Garage doors are large working elements of your home even if you may not know it. Think about this, your garage door is most likely the largest entrance to your home. Of course, many of us do not care about it since it just leads to where vehicles are kept or old belongings are dumped.
Let alone how to fix a broken garage door when it eventually needs attention. However, a garage door has its own significance, even though it may not be as boastful as that of the front door.
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How does a garage door get broken?
There are common, everyday problems that occur with garage doors. Before looking for a quick solution to these issues, it is important to understand a bit more about garage doors and how they work, as well as what could cause them damage. As they say, prevention is better than cure. More often than not, knowing the cause makes it easier to solve a problem.
It makes perfect sense to know everything about your particular garage door before you start poking and pulling at it when it gets broken. Now let’s look at the basic components of a garage door in order to get an idea of where the issue may be coming from. Garage door hardware is not common knowledge to the best of us but depending on your type of door, the components may include one or more springs, hinges, lifting cables, door rollers, and door tracks.
A spring serves as a way to counter the weight of garage doors which are often made of heavy material such as wood, steel, aluminum or fibreglass. A heavy door would be a bit difficult for anyone to lift if not for springs (it probably wouldn’t be difficult for The Rock though). The spring is usually one large coil attached at the top of the door which aids in opening and closing it, even with one hand.
Often attached to the spring is a lifting cable. This is a thick cable usually made of galvanized steel for strength and durability since it resists corrosion. It also helps in the opening and closing of the garage door. Unlike what others say, these are not elastic. They, however, allow for a more flexible movement since they can deform and straighten with easy, regardless of their tensile strength.
If your door is a sectional one, it will have hinges that hold each section in place and aid in bending when the garage door is opened or closed. A good quality door would have double hinges to better hold each section.
The garage door has metal pieces secured to its side and these are called door tracks. They are usually attached to the ceiling of the garage and help the door open and close easily.
These are found inside the door tracks. Door rollers are small wheels which turn freely inside the door tracks whenever the garage door is used.
Each of these components serves its purpose, and if any one of them is to break, snap or get damaged, the entire garage door can come crashing down. For one, the spring can be considered one of the most important components. In the event your garage door spring breaks (this is likely to happen eventually), there will be no mistaking it.
It will definitely make a loud noise and because there might still be some tension left in the spring, it is not advisable to try to open the garage door. At this point, the spring could cause the door to be knocked off its tracks and even knock you down in the process. For safety, you should rather call a professional to check out the door spring.
Secondly, since garage doors are held by cables, it often occurs that these slowly tear due to long usage or the stress placed on them by the heavy doors. This is why lifting cables need to be as strong and durable as possible to withstand snapping easily. Further, a cable can also break due to the tension it experiences once the door spring breaks.
The case may be different depending on the cables that broke; if only one cable is broken, one side of the door will seem to sag to the side. If you open your garage door and one side seems lower or heavier, it is likely that a cable has broken. A more serious case is if all the cables are broken. In this situation, opening the garage door will cause it to drop completely so be careful not to stand too close to the door or allow anyone close to it if you notice any of these signs.
Thirdly, garage door rollers can become stuck and stop turning properly which can remove the door from its tracks. In this case, it is better to leave the door as it is to prevent further damage such as the spring or cables breaking. But if the rollers are stuck, they probably just need to be cleaned, lubricated or replaced.
If the issue is with the garage door opener, the likely cases include the door reopening after being closed or the opener running and the door not opening. These are usually caused by sensor issues.
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Types of garage doors
The truth is, you will probably never pay attention to the garage door until something goes wrong with it or it gets broken. In this case, you need to be sure what type of door it is before attempting to fix it. There’s no point in reading a whole guide on fixing a garage door only to find it is not tailored to your specific type of door. But rest assured, here we will cover all you need to know about different types of garage doors and how to fix them.
Roll-up garage doors
If you’ve ever seen one of those action movies where the bad guys (or sometimes the good guys) are running towards a garage door that is just about to close and they quickly slide under it just in time to avoid being crushed…well then you have a good idea of what a roll-up garage door is. This type of door is made of horizontal slats and it works by curving and bending around a barrel which is at the top of the garage door opening.
