Table of Contents
- Introduction to Garage Door Repairs
- Should I Repair or Replace My Garage Door?
- Common Garage Door Problems and Causes
- Slow Garage Door
- Jerky Movement
- Garage Door Off Track
- Unbalanced Garage Door
- Unusual Noises
- Garage Door Won’t Open or Close
- Cannot Manually Open Garage Door
- Visible Damage to Parts or Door
Introduction to Garage Door Repairs
Garage doors require a lot of parts to operate smoothly, so they are bound to run into a few problems here and there. Simple wear and tear can have an effect on the many parts, but of course, the unexpected can occur as well.
In this guide to garage door repairs, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the following:
- How important garage door maintenance is and how it can help you
- Why you should always hire a garage door repair expert instead of doing it yourself
- When it’s right to repair or replace your garage door
- The many common problems garage doors experience and what might be causing them
The Importance of Garage Door Maintenance
As the largest appliance in your home, garage doors require regular maintenance to last. Maintenance is essential for every aspect of your home, but garage doors are unique in that they have a lot of parts that could experience problems.
To keep your garage door working properly for as long as possible, be sure to look and listen when operating it. Unusual noises or differences in how it opens or closes are great signs that something is wrong. In those situations, get in touch with your local garage door expert. They’ll perform a thorough inspection and diagnose the issue.
To learn more about how to maintain a garage door, visit our beginner’s guide to garage doors.
Why Hire a Professional?
Many homeowners may be inclined to tackle any garage door repairs or replacements on their own. While some maintenance can certainly be done on your own, such as lubricating rollers and tightening hardware, major replacements and in-depth repairs require a professional.
No matter how many YouTube videos you’ve watched, you can never be an expert on garage doors and their plethora of parts. Reaching out to a local garage door repair company will benefit you substantially. These experts know how garage doors work, how each part relates to each other, and how to identify common problems and implement solutions.
They won’t just repair your garage door; they’ll do it, so it saves you time, money, and hassle down the road. Always consult a garage door repair expert instead of attempting the repairs yourself for these reasons.
Should I Repair or Replace My Garage Door?
When your garage door shows signs of a problem, you may ask yourself, “should I repair or replace my garage door?” This is a hard question to answer on your own if you don’t know a lot regarding garage doors. Fortunately, there are signs to help you determine when it’s right to repair the door or simply replace it.
When to Repair
Reach out to a garage door repair expert if your door meets any of the following qualities:
- A relatively new door
- Has minor damage
- Suddenly stops working
Relatively New Door
How old is your garage door? On average, garage doors last 15 to 30 years. If your garage door is less than 15 years old, get it repaired. You can get many more years out of your garage door if you choose to address the repair as soon as possible. You shouldn’t wait. Otherwise, you risk more problems.
Any minor damage or problems can be repaired. Broken springs, damaged cables, or a dented panel can all be addressed cost-effectively with repairs. A replacement door isn’t necessary for these situations since you will naturally run into garage door problems.
Stops Working Suddenly
If your garage door suddenly stops working, a repair is the only thing that is required. Garage doors can stop for a number of different reasons, some of which we’ll discuss later. It’s often caused by a damaged part, which can be replaced by a professional in no time.
When to Replace
If your garage door doesn’t meet any of the traits listed above, it may be time to replace it. You should replace your garage door when it meets any of the following:
- Constant repairs
- Severe damage
- More than 30 years old
- Style or taste conflicts
Repairs are normal within the long lifespan of garage doors. However, monthly repairs or multiple repairs throughout the year are too many. This is a serious sign your garage door is coming to the end of its life. It’s more cost-effective to replace your garage door than pay for all the repairs it may need.
Weather conditions and accidents happen. These events can completely demolish your garage door, denting large parts of your panels. When these things happen, it’s better to replace the garage door than repair it.
More Than 30 Years Old
Many old garage doors can easily be spotted from their faded colors and outdated style. Old age also typically causes garage doors to require regular maintenance and repairs. Seek out a new garage door if yours is approaching 30 years old or has long surpassed the mark.
Style of Taste Conflicts
Your garage door should complement or match your home’s architecture and style. At the same time, it should meet your personal tastes. When it fails both of these goals, you should start looking for a replacement garage door. You can significantly boost your home’s curb appeal with the right garage door design.
Common Garage Door Problems and Causes
Garage doors can experience a vast range of problems caused by their many moving parts. Each part can cause multiple problems on its own, making it difficult to determine what is causing your door to act up.
