The temperatures are freezing, the snow is whipping around and you’re ready to go to work or run an errand. You press the garage door button before you start your car, but nothing happens. You press it again, but the door remains closed. You’re not going anywhere.
Winter can cause garage doors to freeze and, if they are not taken care of properly, you can damage the door or its opener.
Why does the door freeze?
During the winter, ice and blowing snow can accumulate near a garage door. Snow can melt under the door’s rubber either because the garage’s inside is warmer than the outside or because of direct sunlight on the snow. At night, plummeting temperatures can cause the water to freeze and stick to the door’s rubber. That freezes the door to the concrete floor.
Don’t force it
You may think the fastest way to get the door open is to force it with the motor. That’s a very bad idea. If the door doesn’t open after a few presses of the opener, stop before the motor burns out or the bar that connects the motor to the garage door breaks.
If the motor goes, you’ll need a whole new unit. If the metal bar breaks, you might be able to weld it back on. But neither fixes a frozen garage door.
Don’t open it yourself
Manually opening the door is also discouraged. The area around the door is covered in ice. Trying to lift the door may lead to slipping and injury. It could also tear and do other damage to the rubber bottom of the door.
Prepare the area to fix it
Before doing anything, go outside of the door and clear any snow that’s drifted against it. If you see patches of ice, try to break them up and clear as much of a path to the door as possible. You need to be able to get to the entire length of the door’s bottom.
The hot water method
This is the fastest way, but you have to be careful.
Fill a 5-gallon bucket with very hot water and pour it under the door and then immediately try to open it. The hot water should melt the ice, but the low temperatures will likely freeze it very quickly.
If you are not fast enough, the additional water will freeze and make an even stronger bond with the door. Also, the area around the door will be even more slippery thanks to the newly frozen water.
The heater method
The method is slower but much safer and easier. Advantages over hot water are that there’s not such a sense of urgency and you won’t create an even bigger area of ice.
Place a heater in the garage facing the door. A heater that can take care of this will likely cost you $80 and up, but you can also use it to warm up rooms in your home. Be careful not to place the heater too close to the rubber or it could melt.
The goal is to raise the temperature of the garage and near the door so the ice melts. Once the ice has melted, lift the door. Because there is a chance of fire, never leave the heater unattended.