We use our garage doors practically every day, sometimes many times a day, but how much attention do we really give the garage door? If failure is going to occur, there’s a good chance that failure occurs after ignoring a persistent call for help, or after years of neglected maintenance.

Garage door mechanisms are relatively simple, but they move up and down day in and day out, and anything in constant motion needs some routine maintenance now and then. If the system is slightly out of alignment or balance, we need to fix it before it leads to critical problems.

If maintenance is skipped and calls for help from your door ignored, then most likely you are now at the point of needing garage door repairs, so let’s take a look at some of the common failures.

Finding the Problem

To diagnose the problem with a garage door, we need to step through the likely causes. Fault types are usually from three areas, mechanical, power and remote, or sensors.

If the door does not move smoothly with manual operation, it is likely there is a mechanical failure. The rails and rollers may be damaged, need cleaning, or lubrication, springs may need adjustment or replacement, or the gear and chain could be damaged.

If the door motor simply won’t operate it is likely a power or motor failure.

Overhead Garage Door Repairs

Failure of the remote operation will be caused by the remote control system, either the remote itself or the receiver.

If a door fails to open or close fully, but manual operation is normal, it is usually caused by a limit switch or sensor.

Next, we’re going to explain all of these faults a little more in depth, with a fault finding quick reference guide and some frequently asked questions at the end.

Garage Door Spring Adjustment or Spring Replacement

Springs on a garage door are under massive amounts of tension, so if they need adjustment or replacement, it is best to call an expert before risking injury unless you know what you are doing.

The function of garage door springs, whether they are torsion springs or extension springs, is to reduce the loads required for opening the garage door.

Springs are coiled tightly under tension and will lose their elasticity over time from the applied forces. Replacement is needed on average between 5 and 15 years depending on how well maintained they are. When springs lose their elasticity, there is some scope to adjust them back to the original tension before full replacement is needed.

Spring wear without adjustment can place heavy loads on a garage door motor and railings which they are not designed to cope with, so if the correct spring is not set correctly, it can lead to a costly failure of the motor or gear.

If the springs are not adjusted evenly on both sides, this will create differential loads on the motor, gear, and railings, which can also lead to premature failure.

The best way to test for worn springs is to operate the garage door manually to determine if there is any imbalance or excessive force required. If the answer is yes to either of these, the springs need adjustment or replacement.
Garage Door Opener Failure
Failure of the garage door remote control is the most straightforward issue to diagnose, especially if there is a separate operating switch for the motor, for example, a wall switch or keypad.

If the remote fails to work, but the door operates fine from the wall switch or keypad, then you can be assured the remote operation is at fault.

The most likely cause of a faulty remote the battery needs to be replaced. If the battery is not the cause of the problem, the remote may need reprogramming. Remote memory can sometimes be affected by exposure to magnetic or electric fields. Battery motor instructions should provide details of how to reprogram a remote without needing to call an expert. If this is not available, or if reprogramming the remote doesn’t work then it is most likely that some component inside the remote was damaged, and it needs to be replaced.

An uncommon cause of failure of the remote operation (a door opener or keypad which is not physically connected) is receiver damage. The receiver is the sensor that the remote sends the opening signal to. This is usually a small antenna located on the motor. If the receiver is damaged or bent it may not effectively receive the signal from the remote operation.
Garage Door Power Failure If neither remote control nor switch operates a garage door then either there is no electricity to the opener, or the motor itself has failed.

Don’t overlook the simple explanations such as a circuit breaker or fuse controlling the circuit has tripped and needs to be replaced or reset, or the opener’s electrical plug has been pulled out. A loose wire or fuse on the motor will also prevent any operation of the motor and is often quite easy to see by visual inspection.

If the motor itself has failed, there is usually a burnt appearance accompanied by a smell of electrical burning when the motor fails, although this may not happen in every case. Excessive forces needed to open and close the door due to worn springs may cause motor failure.

Garage Door Opener Failure

Failure of the garage door remote control is the most straightforward issue to diagnose, especially if there is a separate operating switch for the motor, for example, a wall switch or keypad.