We can’t list every single problem you could experience, but the most common garage door problems include:
- Slow garage door
- Jerky movement
- Garage door off track
- Unbalanced garage door
- Unusual noises
- Garage door won’t open or close
- Cannot manually open garage door
- Visible damage to parts or door
Knowing the problem and what might be causing it will help you understand your garage door and communicate clearly to a repair technician.
Slow Garage Door
Your garage door should open or close within a 12 to 15-second time frame. If your garage door takes more than 20 seconds to open or close, it should be a concern. A handful of problems can lead to a slow-moving garage door:
- Lack of lubrication
- Speed setting
- Opener age
- Springs or pulleys
Lack of Lubrication
Lubrication helps the garage door parts move smoothly and efficiently. If a lack of lubrication is the problem, this is something you can resolve in a few minutes. Using white lithium grease, lubricate the door’s springs, rollers, and cables. This should reduce the friction between the moving parts and get your garage door back to a normal speed.
Lubrication isn’t always the problem. It may be associated with the speed setting on your garage door opener. Most modern garage door openers are set to the lowest speed setting when they come off the production line. Check your manufacturer’s handbook to locate the speed setting on your opener. From there, set it to the desired speed you want.
Garage door openers last approximately ten to 15 years. Even after a decade, the opener won’t perform the same as it was first installed. Consider replacing your garage door opener if it’s more than ten years old. Doing so could surprise you at how slow it had been operating for so long.
Springs or Pulleys
A more complex cause of a slow garage door is an issue with the springs or pulleys (cables and drums). Snapped, rusted, or damaged parts can greatly reduce the speed of your door. Reach out to a local garage door repair company to inspect the door for any issues in this area. They’ll locate the problem and repair it in no time.
The job of the rollers and cables is to create a smooth operation of the door. The condition of these parts likely causes a jerky or wobbly raising or lowering. The problem could be due to:
- Lack of lubrication
- Cable off drum
- Broken spring
- Track or roller damage
- Opener age
Lack of Lubrication
The lack of lubrication can create a lot of issues for your garage door, making it an essential aspect of maintenance. Using the right type of lubrication, apply it to the garage door rollers, springs, and cables. This should help create a more smooth motion.
Cable Off Drum
The cables’ job is to pull up the door evenly and smoothly. In some situations, a cable can fall off the drum, creating a problem with the operation of the door. It is possible for you to get the cable back on the drum yourself, but it’s always good to hire a professional to make sure it stays on long after the repair.
Sectional garage doors have two torsion springs with both sitting on the tube shaft above the opening of the door. They twist and absorb the weight of the door. When one spring breaks, the door can still operate, but one side lacks the support of a spring, leading to a jerky movement. Professionals should handle garage door spring replacements.
Track or Roller Damage
Damage to the track or rollers could create a jerky movement as well. Tracks are often dented or misaligned by a vehicle hitting them. As for rollers, the issue lies in the ball bearings. For the smoothest operation, you want as many ball bearings as possible in your rollers. Over time, the bearings can deteriorate, rust, and break down. This could lead to an inoperable roller and, in turn, a jerky movement.
Again, the age of your opener has an effect on the movement of your garage door. As it struggles to lift the door, it’ll shake and jerk the door as it lowers and raises. Get it replaced with a newer model to avoid this problem and more.
Garage Door Off Track
A garage door coming off the track is more common in manual garage doors, but automatic openers can experience this as well. A garage door off track refers to when the rollers come out of the track housing system. This can occur when the door moves too far up the track or damage to a specific part occurs:
- Broken spring
- Track problems
- Broken cables
Operating a door with a broken spring causes one side of the door to put more weight on the tracks. The track can fail under this pressure and lead to the rollers falling out. Before using your door, contact a repair company to get the springs replaced.
An obstacle in the track system or damage to the tracks can lead the garage door off track. These issues can come from something as simple as a tool falling in the track’s grooves or a car bumping into the track. Check for any nearby items that might have fallen into the track. Store any items away from the tracks. As for any damage, be mindful when opening car doors and pulling in or out of the garage.
Cables are designed to raise the garage door evenly. In the event a cable is broken, the door will open unevenly. When the garage door raises unevenly, the door puts pressure on one side of the track. As a result, the track is damaged, and the rollers fall out of their housing. Contact your local garage door expert to get your cables and tracks repaired.
