How to Fix a Garage Door That’s Off Track
Are you a homeowner with a broken garage door? You’re probably wondering if you can repair the door yourself. These devices are designed to be sturdy, but they have sensitive electrical components and may require replacement parts.
Many homeowners with garages are unsure what to do when the door suddenly stops working. When you have places to be, a broken garage door can feel very unlucky and impact your entire routine, especially if you are unable to move your vehicle out. This guide can help you know what to do.
Why Is the Garage Door Off Its Tracks?
Some of the most common issues with a broken garage door are the rollers — responsible for moving the door up and down — falling off their tracks. This can happen from damages to the door or because one or several parts need to be replaced. Some reasons a garage door might be off track are:
1. The Door Was Hit by a Car
Almost everyone who owns a garage has accidentally struck the door at some point. A light impact may leave a small dent. When a garage door is seriously damaged, it can come off its tracks. If your garage door is off track, a collision is a common cause of malfunctions.
A garage door that has been struck by a vehicle might have damage to its lower sections or the electrical system. When the impact knocks rollers off their tracks, the door will hang from its lift cables. This can be dangerous because the door is at risk of falling.
If you accidentally strike your garage door:
- Turn off the vehicle and exit the garage.
- If the door cannot close fully, avoid trying to move it up or down.
- Call a garage door technician to assist you.
- Call your insurance agency for your home and vehicle.
2. The Tracks Were Installed or Aligned Improperly
If the quality of your garage door’s horizontal tracks is poor, they may wear out easily. This can happen when your door is poorly installed. If you have a double door, it’s heavier than a standard door. If the horizontal tracks are too weak to support it, even a slight impact can bend the tracks, causing the door to collapse.
Steel of the appropriate gauge and thickness should be used as the material for a large door’s tracks. The tracks should also have an L-shaped angle iron to keep them from bending inward. The tracks need to be parallel and aligned properly with the vertical rails to work.
If your garage door’s rollers are off track, your installer may have failed to make the tracks parallel. This will lead to your door having lasting issues that could result in failure. This can also happen when the bolts holding the horizontal tracks become loose on the bracket. When the bolts are loose or fall out, the bracket will wobble when the door opens and closes. The tracks will eventually bend away from their parallel positions and settle into crooked positions, causing the rollers to fall off.
3. One or Both Rollers Have Broken
If your garage door rollers break earlier than expected, it may be due to wear, low-quality materials or faulty installation. Garage door roller repair requires special tools to get new rollers onto the track. Broken rollers place stress on the door’s hardware system. The additional weight can lead to other rollers breaking or leaving the tracks.
When rollers break, the horizontal rails can also bend from the offset of the door’s weight, leading to these parts needing to be replaced. If your garage door is particularly heavy, the consequences could be more serious.
If the rollers are the incorrect length for the attached steel stem, the door may be slightly out of alignment. Rollers with shorter stems work for single garage doors only. Long-stem rollers are for larger garage doors. Double doors should also have double hinges at the ends. Using double hinges with long-stem rollers ensures the door operates in the best possible capacity.
4. A Lift Cable Broke
Each side of the door has lift cables, which wind around drums attached to steel shafts that hold torsion springs. If the door’s alignment is disrupted, the cable can’t line up in the drum, causing the cable to unravel or break very suddenly.
A broken lift cable is rare compared to damaged tracks and rollers. This can happen when the garage door is older and has gone without maintenance or conditioning for a while. When one of your lift cables breaks, all of the door’s weight skews to the unbroken side. In this case, one side may still be able to fully close, but the damaged side will remain up.
When the door is severely unbalanced from a broken lift cable, rollers can easily come off the tracks. Cable size should be calibrated based on how heavy the door is. The cable’s diameter must be thick enough to accommodate the size of the door. You can avoid cable problems or detect them early if you get inspections.
Tools Needed to Get Your Door Back on Track
The tools required for this type of job are:
- Locking pliers: For any kind of garage door repair work, you need one or more sets of locking pliers to hold the door in place. You want to avoid any sliding or moving around when trying to adjust tracks and rollers.
- Pliers: You will need another set of pliers for working on the tracks.
- A rubber mallet: A mallet can safely work on the tracks without chipping the metal, which is what a hammer would do.
