Common Garage Door Issues

Broken springs. Garage doors are designed with springs that allow easy opening. During proper operation, much of the weight of the door is supported by these springs. Most doors use either extension springs or torsion springs. Extension springs run parallel to the track and are stretched as the door is lowered. Torsion springs are located above the door on a shaft and are wound up as the door is lowered. When a spring breaks, the door is no longer properly supported and will become difficult or impossible to move. If the door opener is working but the door only moves a distance of 6 to 36 inches, the chances are good that a broken spring is to blame. Replacing a broken spring, especially a broken torsion spring, is an extremely dangerous job and should always be left to the experts. Many individuals have been seriously injured attempting to replace broken garage door springs. Springs should always be replaced in pairs to keep both sides of the door equally supported.

Opener is not working. If nothing happens when the opener button is pushed, make sure the opener has power. Openers are often plugged into a normal electrical outlet, located directly above it. Before calling for help, try plugging a common household appliance, such as a hairdryer, into the outlet to see if it is working. If the outlet is not working, check the circuit breakers in the main service panel.

Blocked or misaligned photocells. All modern door openers are equipped with photocells, which detect if a person or object is in the way of the door as it closes. If the connection between the sensors is disrupted, the door will automatically stop closing to prevent injury or damage to objects or people in the door’s path. Blocked or misaligned photocells may be the cause behind a malfunctioning door.

Jammed lock or locking bar. If the opener seems to be working but the door doesn’t move, or it only moves two to three inches or fewer, there may be a lock or lock bar problem. Turning the lock to the lock position extends long locking bars into the door’s tracks to prevent the door from moving. Sometimes, vibrations cause the locking mechanism to move to the locked position. Other times, one of the lock bars may partially extend into the track, thus keeping the door from moving. In this case, the lock bar needs adjustment. Before calling for help, make sure the door is unlocked and both lock bars are free of the door’s track.

Missing or broken safety cables. When an extension spring breaks, it releases a tremendous amount of energy and, if uncontrolled, can seriously injure a person or damage a vehicle or a wall. However, properly installed safety cables prevent damage and injury by controlling failed extension springs. Unfortunately, many homes in our area were constructed before the installation of safety cables was common. If the garage door has extension springs but not safety cables, arrange for the installation of safety cables as soon as possible.

Broken or locked rollers. Rollers are mounted to the sides of the garage door to allow the door to smoothly move up and down in the track. Over time, rollers naturally wear with normal use. Periodic lubrication minimizes the wear and the noise created when the door is raised or lowered. Locked or broken rollers should be replaced to keep the door functioning properly.

Frayed cables. All cables should be periodically inspected and any frayed cables should be promptly replaced. Because garage doors are heavy, waiting for a frayed cable to break before replacing it can be very dangerous. Even if no damage or injury occurs due to the break, there may be an inconvenience if the car is inside the garage and the garage door cannot be opened.