Preparing Your Garage Door for Winter
Your garage door is likely the largest functional appliance of your home or business. It withstands heavy use as you might open and close it thousands of times each year and multiple times a day. It’s exposed to the elements of each season, sustaining a great deal of wear and tear. The cold winter weather in a state like Connecticut can be unforgiving, so it’s important to prepare your garage for winter.
There are several precautions you can take before temperatures start to dip. Investing in these precautions can help prevent emergencies and reduce repair costs long term. Many precautions are quick and inexpensive, but have a significant impact. Learn how to seal your garage door for winter and discover other steps you can take below.
How Does Cold Weather Affect Garage Doors?
Extreme cold and exposure to snow, sleet and ice can have an adverse effect on any appliance or piece of machinery. Your garage door is not immune to these impacts. It has several elements that are sensitive to the effects of winter. Though garage doors can be many different materials, none can withstand winter without any preparation. Here are some common garage door issues in cold weather:
- Shrinking metal: Particles move slower and take up less space when chilled. As a result, the cold causes metal to contract. Pieces of hardware like springs and screws will shrink. When this happens, your door might not be able to open and close. Springs can snap, and the metal track can warp. Proper weatherstripping, insulation and lubricating oil can minimize the effects of contracting metal.
- Allowing cold in: A lack of proper insulation allows the cold to seep in, which can affect the temperature of your living or working space. This can drive up your energy bills and make your indoor space less comfortable. Insulation and weatherstripping also help solve this problem.
- Absorbing water: As snow and sleet fall, parts of your garage door might absorb water, causing swelling. The swelling might prohibit closing. If the absorbed water freezes, the door could freeze shut. Doors with wooden panels are the most susceptible to this issue, and protective treatments can prevent this from happening.
- Fogging sensors: The safety sensor on your garage door keeps it from closing if it perceives an obstacle in the way. Winter weather can cause the sensors to fog over, mimicking an obstacle. Piled up snow or ice near the bottom of the door can have the same effect.
- Getting stuck: Any of the above issues can cause your garage door to get “stuck” and be unable to open or close. Precautionary measures protect your garage and prevent the door from sticking.
Why Winterize a Garage Door?
Preparing your garage for winter is vital to avoid ending up in an emergency situation with a door that refuses to move. A door stuck closed can be a serious dilemma — if your vehicle is trapped inside, you’ll have a hard time getting anywhere. If your vehicle is trapped outside, there’ll be nothing to protect it from the elements. And if your door is stuck open, everything in your garage will be exposed and you’ll have a tough time regulating the temperature. Even if your door functions without getting stuck, poor insulation can cause burst pipes and higher heating bills.
Winter weather will affect other elements of your garage in addition to the door. The cold can cause your pipes to freeze. The snow, ice and salt on your vehicle can erode your concrete floors. If shared walls are not well insulated, your heater will have to work harder, driving up your utility bills. An unprotected floor can also worsen insulation problems by creating cracks and gaps.
In addition to momentary inconvenience, the effects of winter can shorten the life span of your garage door. You might find yourself needing to replace the door or its hardware after a few winters. Winterizing protects your investment and saves you money.
Winter Garage Door Maintenance Tips
As temperatures drop and the first snowfall looms, take some time to prepare your garage. Some tasks you can do on your own, while others may require professional service. You’ll find even the simplest preventive maintenance tasks can make a huge difference. Follow these tips for how to winterize your garage door and the inside of your garage.
1. Insulate Your Garage and Garage Door
It’s helpful to keep your garage warm during winter by installing proper insulation. You’ll find this has several benefits, including:
- It protects the internal hardware of your garage door.
- It protects the objects stored in your garage.
- It can lower your energy bills and improve the efficiency of your heating.
- It makes your garage a more livable, usable space during winter.
Many garages share at least one wall with a home or building, so proper insulation has a significant impact on indoor temperature regulation. At the least, you’ll want to improve the insulation of the shared wall to create a temperature barrier. If you’re thinking about upgrading or replacing your garage door, consider a well-insulated material. For instance, a four-layer garage door is ideal for extreme weather conditions.
Improved insulation is always beneficial, whether you only use your garage for storage or it has multiple purposes. If your home’s garage stays at a comfortable temperature, you can use it as a studio, home gym or children’s play area. In a business setting, you can make better use of a well-insulated garage. You can store valuable items or perform tasks in the garage.
