Though on average most people open and close their garage doors three to five times a day, they tend to take them for granted until something goes wrong. Garage doors are big and bulky, averaging 100 to 180lbs in weight, with plenty of mechanical components to break down, and at some point, they will. However, with a little TLC, a garage door will have a lifespan of between 15 and 30 years.
Here at A1 Garage Door Service, we’ve seen and fixed just about everything that can go wrong with a garage door. While some jobs are left to the professionals, there are many repairs that a householder with some practical DIY skills can fix without having to call out a specialist.
In this guide, we will look at some common garage door repair issues and troubleshoot them. We’ve also provided you with a handy infographic poster that you can print off and hang in your garage.
How Does a Garage Door Work?
The best place to start is with how a garage door works and to understand the different components that keep it moving. Essentially garage doors work by using a counterbalance system that consists of one of two types of spring.
The most common of the two counterbalance systems uses torsion springs. Torsion springs are horizontally attached to a rotating shaft that sits above the garage door opening. When the garage door is closing, the springs wind up generating stored energy, and when opened, the springs unwind, allowing the stored energy to lift the door. Torsion springs are typically more expensive than the second option of extension springs. However, they are much more durable, safer, and longer-lasting, so they are considered the best choice.
Extension springs are attached to the garage door’s bottom with a lift cable that runs a pulley system. When the garage door is closed, the springs stretch and, when opened, retract. Extension springs are much weaker and more prone to break; they are also considered more dangerous.
Another important component of your garage door system is the garage door opener. While the springs do all the heavy grunt work, the opener allows you to open and close your garage door at the push of a button. You have five options to choose from chain drive, direct drive, belt drive, jackshaft, and screw drive. They vary in price, complexity, and quietness, with the chain drive being the cheaper but noisiest.
Additional components include; tracks on both sides of the door to keep it in alignment when closing and opening, Rollers to assist the garage door in moving along the track, and cables attached to the springs to help lift the door.
Why Does My Garage Door Open on Its Own?
If your garage door starts opening by itself, then you might think it’s time to call Ghostbusters! Ghostly goings-on or more logical considerations, you’ll want to discover the reason fast, leaving it open for potential intruders or the elements could put you at risk of theft or damage.
One of the most common reasons is likely to be a mistake made by you or the last family member to use the garage, especially when they are in a hurry. If you push the remote button while driving away, can you be sure it closed in the first place? Probably the first thing to check.
The next thing to check is the safety sensors designed to ensure the door reverses when closing if something is blocking its way. Check for debris or even a build-up of snow or ice. It is also possible for one of the sensors to become misaligned or break down. If so, they will need to be replaced.
Another common reason is that the buttons on the wall opener or the remote have become stuck down; clean the controls, and check the wiring and connections inside the housing.
A final check you can make is the control wiring; a wire runs from the opener’s motor unit in the center of the ceiling tracks to the control button mounted on the wall. A short circuit or a bare spot could well be the cause of your garage door opening on its own.
Why Won’t my Garage Doors Close?
Just like a garage door that keeps on opening on its own accord, a garage door that won’t close could pose a risk to the security of your garage and leave it exposed to the elements.
We’ve already discussed the safety sensors and how they are designed to open if they detect an object in the garage door path. If either of the photosensors has dust on them or one is not in line with the other, they could prevent the garage door from closing. Additionally, a wire could have become unconnected or severed, so check the connections. Give the sensors a clean with a tissue, and ensure they are aligned and check the wiring.
Broken torsion springs are essential garage components that allow your garage door to open and close. You’ll likely know the reason for your garage door not closing as the spring breaking will sound like a gunshot. Fortunately, torsion springs tend always to break when the door is closed. Ditto for snapped cables; you’ll see these straight away; often, they will snap when a torsion spring breaks. These are jobs for someone with the right tools and knowledge to undertake.
If the tracks are blocked or damaged, it can prevent the garage door from closing. In the best-case scenario, it will be a blockage that can be easily removed. If the tracks are bent or warped, you will likely need a replacement track.
When a garage door opener is installed, limit settings are set as default. These settings can move over time. The garage door will often stop before it reaches the ground or hit the ground, and believe it has hit an object, it will immediately go into reverse. You’ll need to change the limit settings, check the garage door opener manual, and adjust them per the instructions.
Why Doesn’t My Garage Door Open?
The word annoying doesn’t do justice to the feelings you have if you can’t get your car out of the garage because the door won’t open. Usually, all sorts of expletives will surround ‘annoying’ probably best not explored in this guide! Many of the issues with a garage door not opening also apply to it not closing, such as blocked, warped, or bent tracks.
If your torsion spring breaks when the door is closed, you’ll need to switch off your opener and manually lift the garage door to get it open. Garage doors can be cumbersome, so you might require help to do this. Use a pry bar to slightly lift the door and slip a piece of wood underneath to save any damage to your fingers. Then depending on your door’s weight, you might be able to lift it yourself or need help to do so. Once raised, secure the door with vice grips to ensure it doesn’t fall back down and injure someone. Fixing a broken torsion spring can be a dangerous task for the uninitiated, so unless you have a lot of DIY experience and understand the mechanics of your door garage, this is a job best left for the professionals.
