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SACS’ DIY Garage Door Repair Guides: How to Remove Rust 

Rusty Door

Dealing with a rusty garage door? You’re not alone. Garage doors are exposed to outside elements – especially moisture – that can cause rust buildup over time. This is especially true of cheaper metal doors or for near-coastal areas like Sacramento. That’s right – you don’t need a Michigan winter in order to worry about rusty garage door parts; they’ll find you right here in California.

To make the most of your garage door panels and parts, staying on top of rust and debris buildup is key. That means dealing with rust regularly so it doesn’t have time to become an extensive junkyard car situation (Yet another reason to have your garage door inspected and maintained seasonally!). 

Understanding Rust vs Corrosion: Repairable or Not?

First: there’s a difference between surface rust and corrosion, and it’s important in determining whether you should do this door repair yourself or call the pros in for a consult on replacing the garage door panel and/or parts. 

Rust occurs when metal is exposed to enough oxygen and moisture to oxidize it. It creates a kind of scab that begins to flake off. This is surface rust. Rust then makes the metal more susceptible to corrosion, which is the deterioration of the metal. Corrosion affects the structural integrity of the metal. 

Once rust has progressed to corrosion in any of these garage door parts, they need to be replaced:

  • Panel
  • Tracks
  • Springs 
  • Hinges
  • Rollers
  • Trolley
  • Wall anchors
  • Chain (if not belt drive)

Provided you’re dealing with surface rust, removing it and protecting your garage door from further rust is simple to do yourself with a bit of elbow grease and a free Saturday. Here’s our guide for how to deal with a rusty garage door:

1. There are different levels of rust.

Minor spots of rust in a garage door panel can be dealt with using a dish scrubber and a bit of lubrication, though the ideal for any rust removal is to finish with a sealant.

Rusted areas on a garage door panel or track can be removed with fine sandpaper, a cleaning, and sealant. We love Rustoleum’s High Performance Protective Enamel in liquid form (not spray!). It works on any metal and really seals things in.

For large areas of more intense rusting, follow sanding and cleaning with a light skim of steel filler to restore the surface back to smooth and even. You can follow with the protective enamel, but at some point it’s probably better to just repaint the garage door panel, or the whole door.

Surface rust at corners and seams of parts should always be dealt with ASAP and given a heavier hand at post-cleaning sealant than other rusted areas.

2. Some parts just need replaced.

Most of the pieces of your garage door are easy and cheap to replace, like the rollers, hinges, and track anchors. With parts like these – ones integral to the structure of the garage door – it’s often better to replace them when they start rusting. Why? For instance:

  • A rusty hinge can encourage corrosion in the bolts holding it in place and the panel underneath.
  • Rusty rollers will abrade the tracks and encourage buildup and rust in the tracks.
  • A rusty wall anchor can cause the fittings to seize and also encourage deterioration of the wall behind it.

3. Careful with the springs.

Minor – and the keyword is minor – surface rust on a garage door spring can be removed by a homeowner, if done carefully. You can use a wire brush (gently!) to sweep surface rust away, and then follow with an appropriate lubricant to prevent further moisture intrusion.

If the rust is anything more than minor, call in a garage door repair company to help. Springs are especially dangerous if untrained on how to install, repair and replace them. Also call in a professional if you notice a deformation or eaten-away look to the garage door spring. It’s likely to break soon, and that can also cause a hazardous situation, not to mention a garage door that doesn’t work.

4. Keep your garage door panels well-sealed.

That means regular cleanings and either spot-by-spot fixes or yearly repainting. That also means keeping up on weather stripping and the bottom seal. These help keep water, salt and debris away from all the interior garage door parts.

5. Lubricate your garage door’s parts regularly.

A seasonal inspection, tune-up and lubrication go a long way in extending the life of your garage door and keeping rust at bay. We like 3-IN-ONE Professional Garage Door Lubricant. But make sure not to forget that, while WD40 is a great aid for cleaning metal garage door parts, it is not a lubricant. WD40 is a solvent and will encourage rust and corrosion if used as a lubricant for garage door hardware and fittings.

That being said, the brand WD40 now makes a Specialist lubricant that’s lithium-based, so that one’s allowed. Any kind of lithium grease is a good option for garage doors, because lithium doesn’t run, freeze or melt in extreme weather.

6. Clean your garage door’s panels regularly.

When you keep the panels of your home’s overhead door clean, you can immediately tell when areas of trouble pop up. If your door is covered in dirt and grime, it’s especially hard to detect rust. And then you’ve left gunk – which harbors moisture – to sit on rusty spots 24/7/365. This will most certainly result in corrosion if left unchecked.See? Dealing with rust is pretty easy. And if it’s not, you can always give us a call. The best tip we can give to DIYer’s when it comes to repairing your garage door is to maintain your garage door seasonally so you avoid rust in the first place. For more on seasonal inspections and maintenance, check out our comprehensive guide.

How to Install Garage Door Weatherstripping Replacement

Over time, your garage door weatherstripping can be worn down and require replacement. To replace garage door weatherstripping, you’ll need to pry out the old strip and clean any adhesive stuck to the panel. Then, measure the door to determine how much new stripping you’ll need. You can usually find new strips at a hardware store. If you can’t find it, most garage repair companies would be happy to perform the replacement for you. Remember, when working on a garage door, always wear safety gear and make sure no one is near the door.