Garage doors are the heaviest doors in the home; their movement is powered by a delicate system of rollers, tracks and springs as well as safety mechanisms that kick in to prevent injury in the event of malfunction. Proper care and maintenance can keep these doors working smoothly, but sometimes they break down for different reasons. This article discusses some of those reasons and what you can do to fix or prevent them.
Caution: do not attempt any repairs that are above your head – if you're not absolutely sure what to do, it's best to call in a professional repair technician. Handling a broken garage door system improperly can result in injuries and even fatalities.
Garage door sticks during operation
This problem occurs quite frequently: you try to open the garage door, whether manually or by using a remote and your automatic garage door opener, but it won't budge or it keeps moving and stopping. This is most often caused by a problem with the hinges and/or metal rollers and is relatively easy to rectify. All you need to do is to clean out the hinges, tracks and rollers with warm soapy water to remove any blockages and buildup of debris.
Wipe down with a clean cloth and allow to dry completely to prevent rusting and then apply lubricant along the tracks and generously at the hinges and rollers. Ensure that you use the right lubricant for garage doors – ask your local home-improvement store for guidance. In the process of cleaning, check the tracks to see whether or not they are properly aligned. If not, they'll need to be replaced – this should be done by a professional.
Garage door doesn't close or open
If your garage door remains open or closed and you've confirmed that the rollers, hinges and tracks are clean and well lubricated, the next culprit could be your garage door springs. Your door has two extension springs on either side and a single torsion spring at the centre above the door. The opener controls action and reaction forces in these springs to enable the door to open or close. When they wear out, come loose, rust or break, the door won't function properly.
The spring system bears a lot of tension, so spring replacement should only be carried out by a professional. Plan to replace the spring system simultaneously to maintain the balance, even if it's just one spring that broke. In addition, ensure that the new springs installed exactly match the old springs (there are various sizes), as those are the ones that can handle that weight.
Door closes/opens halfway and then goes back
There are many reasons for this: unlubricated rollers, misaligned sensors/eyes, weak/worn springs, broken cables or bent tracks. Start by checking whether or not the safety cables, which are installed to prevent injury in case the springs fail, are broken. If so, they should be professionally replaced. Bent tracks should also be replaced.
Next, confirm that the sensors are at the right level and can see each other. The purpose of the sensor is to confirm that there's no obstruction in the path of the garage door so that the door doesn't close on your child, pet, or property accidentally left there. Clean out the sensors if you see no obstruction and confirm that they are at the same level. Finally, confirm whether the rollers are dry or worn and require lubrication or replacement respectively.