Growing up, my garage door was more of a suggestion than a device. Small town, friendly neighbors, and rarely a locked door to be found left little need to shut the garage. Also, the door was broken when we moved in and never got fixed until the whole thing burned down.
Whether it is a lack of priority or a lack of knowledge, garage doors country-wide get jammed and become unused relics. To avoid this fate, you should learn how to repair a garage door. It takes less than an afternoon and provides a sense of pride in your home.
It’s also highly functional for securing your vehicles and home. A well-working garage door sounds great and doesn’t shoot into the danger zone of screeching decibels that can wake your equally well-mannered neighbors in the wee morning hours.
This guide will walk you through how to identify major issues, how to repair them, and when to call in the cavalry for replacement parts.
The first step to fixing a problem is knowing what the problem is. Even if you have a pretty good idea that something isn’t working, it’s still important to know exactly what isn’t functioning.
Start with a watch and listen routine. Open and close the door from inside and outside. Obviously, if the door isn’t moving at all, this gets more complicated.
Even a stuck door will try to move. Start inside the garage and manually hit the buttons. This removes the possibility that your remotes and clickers are the problem.
Watch the mechanisms closely starting with the door itself. Is there any structural damage to the door such as dents, missing panels, or bent hinges?
Next, look at the tracks. Do they show signs of deformation, clogs, or missing rollers?
Finally, look at the puller and motor. Is the chain moving (or is the rod turning if you have a screw-type)?
The door action should be smooth, without a janky start and stop. The sides need to be even and the mechanism should be symmetrical.
While you look at each component, also listen for sounds of strain. Any chipping, chunking or skipping sounds should be traced to their source. A high-pitched whine near the motor is also worth noting.
It can be tough to smell if anything is burning or has sufficient lubrication because garages often have these smells from the cars.
If you identify that something is amiss, great. Move on to the repair steps for the issue you located. If not, go through the next section to see if some routine maintenance lines out your issue.
Before you get to cleaning and spraying a bunch of lubricants around, wear some safety glasses and get a solid par if work gloves. Especially as you will be working with a lubricant grease, the gloves make it easier to keep a grip on essential things as you work.
Maintaining your garage door offers several benefits to you. First, it helps you identify problems and war that could indicate a need for a tune-up or a part replacement. Second, it keeps everything working well.
Seasonal maintenance is ideal, right as it warms up and as it gets cold. These changes in temperature cause parts to expand and contract. this makes a great time to get lubricants into the joints and clean out older buildup of dirt and grime.
Taking a few hours twice a year to check out the garage door performance also beats paying as much as $3,500 to replace a door.
You’ll visit the tracks a few times in a maintenance routine. That’s because the tracks are both the source of most problems and the most vital part of the garage door’s functioning. Even without a motor and the components that move it, a door can be opened and closed.
Remove any large debris such as leaves and animal hair. Sweep the area free of rust and bits of dirt or blow them out with an air compressor. The tracks should be vertically level to avoid torsion damage to the rollers and the door.
Eventually, the physical mountings of the door hardware tend to get loose. Sometimes this is caused by the heating and cooling of the night/day cycle or the seasons. Another factor is the vibrations caused by the mechanism in action.
You don’t want to strip any bolts or break anything so only tighten a turn past firm.
Return to the rollers in the track. Check each for signs of damage. Chipped, worn down, and cracked rollers should be removed and replaced. Not only do these rollers not do their job, but they can shatter and leave chunks in the track.
Replacing rollers isn’t too hard. Don’t replace the bottom roller bracket on either side yourself though, those are attached to the cables and springs.
To replace a roller, take pliers and open up a small section of the track. Pull gently to bend but not tear the metal. Once you have an opening, slide the old roller to the gap and pull it out.
Pull out any other bad rollers and then push in new ones. Keep track of how many rollers you are dealing with to make certain your count at the end is the same as when you started.
When you are done replacing rollers, close the track with a few whacks of a rubber mallet to get the metal closed again. Insert a woodblock inside the track to give you a stopping point and avoid pinching the track too tightly.
Cables and Pulleys
Look over the cables attached to the roller brackets. One should be attached to the bottom bracket on each side. These provide the lift that pulls the door along with the springs.
The springs also have a locking mechanism that keeps the door from crashing down. You will find the springs on either side above the door.
You want to look at the components, but don’t interfere with or adjust them. If you notice damage to the cables or the springs, contact a professional garage door repair service.