2. Have Your Weatherstripping Replaced
You may notice tiny gaps along the edges of your garage door. It’s important to close these gaps with proper weatherstripping. Sealing door gaps in the winter will keep cold air, snow and ice from seeping into your garage and causing damage. Cracks along your garage door can also lead to pest issues, so these spots always need resealing. Professionals use polyvinyl chloride (PVC), vinyl or rubber to close off the gaps. They’ll also clear away any dirt or grime from the seal. Follow these garage door weather seal tips:
- Look for light: To check for cracks along the edge of the door, stand outside after dark and look for spots where light shines through. If you can see light, there’s a big enough space for temperature or moisture leaks.
- Use a bottom or threshold seal: If your garage floor has cracks or crevices where it meets the door, this can result in gaps. To fill those gaps, attach a strip of rubber or vinyl along the bottom edge of your garage door. You could also attach a threshold seal to the floor to serve the same purpose, but note that a threshold seal might make it harder to sweep or hose debris off your garage floor.
- Replace weatherstripping: Along the sides of the door, you’ll need to replace any worn weatherstripping, which attaches to the edges with nails or screws.
- Weatherstrip between panels: Gaps can also form between individual door panels. When that happens, apply weatherstripping along the borders of the panels.
3. Cover Water Pipes
When water pipes freeze, the built up pressure of running water can cause them to burst. A burst pipe can lead to dangerous and damaging flooding. Water pipes running through exterior walls, attics or garages are the most vulnerable. It’s important to insulate these pipes before temperatures fall too low.
If you choose to install insulation on your own, make sure to wrap all pipes in unheated spaces, for both cold and hot water. Use a pipe sleeve and wrap it tightly, leaving no room for sweating. You can also take the following precautions to avoid frozen or burst pipes:
- Keep a faucet dripping to avoid pressure buildup.
- Keep your thermostat on and heat running, even if you’re away for an extended period.
- Improve the insulation of your unheated spaces, including the garage.
4. Protect Your Garage Floor
Your garage floor withstands a lot in the winter, including vehicle and foot traffic, dirt, mud, automotive fluid, ice, rainwater, ground salt and sand. An unfinished concrete surface is more porous than you might realize. Like metal, concrete expands and contracts with the temperature. With exposure to moisture, it’ll freeze and thaw. This results in cracking, crumbling or flaking.
The sand and salt that are meant to improve traction on the road are abrasive to your floor. To avoid these issues, you can take a few precautions. Choose from any of the following methods, noting their pros and cons:
- Applying protective coatings: A protective coating of epoxy or polyaspartic will protect your floor and improve its appearance. Keep in mind that you have to apply epoxy in mild temperatures. If you wait too long into the season, epoxy is no longer an option.
- Applying clear sealants: Sealants offer a clear film to protect against damage. If the floor underneath has uneven coloration or surface damage, those issues will still be visible.
- Laying down snow mats: A cost-effective way to protect your garage floor is to lay down snow mats. A rubber or vinyl snow mat will provide a protective barrier between your concrete floor and the snow, ice and salt. They’re an impermanent solution as they can come loose, tear or fray over time.
- Installing interlocking tiles: Another inexpensive option is to install rubber or PVC interlocking tiles. If you use tiles, create a drainage system for the water that collects on the surface.
In general, try to keep your garage floors as dry as possible. If you can, clean snow off your vehicle in the driveway before pulling into the garage. Use a shovel and a squeegee to remove snow and ice from the floor. Regular cleaning throughout the winter will reduce the burden on your floors.
5. Lubricate Metal Parts
Spray lubricant on all your garage door’s moving metal parts, like springs, bearings and hinges. This is an easy do-it-yourself project that can make a huge difference. You can use standard engine oil, but avoid thick grease. If it’s too thick, it’ll make tracks stick and collect debris. When you apply the spray, work around plastic pieces. Afterward, wipe away excess lubricant to keep it from dripping on the floor.
A simple coat of lubrication always helps. Smoother movement can extend the life span of your garage door, reducing the wear and tear of constant use. While you should apply lubricant before winter, you can also apply it any time of year. To see if your garage door needs lubrication, watch as it opens or closes. See if it sticks or struggles at any point. If it does, apply lubricant.
