how to troubleshoot garage door problems

How To Troubleshoot Garage Door Problems

A garage door will give you many years of trouble free service. But like anything mechanical things wear out, parts move or things get bumped. Sometimes a garage door just wasn’t installed properly. Here are a few ways to tell how to trouble shoot garage door problems.


Garage Door Openersgarage door safety sensors

  • Misaligned sensors or broken wires. Look to see if one or both of the lights on the sensors are off. When this happens the door wont close unless you hold the wall button down. Of course there could be a bad sensor(s).
  • The motor runs but the garage door wont open or close. This is either a broken belt (a chain is strong enough to outlast several motors) or the drive gear inside the box is broken.
  • The up/down travel limits setting is set wrong. This tells the door when to stop at the proper place. If your door is closing, stopping & reversing the close setting is set to far.
  • The up/down pressure sensitivity setting is wrong. If it is to low it will think there is an obstruction & reverse. There could also be an obstruction or misalignment. Pull the safety disconnect & see if the garage door will move freely. YOU DON’T WANT THIS SET TO HIGH BECAUSE IF THERE IS AN OBSTRUCTION DAMAGE CAN HAPPEN TO THE DOOR, PEOPLE OR PROPERTY.

TIP-pull the emergency disconnect rope. Then try to open & close the garage door. It should move easily up & down without any restrictions. If it is hard to lift the spring may need to be tightened (unless it’s broken).


Track Out of Alignment

Look at the track with the door closed & all the way open. The garage door & track should be parallel. The door should move freely & there should be no binding. The spacing in-between the track & panel should be not to tight & not to loose.


Cable to LooseGarage Door Repairs

loose cableOpen the door all the way. Feel for slack between the cable & drum. If there is the spring needs to be tightened. If this isn’t taken care of the cable will come off the drum. The garage door opener will pull one side up & not the other like in the picture-this is a major disaster! This wouldn’t happen if the “up” pressure sensitivity setting was set right. The opener would of seen a problem & stopped the door.




Broken Garage Door Springs

broken torsion spring

Torsion springs have a limited number of open/close cycles

You try to open the garage door to go to work one morning & it wont lift. You heard a bang in the garage last night but thought nothing of it. It was a broken torsion or extension spring. These are considered a wear item, that is the typical torsion spring is rated for 10,000 cycles. This is 15 years for a lot of people & close to 20 if you only opened it twice a day five days a week.

See my post on Garage Door Torsion & Extension Springs.


garage door strut

Bent Garage Door Panels

This is a problem best taken care of early rather than to put off for later. This causes the most problems is when the door is opened & the bent panel tries to make the turn at the top of the door. Two panels try to stay straight & can’t make the turn, a curve & a straight line don’t go together. If not taken care of ASAP the problem will only get worse. Usually this is a simple fix, a reinforcing strut.

Another case is when a garage door opener is installed & a reinforcing strut isn’t used at the top of the door. The garage door

opener will bend the top panel. There should ALWAYS be a reinforcing strut when a garage door opener is installed.

See my post on Garage Door Panel Replacement.


Worn Garage Door Rollersbad roller

This usually isn’t a problem except with some of the older lower quality metal rollers. The nylon rollers will usually last the life of the door unless there is unusual stress placed on them. The bottom rollers are usually the ones to go bad first, look at that them first.



These are usually inexpensive fixes that only cost a service call & some parts. It’s best to take care of these problems before they become bigger expensive ones. I’ve save many people hundreds of dollars repairing their existing door when they were told by other contractors they needed a new one. I will give you an honest appraisal of what’s going on & give you all your options.

Give me a call & in most cases I can be out the same day or even if you want to do this your self & need some advice.



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