It might seem obvious to simply grease up all the moving parts on your garage door if they become noticeably squeaky. If the noise is gone then you’re happy and the job is done, right? Wrong. We cover some common mistakes and misconceptions when it comes to lubricating your garage door.
What you may want to reconsider using
The first item on our list might surprise you. There’s quite a bit of debate on whether or not WD-40 (water displacement solution, attempt # 40) is actually a lubricant. WD-40’s fun little myths and legends page addresses this and goes on to refute claims that it isn’t a lubricant. In fact, it turns out to be a special blend of lubricants that make up what they refer to as a “secret sauce”. And nobody knows the recipe. Nobody.
All that being said, WD-40’s ability to lubricate and repel dirt makes it an acceptable solution for lubricating your garage door in a pinch. It has a rather thin consistency, though, which doesn’t make it ideal for lubricating parts that sit above your head. We have some better long term options down on the list.
Do you have a grease gun sitting around? Perhaps a small metal tub of some mechanic’s grease that you know would just work great and envelope all those moving parts. Well, the problem with grease is that it’s typically used in locations where it’s not exposed to the elements. Ball bearings and a-arms are either deep within the machine or are protected by boots. This allows the grease to do its job without being subject to dirt and water.
While grease might be lying around your garage and seem to be a great solution, leave it on the shelf. It will end up collecting dust and grime and making more of a long term mess than it’s worth.
Another rather common household lubricant—oil%—might be your next go-to solution to get those rollers to stop their singing. This one even comes in a nice squeeze bottle that’ll let you control its application. The problem with oil is that it doesn’t have a very high viscosity. Oil can be useful for getting into tight spots like small gears but you’ll find that it maintains that liquid consistency.
As such, when this lubricant gets moving (think rotating around the rollers day in and day out) it will have the tendency to spread out and run. Once it has nowhere to go and nothing to hold onto, where do you think it will go next? That’s right, it will simply drip down onto your beautiful epoxy floor. Or worse, it might drip on your vehicle or other tool in your garage.
White lithium grease
Now we’re getting into the stuff that works really well. This type of grease is made from lithium soap. It adheres especially well to metal, is non-corrosive, can be used under heavy loads, and exhibits good temperature tolerance. All great factors in regards to your garage door.
Also having a high viscosity makes it great for practically any part on your garage door. And with a melting point of nearly 400° F, you’ll never have to worry about this grease dripping or running off to where it shouldn’t be.
Some mixtures of white lithium grease contain Polytetrafluoroethylene (say that five times fast), which is a base used in Teflon products. If you’re somehow not familiar with PTFE, it’s a very durable protectant commonly found in cooking products or high-heat applications.
You’ll find several different ways to apply white lithium grease:
The best garage door lubricant
Silicone based lubricant is especially good for lubricating practically any part of your garage door. It has the ability to adhere well to both metal and plastic and won’t swell or soften any rubber parts, which is important for bushings or quiet nylon rollers.
Silicone lubricant resists dust and dirt, is water resistant, and protects against rust. It’s easy to apply and stays where you put it. This is the best long-term solution if you choose not to (or forget to) annually lubricate your garage door.
As with white lithium grease, this products comes in several different containers for just about any preference in application: tubes, tubs, cans. Some methods may be easier for getting into those hard-to-reach spots. Fast-drying spray is perhaps the most versatile. Have a look at the options that you can choose from.
How to lubricate a garage door
So you’ve settled on either silicone based lubricant or white lithium grease, right? Well now it’s time to get lubricating. If you’ve decided on a spray lubricant, your job will be made a bit easier. Especially with a straw nozzle, your can will allow you to get into the tightest of spots around the door.
Preparation: Move any vehicles or other obstructions either out of the garage or out of your way. We suggest you do this not only for safety’s sake, but also to mitigate grease overspray or dripping.
It’s recommended that you lubricate the door parts with the garage door closed and released from the motor. You’ll be applying the grease at the pivot points so you’ll want it to be free-moving.
Lubricating: Starting at the top, spray or apply your grease to the following parts attached to the door itself:
- Pivot points
- Arm bar
As you work your way down, raise the garage door and apply the grease to the hinged pieces. This not only makes it easier for you to work, but maximizes the amount of grease that gets inside all the now-exposed parts. Use your step ladder to increase your reach but also to get a better view of parts you’re lubricating.
If you have metal rollers, you’ll want to inspect them closely where the stem meets the back of the roller wheel. You should see some small bearings inset within the wheel. Spray or carefully apply lubricant to these bearings. If you have nylon rollers, there may be no need to lubricate this point of contact as the bearings are likely sealed.
In either case, do not lubricate the track. Did you read that? Don’t lubricate the track. We can go through with a rag and wipe this down when we’re done, but don’t directly lubricate the track. You’ve got a nearly 300 lb door and you don’t want it sliding around, or worse, coming completely off the track.
Next, you can go ahead and lubricate the pulley. This will be the large wheel with the coiled up wire attached to the garage door. Just like the metal rollers, you may see some exposed bearings that can be sprayed. If the bearings are sealed then there is no need to lubricate this part.
The arm bar is attached to the carriage rail by a metal sleeve. The point of contact is on the top of the carriage rail. There is no need to lubricate the metal (bottom) facing you. Spray or apply a line of grease along the top of the carriage rail.
Lastly, you’ll want to lubricate the torsion spring. This is the large spring located immediately above the garage door. The stored tension in the spring gives the door some assistance when raising or lowering. As such, you’ll want to exercise caution when getting near this part. Wear safety goggles and nylon gloves.
Regardless of the coatings already applied to your torsion spring, lubricating it will reduce some of the noise created as the springs rub up against one another. If your spring is galvanized and can attract rust, the lubricant will act as a protective sealant.
Cleanup: Aside from any wayward grease, you’ll want to wipe down the track to make sure there isn’t anything inside that will derail your door. Take a damp shop towel or rag and simply run it from the front (nearest the door frame) out toward the back.
Any dust, dirt, or grime will be expelled out of the open end of the track and onto the floor. Running the towel the other direction could potentially push any solids toward the rollers. That’s about it for garage door lubrication. The entire process should take no longer than 15 minutes and should be performed once a year.