Unbalanced Garage Door
An unbalanced garage door is typically linked to the torsion springs of your door. When springs exert too much torsion or don’t absorb enough, it creates an unbalanced door. The imbalance puts strain on other parts of the garage door, primarily the opener. It’s important you address this issue as soon as possible; otherwise, the opener could prematurely fail.
While springs are the most common cause of an unbalanced door, other causes include:
- Broken cables
- Roller problems
Both springs and cables work together to lift the door. If either cable is damaged, the door may experience an imbalance. You may notice this issue when the door is not level. Fraying or worn cables can occur at the same time as a damaged spring, so they may be related.
Damage to the rollers or track can create an unbalanced door. The rollers are meant to go up and down the tracks evenly. If one of the parts is damaged, you can expect your door to raise or lower unevenly. As a result, it could create a greater problem for your garage door, such as coming off track or damaging another part of the door.
Garage doors naturally emit some noise when operating. However, there are certain types of noises that should raise concerns. There’s a problem if your garage emits more noise, screeches, scratches, or scraping. A number of different problems could cause unusual noises from your garage door:
- Old door
- Old opener
- Roller wear & tear
- Loose hardware
- Lack of lubrication
Additional noise comes naturally with older doors. The noise you may be hearing is simply age from the door. You don’t have to assume something is wrong as your door may just be showing its age.
As openers age, they’ll also make more noise as they operate. This is something you don’t have to concern yourself with too much unless you start hearing a rattling. The belt or chain may be loose, so get in touch with a technician to tighten it.
A scraping or grinding noise means your garage door is unbalanced. The rollers are scraping against surfaces they shouldn’t or are underneath more strain than they should. Get in touch with your local garage door repair company for immediate repairs.
Roller Wear & Tear
The garage door rollers can be blamed for a lot of the noise your door may be giving off. Why? Well, the rollers are what provide a smoother opening and closing of the door. If they are unaligned or damaged, they’ll give off a lot of noise.
Scraping, grinding, squeaking, and additional vibration could be caused by roller wear and tear. The wear and tear are typically caused by their ball bearings, but not always. Consult a garage door repair specialist to determine the issue.
Squeaking, rumbling, grinding, and slapping are all sounds of loose hardware. The chain, rollers, hinges, and many other parts could contribute to these noises when loose. Using the appropriate tools, inspect your door and tighten all the hardware that may be the culprit.
Lack of Lubrication
Again, the lack of lubrication could make your garage door loud. The hinges and rollers are the ones you must watch out for when it comes to lubrication. They’ll make more noise when they require lubrication. Be sure to use white lithium grease when lubricating your garage door.
Garage Door Won’t Open or Close
One of the most common garage door problems is not opening or closing. A garage door that doesn’t open can trap your vehicle inside, while a door that doesn’t close causes a security risk. A garage door that doesn’t open or close should be addressed sooner rather than later. There are four primary causes of a garage door not opening or closing:
- Safety sensor problem
- Door tracks misaligned
- Snapped cables or springs
- Opener problem
Safety Sensor Problem
Every garage door has a pair of safety sensors, also known as photo eyes. These sensors are on each side of the door, a few inches from the bottom. These infrared sensors will revert your garage door from opening if anything passes through. So, if an object is blocking one of the sensors, the door may not open or close. Look around the base of your door to make sure the photo eyes are not obstructed.
Door Tracks Misaligned
A misaligned garage door track is typically caused by poor installation or damage to the track. If the tracks are not aligned, the rollers aren’t able to move on a guided path, preventing the door from opening or closing. To solve this issue, contact a garage door repair company.
Snapped Cables or Springs
Since the cables and springs work together to open and close your garage door, a snapped part can prevent that from happening. Both of these parts have pairs but can still open and close if only one is snapped. However, we do not recommend you continue to operate your garage door if it has one snapped cable or spring. Get it repaired before the other parts fail and cause more damage.
One of the most common reasons garage doors won’t open or close is an issue with the opener. It may be switched off, unplugged, dead, or the remote it’s paired with could have dead batteries. All of these problems are common, and most are easy to fix. It will require a complete garage door opener replacement if it’s a dead motor.
Cannot Manually Open Garage Door
Even automatic garage doors can be opened manually when the safety cord is pulled. Once pulled, the cord disconnects the trolley from the door. From there, you can lift the door with your own hands. If you aren’t able to lift the door manually or it takes a lot of effort, it’s likely caused by one of two potential problems:
- Broken springs
- Damaged tracks or rollers
Garage door springs absorb the majority of the door’s weight. If one or both are snapped, you’ll have a difficult time lifting the garage door manually. The springs help you raise and lower the door by acting as a counterweight even when the door is disconnected from the trolley. Don’t attempt to open or close the door if the garage door springs are broken. Instead, have them replaced as soon as possible.
