Typical Garage Door Problems

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. 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 is an extremely dangerous job and should always be left to the experts.

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 hair dryer, into the outlet to see if it is working. If the outlet is not working, check the circuit breakers in the main service panel.

Garage door not closing. In the early 1990s, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) passed new rules to ensure that all garage door openers manufactured after 1992 had external entrapment protection devices, such as infrared sensors. These sensors are located three to six inches above the ground on each side of the garage door. The sensors must not be obstructed or misaligned, or they will keep the garage door from closing. Check for anything that might be blocking their path, like a box or a piece of lawn equipment.

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. 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.

Frayed cables. All cables should be periodically inspected, and any frayed cables should be promptly replaced.