t properly roll up into position. Sometimes the garage door track not being aligned results from a frozen seal where the tension pulls the garage door off its track.
Your Torsion Springs Are Broken
Torsion springs are coiled steel springs that use torque to help balance the weight of the garage. You will most likely find them above the garage door. They support garage weights between 200 and 500 pounds. When the garage is closed, the springs are tightly twisted, and as it opens, it uncoils.
Springs have a life cycle and can wear out but also become damaged in extremely cold temperatures. The coil may have a harder time unwinding when it is stiff and frozen and can even break.
Disconnected Remote Control
Automatic garages have two remotes. One is usually mounted onto the garage wall for easy opening and closure. The other one is a remote that sits in your garage so you can open the garage from the outside. Today, they can be wired or connected by BlueTooth.
When the connection is disrupted, this becomes an issue for opening the garage. Usually, this is an easier fix. In terms of the weather, cold is not the first culprit of the lost connection, but certainly not ruled out.
Your Batteries are Expired
Batteries being expired in your remote control to open the garage is an easy problem. Not all garages are tech advanced and can open with the touch of your phone. Sometimes they require good old-fashioned batteries. But in this case, they are replaceable.
An indicator on your remote typically lets you know that the batteries are running low. It normally has a green button that flashes when you open the garage and will blink red when they are running low or out of battery. Batteries being inserted wrong is also a cause of it not working.
The Limit Setting is Misadjusted
The garage door limit setting determines the extent to which the garage door can open or close. Naturally, it should be set to close all the wavy and open up all the way. In some cases, it’s changed but only for unusual circumstances. If you find your garage door going back down after only going up halfway, it’s misadjusted.
It also can do the opposite when you are trying to close it. It may reverse itself only after going down for a little bit. You will need to take care of this because it can cause injury or harm when the sensors are off. The sensors may not be able to tell that there is something underneath.
Best Fixes For a Garage Door That Won’t Open in the Cold
Luckily garage doors acting funny in the cold weather is not an uncommon problem. And most of the problems can be solved by the homeowner themselves. It may take some extra lubricant or replacing the tracks, but you won’t be left hopeless. Here are your options.
Use a Silicon Based Lubricant
Silicon-based lubricants are the perfect solution to any lubricant that seems to be hardening or thickening. Silicon-based lubricant lasts a long time and is the best in terms of moisture resistance. Moisture is the reason that the lubricant would freeze up in the first place. That’s why they are weather adverse and not only handle cold temperatures but also handle hot summers.
The best part is that this particular lubricant does a great job of getting into the nitty gritty spaces like the coils and other tight areas. This is where the lubricant can be most useful in the colder months.
Replaced Seized Motor
A seized motor is when the motor breaks for any of the above-mentioned events, and the force and pull break the operation. The motor is running power to get the garage up and down. Replacing the motor is one of the more extensive jobs regarding these issues.
Replacing the seized motor requires an overhaul of the overhead motor, remote devices, and rails.
Realigning the tracks is not as hard as it may seem. The process is simple but may take some readjusting for a little bit. To do this, you must loosen the bolts and move the track in or out to get it on center with the next one. Then simply tighten the screws and bolts.
You will have to try to continue to test the garage to see if it aligns back up properly with the mounting bracket. The rollers and the cables also need to be checked for proper function. Check to ensure they are in good condition, and apply lubricant if necessary.
Clean the Weatherseal
Removing snow from the garage is important for weight bearing and keeping the weather seal from freezing. The first step is checking and ensuring the weather seal is in good condition and not falling off. If so, you need to replace it.
Then when it’s in good condition, you can provide more silicon-based lubricant to the bottom to keep it from freezing.
When To Hire a Professional
No one will ever do a job better than a professional and if you feel like you are forcing a fix, call them.
However, some fixes are significantly easier than others. When the motor is seized up, this is usually a bigger job that requires a professional to help because of the overhaul. Things like replacing the batteries and even realigning the tracks are something you can do on your own.
Whenever you are unsure about the fix or feel like you are forcing something, it’s best to hire out. This prevents further damage and possible injury. Some jobs may cost as little as $30 to fix, while others will cost upwards of $500, depending on the complications.
Take a Look
Having your garage breakdown can be a pain in the butt however most people don’t realize the fix is usually not as scary as the problem. If you aren’t someone who is handy, it may be worth spending a little bit of money to ensure the job is done correctly. First, just check to see what type of problem you have to weigh the pros and cons of how to fix it.
Ruben has a diverse background in the home services industry, with experience running a construction company, a kitchen and bath showroom, and a moving and relocation company. This breadth of experience has provided him with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various areas of home improvement in general and specifically in the heating and plumbing niche.