Garage door openers come with a cord to pull to disconnect the electric opener so that you can open the door manually. For instance, you might need to open the garage door during a power outage. Check that the garage door motor hasn’t been disconnected; this is an easy and common fix.
Another simple check is to ensure that it’s not an issue with your remote control; it could be that you locked the remote by accident or the batteries need replacing. It could also be the antenna; examine it to see if it is damaged or blocked somehow. Finally, try resetting the remote control.
Lastly, tak a look at the power source. Is the opener getting power? Has it become unplugged? If not, check that the circuit breaker hasn’t tripped and needs resetting or that a fuse hasn’t blown and needs changing.
How Can I Make My Garage Door Less Noisy?
Even if you can live with a noisy garage door, it will be likely that other family members or even neighbors can’t. Usually, a noisy garage door is a simple problem to resolve.
The most straightforward place to start is with a little lubrication, nine times out of ten, a little oil will be all that is needed for quieter garage doors. Using silicone or lithium spray lubricant specifically designed for garage doors, lubricate all the metal components such as the springs, tracks, hinges, and rollers. Once applied, use a cloth to get rid of any excess.
If you have a chain drive opener, the chain should be lubricated a couple of times a year as well. You’ll also find that a chain drive garage door opener is the noisiest of the different types you can purchase. When it comes to time to replace it, it could be worth investing in a belt drive system, which is a lot quieter.
Check the garage door, and track supports for loose or missing bolts and screws. Replace and tighten them with an adjustable or socket wrench, but don’t overtighten as this could make matters worse.
After lubricating the metal parts and replacing or tightening loose nuts and bolts, you still have a noisy garage door; you’ll need to inspect the different components for wear. If the roller is grinding or not spinning freely on the shaft after lubricating, it could need replacing; we’d suggest choosing nylon rollers over metal.
If the garage springs appear to be the cause of the noise, be very careful and don’t try to adjust or repair them. They will need replacing by ideally an expert or else someone with a good practical knowledge of garage door mechanics. Without trying to sound melodramatic, the task can result in loss of life or limb if not performed correctly.
You should also inspect the hinges for wear, look for a more oblong-shaped hole than round and dust or metal filings around the pin.
Can Garage Doors Work Without Electricity?
Getting locked in or out of your garage, especially the former, can be a worrying experience. But there is no need to panic, even without electricity; for instance, in the event of a power outage, there is a way to open your garage door manually.
Standard garage door openers have an emergency manual release cord. You’ll see the cable with its red handle situated on the trolley track on top of the garage door. When you pull the handle, you will hear a click. You can now manually lift the door by grabbing it at the base and lifting it all the way up. For safety reasons, don’t leave the door open and unattended, as there is little in the way of safety measures to keep the mechanism in place; even in the result of a strong gust of wind, the door could fall with the chance of injuring someone, especially if you have pets or children.
Once you have electricity again and want to reconnect the electric opener, fully close the door manually and then pull the manual release cord; once it clicks, the switch is re-engaged. Reconnect the garage door with the trolley track by raising it one to two feet It should snap into place. Then test the automatic opener to see if it functions correctly by opening and closing the garage door.
How are Garage Doors Installed?
For an expert garage door technician, a garage door installation on average can take between five and seven hours. A professional garage door service will provide you with delivery and installation and removing your old door. The necessary steps are to attach the hinges, install vertical tracking, attach the panels to the hinges, install horizontal tracks, install the torsion spring system, and test the door to ensure that it operates correctly. Additionally, you are likely to require an automatic garage door opener that is straightforward to fit for your average DIY enthusiast.
Is it Possible to Install a Garage Door on Your Own?
If you want to understand better how a garage door’s mechanisms work for future maintenance and repair and save on costs, a DIY garage door installation could be an excellent project for the right person. For most garage door installs, two people will be required as they are heavy and unwieldy, and having someone around to pass tools to you when you are on a step ladder, for instance, can shave time off the job. What should be understood is that garage door installation can be dangerous; you need to be confident in your ability, knowledgeable in DIY, and extremely safety conscious to take on the task. Hundreds of people are injured installing garage doors each year, so it’s not a task to take on lightly.
We hope our guide has provided some useful tips for troubleshooting garage door issues. If you keep your garage doors in good order with regular maintenance and routinely checking the components for signs of wear, they should last you decades. If you are experiencing an issue with your doors, keep calm, and be methodical in your approach. The problem will often be as simple as changing some batteries or removing some debris from a sensor or track. If you’ve tried everything you can and the solution still hasn’t presented itself, then it’s time to reach out to the professionals at A1 Garage Door Service, who will be sure to have your garage door up and running in no time.