- Wood blocks: A small block can cushion the impact of your rubber mallet and prevent any jostling of metal parts when working on your garage door.
- Carpenter’s level: This tool allows you to measure evenness. Consider checking if the tracks are even before or after you begin working.
How to Fix an Off-Track Garage Door
If you have any issues with your garage door, the best step you can take is to contact a professional service like the Garage Door Specialists. If you want to try fixing the door yourself, you will have to use the proper tools for the job and follow the best steps for repairing the door.
Below are the steps to fix an off-track garage door:
1. Disconnect the Garage Door
Before you do anything to troubleshoot a broken garage door, you need to avoid causing any more damage. Make sure the opener is unusable by pulling down the rope and releasing the door from the opener.
2. Secure the Locking Pliers
Locate where the wheels are coming off the track and secure the area below with pliers. You will need to partially open your garage door until the rollers align with the broken or damaged part of the track. Secure the locking pliers underneath to stop the door from moving.
3. Correct the Position of the Track
Start by using your regular pliers to pull the track open where the rollers jumped. Pull the outside edge with your pliers until it opens far enough to get the wheels back on. Place a wooden block against the outside edge as a buffer and use a rubber mallet to knock the track into place.
4. Test the Door
Remove your locking pliers and manually raise and lower the garage door a few times to make sure it’s working properly. Use the door’s remote control to see if the door will work automatically. The door’s release mechanism should catch to open the door properly.
Tips for Fixing a Garage Door
The above steps may sound simple, but each job is a little different. Below are some tips for troubleshooting your garage door:
- Grease the rollers: Lubricate the rollers with silicone spray or powdered graphite if they seem stuck. They will turn easily this way.
- Clean the track: Remove debris lodged inside the track so the rollers can get free.
- Check the bolts: Make sure the bolts in the garage door’s tracks are secure. Loose bolts can cause the door to fail.
- Check the tracks: Use a carpenter’s level to make sure the tracks are plumb, or vertical. Uneven tracks can lead to the rollers falling out.
- Adjust your work: If the tracks are still askew after you have checked with a level, loosen the supporting brackets slightly to adjust the track, then retighten the brackets.
- Stay away from the bottom of the door: Avoid adjusting the bottom bracket, which connects to the spring system. If this part is loosened, the tension spring can pop out and injure someone.
Taking Care of Your Rollers
Your door’s rollers are an important component of your garage door’s system. These are the parts that allow the door to move, and they can cause issues without proper maintenance.
Rollers can be steel, nylon or nylon-coated steel. Each roller type has a different lifespan, but all types need some basic maintenance and may eventually require replacement. The ball bearings inside the rollers increase their performance, so having a higher number of them can extend their lifespan.
Maintaining your rollers is an easy process when you know what to look for. You only have to clean the tracks occasionally to prevent a jam from creating a worse problem. You can care for your rollers by:
- Keeping them clean: Dirt and debris tend to fall in the tracks and stick to the rollers. Occasionally clean all the dust in the tracks, which can get stuck between rollers that otherwise function well.
- Checking for issues: A lot of homeowners pay the rollers on their garage door systems little mind. If you take a closer look, you may detect problems early and prevent the rollers from coming out.
- Greasing your rollers: Remove grime from your rollers with a cleaning solution and lubricate them so they keep turning well. Poorly lubricated rollers turn slowly and may stop working.
When to Contact a Technician
Many homeowners prefer to use the door to their attached garage more than the main entrance. You might also use your garage for storage purposes and raise the door each time you or someone in your household wants to ride bikes or mow your lawn. All of that usage means your garage door will eventually require repairs. Treat your garage door like the valuable part of your home it is. If you notice something working less effectively than usual, hire a technician to check the system.
You might be able to handle some garage door problems on your own, but certain issues require professional intervention. Talk to a service provider about off track garage door’s repair costs before deciding. Contact a professional to handle your door if you have one of the following issues:
- A broken bottom bracket: When you examine the track, is the bottom bracket broken? Avoid attempting to fix this issue yourself and contact a technician instead. Damage near the bottom of a door is one of the most dangerous garage issues to fix.