Damaged Tracks or Rollers
Broken tracks or rollers will prevent you from opening or closing the door manually. Check for any signs of damage to the tracks or rollers. Accidents from vehicles running into them often damage these parts. If that isn’t the case, it may be simple wear and tear. Regardless, replacements are necessary for the door to operate correctly.
Visible Damage to Parts or Door
Visible damage to your garage door or parts are often caused by wear and tear. Simple daily use over many years will damage your door and its many parts. Of course, other events or accidents can occur as well. The causes of visible damage to your parts or door include:
- Vehicle damage
- Wear & tear
Do you have any young drivers in your family? Did you make a mistake when backing out of the garage one day? It’s common for garage doors to get damaged from a vehicle accident. Tracks and panels are often damaged by getting run into. It happens all the time. When it occurs, get in touch with a garage door repair company for replacements or repairs.
Moisture, hail, and wind can all affect your garage door and its many parts. Some door materials are more susceptible to water and wind damage than others. Be mindful of what your door is weak to. That way, you can prepare for future weather events. Hail damage typically comes in the form of small dents. These can be repaired by replacing the entire panel in sectional garage doors.
Wear & Tear
As we already mentioned, wear and tear are common with garage doors. Chipped paint, rusted parts, broken springs, and other visible signs of damage can occur with age. As you use your door, your parts will wear over time. It’s common for this type of damage to occur, so don’t be worried if it occurs.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have questions regarding garage door repairs, check out some of the answered frequently asked questions below!
Can a bent garage door be repaired?
It depends on the type of garage door you have. Sectional garage doors or doors made up of multiple panels can be bent back into shape, or the panels can be replaced. One-piece garage doors such as tilt-up doors will likely need a complete replacement. Always consult a garage door specialist for your repair and replacement options.
What is the best lubricant for garage doors?
The best lubricant for garage doors is any kind of white lithium grease. White lithium grease is an ideal lubricant for your hinges, cables, rollers, and springs. These moving parts require plenty of lubrication to work properly. Do not use WD-40! It is not a lubricant but a degreaser. WD-40 will gunk up your garage door parts and do more harm than good. Instead, use WD-40 Lithium White Grease. It’s designed for metal-to-metal applications, so it’s perfect for your garage door parts.
Why are garage door springs dangerous?
Torsion springs are much less likely to injure you or damage your property. Torsion springs are twisted and carry the weight of the door. The worst thing you can expect from a torsion spring when it snaps is a loud pop.
Can you open a garage door with a broken spring?
It is possible to open a garage door with a broken spring, but you shouldn’t. Why? With only one spring working, one side of the door will be lighter than the other. This puts strain on the parts of the heavier side. In turn, the weight could lead to damaged parts and eventually complete garage door failure. When you notice your garage door spring is broken, get it replaced as soon as possible.
Are nylon garage door rollers better than steel?
The quality of garage door rollers doesn’t come from the material but instead the number of bearings inside—the more ball bearings in your rollers, the smoother and quieter operation. Nylon and steel are the most common materials used for garage door rollers because they are durable and long-lasting. For a high-quality roller, look for ones with a lot of ball bearings.
How do you clean garage door tracks?
The best thing you can do to clean your garage door tracks is to get a can of compressed air and remove any dust, dirt, or additional debris. You can do a more in-depth cleaning with hot water and a rag or brush, but your tracks won’t need it. The most important thing to keep in mind when caring for your garage door tracks is to keep them clear of obstructions. Above all, don’t forget to lubricate your rollers with white lithium grease.
Can I open a garage door with a broken cable?
You can, but like springs, you shouldn’t. Opening a garage door with a broken cable will cause it to open unbalanced, putting strain on other parts of the door. As a result, you can cause more damage to the door or even complete failure. Instead, get in touch with your local garage door repair company for immediate repairs.
How much does a garage door repair cost?
Always ask for an estimate or itemized quote before moving forward with a garage door repair company. That way, you better understand how much it should cost. If the repair is not an emergency, consider consulting multiple repair companies in your area for the best price.
If you want to learn more about garage door problems, parts, and solutions, check out our resources below.
- Garage Door Safety
- The Spruce Garage Blog
- Raynor Garage Door Components
- Overhead Door Resources
- C.H.I. Overhead Doors Resources