Is your garage door uneven or shifted to one side? If so, the most likely culprit is a broken torsion spring. Other possible causes can be broken lift cables, misaligned tracks, or rollers that have jumped the track.
All are common problems that most homeowners will face at some point as their garage door ages. All require garage door repair from a professional.
Warning: You should never try to repair or replace a garage door spring on your own. Garage door springs are under tremendous pressure and messing with them can be dangerous. Doing so carries a risk of severe injury or death. Additionally, you should avoid messing with the track alignment and cables as they support the weight of the garage door and if not handled correctly, the garage door can fall causing injury or damage.
How to test for a balanced garage door
When your garage door is properly balanced it will be easy to open by hand. You can check this by simply closing the garage door from the inside and disconnecting your garage door from the garage door opener.
To disconnect the garage door from the opener, there will be a manual release rope. For a belt or chain-driven opener, pull the manual release rope straight down. If your opener uses a T-shaped rail, you will pull down and back towards the opener itself to release the door.
Next, open the garage door. If it opens with approximately 5-10lbs of pressure or less, your door is properly balanced. If it doesn’t, your door is most likely out of balance.
Balanced garage doors
Balanced garage doors open and close smoothly, and with little effort due to the garage door springs countering the weight of the garage door. When working properly, your garage door will open and close easily.
Balanced garage doors are important for the proper operation of your garage door opener as well. The less work your garage door opener has to do, the longer it will last. Garage door openers that work too hard will burn the motor out faster.
Unbalanced garage doors
In addition to placing extra strain on your garage door opener, unbalanced garage doors can lead to snapping cables or failure of the door to open at all.
Other signs your garage door may be unbalanced
Here are some other signs that your garage door may be unbalanced. If you notice any of these, you should call or contact a professional for service as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your garage door or replace the springs.
The garage door is shifting to one side
If your garage door appears crooked or opens unevenly or one side appears to be opening or closing in a crooked manner, then this is a tell-tale sign that your door is unbalanced. This is often the case when one torsion spring is working more efficiently than the other and the weight is shifted to one side of the garage door more than the other.
The garage door won’t open at all
If the garage door won’t open at all, it is due to a broken spring, or the weight is too heavy for the garage door opener to lift. In either case, the spring/springs are probably broken and need to be replaced, or the track is out of alignment. Even as little as an inch out of place could shift the track enough that the doors open uneven or the rollers get stuck.
The garage door makes grinding noises when opening or closing
Grinding noise when you open or close the door can be caused by a couple of reasons.
The first place to check is to see if the rollers are in alignment with the tracks and that the balance looks correct. It will be obvious if the rollers jumped the track. I had this happen once and part of my garage door fell towards the ground. I was lucky as it could have damaged my car.
Another cause could be the spring. Again, if this is the case, call someone to adjust the tracks for you. This is another problem that you should not attempt to repair yourself. A torsion spring repair is not something you should attempt.
When operating correctly, the door should be opening and closing evenly without much noise.
You should lubricate your rollers and track often to ensure the rollers function properly and your garage door operates smoothly. This puts less tension on your garage door opener and torsion spring and helps reduce noise.
Frayed, worn, or broken cables
A broken cable could be another cause of an uneven or crooked garage door. Inspect each of the lift cables near the right and left garage door track. These metal cables are there to assist with the raising and lowering of the garage door. Each cable does the work of holding the spring tension that counterbalances the weight of the door. While it is rare, they can break so always call a professional if there is a problem.