DEAR MIKE: When I press the remote control for my metal garage door, the door's movement sounds like an out-of-control freight train. How can I quiet things down? -- Michael L.
DEAR MICHAEL: I've heard sectional garage doors that squeal louder than a room full of schoolgirls at a sleepover. Assuming that the horrific noise isn't coming from the opener's motor unit, you can give the door a quick tune-up at a minimum of expense and time.
If you park two cars in the garage and each comes and goes one time each day, the door will open and close more than 1,000 times each year. That squeal you hear is the door's way of asking for a little attention.
First, check the rollers that guide the door in the metal track. The rollers are little wheels made of steel or nylon. Over time, steel wheels become wobbly as the bearings give out, and nylon wheels can break. A garage door dealer usually has replacements.
To replace the rollers, just unscrew the roller bracket and slip out the old roller. You will have to hold the roller at an angle to get it in and out of the track. Place the new roller in the bracket and tighten it back down. A word of caution: Don't remove the bottom roller bracket as it is attached to a cable that is under a great deal of tension that could cause serious injury. Call a professional if this needs to be replaced.
Also check that the hardware is tight. Tighten the bolts that hold the roller brackets (metal brackets that hold the roller wheels in the roller track) in place. Also tighten the support brackets and the tracks to make sure they are secure.
Next, lubricate the chain or the screw on the opener. White lithium grease in a tube or spray can costs about $6 at a home center.
Use a spray lubricant such as WD-40 and coat the torsion springs, which are the black coils above the garage door. These springs can be dangerous because of the tension they are under, so call a professional to service them. If one of these springs breaks, have them both replaced.
And while you're at it, check that the garage door opener's reversing mechanism is functioning. Throw a 2X4 or a roll of paper towels under the door and close it. The door should reverse when it hits the obstruction. If it doesn't, adjust the limit switches (travel distance and/or force) until it does. If your opener doesn't have an automatic reversing mechanism, you should buy a new opener.
After you've made the necessary repairs or called in a professional, that freight train you heard will be miles away.