Small in size though they are, hinges are essential to the proper functioning of your garage door. Should they break or wear out, opening the garage will be difficult, if not impossible. Even worse, broken hinges can cause serious damage to the door itself. Look for signs of deterioration -- and get them fixed -- before you are faced with a major repair bill.
What Causes Breakage
Your door hinges are subjected to a great deal of stress every time you open or close the garage, and even more so under exceptional circumstances such as someone backing their car into the door. The best type of hinges to cope with this heavy wear and tear over the course of their life are full size and manufactured of heavy steel. They should last for about 10-15 years of normal use. Hinges made of thinner metal may be initially cheaper to purchase but will not hold up as long as better quality. Check that decorative hinges are strong as well as attractive.
The first sign of trouble is often a wobbly or missing screw. This may sound like a simple problem. In reality, though, the reason why screws holding door hinges in place become loose is that the metal plate they fit into has deteriorated. When this is the case, a temporary fix for your garage door hinge may be replacement of the screw with a nut and bolt.
Other trouble sources are bent or cracked door hinges, or damage as the result of impact. If the hinges have not been properly maintained, they may become rusted or corroded, especially if they are exposed to unusually damp or salty air.
Potential Damage to Your Garage Doors
Whether you have loose, rusted, or broken garage door hinges, stop using your garage door until the problem has been taken care of. Park on the street and in the case of an attached garage, enter through the door from your house when you need access to stored items. Otherwise, you will be running the risk of serious damage to your garage doors themselves. Broken hinges are capable of deforming the door's guide tracks or damaging its panels. The longer you wait to repair or replace the hinges, the more likely it is that you'll end up needing a major -- and expensive! -- service call. You might even have to pay for a whole new garage door.
How to Solve the Problem
When the problem is a deteriorated screw plate, try replacing the screw(s) with nuts and bolts. If this doesn’t help, or if the problem is actual breakage, you will need to completely replace the hinges. These can be purchased from either a hardware store or a specialist garage door company, at prices ranging from approximately $3-20 apiece, if you want to attempt the job yourself. Professional replacement of broken hinges will cost about $130-150 for the first hinge, plus another $60-80 for every additional one, including parts and labor. SAFETY WARNING: Do not attempt to repair torsion spring doors yourself, as specialized tools are required.
Garage Door Hinge Maintenance
Once your new hinges are installed, be sure to inspect them regularly -- at least twice a year -- for indications of wear or breakage. In addition, all moving parts of your garage doors, including the hinges, should be lubricated with a general-purpose household oil (such as 3-in-1) on a regular basis. This basic maintenance will keep them functioning smoothly and prevent corrosion.
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.