- A lack of tools: Avoid trying to fix a garage door without the correct tools. Using alternative tools could be dangerous or complicate the repair.
- Limited mobility: Leave this job to a technician if you can’t raise your arms above your head, stand for long periods or have other mobility limitations.
Garage Door Repair Services
Garage doors are exposed to the elements and experience a lot of regular wear. Even the best garage door systems can encounter technical issues, and sometimes the help of a professional can feel like a life-saver. A repair service like Garage Door Specialists ensures your door gets fixed quickly and efficiently. It’s also important for a service to conduct routine professional maintenance on your behalf to prevent accidents or serious malfunctions before they occur.
We provide dependable service, working to fix your garage door when you experience any related major or minor issue. Our technicians will arrive at the job site with everything they need and provide you with options for a timely fix to solve the problem.
We have provided residential garage door services for more than 30 years, winning the Angie’s List Super Service Award multiple times since 2017. We can help fix your door if you are in one of our service areas.
Let the Professionals Fix Your Garage Door
Is your garage door off track? Some issues are easy to resolve, but when you hire a reputable repair and maintenance service, you know the work is done right. Contact Garage Door Specialists to learn more about our services or request repairs.
How to Prepare Your Garage for Summer
How to Prepare Your Garage for Summer
The weather is getting warmer, people are coming out of hibernation and the world is coming alive after its long winter sleep. That can only mean one thing: Summertime!
You and your family have a million and one things to do to prepare for everyone’s favorite season. But something you might not have thought about is preparing your garage for those hot summer months. When your garage is working perfectly, it fades into the background like a dependable friend. But making sure it stays reliable may require a little extra care. Check out these easy ways to prepare your garage for summer:
- Get Rid of That Clutter
- It’s Time for Garage Door Maintenance
- Lubricate Your Door to Smooth the Way
- Make Sure Your Garage Door is Spic and Span
- Add Some Insulation
- Replace the Weatherstripping
We all think of winterproofing, but summer is the perfect time to do a yearly check-up on your garage. You can make sure everything is in tip-top shape while the weather is gorgeous. After all, nobody wants to be focused on garage maintenance when it’s freezing outside.
But where should you start? Here are six easy ways you can prepare your garage for summer and make sure it gets the TLC it deserves.
1. Get Rid of That Clutter
The garage is supposed to be a home for your car. But, often, our vehicles are the last thing that goes there. Instead, the garage becomes a catch-all, storing everything from garden supplies, bikes and sporting equipment to random knickknacks you’re not sure where else to put. Pretty soon, it’s so chock-full of stuff, you kick your car to the curb — literally. Then, an expedition to the garage becomes a death-defying adventure where you’re climbing over rakes and boxes in search of that screwdriver you know is out there somewhere.
Use these beautiful summer months to de-clutter and make your garage a beneficial area of your home. Not only will it make it easier to find the things you need, but you may even be able to give your car its home back. Here are some tips that will help you get started turning your garage into a functional space.
- Make a weekend out of it. Instead of spreading out the job over the course of several weeks, dedicate a whole weekend to tackle this job. You may even be able to bribe friends and family to help you out with offers of food. A well-timed barbecue or pizza party may be in order.
- Sort and conquer. Leave no box untouched. You need to find out what’s really in your garage. Organize garage clutter it into three different piles — keep, sell or toss. Even the things you’re going to keep need to get organized. For example, you won’t need that snow shovel for a few months yet, but the lawnmower should be easy to access.
- It’s so hard to say goodbye. We keep a ton of stuff we don’t need. If little Jimmy has outgrown his first baseball glove, it’s time to say goodbye. Host a garage sale and make a few extra bucks. Anything that doesn’t sell can find a new home at the local thrift shop.
- Scrub it down. Once all the extra junk is out, you’ll be able to give the whole space a thorough cleaning. It may have been some time since your garage saw a broom or duster. Cleaning it at least once a year will also help prevent uninvited pests from taking up residence.
It may not be easy, but it’s worth the effort. Once the extreme weather hits, you’ll be grateful you took the time to de-clutter and made room for your car to go where it belongs — in the garage. What that means for you is no blistering seats in summer after hours of the sun beating down on your car, and no getting up early to scrape off ice and snow in the dead of winter.