6. Clear Sensors
As mentioned above, winter fog can inhibit your door’s safety sensors. These safety sensors are a vital element of your garage door. Garage doors are heavy and can cause severe injury if someone gets caught underneath. Photo eye sensors keep this from happening, stopping the door when there’s an obstacle.
If your door refuses to open or close, a blocked sensor may be the cause. Thankfully, this is easy to fix. Wipe the photo eye sensors so they can operate as they should. You’ll also want to clear away leaves, dirt, dust and snow from the lenses. Keep the area around the base of the door unobstructed, and shovel away snow and dirt.
7. Replace Old, Worn Springs
The metal hardware on your door needs to be strong when winter comes around. Worn metal components can compromise your door’s ability to function. Before winter, you might want to have a professional replace your springs. Grinding or squeaking sounds or stuttered movement might indicate an issue with your springs. First, carefully apply lubricant. If the issue persists, contact a professional service to replace the broken springs.
What to Do if Your Garage Door Is Not Working
Whether or not you’ve taken necessary precautions, emergencies can happen. In some situations, you need an immediate fix and waiting several days is not an option. For example, if your door is unable to close, everything in your garage is vulnerable to the elements. In a scenario like this, contact a 24/7 emergency repair service. An on-call technician will arrive to address the issue so you can continue your regular activities.
Contact American Overhead Doors for Garage Door Service and Repairs
When preparing your home or business for the harsh Connecticut winter, it’s important to remember the garage. Your garage has to withstand heavy use in all climates, rain or shine. At American Overhead Doors, we provide professional garage door service, repair and replacement for homes and businesses to prepare you for any season. Whether you’re looking for preventive maintenance, part replacement or emergency response, we can help. For all your garage door needs, contact American Overhead Doors today.
Guide to Buying an Insulated Garage Door in Connecticut
Let’s face it — Connecticut weather is unpredictable. Especially in the spring and autumn months, outdoor temperatures can spike or drop in a heartbeat. With an insulated garage door, you can always be sure you’re pulling in to a comfortable garage, no matter the season. An insulated garage door has many benefits that make it worth the cost. There’s also a lot that goes into choosing the right one for your Connecticut home, which is why we’ve put together this insulated garage door buying guide.
Benefits of an Insulated Garage Door
Does an insulated garage door make a difference? Yes.
An insulated garage door is energy-efficient, convenient and comfortable. Insulation helps you better protect your garage door, and creates better conditions for both your car and anything else you store in your garage. The door itself may give your home more peace and quiet and can increase your curb appeal. All these benefits make an insulated garage door a fantastic investment.
1. Promotes Energy-Efficiency
Your home’s walls, ceilings, windows, floors and doors all create what’s called a “home envelope.” The barriers that keep the extremes outside allow you to heat and cool your home throughout the year. The more energy-efficient your home envelope — the better its insulation and the less it leaks air — the more money you’ll save.
The garage door is the largest entry point to your home and an often overlooked section of your home envelope. Part of the reason for this is that garages aren’t usually considered living spaces, so they have different construction standards. Any garage attached to the rest of your house shares at least one wall with another room. You might even have a bedroom directly above the garage.
So, even if you’re not piping heat into your garage, your home is still losing warmth. As warm air seeps in through a non-insulated garage door and into the outside world, your heating system works harder to compensate. Likewise, in the summer, your air conditioning quickly escapes through your garage door.
An insulated door keeps warm air in during cold weather and heat and humidity out during warm weather. According to one study, a garage with a non-insulated metal door will be about 30 degrees on a 20-degree winter day. On the same day in a garage with an insulated door, the temperature will be around 42 degrees. With one below freezing and the other above, an insulated door can make a huge difference in how you heat your home and help you cut down your energy bill, too.
2. Increases Durability
Over the years, garage doors take quite the beating. With regular use, the bottom panel of the door is making contact with a concrete slab many times a day. It might also be the victim of your kids’ backyard sporting events or take some flak from airborne pebbles on a windy fall day. Dents on your garage door can affect your home’s curb appeal. It’s crucial to look for a sturdy garage door that can withstand daily wear and tear.
Insulation adds extra rigidity to a garage door, which results in more durability. Many insulated garage doors have a solid panel of insulation sandwiched between two layers of steel or aluminum. Others are injected with foam that expands as it hardens, filling the space between the metal panels. Both of these types of insulation make a garage far less susceptible to dents.