If the remote fails to work, but the door operates fine from the wall switch or keypad, then you can be assured the remote operation is at fault.

The most likely cause of a faulty remote the battery needs to be replaced. If the battery is not the cause of the problem, the remote may need reprogramming. Remote memory can sometimes be affected by exposure to magnetic or electric fields. Battery motor instructions should provide details of how to reprogram a remote without needing to call an expert. If this is not available, or if reprogramming the remote doesn’t work then it is most likely that some component inside the remote was damaged, and it needs to be replaced.

An uncommon cause of failure of the remote operation (a door opener or keypad which is not physically connected) is receiver damage. The receiver is the sensor that the remote sends the opening signal to. This is usually a small antenna located on the motor. If the receiver is damaged or bent it may not effectively receive the signal from the remote operation.

Garage Door Power Failure

If neither remote control nor switch operates a garage door then either there is no electricity to the opener, or the motor itself has failed.

Don’t overlook the simple explanations such as a circuit breaker or fuse controlling the circuit has tripped and needs to be replaced or reset, or the opener’s electrical plug has been pulled out. A loose wire or fuse on the motor will also prevent any operation of the motor and is often quite easy to see by visual inspection.

If the motor itself has failed, there is usually a burnt appearance accompanied by a smell of electrical burning when the motor fails, although this may not happen in every case. Excessive forces needed to open and close the door due to worn springs may cause motor failure.

Failure to Open or Close Fully or Reversal

A garage door usually has four different sensors, an up-limit switch, close-limit switch, and two safety sensors to check for obstruction.

Failure to open or close entirely or a reversal where the door opens again before closing or at closing is either caused by sensors that are faulty or need resetting, or by damage to the rails causing obstruction. Before checking the limit switches and sensors, manually operate the door to check for any damage. If the door sticks at any point, then the cause of the problem is most likely the rails. Examine the rails to determine if they can be cleared or if replacement is needed.

If the manual operation is relatively smooth and obstruction free, then the reversal or operating failure is most likely caused by a sensor problem.

If a door reverses, that is, opens again before reaching the ground, or on reaching the ground, the close-limit switch is possibly too sensitive. Adjusting the sensitivity of the close limit switch should solve the problem. Close limit switches can be adjusted carefully in small increments until the door achieves the desired position. Take care to ensure it is not under-sensitive as the close-limit also acts as a safety mechanism in case an item, person, or pet is obstructing the door.

Failure to open or close entirely can in some cases be the safety sensors – infrared beams which check for obstruction. If these blocked, the door will cease to operate.

If the door fails to open fully or if the motor continues to run after opening then the fault is likely in the setting of the up-limit switch. The up-limit switch can be adjusted closer to the motor if the door fails to open fully, and further away from the motor if the motor fails to stop running. This seems counter-intuitive, but that is usually how the up-limit switch works.

Garage Door Gear Failure

A gear connects the chain, which opens and closes the door, to the motor. If there is excessive force needed to open and close the garage door due to worn springs, rollers, or rails, the motor may be still capable of lifting the door, but there will be high forces on the gear, which may cause it to fail prematurely.

A garage door gear failure will be pretty evident, by the sound of mechanical failure accompanied by failure o operate. The gear failure can usually be seen visually on inspection of the motor housing where the gear is located. If a gear failure occurs, a replacement is needed.

Noisy Garage Doors

A noisy garage door may simply require lubrication of moving parts or may need replacement of springs, rollers, or railings. Metal rollers can be replaced cheaply by nylon rollers, which make far less noise and do not require as much regular lubrication. Rollers themselves are quite cheap, but because replacement requires some complex reassembly, it may be wise to get expert services for the labor.

Damaged Sections

Accidental damage due to inadvertent collision with a vehicle or object can cause irreparable panel or railing damage. While straightening is possible, usually a choke point will remain, that will cause unnecessary stress on the motor and gear mechanism. The rails and damaged sections (where parts are available) need to be replaced.

