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Homeowner dilemma: What to do with that old garage door?

By: Mitch Mitchell
April 4, 2022

Which homeowner are you?

[   ]  – We bought a fixer-upper and are making a to-do list of projects to be completed.

[   ]  – We've been in our home for a while and are finally getting around to tackling the curb appeal. 

[   ]  – It's time to move on, and we may be putting our home on the market this year.

Whichever homeowner you are, consider your garage door. Many people think repairing or replacing a garage door will be too expensive, so they put it off and focus on other projects. But whatever the price, it's money well spent! In fact, garage door replacements are said to return 94% of what they cost in the form of a higher price tag when it comes time to sell the home. 

Even if you're not selling, other reasons — like improving security and lowering energy bills — might persuade you to pay more attention to your garage.


Your Garage Door is Exhausted

Regardless of why you're not 100% in love with your garage door, you have to respect what a hard worker it is. The average American family opens and closes their garage door about 1,500 times a year. No wonder you eventually end up with cracked panels, chipped paint and worn-out parts.

If properly maintained, a garage door can generally last for well over a decade, although cheaper doors may need TLC a lot sooner. If you aren't your home's first owner, you might not have the instruction manual, know what it's made of or who the manufacturer is. So we suggest meeting with a local professional who can explain what to be on the lookout for and how to identify issues before they become bigger problems.

Homeowner dilemma: What to do with that old garage door?

Here are 6 things to keep in mind:

Normal wear and tear

Face it: after years of exposure to all sorts of weather, color can fade. And kids kicking soccer balls against it over and over can cause panels to crack. Purely cosmetic damage — which can often be addressed with simple paint touch-ups or DIY wood filler  — probably won't affect your door's structural integrity or function, but nobody wants to come home to a hot mess of a garage door. 

Take a listen, too: seasonal shifts in temperature and moisture can cause squeaky springs and eventually wreak havoc on a door's automatic opener. As a rule, if you see something needing repair, don't put it off. Untreated, minor wear can lead to even more damage over time.


Energy efficiency

A damaged garage door does a lousy job of blocking out the weather. Even if you can't readily see any damage, older doors often have rotting rubber seals and inadequate insulation, and that can make your HVAC system work harder than it needs to. 

In the summer, warm air leaking from the garage to your house will jack up your air-conditioning costs. The same thing happens when winter drafts from a broken garage door can send your heating bill through the roof. So, even if you take on a total door replacement, your monthly energy savings will more than cover the costs over time. 


Appealing to the neighbors

There are plenty of reasons to change up your garage door, but curb appeal may be the most important. Maybe you have a relic, one that's not automated (they still exist!), and you want to get with the times! Or perhaps you're remodeling your home and going for a different look altogether! Your neighbor across the street will love you for it!

Let's not forget resale. Many real estate agents agree that if home shoppers don't like what they see from the street — like an unsightly garage door — they won't even bother to go inside. According to a 2018 survey, 80% say a new garage door improves a home's value and 70% say it'll help a home sell faster. 


Springs sprung?

Does your door sag a little to one side? Does it bounce a bit much when you go to close it? Crooked doors hint at a problem with the door's springs, the part that does most of the heavy lifting. If this is your problem, you don't need to get a brand-new door. Springs can be easily replaced — but don't put it off as tired, stretched-out and rusty springs put a massive strain on a garage door's motor.

And it's not just automated doors that can have this issue! If you open and close your garage door manually and it starts to stick, shifts to one side or feels heavier than you're used to, check the springs. They may need a simple replacement.


Turn that thing down!

It's not all scuff marks, faded paint and spent springs that you need to be on the watch for. More modern doors are — like everything else — weighed down by electronic and computer chip issues. Misaligned sensors or a faulty opener can make the door impossible to open and close without giving it a hand. We've personally seen cases where the door keeps opening and closing on its own like it's possessed. 

If your garage door vibrates too much or makes a lot of noise, there could be uneven tension distribution, worn-out bearings or broken hinges. Or it could just be a burnt-out motor that's reached the end of its lifespan. Best to talk with a professional before someone gets hurt.


Family security

Speaking of safety, if your garage has out-of-date tech or broken locks — or if the door often gets stuck, opens and closes only sometimes or won't open at all — it's an open invitation to intruders. That's especially true if your family uses the garage to come and go from the house but don't always shut the garage door behind them. And remember, even if the garage door is secure and undamaged, a determined burglar may still be able to force it open or hack the code. 

For peace of mind, consider replacing an old door entirely. Or think about getting a “smart opener” that monitors the status of your garage door and sends an alert to your smartphone when it's opened. If interested, Rolling Stone has a great review of smart garage door openers from 2020. As a final tip, never leave your garage opener remote clipped to your sun visor in your car. It's the first place a burglar will look.


Ready to up your garage door game?

Choosing to repair or replace your garage door is a personal decision. It should be based on what you can afford, how long you plan to stay in the home and how bad the damage is. But since your home is probably the most significant investment of your life thus far, we hope you take whatever steps you deem necessary to make sure your garage door is safe, secure and — maybe most important — a pleasure to come home to.

black and white photo of Mitch Mitchell
Author: Mitch Mitchell

Mitch Mitchell is a freelance contributor to Movement's marketing department. He also writes about tech, online security, the digital education community, travel, and living with dogs. He’d like to live somewhere warm.