2. It’s Time for Some Garage Door Maintenance
Lots of moving parts go into a fully functional garage door. And it’s best to make sure they’re all up and running while the weather is mild, so you won’t have a breakdown in subzero temperatures. This aspect may be one of the most important parts of your summer garage checklist because it means ensuring it’s safe for your whole family to use. The door is not only the largest moving object in your garage, but probably your entire house.
Normal wear and tear are acceptable, but if your door requires a repair, you should call the experts at Garage Door Specialists. Where do you begin your inspection? Here are some things to look for.
- Manual release handle. While the door is closed, make sure a red handle is accessible and no more than six feet from the garage floor. This handle allows you to open the door manually, without using the motorized opener.
- Garage door panels. With the door closed, check each panel on the inside of the garage. There should be no loose pieces, cracks, separations or damage.
- Springs and hardware. These smaller pieces play a significant role in garage door safety. Loose or damaged components could lead to a severe injury. Yet again, with the door closed, visually check all the springs, hinges, brackets and fasteners. If there’s an issue, don’t attempt to fix it yourself. Call a pro.
- Test your door’s operation. If the garage door opener is not working, you should still be able to open it. Check this by pulling the manual release to disconnect the door from the opener. Then, manually open and close the garage several times. You should be able to do this freely without straining. If the door is difficult to lift, it could be off its rollers or out of balance. Once you’ve checked this, you can reconnect the door to the opener by activating it. It usually can reconnect itself.
- Photoelectric eyes or safety reverse feature. The garage door has built-in safety features to ensure it doesn’t close on a car or person. Photoelectric eyes are located to the right and left of the door about six inches off the ground. You can test these by waving something in front of the photoelectric eyes while the door is closing. It should reverse and open immediately.
With so many moving parts, it’s no wonder many people decide to get a professional annual inspection every summer. The experts at Garage Door Specialists know what they’re looking for and can ensure every detail is in working order.
Having a professional check your door gives an extra feeling of safety. And if anything is out of order, they know exactly what to do. If you’re in need of an annual inspection, give Garage Door Specialists a call.
3. Lubricate Your Door to Smooth the Way
Another aspect of garage door maintenance you may not consider is the importance of lubrication. All those moving parts require proper oiling to operate smoothly. Most homeowners can handle this task themselves if they feel up to it. All you’ll need is a vacuum cleaner with a small head, rags and garage door-specific lubricant. Then, here’s what you do:
- Wear eye protection. Dust, debris and even the lubricant you’re applying can cause severe irritation to your eyes. Always wear protection to avoid getting these in your eyes.
- Clean out the garage door track. This step will probably require a little cleaning, which you can take care of using your small vacuum head or some rags. Make sure there is no debris. Some dirt could be caked in, so be sure to scrape it out.
- Oil each roller. Apply a small drop of lubricant to the inner area of each roller. Then, open and close your garage a few times to work the lubricant into the bearings.
- Lubricate all moving metal parts and mechanisms. All hinges, tracks and springs will require lubrication. Remember, a little dab will do you. Be sure to move the specific parts, if you can, to work the lube into them. Some lubricants come with a thin applicator you can use to get the lube into tight spaces.
- Look out for corrosion and rust. These are signs your garage door may require a little extra TLC. If you notice this, call Garage Door Specialists, and we’ll come check it out for you.
Some homeowners are overwhelmed by the task of lubricating their garage doors, and that’s OK. If you’d rather turn to a pro for assistance, the team at Garage Door Specialists is at your disposal. We have seen every kind of garage door, and know exactly what to do to maintain them properly. That way, you can have peace of mind knowing the job is taken care of. Call us today for all your garage door lubrication needs.
4. Make Sure Your Garage Door Is Spic and Span
While you’re in the midst of your spring cleaning, you may neglect one of the most visible parts of your house — the garage door. Often, we don’t even think about giving the door of the garage a little sprucing up. After the snow of winter and the rains of spring, your door may be looking a little worse for wear.
The good news is, it’s extremely easy to clean a garage door, and you usually can get away with doing this just once a year. Take advantage of the warm weather and get out there with some soap and water.