The internal hardware of your garage also fairs better thanks to the milder internal temperature in your garage. Extreme temperatures can affect springs as well as the lubrication of rollers and hinges. A machine-operated garage door opener will also have a longer lifespan when it’s not exposed to cold temperatures or high heat.
3. Reduces Noise
If you work early or late hours, you might be concerned about waking your family with the sound of your garage door opening and closing. Garage doors have a lot of moving parts, and with anything that moves, some noise is expected. When the sound suddenly becomes bothersome, the first step should be to check the hardware. Worn out rollers can cause grinding, while a loose chain or track can produce a jerking sound.
If there is no direct problem causing the noise, however, the door itself could produce an annoying sound. A lightweight non-insulated garage door tends to be the biggest offender. Panels may shake as they move along the track, causing a rumbling sound. Insulation can absorb vibration and dampen noise, which is a major plus if you choose to upgrade to insulated doors. Also, their thick insulation and tight construction nearly eliminate hollow space and loose material inside your garage door panels, which also limits noise.
An insulated garage door can also create a quieter environment, even when the door is not in use. Just as an insulated door serves as a defensive barrier against the elements, it also stops soundwaves in their tracks. Anything from a car speeding by or a leaf blower buzzing to a dog barking can disturb your home. While you won’t wholly sound-proof your home by insulating your garage door, the extra padding helps muffle these sounds.
4. Protects Your Car
The whole reason we have garages in the first place is to shelter your car from the elements. A garage protects your car from ice and snow in the winter and shades it from the harsh summer sun. When the temperature in the garage is not much different from the outdoors, your car may still be suffering.
Winter is tough on car batteries because the oil starts to thicken and makes it more difficult for the engine to turn over. Cold weather can also prevent your battery from recharging properly. When a car is parked in a cold garage, the tire pressure will go down. A warm, comfortable garage can improve the life of your car and keep its parts working like they are supposed to.
5. Enhances Comfort and Convenience
The easiest way to make a garage warmer — without racking up a higher heating bill — is to insulate your garage door. How much warmer is an insulated garage door? One homeowner with a Clopay® garage door saw amazing results from the Intellicore® insulation system. Before the new door, the average temperature inside the garage was an average of 21 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. With the insulated garage door, the average temperature saw an average of 49 degrees above the outside temperature.
On days when the temperature drops below freezing, stepping out of your car into a toasty garage can make a big difference. You’ll feel more comfortable and endure less cold before and after your daily commute. As you transport groceries to the kitchen and get your kids in and out of the house on chilly days, you’ll appreciate the convenience of a warmer garage.
The added warmth also creates a vestibule effect. Many restaurants use a vestibule to cut out the blast of cold air that enters the room when the front door opens. Likewise, your garage is essentially a vestibule for your home. When the temperature in your garage isn’t much warmer than it is outside, you might send a wave of cold air indoors whenever you enter your home. An insulated garage door can make the living areas near your garage more comfortable.
You also might treat your garage as an extension of your living space. You might use the area as a workout room or work on your DIY projects. Some people work with power tools in the garage, while others use the space as a game room outfitted with a pool table. If you do a lot in your garage, you’ll appreciate the extra warmth and prolonged use time an insulated garage door can provide.
Types of Garage Door Insulation
Two main types of insulated garage doors are available from Clopay. Some of their models are available with polystyrene insulation, while others use Clopay’s proprietary Intellicore® Polyurethane Insulation. A selection of garage doors, including the Coachman, Grand Harbor, Gallery and Modern Steel collections, allow you to select from either form of insulation. Both types offer some unique advantages:
Polystyrene Garage Door Insulation
Garage doors insulated with polystyrene are called double-layer doors. Polystyrene is the same material you’ll find in an aftermarket garage door insulation kit. Polystyrene comes in thick rigid panels which would be inserted between the steel or aluminum panels of your garage door. The main advantage of a polystyrene insulated garage door is that it costs less. It will do far more to protect your garage than a single-layer door, and you’ll get the same advantages of increased durability, sound dampening and a better indoor climate.