Not only are these components dangerous to adjust, doing so can invalidate warranties on your garage door and even invalidate portions of your homeowner’s insurance.
With everything physically inspected, lubricate the moving bits.
The lubricant you want to use comes in a spray form most often. It is a type of grease called white lithium. Don’t use something like WD-40 on your garage components. That is a cleaner and will leave the parts exposed to the elements and friction.
If something is stuck or jammed, apply WD-40 to loosen it, wipe clean, then apply lubricant after.
The one place you don’t want to lubricate is the belt-drive opener. This part located near the motor keeps the belt in place and lubricating it can cause it to slip.
The later of rubber on the outside edges and bottom of the door help regulate the temperature inside the garage. They also restrict the amount of water and dust that flows in from the outside.
Check the strips for pliability and cracks. If you live in a particularly dry area the stripping will need to be replaced more frequently as the rubber decays.
The last step of maintenance is to look at the balance of the door as it opens and closes. Both sides should start moving within a few centimeters of each other.
Set the manual handle and then push the door up halfway or just below eye-level. When you let go, the door should remain open without being held. If the door slips or slams down, the springs are not balanced or have worn down.
How to Repair a Garage Door
If you’ve gone through the previous steps, you should have a good idea of what isn’t working in your garage door. If you are stumped and the only you know is that it isn’t working, that’s the time to call in a professional.
Assuming you have a handle on it, let’s get to the how to deal with your issue.
The first step of a repair requires knowing you have all the proper tools for the job. You will need
- a woodblock
- rubber mallet
- screwdriver (or hex key)
Repair by Issue
While most of these repairs can be done solo, it’s usually a good idea to have a second pair of eyes and hands around. Select the problem you’ve identified and follow along.
A noisy garage door may still function but that’s not a given. Noise is caused by friction and components working harder than necessary. A noisy garage door today becomes a broken and frozen door tomorrow.
Any noise left after a maintenance routine comes down to the puller motor and the rollers. Test the motor as the noise source by pulling the manual loop and moving the door manually a few times. If you don’t hear a loud noise, the motor is the culprit.
Motors aren’t the kind of thing that is cost-effective to repair yourself. Contact your installer company or the motor manufacturer for a replacement.
If you rule out the motor, that leaves your rollers. Rollers can be noisy even after maintenance if they aren’t fitting in the track well.
A bent and unlevel track creates torsion so that’s what you need to attack. Check that the track is level in several places, about every two feet. If you find an area that is slope from the area below or above, you need to push the track back into shape.
Check that the brackets are tightened and don’t have an obstruction. Next look for bulges in the metal. When you find a bent piece, line up your woodblock as a backstop and give it a few solid taps with a rubber mallet.
This will move the track slowly without further deforming the metal.
If your door isn’t opening and also the temperatures are well below zero, your door may be frozen. Trying to open the door when its glued down by ice will strain the mechanisms.
The best method is to get some heat on either side of the door to melt the ice. If you notice a frozen door, don’t keep a vehicle running in the space. Any ice strong enough to keep the door closed is also going to block airflow.
A flat shovel or prybar can be used to push a door from the bottom. Remember to disable the puller motor with the manual handle before you apply force.
Once the door is open, clean out any ice between the door slats to keep it from binding.
This is for when everything in your garage door setup is working aside from the remote. Remotes are simple electronics and can suffer from issues such as shock.
Or the battery is dead. You know how to fix that.
If changing the battery doesn’t work, go to your manual and look for instructions on pairing the remote with the motor.
The last thing that you might need to replace in a garage is the door itself. Doors can get damaged from a brute force like a car rolling into it, or a child tossing a ball overly hard.
Bent single panels in a slat-style door can be removed and replaced separately. When the whole door is coming apart from 10 years of weathering, its time to get a whole new one instead of applying some paint.
When replacing a door, look for one of the same dimensions and that uses the same hinge ratio to size. This will ensure your components are compatible and you won’t also have to replace a motor or springs in the exchange.
Find Your Place
Keeping a home beautiful and functional can be a full-time job. It seems sometimes like there’s no end to the cycle of maintenance and replacements. Fret not, knowing how to perform these tasks yourself is rewarding.
You may not ever need to know how to repair a garage door but its always nice to know you can.
Keep coming back here for more ideas on how to transform your places into your own spaces.