Slide-to-the-side garage doors
These are basically “sliding doors” without the glass. A slide-to-the-side garage door works by moving parallel to the garage wall. They are preferred if your garage does not have enough space in the ceiling to accommodate a roll-up door or other types that run vertically. Since these are one of the oldest types, they may not be so common today.
Swing out garage door
Unlike the usual garage doors that either move up or to the side, a swing-out garage door…swings out. Okay, that may not be explanation enough but basically, these doors have hinges on the sides which attach them to the wall. The door is swung open either inwards or outwards like a typical barn door. A similar type of garage door is one that swings up in one piece. That is, the whole door is lifted up at once.
Sectional garage doors
Another type of door that puts hinges to good use is a sectional garage door. The door is divided into sections joined together by hinges. When the door is opened, each section bends with the aid of the hinges until the door reaches the top of the garage door opening. Thereafter, the door will bend onto the horizontal track in the ceiling and start moving parallel to it.
Fixing a broken garage door
Most garage door problems are associated with their springs, although other issues have to do with the garage door opener. Now that you have a good idea of the different types of doors and the common problems associated with them, here are some factors to consider in repairing a broken garage door:
- Check whether the mounting brackets that hold the door tracks to the walls are loose. Any loose screws or bolts should be tightened so that the tracks will be back in their correct position. Also, check whether there are any damaged spots. If found, you will need to hammer them out but if the tracks cannot be salvaged, they should be replaced completely to prevent further damage and personal injuries.
- Especially for garage doors such as slide-to-the-side and roll-up doors, you will need to check for misalignment in the tracks. You can do this using a level to determine whether the horizontal tracks slant slightly down towards the back of the garage and for roll-up doors if the vertical tracks are straight. If you find that the tracks are misaligned, you need to slightly loosen the screws and hit the tracks back into place, and then tighten the screws back.
- Since each type of door has its different hardware components, you should examine these based on your garage door type. For a broken roll-up or sectional door, check the hinges that hold the door in place and the sections together; ensure they are not coming loose and tighten them if they are. A broken swing-up door will need to be examined for its spring and the plates the spring is mounted on. However, when dealing with spring issues, if your garage door is held by a single torsion spring, do not try to alter it. The spring is powerful enough to knock you off. In this case, it is safer to get a professional repair service. Also, the hinges holding it in place will need to be serviced or replaced completely depending on the level of damage.
- If your garage door runs on rollers (small wheels) and they become stuck or don’t run properly on the track, you should clean them out to remove any dirt or grease that may be preventing smooth running. Also, the track may need to be better lubricated so that the rollers can run uninterruptedly.
- Examine the pulleys and lifting cables of your garage door. It is normal for cables and pulleys to wear out so if you find that the cables are tearing or are already broken, the best thing to do is to get them replaced.
- If the auto-reverse feature of your garage door opener does not work properly, it needs to be replaced as this is a precautionary system designed to ensure the door is automatically reversed and lifted if it cannot successfully reach the floor. When this feature is dysfunctional, the door will likely remain suspended midway, placing more stress on the spring and lifting cables.
- If you find that the motor of your door opener has to work extra hard to get the door moving, then it is likely that the spring is worn out and needs to be replaced.
From the above, it is clear that spring issues are one of the most common and risky problems related to garage doors. A garage door with a broken spring should not be opened until the spring has been repaired by a professional. In the event you need to open the door before the repairer gets there, ensure you have someone to help you lift the door so that you maintain an equal balance by carrying it together.
Although the major reason you might want to fix your garage door is to get rid of that annoying sound coming from the broken spring or hinge, or just to get it working again, the biggest concern should be that of you and your loved ones’ safety. If a broken door is not fixed in time, perhaps a hinge or cable is broken, that door can eventually fall on someone. Generally, no one should be allowed to stay around the broken garage door, especially not directly under it.
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