Polyurethane Garage Door Insulation
The best insulated garage doors are made from Polyurethane. Polyurethane insulated garage doors are called triple-layer doors and have increased insulating power. It’s a highly energy-efficient material comprised of polyurethane foam. This foam is injected between the outer layers of your garage door. The foam then expands to fill the entire garage door, making it almost completely solid. It bonds to the steel surface, making the door more durable and less prone to dents. It also provides the best climate control and superior sound isolation.
Insulated Garage Door R-Value Explained
If you begin shopping for an insulated garage door, you’ll probably notice that each one has an R-value listed in the description. R-value is a measurement used to understand a garage door’s insulating abilities. Technically, an R-value represents the ability to slow the transmission of heat. The higher the R-value, the slower the transfer of heat, and the better the insulation. A high R-value slows the heat leaving your house in the winter and the heat radiating from the sun in the summer.
It can be helpful to look at the R-value of the rest of your house to see how your garage stacks up. The International Code Council provides minimum recommendations for R-values in a home within different climate zones. Connecticut is in Climate Zone Five, where they recommend that a ceiling have an R-value of at least 38. A wall should have insulation with an R-value starting at 13 or 20, depending on the type of wall and the way insulation is placed.
When you look at Clopay’s garage doors, you’ll notice they have R-values ranging from 6.3 to 20.4. When you consider the size of your garage door, you should treat it almost as if it’s another wall of your home. If you live in places with lots of weather fluctuation and have an attached garage, you should insulate your garage door.
That’s why we recommend an R-value of at least 14 for garage doors in Connecticut. Here in the northeast, we see a huge fluctuation in temperatures. We can easily have subzero temperatures in the winter and 101-degree weather in the summer.
Our extreme New England weather patterns call for plenty of padding throughout your entire home envelope, and your garage is no exception. If your garage shares a wall with the main living space or sits below a bedroom, it’s essential to have a high R-value. If you spend a lot of time in your garage or use it as another living area, we recommend an R-value of at least 16 for your insulated garage door.
Are Insulated Garage Doors Worth It?
How much an insulated garage door costs depends on several factors. The size of your door frame, the model you select and the type of insulation you want will all influence the price you pay. In general, buying a garage door is an excellent investment for your home. A recent study found that homeowners recoup 98.3 percent of their garage door cost after selling. An upscale garage door can even recoup more than 100 percent of its original value.
When you opt for an insulated garage door, you get an attractive entry that will resist damage for years. If you plan on selling your home, the added curb appeal can add to the value of your home. With an insulated garage door, you also get the added value of energy efficiency, which can lead to significant savings over time. Clopay’s Intellicore® Polyurethane insulation is energy-efficient, helping you cut heating and cooling costs.
On average, an Intellicore® garage door keeps a garage 10 to 20 degrees warmer or colder than the outside temperature. The extra comfort alone makes them worth the investment for many consumers. For temperature-sensitive items in your garage, an insulated garage door can preserve their lifespan. Clopay’s Intellicore® doors are some of the best insulated garage doors in Connecticut.
Furthermore, data demonstrates the sound-isolating power of its proprietary insulation material. Clopay engineers compared the sound of a basketball bouncing off a garage door on an insulated versus uninsulated garage door. They found that their Intellicore® door outperformed other models. While a basketball hitting a non-insulated garage door will produce 96 decibels, the same basketball hitting an insulated door makes only 80 decibels. Since decibels are logarithmic, the Intellicore® garage door sounds approximately three times quieter.
Insulate Your Home With American Overhead Doors
If you’re looking to replace your garage door with a beautiful and energy-efficient insulated garage door, come to American Overhead Doors, Inc. We have a vast selection of Clopay garage doors, with many insulation options and R-values to choose from. Upgrade your home and get your garage ready for any weather Connecticut throws your way with an insulated garage door from American Overhead Doors.
Are you ready to start shopping? Browse our collection of Clopay garage doors and even see how the door will look on your house with our Clopay Door Imagination System. When you’ve found the insulated garage door to complete your home, request an estimate to receive prices.
Guide to Buying a Contemporary Garage Door in Connecticut
Garage doors play a prominent role in most homes, both functionally and aesthetically. It needs to work reliably day in and day out. It has to survive the elements and inclement weather. It has to be able to take some abuse, whether from getting smacked with soccer balls or being bumped with a car. And, of course, it must suit the look and feel of your home’s exterior. There’s more than you might imagine behind buying a garage door, so we’ve put together a guide to help you pick a contemporary garage door in Connecticut. (more…)