How to make your doors winter ready
by: Josh Hart
Are you one of those carwash owners that opened your doors the minute the temperature got above freezing last winter and left them open all summer long?
If so, you are not alone. It is a very common practice but can be very hard on your door, hardware, and openers. Don’t panic, I will walk you through a few key steps to get your doors winter ready. However, I would strongly recommend performing these tasks sooner than later. Don’t wait until the day before it freezes to hit that close button and cross your fingers.
Here is a quick outline of some of the tasks to perform to get winter ready:
1. Check power and air
2. Verify control methods are in place
3. Lubricate necessary components
4. Check balance of door
5. Drain your compressor
6. Check heat source
7. Check weatherstrip
Before you get too involved, we need to eliminate the most common problems. Check your power supply to the door control box or operator. This is very basic, but is most likely the number one reason your door does not close when you hit the close button. You may need to flip a circuit breaker or plug in your control box if power was cut to your opener in the summer months. Depending on what type of operator you have, you should be able to look at your control panel and see if there are any power lights on in the box or verify by operating the door from the controls. If you have a pneumatic opener and you have verified you have power but the door still is not operating, the next step is to check your air supply. Verify that the compressor is working and that your regulator gauge by the door control box is registering at least 60 PSI on the regulator.
Once you have verified that you have air and power, you will want to make sure that your controls are working properly. Many automatic car wash controls have door control packages to send the open and close signals. First, you want to make sure that the wash control package is active and is not holding the door open based on outside temperature. Next you will want to run a car through the wash to verify that the wash control is sending open and close signals at the appropriate times.
If you have gotten this far and the door is still not working from the buttons or the carwash signals, you should check additional sources for signals. In ground loops, photo eyes, buttons, and timers are only a few of the additional items that control doors and may be the source of a door not working properly. The first step is to check to make sure your photo eyes are aligned. If you are still having problems, contact your door service provider to go over some basic troubleshooting to determine the cause. Most loops and eyes have amplifiers that can easily diagnose and troubleshoot the problem with the help of your service provider.
Hopefully, you have gotten this far and your door is opening and closing. However, you are not done yet! Now that the door is working, let’s go through a few steps to make sure it keeps operating properly.
Carwash doors have many moving parts. Many of which require lubrication. Reference your owner’s manual or maintenance guide. Most are available online from your manufacturer if you do not have one handy. Make sure to lubricate the hinges, rollers, zerk bearings on your shaft line, and any other parts that the guides reference. Doors and operators that have been idle for months at a time most likely have seals that have dried up and require lubrication. If you have pneumatic openers, it is important to lubricate the internal and external seals. With electric openers, most will have a chain drive and it is important to check the flexibility of the chain and lubricate it properly.
Another important aspect to check is the balance of your door. All doors are counterbalanced. Whether you have torsion springs or a strap counterbalance system, the counterbalance system should balance the door to the point where it can be operated manually. The way to check this is to disconnect our opener from the door and open the door by hand. If you can easily lift the door by hand it is properly balanced. If it is too heavy to lift by hand, contact your door service provider and schedule a service call to adjust your counterbalance system so it is operating properly. Un-balanced doors will cause additional stress on your openers and improper operation of your doors.
If you are using a pneumatic opener, it is important to drain your compressor. This should be done regularly, but it is extremely important before the winter season. You may have air dryers in place, but most air dryers are limited to eliminating small amounts of moisture in the line. Make sure your compressor is providing air and not water to your cylinders to optimize performance.
When you are in cold climate areas, doors are utilized to retain heat in a bay. Now is a good time to check your heat source as well. The door can only retain heat if it is created inside the bay. Check floor heat or radiant tube heaters to make sure they are operating properly and can effectively protect your equipment from freezing in the cold winter months.
Lastly, double check your weather seals around the doors. We have verified that your heat is working, but why make it work harder than it needs to? If your seals around the sides, top, and bottom of the door are worn or missing, there will be a gap that will allow cold air into the bay effectively reducing the productivity of the heater and costing you additional dollars in heating costs.
Most of the time, getting your doors ready for winter is as simple as following the above steps. As a recommendation, cycling your doors regularly is the best maintenance you can do for them. Carwash doors and openers are made to open and close at high volumes. Keeping them moving, keeps them lubricated and reduces problems in the long run. However, if you did not do this throughout the summer months, we are not judging. We just recommend testing your doors to make sure they are operating properly before the night of the big freeze.
Josh Hart–President of Airlift Doors: Josh grew up in this family business, but has been on board full time since 2001. He has spent time in a lot of different roles but has specialized in sales until recently focusing more on the financial side of the business.