Garage Door Alignment: What You Need to Know
No matter the age or style of your house, if you have a garage, there may come a time when the doors require some maintenance and TLC. One day you may come home from work to discover that the door won’t open – or even worse, you try to leave for work and cannot get out of the garage. How can your garage door become misaligned, and how can you fix it? Here are all the facts you should know about garage door alignment.
What Happened to My Garage Door?
The procedure for regaining proper garage door alignment depends on the location of the problem. Is the door squeaking, sticking or grinding? Is there an unsightly gap under the door? Does the door appear crooked or off-kilter?
In many cases these problems can be fixed without too much effort or expense. It may be that time and daily use has worn down or loosened the materials, or that someone bumped into the door accidentally.
Is it Important to Have Aligned Garage Doors?
Is it really a big deal if there’s a little gap or wobble in the garage doors? After all, we all lead busy lives. In reality, it can be dangerous to leave your garage doors in disrepair. You may have a medical or family emergency and jump in your car for aid, only to discover that the door finally won’t open anymore.
If the door is stuck open or easily pried, a thief could enter while you’re not around (check out the article on garage door break-ins). Worst of all, a garage door that’s allowed to stay off-balance for an extended period of time could even fall from the track and hurt you seriously.
Fixing a Crooked Garage Door
If the garage door is not properly balanced or appears crooked, you can check the track’s springs and cables. If you have broken or slipped cables, they need to be fixed or replaced as soon as possible to get the door functioning again. You should also inspect the tracks themselves, as they could be bent, broken, or obstructed in some way.
Determine where on the track the door is having trouble, and inspect that part more closely. If it’s in really bad shape, it may need replacing. Safety tips can be found below, but when working on the tracks always be sure the door is open and sturdily braced to prevent injury.
Fixing a Sticky Garage Door
A sticky or binding garage door is usually caused by poor installation, which allows the door to close too quickly. If the garage door won’t budge either way, it’s possible to adjust the tracks to realign the door. On the first track, check the screws which hold it to the door frame.
Loosen them slightly, and use a mallet to position it in the right spot with gentle taps. Check the track with a level to make sure it’s straight, then tighten up the screws. Now, repeat the same process with the other track. You may need to move the tracks enough to ensure that they’re up against the weatherstripping.
Fixing a Gap Under the Garage Door
A gap under the garage door is extra frustrating, because while the door may still function according to the basics, the gap looks unsightly, sloppy, and depending on size may be easy for a burglar to pry open.
To fix this problem, inspect the lower track and use a wrench to loosen the bolts. Move the tracks back and forth so the door can settle.
It’s fine if there’s still a very small gap of a quarter inch or less – it’ll allow the garage to breathe a little. Use the wrench to tighten the bolts again and give them a firm tug to be sure that they’re well secured.
Damaged Garage Door Hardware
Sometimes, the damage or wear and tear on a garage door is too advanced for any of these quick fixes. Inspect the door itself – the material can become warped, rusted, or rotten. Next, check the springs. Broken springs can be replaced, just reorder them according to the model number of the garage door.
If you have carriage-style double doors, check the hinges to be sure they are not rusted or broken. These are some last resort DIY fixes for regular garage doors. If you live in an older home, you might not even be able to find replacement parts and end up needing to replace the entire door.
Extra Tips on DIY Garage Door Alignment
When you’re manually raising the door to see where it stops or sticks, look at the point where you can let go of it without it falling back down. If it’s higher than four feet off the ground, or lower than three feet, you’ll know it needs to be realigned.
Use a ladder as a brace to keep the door safely open while you’re working on it. This also takes the pressure off the springs so you can inspect them for rust and warping.
For doors that close too fast, raise the springs to a higher bracket – only when the door is braced open and the springs aren’t taut, of course!
Safety Tips for Realigning Garage Doors
Any home improvement job, no matter how big or small, can have the potential to cause harm if done incorrectly. Keep your safety in mind during the project and leave the garage door down while doing any track adjustments.
Only work on one track at a time, and when loosening bolts never pull them out all the way – just allow enough freedom of movement to adjust the track back to the right place and then tighten them back up. Depending on the job, you may wish to wear eye and hand protection as well.
When Should You Call in an Expert?
While some garage door alignment problems are simple to fix – almost anyone can watch a YouTube video about the process and do it themselves – sometimes a problem is too big to handle alone.
If the metal parts are corroded, the door is about to fall off the tracks completely or the door itself is heavily damaged or rotten, you may want to not only purchase a new door but also hire a professional to help take away the damaged parts and install the new system. It’s also perfectly fine to bypass the DIY and just hire a professional in the first place, if you’re hard up for time and energy.
A garage door not only keeps your vehicle and other personal property sheltered from the weather, but it also protects your home from crime, stabilizes the garage temperature and improves the look and value of your home. Be sure to keep your garage door properly maintained, and don’t wait too long to address any problems that arise. With a little time and know-how, you can fix most problems with your garage door alignment and keep it looking and functioning perfectly.
How do we know so much about custom garages? Because we’re Chicago’s garage expert. If you need a detached garage built, get a free quote from Danley’s. Over 100,000 homeowners have trusted us over the last 50 years.