What Should You Do When Your Garage Door Ices Shut?

Your home’s gutter system might usually keep water away from the bottom of your garage door. But during winter, your gutters might be clogged with enough ice and leaves to send water cascading in front of your garage. Maybe the nearby piles of snow finally thawed only to be turned to ice by an overnight freeze. Either way, you can be left with an unopenable garage door in the morning. It’s dark, cold, and you’re on your way to work. So what should you do?

Three Do’s and Don’t’s for Opening a Frozen Garage Door

1. Don’t use the garage door opener.

Your garage’s automatic door opener is fine-tuned so it can pull the door up and only that. It’s not powerful enough to break through the seal of ice. Instead, the motor will overwork as it tries to pry the door up from the ground, and that will either break the opener or shorten its lifespan.

2. Chip away the ice manually.

Instead, start by chipping the ice away from the bottom of the door. Use a chisel to break through thick chunks of ice where you can safely do so. You can also use salt to make the ice melt faster and loosen its grip. Once the ice isn’t holding onto the door, you can carefully — and manually! — try to raise the door.

3. Check for ice on both sides.

If the door is still resisting, check for ice on both sides of the door. The bulk of the ice will be on the outside. But sometimes it can seep between the concrete and the weather guard at the bottom of the door. Some of the water might have even been able to get inside your garage before freezing. So carefully salt or break the ice you find on your garage’s interior floor, too.

What can you do to stop it from icing again?

If your garage door ices over once, it can do it again. Take these precautions to make sure you don’t have any more early morning or evening emergencies.

1. Make sure the door closes on higher ground.

The reason why it froze in the first place is that water could pool around it. Try leveling out the concrete a bit more to push water away from your garage. Just make sure the interior is always higher than the outside so there’s no water damage in your garage.

2. Insulate the garage door.

Snow and cold weather don’t often glue your garage door to the ground by themselves. Instead, it’s usually the heat escaping your garage that’s the key component. If your garage door isn’t insulated, the heated air circulating through your home will push up against the thin metal. The heat can transfer through it, as well as through any potential gaps, and start melting the stable snow. But it can’t melt everything, and the thin layer of ice melt can refreeze while grabbing onto both the ground and the door.

Insulate your garage door to make sure this heat transfer doesn’t happen. There are numerous DIY kits that can get you through a season. But replacing your door with an insulated garage door is better.

3. Get gutter guards.

There’s no perfect winter solution for keeping your gutters perfectly clear. But if it’s hard to fit regular cleanings into your busy schedule, the leaves from autumn will pile up. Add gutter guards that keep the leaves out but are specially built to reduce ice buildup over the grid.

For more garage door maintenance tips, go to Advanced Garage Solutions here. We also have a selection of insulated garage doors to keep the weather out and your air conditioning in.