To give your garage door a fresh appearance this season, follow these simple steps for how to clean a garage door:
- Wash the door surfaces and windows. Using a mild soap and tap water, give your garage door a gentle scrub. Avoid harsh detergents, as these abrasive cleaners could damage the paint. Be sure to clean both the exterior and interior of the door with a sponge, soft brush or a microfiber cloth.
- Rinse thoroughly with water. Whether you use a hose or buckets of water, rinse the soap off the garage door. Don’t use a pressure washer, because it could chip the paint and damage the surface of the door.
- Spot-clean with diluted bleach for tough stains. Sometimes stains from dirt or road salt just won’t come off. Use diluted bleach and water to spot-clean these pesky stains. Just be sure to rinse them thoroughly with water immediately after.
- Apply a fresh coat of paint if needed. Not only will a fresh coat of paint give your garage door extra oomph, but it also offers additional protection against the elements. Before diving in, you may want to brush up on proper techniques for how to paint garage doors so you’ll be proud of the results.
- Wax on for additional protection. If you want to keep that freshly cleaned appearance for just a little while longer, you can always add a coat of wax. Auto wax works nicely, or call your friends at Garage Door Specialists for their suggestions.
When you give your garage door a good spruce, it changes the whole aspect of your house. After all, that big door is one of your home’s most visible features and adds to its curb appeal.
5. Add Some Insulation
For many, the garage is the most uncomfortable room in the house — sweltering in the summer and frigid when that cold winter wind rolls in. Most people don’t trouble themselves about installing insulation in the garage. But there are many advantages to adding some insulation you may not have considered.
- Keeps your garage a comfortable temperature. Although we normally associate insulation with keeping out the cold, it can also help keep the heat of those summer days at bay. And if there’s any humidity, insulation helps keep things dry.
- Helps maintain your home’s temperature. If the AC or heat is constantly pumping in your home, you may be wondering where your cool or warm air is escaping. Your garage could be the culprit. Since it’s connected to your home, no insulation can affect the internal temp.
- Cuts down on noise. Do you like to tinker in the garage or use power tools? Insulation can cut down on noise pollution, so the ruckus doesn’t disturb your family.
- Keeps noxious fumes out. We store a lot of dangerous chemicals in our garage. From paint cans to pesticides, these are a wall away from our living space. Insulation can ensure these deadly gases don’t creep their way into your home.
6. Replace the Weatherstripping
Winter is a difficult time of year for weatherstripping. The materials that seal the bottom, top and sides of your garage door undergo a lot of wear and tear during these cold months. Checking and replacing weatherstripping is a task you should tackle at least once a year, but most people neglect this important item on their to-do list.
Every year, it’s important to check your weatherstripping to make sure there are no cracks or holes. If there are, you should fill them properly. Or, if your weatherstripping is in bad shape, it’s time to replace it.
This critical feature does a lot:
- Keeps the cold out. When those blustery winds begin to blow, you’ll be glad you fixed your weatherstripping.
- Keeps the elements out. Rain, sleet or snow, weatherstripping ensures you don’t get a pesky leak inside the garage.
- Helps keep your garage cleaner. There are tiny things that want to creep in and make a mess. Weatherstripping helps keep your garage clean by preventing bugs, dirt and dust from making their way into the garage door.
Make Sure Your Garage is Ready for Summer
In the midst of your summer fun, don’t forget to give your garage a little TLC. When the harsh winter weather rolls around, you’ll be glad you made an effort. And now, you have six easy steps that will make prepping your garage a cinch.
Just follow these guidelines, and you’ll start appreciating your garage in a way you never have before. You may love your experience so much, you and your family could start using the garage as more than a place to store things you don’t know where else to put. It could be a livable space where you tackle fun summer projects together, like maybe building a new birdhouse.
Though you can tackle many of these steps on your own, if you require additional help, turn to Garage Door Specialists. Whether you’re looking for a whole new garage door or you’re in need of a repair, we have your back. Because of the intricacies of what makes a garage door work, trust your repairs to a professional who understands its inner workings. Our services are available to residents living in northern Chicago’s residential areas, including Glenview, Highland Park, Northbrook, Buffalo Grove and the surrounding communities.
Contact us today to find out more about our residential garage door services.