Do you live in a part of the country where winters test the endurance of garage doors? On particularly cold days, you may even experience a garage door that is frozen closed or laboring slowly. The effects of sub-zero temperatures, wind, snow and ice complicate everything for everybody. Vehicles won’t start, schools shut down and, let’s face it, you’d rather stay in bed.
Extreme cold also impacts your garage door. The metal components can contract and seize up, causing the opener’s motor to work harder. So the first rule is: Do not try more than once to operate the opener when the garage door is frozen shut, lest you damage the opener and the door.
Follow These Steps
- Verify that the door is unlocked by checking the wall console’s lock button and the interior slide lock. Inspect the door system visually, looking for indications of broken parts or obstructions.
- You’ll want to use the manual release cord to disengage the door from the opener. Grab the cord and pull it to release the door, and then, if you can, manually open and shut the door a few times to loosen frozen sections and dislodge frost from the weather seal.
- If you are unable to manually open the door, you might have a problem with ice buildup under or outside the door. If you come upon icy sections, grab your trusty blow dryer or heat gun, set it for minimum heat and move it steadily back and forth over the icy sections. Don’t dally in one spot for too long.
- If you don’t have a heat blower, other options for removing ice include:
- Chipping the ice away, taking care not to damage the bottom seal.
- Pouring boiling water on the frozen areas and then opening the door before the water freezes.
- Applying rock salt or hot salt water if temperatures exceed 10 degrees F., bearing in mind that you’ll need to completely clean the bottom section and seal after freeing the door in order to avoid corrosion.
- If you are not in a rush, you can try melting the ice with a space heater. It will probably take all day and require periodic supervision.
- Check the temperature prediction throughout the day using either a weather website or app. If the temperature is predicted to rise appreciably above 32 F and you have the time to wait, nature may melt the problem away for you. By the way, this technique also works with snowy driveways.
- If all else fails, contact your friendly Overhead Door local service provider for professional assistance.
In the ounce-of-prevention department, try these measures to keep your garage door from freezing closed:
- Never let ice and snow accumulate in the area in front of and underneath the door. You don’t want to give the bottom seal a chance to stick to the ice and prevent operation. Don’t ever attempt to force open a door with a stuck seal, as it can rip the seal right off the door, as well as break the door’s top section. Don’t force it open using the electric opener, which under the circumstances can easily burn out.
- When the weather turns cold, spray the rubber bottom seal with a lubricant, such as silicone or vegetable oil, to help keep the seal from sticking.
- While you’re at it, lubricate the entire system, using lubricants specially formulated for use on garage doors in cold weather.
- During frigid conditions, regularly open and close your garage door, preferably by releasing the cord and operating it manually. This can help prevent ice buildup and keep door sections from sticking together.
- Put down a layer of sand or kitty litter on the ground directly beneath the door across its entire width.