Winter is coming, and that means it’s time to start thinking about protecting your home, including your garage, from the elements. An uninsulated, drafty garage can lead to higher heating bills, damage to your garage door and opener, and even pipes freezing. By taking some simple winterizing steps now, you can avoid headaches down the road. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to properly winterize your garage door.
Having a functional, protected garage door is especially important during frigid winter months. Not only does winterizing improve energy efficiency and save you money on utilities, but it also prevents costly repairs that can occur when moisture seeps into cracks and components freeze. We’ll delve into winterizing basics first, then provide tips on insulating, sealing, maintaining, and heating your garage to keep it in top shape all season long.
- Inspect garage door tracks, hardware, springs and opener
- Seal air leaks around door with weatherstripping
- Insulate door with kits or professional installation
- Test door operation and lubricate parts
- Maintain temperature above freezing
Follow these essential winterizing steps, and you’ll have a warm, protected garage that stands up to old man winter’s worst. Let’s get started!
Inspect Garage Door Components
The first step in winterizing your garage door is thoroughly inspecting all of the components. Check the following:
Tracks: Look for any loose screws or bolts along the vertical and horizontal door tracks. Are the tracks aligned properly or bent? Any debris or dirt inside the tracks should be cleaned out.
Rollers and Hinges: Rollers should roll smoothly without catching. Hinges should be snug with no wiggle room or rust. Tighten any loose fasteners.
Cables, Springs, and Pulleys: Cables should have some slack and be seated properly in the pulleys. Check springs for any cracking or damage. Pulleys should spin freely without squeaking.
Seals and Weatherstripping: Inspect seals around the door and in the tracks. If cracked or missing, cold air can penetrate. Ensure sweeps along the bottom seal tightly to the ground.
Door Panel: Give the door panels and windows a visual inspection. Any cracks, holes, rotting wood or missing insulation should be replaced or repaired.
By thoroughly checking all parts of the garage door system, you can fix any issues to ensure safe, smooth operation and better protect it from seasonal damage.
Seal Air Leaks and Gaps
One of the easiest and most effective ways to insulate your garage is by sealing any air leaks or gaps around the main garage door and garage walls/ceiling. This prevents cold drafts from penetrating the space.
Here are some problem areas to focus your sealing efforts:
- Where the garage door meets the concrete floor – Apply weatherstripping or sweep seals.
- Where the tracks meet the walls – Caulk along track supports and framework.
- Where the wall meets the ceiling – Fill cracks with spray foam.
- Around garage windows and doors – Apply weatherstripping and threshold seals.
- Between wall panels – Use expanding foam in larger gaps between panels or boards.
Properly sealing your garage can reduce air leakage by up to 45 percent. It’s fast, easy, and offers a great return on investment through energy savings.
Insulate the Garage Door
In addition to sealing air leaks, one of the most vital steps is insulating the garage door itself against winter’s chill. The right insulation adds thermal resistance and a protective barrier preventing precious heat from escaping your home.
You have a few good options when it comes to insulating doors:
One affordable option is purchasing a DIY garage door insulation kit. These kits from stores like Home Depot contain sheets of polystyrene foam board specially sized to fit garage door panels. Simply cut boards to size and adhere to the inside of your door using tape or adhesive foam. Kits run $50 or less.
For top quality insulation, have dense foam board insulation professionally installed. The installation process involves removing door panels, adhering rigid insulation boards, sealing them into place, then reinstalling door panels. Professionally installed insulation costs around $1.50-$2 per square foot of door area, with any repairs needed. This provides superior insulation and protection.
Keep in mind that adding heavy insulation will require an opener with more lifting power. Ensure any insulation, tape or seals will not interfere with door hardware operations. Maintain sight lines, and avoid weighing down doors so that they are difficult to manually open.
Maintain and Repair Your Garage Door
An often overlooked part of winter prep is garage door maintenance. Performing proactive repairs and upkeep to ensure everything is functioning properly before temperatures plummet is important.
Inspect and Adjust the Opener
Many winter problems start with the electric garage door opener. Give it a full check by running it through multiple open and close cycles. Listen for any grinding or squeaking. If necessary, lubricate and tighten moving parts like rollers and hinges. Check the reversing sensor to make sure it’s clean and unobstructed. Clear cobwebs or dust near sensors which can interfere with signals.
Test the Manual Release
In case of power outages, test the emergency release handle. Pull down firmly on rope or chain releases to disconnect the door from the opener. Lift manually to ensure smooth operation without sticking. Increase lifting power with frequent use to keep the door from freezing shut.
Check Rollers and Lubricate Tracks
It’s crucial that rollers glide easily through tracks all winter. Any sticky spots quickly lead to ice buildup. Lubricate steel and aluminum garage door tracks with silicone spray, and use lighter fluid to dissolve hardened grease or oil. Check rollers for deterioration or cracking and clean debris from the tracks.
By proactively addressing maintenance needs ahead of winter, you can circumvent problems at the worst possible time – amidst a storm with temperatures below zero! Preventative care keeps the door operating at peak efficiency.
Keep Your Garage Above Freezing
In exceptionally cold regions, simply sealing up or insulating your garage may not be enough to keep components from failing. The garage still requires adequate heating and ventilation to prevent pipes from bursting and equipment damage during subzero conditions.Here are strategies to help maintain safe temperatures:
Insulate Walls and Ceilings
Adding thermal insulation to garage walls and ceilings makes a huge impact, preventing heat loss via the building envelope. Use batt or roll insulation for walls plus blown-in loose fill for ceilings. Seal any gaps around electrical fixtures or conduits.
Install Garage Heater
Depending on size, use either electric or vent-free propane garage heater units to provide ambient heating. This keeps overall temperatures above freezing. Ensure proper ventilation is met based on unit specs to prevent dangerous exhaust or CO buildup.
Protect Water Supply Lines
Wrap any water supply lines in heating tape. Run heat tape the entire length of pipes, affixing to a warm wall surface. Plug heat tape into a GFCI outlet and set thermostat to 45-55° F to prevent freezing. Maintain power.
Check Temperatures Daily
Install an indoor/outdoor digital thermometer visible from house so you can monitor garage temps. Open the door periodically to allow warm interior air to circulate when extremely cold.
Staying vigilant about maintaining safe temperatures in your garage prevents catastrophic system failures while lowering risk of falls on icy floors.
Preparing your garage door for the demands of winter is absolutely critical to avoid operational issues, prevent costly damage, and improve energy efficiency. By inspecting, sealing, insulating and heating your garage properly before the winter solstice, you can take these essential steps to keep your garage and its components protected from Old Man Winter’s worst.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you winterize your garage door?
Thoroughly inspect door components, seal air leaks using caulk/weatherstripping, add insulation to door panels, test operation/conduct maintenance, and heat garage to above freezing.
What is the cheapest way to keep a garage warm in the winter?
The cheapest way is to use a space heater to provide ambient heat on a budget. Also seal leaks thoroughly, insulate garage walls/ceilings, and wrap water pipes in heating tape.