Some Things Don’t Work in the Cold

Filed in Construction by on January 3, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I write this article, the outside temperature is cold by anyone’s standards. It is hard enough to get our bodies to work in this cold, and unfortunately there are many mechanical items that don’t want to work in this frigid weather either.

As I attempt to go to work this morning, I went out in my robe to start my pickup and back it out of the garage. The pickup started, but the garage door would not open. It went halfway up and then back down. Of course I tried this about 10 times in hopes that it might fix itself and then I pulled the emergency release cord and manually opened the door.

The emergency release cord is attached to the opener arm between the garage door and the opener track. Once you pull this release, the door can be operated manually. this is the first step when you have problems with your garage door, even if it’s just that you have no electricity. Pulling this cord will allow you to manually open and close your garage door.

p_SDW_184_04The emergency release cord is important, and I did not follow my own advice this morning. Hey, it was cold, and I wanted a quick fix. By doing what I did this morning, you run the risk of causing more problems. The emergency release allows you to open and close your garage door manually and make sure that there are no obstructions and that the door is not damaged in some way, making opening difficult. If the door is damaged and you continue to operated the opener, you can further damage the door or the opener.

I got lucky. My door simply needed some cleaning and lubrication. As long as garage doors continue to operate, we usually don’t think about them. Unfortunately, because of this lack of attention you end up in a situation like mine.

To remedy my problem, all I had to do was clean the tracks with a rag and grease them. The tracks will pick up dirt over time, and this dirt combined with grease can cause the door rollers to bind. Once I had cleaned the track and lubricated the track with WD-40, the door worked properly. I used this because it’s what I had available; any graphite or light machine oil should work.

Garage doors are actually simple mechanical items. Some troubleshooting items to watch for are the condition of the door, batteries in the transmitter, sensitivity safety control or the electric eyes. As mentioned earlier, always check the condition of your door first by pulling the emergency release cord and manually opening and closing the door.

If your door will open and close by use of the auxiliary control (the button on the garage wall) but won’t with the transmitter, change the batteries.

If your door reverses on its way up or down or won’t reverse when it’s obstructed, adjust the safety sensitivity control. This is usually found on the bottom of the garage door opener. Read your manufacturer’s instructions before attempting this, and make sure after adjustment that the door with reverse when obstructed. This safety feature helps prevent small children and pets from being crushed by the door.

garage door electric eyeThe electric eyes are located at the bottom of the door on both sides and attached to the door frame of the garage. These eyes keep the door from closing if anything is beneath the door.

As we remove snow, we can disturb these electric eyes, and the door will not close. These eyes send a beam of infrared light to each other, and they must be aligned properly or the opener gets the signal that the door is obstructed. On most door openers, each of these electric eyes will have a light that tells you if they are adjusted correctly. Green light means good, and a red light is a problem. Check your manufacturer’s instructions to make sure that this is how your electric eyes work. If you have bumped or disturbed these, you can usually just adjust them by hand until you see that green light, and the door then will again close.

Another rare problem with garage door openers is the door opening for no reason. This is caused by a neighbor having the same frequency code on his or her opener as you. Simply change your frequency code, and the problem should be solved.

there are many items in your home that can be impacted by cold weather. Some simple things to check are: Make sure the sewer vent on your roof is not obstructed by snow, and keep your sidewalk clear and mailboxes accessible for the mail carrier.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a climate where you don’t have to worry about these things, I applaud you. I’m sure you have your own climate-related problems but its hard for us to imagine what those problems could be while we’re enjoying minus 30-degree weather.

I look forward to spring and warmer weather. Isn’t that the time when we do our home improvements and maintenance to prepare for the weather we’re having now? Makes you think.

I hope your winter has been good and that all of your home’s mechanical systems are working well. As always, remember to measure twice and cut once.

by John Burns, an appraiser and part-time advertising consultant for Lake and Home Magazine. 

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