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By Josh Hart

Summer is usually the time when most people aren’t thinking about their carwash doors. Many of us use our doors primarily to retain heat in the cold winter months so when spring and summer arrive the doors are often opened up and not used for extended periods of time.

Most carwash doors and openers are designed for high cycle use. They are designed to open and close between every car. The constant cyclage is actually a good thing for your openers and your door hardware as it keeps them lubricated and operating smoothly. When your door and opener sit idle for weeks and sometimes months at a time, some of the moving parts can dry up and potentially cause damage if proper maintenance is not performed before starting to use them again before winter.

Here are a few key maintenance tips for summer if you are leaving doors open for extended periods of time. It is very important to remember that when you are performing any maintenance on your door or opener you have the power off and the air completely drained from your operator and air lines before proceeding.


Polycarbonate Doors:

One of the simplest, but most important things to do is to clean your doors. Use high pressure spray and a mild soap or cleaner to rinse off all of the chemical that has accumulated on your door panels. Spray off all of your hinges and rollers as well. Cleaning your doors regularly will eliminate layers of build up and keep your doors looking and operating better in the long run. However, it is important to remember that when you spray your hardware it also rinses off any lubricants that may have been applied to hardware previously. That is why the next step should be to apply a spray type lubricant to your hinges and rollers after cleaning. You should also use a grease gun to apply grease to the zerk bearings on your shaftline. If you have torsion springs as a counterbalance system for your door use a rag and apply grease to the entire length of your torsion springs to eliminate bonding and prevent corrosion.

Pneumatic Openers:

There are a few different kinds of pneumatic openers so it is important to identify what style you are using to perform the proper maintenance. Cleaning is again going to be the first step for any style opener. You want to eliminate any type of buildup of dirt and chemical before you proceed. If you have a jack shaft opener you most likely have a two cylinder design that is mounted on the side of your door and has a chain that hangs off the shaft and attaches to the opener. It is very important to make sure that all of your chain links are flexing properly and are not seized or broken. Once you have eliminated any excess buildup on the chain and operator hardware you should apply a new coat of grease to the entire chain. The next step is to check if you have an automatic oiler attached to your control box. If you do, check the level and fill cylinder lubricant to the oiler bowl if needed. If you do not have an automatic oiler, you can remove the airlines at the operator and remove the airlines from the push lock fittings and put oil directly into the airlines. Reattach the airlines and turn the power and air back on and cycle the operator to push the lubricant into the cylinders.

If you have a magnetic drawbar style opener, you should wipe the cylinder clean and eliminate any buildup. Excess buildup can cause the carriage to scratch the cylinder tube or result in stuttering or a lag in operation. Once a year the carriage should be removed from the cylinder to clean the magnets and seals inside the carriage. To do this, the cylinder has to be uninstalled. For more instructions on this refer to the manufacturer’s maintenance guides and owner’s manuals. If you are not comfortable performing this service yourself, call your service provider to perform this service. If you do not run your opener at all throughout the summer it is a good idea to pack your carriage in grease and put it in a plastic bag until after summer when you reinstall your opener to use for the winter months. Once your cylinder is reinstalled, apply a light coat of cylinder lubricant on the full length of the operator tube. Fill your automatic oiler or remove the airlines from the fittings on the operator and inject lubricant directly into the airlines. Reattach and turn on the power and cycle the opener to get the oil into the internal cylinder chamber.

If you have a cable driven drawbar style opener, the maintenance is similar, but you do not need to remove the carriage. Clean and apply a light coat of lubricant to the bottom side of the entire cylinder to lubricate the portion of the cylinder that the carriage travels.

Xrs Vinyl Roll Up Doors:

Maintenance is minimal on roll up style doors. However, cleaning is important to keep the panels from transferring dirt and chemical to the other panels when the door is rolled up in the open position. Closing your doors overnight if possible is a good practice as it will allow the doors to dry out and keep the panels from accumulating moisture which can collect more dirt and chemical. Use a grease gun to apply grease to the zerk bearings on the shaftline.

These are good maintenance strategies to perform in the spring, mid-summer, and late fall to ensure that your doors and openers will operate properly prior to the busy winter months. We strongly recommend cycling your doors daily, if possible, just to keep all the moving parts lubricated. Another key element to all doors is to check your weatherstrip around the doors and make sure you have a continuous proper seal. This does not seem important in the summer, but will play a large part in reducing ice buildup on hardware in the winter months and can play a very important part in reducing cold air seeping into the bay driving up heat costs.

Summer is a great time to perform maintenance on your doors and openers. Not only will it prepare you for when the cold weather comes sooner than expected, but it is more pleasant to perform this maintenance in warm weather vs. freezing temperatures.

For more information on maintenance tips refer to the manufacturer’s website and look up maintenance guides or owner’s manuals for a more complete guide to performing this work. You can also call the manufacturer from the site to get help on proper maintenance techniques.

Fall and early winter can be busy times for door manufacturers. Lead times on replacement parts are typically faster in the summer than early winter. Get the work done early and avoid costly downtime trying to perform the work when your doors are critical to your operation.

Josh Hart is the president of Airlift Doors, Inc. and can be contacted at
612-529-1000 #106.

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