Cleaning Rails and Rollers and Pivots

Most sectional garage doors open with a set of rails and rollers, some full doors operate on an over-center pivot. Both have sections, which attract debris that will cause failure if not cleaned properly. Rails or pivots may become obstructed from time to time with dirt, cobwebs, nests, or leaves. It’s essential to check rails and clean them to ensure that a garage door.

Frozen Rollers

Failure of a garage door in sub-zero conditions feels terrible since you don’t want to spend time fault finding outside and it usually happens early in the morning when you are rushing to work. But the good news is it’s most likely only moisture that has frozen the rollers and is easily fixed. If the garage door fails to open in freezing conditions, don’t keep trying to operate the remote as it can potentially burn out the motor. Try opening the door manually and if it is stuck, then attempt to find out where the door is frozen and apply some heat.

Repair Versus Replacement

In some cases, it is more viable to replace an entire door than repair sections. This may be the case where a door is aged as well as damaged. A new door will cost slightly more but comes with a new lifespan and warranty.

Lubrication

Any moving parts need regular lubrication, if your garage door is making squeaking or grinding sounds there is a good chance that it needs a little lube.

Broken Glass

Broken glass should always be repaired as soon as possible by measuring ordering and refitting a new piece. Broken glass is a safety, security, and pest hazard.

Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance of a garage door should include checking rails for obstruction and cleanliness, brushing off dirt, and lubricating moving parts. Additionally, open and close the door manually to ensure smooth operation without undue force, to check if the springs are okay.

Safety Inspections

A periodic check of the close-switch for functionality in case of an obstruction is important for safety. If the close-switch is not sensitive enough or not functioning, a person or animal could end up badly injured by being trapped in the door. If the close-switch is operating correctly, mild force should result in the door reopening. This function is easy to self-check periodically, and if there is any excessive force needed to stop the door from closing, the close-switch should be adjusted until the door closes correctly, but re-opens if any counter force is applied mid-operation.

Safety inspections will also check loose fitting, springs and moving parts to ensure alignment is correct to prevent a harmful failure.

Quick Fault Finding Guide

Garage door won’t open fully; manual operation is smooth
• The Up-switch needs to be adjusted closer to the motor

Garage door won’t close fully; manual operation is smooth
• The close-switch sensitivity needs to be adjusted
• The safety eyes are obstructed

Garage Door Won’t Operate at All
• There is no power to the motor, check all wiring, plugs, and fuses
• The motor has burned out and needs replacing

Garage Door is Difficult to Operate Manually
• The railing is rusted, bent, or damaged in some way
• There is an obstruction in the railing
• The springs need adjustment or replacement

Garage Door Reverses
• The close-switch needs to be adjusted for reduced sensitivity

Garage Door Motor Runs On
• The up-switch needs to be adjusted away from the motor

Garage Door Won’t Open By Remote
• The remote needs to have the battery replaced
• The remote needs to be reprogrammed
• The remote is faulty and needs to be replaced
• The receiver is defective and needs servicing

How to repair a Garage Door

FAQs about Garage Door Repairs

When should I consult an expert?

Spring replacement, roller replacement, and motor replacement will typically need an expert. Spring adjustment is quite hazardous and expert services are recommended. If operation is noisy or difficult, and the cause cannot be resolved, this is a good reason to call an expert before a serious problem develops.

Owners can do routine maintenance, reprogramming, and limit switch adjustment easily if sufficient information is available in the door opener’s operating manual.

What does it usually cost for maintenance of a garage door?

A garage door routine service or safety check costs around 75$. Check out our specials!

What does a garage door repair normally cost?

Repair costs will depend on the fault and the urgency. Springs and rollers cost around $20 to $40, while labor costs will typically start at about $100 for most repairs, making the total around $150 to $300.

If your garage door maintenance seems like a nightmare, it’s straightforward and inexpensive to get an expert in to have a look before the problem ends up in total failure, becomes catastrophic, and far more costly. Murphy’s law, total failures are always much more likely to happen after hours, so rather get the maintenance seen to before it becomes really inconvenient and expensive.

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