How to Safely Open Your Garage Door When it Freezes

You are rushing out the door to get to work on time. Perhaps, you have an early meeting, or you need to set up a presentation for the staff. Nothing gets your day off on the wrong foot than pushing the button on the garage door opener and the door will not go up. What do you do now? You need a fast solution that does not tear up your equipment in the process.

Why you should keep your finger off from the opener

If your garage door will not open, then professional garage door installation firms say do not keep trying. You can do more damage by pushing the opener button continuously. You can tear the weatherstripping at the bottom of the door making it necessary to replace the insulation. The motor can overheat and burn up. The gears in the door opener can also strip out meaning you will need a replacement costing money and time.

Clearing a path

The first thing you should do when you think your garage door is frozen is to clean around the door. Shovel any snow away from the garage door. If you have ice, then using an ice shovel to break up the frozen water is necessary. Once you have a good view of the situation, you can see if there is ice directly under the bottom of the garage door. If the temperature is below freezing, then there is a good chance it is frozen. When clearing out the snow and ice does not free the door, then keep reading to find out what else you can do to open up the garage.

Melting the ice

There are two typical ways to unfreeze your garage door. First and fastest, is to use hot water to soften the ice under the door and thaw out the weatherstripping. This method is quickest, but it is also trickiest. When the weather is bitter cold, or the wind is blowing hard, then using hot water can ultimately make the issue worse in these cases.

A better way to thaw out the door and loosen the insulating material is to use a heat gun. The drawback to this method is that it takes a while to work. You have to keep moving the heat gun across the bottom of the door going back and forth until the entire length is loose. If you have pooling or ponding of water at the garage door, then the water can also refreeze in this situation. To prevent additional icing, you can use old rags or towels to sop up any water that runs from under the door to prevent it from freezing and compounding the problem.

Stopping door freeze-ups

You can do a few things to minimize the chance of another early morning debacle. If you have cameras, motion detectors, or other means of securing your garage, then you can leave your garage door open about an inch to prevent freezing. The disadvantages of this method are getting snow and ice in the garage, making the inside temperature as cold as the outside, and giving critters access to the structure.

Routine maintenance can stop garage doors from sticking and freezing

Another method of prevention is to lubricate your garage door regularly. This task is especially important for the weatherstripping at the bottom of the door. First, sweeping under and around your garage door before washing it is advisable to minimize debris getting into the tracks. You will want to clean the door seal with warm, soapy water and pat it dry. While washing the weatherstripping, it is important to look for damage like cracks and holes. Broken insulation lets moisture and debris inside making it difficult for the lubrication to work.

Not every oil is good for garage doors

Machine oil, lithium grease, and Teflon lubricants all work for this job. Garage installation crews advise homeowners not to use WD-40 or cooking oil on your door seal because the oil gets gummy, especially in colder weather. The stickier these oils get, the more the lubricant attracts dirt and debris making it impossible to keep the rollers and seal clean. You want to wipe off the old oil and reapply lubrication at least once a year, but most garage door professionals say seasonal applications are a good rule of thumb. If you live in an arid climate, cold weather states, or coastal areas, then making this a monthly chore might not be a bad idea. You should wash the entire door at least once a year and apply a sealer to protect all the garage door.

A little preventative maintenance and visual checks can help you avoid calling the boss and saying you are going to be late because of a frozen garage door. If all your hard work cannot stop a freeze-up, then carefully removing the ice with hot water or a heat gun will get the door open. Remember not to push the open button too often and to check the seal for damage when the door releases.