How to Maintain a Garage Door Chain Drive

Of the many household conveniences, garage door openers can be one of the most long-lasting. With a little maintenance, the garage door opener's chain drive can operate for years.

Preparation and Maintenance

Garage Door Chain Drive Maintenance
  1. Be sure to unplug the garage door opener. While the maintenance provided here is not complicated, safety precautions are advised. Most garage door mechanisms are out of reach without a stepladder. Do not wear loose clothing, dangling jewelry or other items that might get caught while servicing the garage door. If you see damage to any part of the garage door opener or chain drive, contact a qualified service technician.

  2. Remove dust using a dry rag wrapped around the entire length of the chain rail. The rag will pick up and clear out debris and old oil on the chain. Clearing the garage chain every three to four months will help the garage door opener continue to work as intended.

  3. Soak the other clean rag in the garage chain lubricant. Run the soaked rag along the chain. It's a good idea to lubricate the chain every three to four months as needed.

  4. If the chain has stretched -- if the chain slopes away from the rail more than 1 inch, instead of running parallel -- the slack must be removed. Over time, typically one or two years, the chain can stretch and create slack. There is usually a chain adjustment or limit screw at the end of the chain near the garage door opener's motor. Slack can be taken up using the adjustment, turn screw or turn buckle. The chain should always be taut and horizontal to the steel bar.

  5. In addition to the chain maintenance, lubrication of the garage door panels, springs and cables is also a good idea. Use a silicone spray on the panels, springs and cables every six months to ensure proper operation.


  • Do not use too much silicone spray, or it will drip and become very messy. Do not tighten the garage door chain if there is no slack. Overtightening the chain can put unnecessary tension on the steel cable.