10 Common Garage Door Problems & How To Repair Them

It goes up, it goes down, it goes up, it goes down, it goes up...Why won’t it go down?!

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Your garage door often remains unloved and unthought about. It’s there, it protects your home, belongings, and rides from the elements and would-be burglars, it’s likely that its maintenance is one of the furthest things from your mind. Until it’s broken.

Garage door issues vary from bad remotes, power interruptions, broken seals and chains, and all sorts of other maladies. Considering virtually nobody has experience working on garage doors, it can quickly become daunting when you’re trying to figure out just exactly what’s wrong. Luckily, you have The Drive’s crack info editors for assistance. 

We’ve broken down what exactly can go wrong with your garage door into the 10 most common garage door problems, and we even tell you how to fix them! Aren’t we nice? So, come along and let’s get that garage door going up and going down without interruption. Ready?

A garage door.
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A garage door. 

Garage Door Repair Basics

Estimated Time Needed: 1 hour-1 day

Skill Level: Beginner-Intermediate

Vehicle System: Not your car for this one, old buddy, this is for your garage

Garage Door Repair Safety

Working on your garage door can be dangerous and messy, so here’s exactly what you’ll need to ensure you don’t die, get maimed, or lose a finger and that you keep your jeans, shirt, and skin spotless—hopefully.

Everything You’ll Need To Repair a Garage Door

We’re not psychic, nor are we snooping through your toolbox or garage, so here’s exactly what you’ll need to get the job done. 

Tool List 

Parts List

Organizing your tools and gear so everything is easily reachable will save precious minutes waiting for your handy-dandy child or four-legged helper to bring you the sandpaper or blowtorch. (You won't need a blowtorch for this job. Please don’t have your kid hand you a blowtorch—Ed.)

You’ll also need a garage. If you don’t have a garage, we can’t help you nor would we suggest fixing your neighbor’s garage while they’re sleeping. Why, because we aren’t getting you out of the clink.

Garage door tracks.
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Garage door tracks. 

10 Common Garage Door Problems and How To Fix Them

Now that you understand what you need and what safety precautions you must take, let’s get down to brass tacks and diagnose your garage door’s problem.

Bad Remote Battery

One of the easiest, and most common, issues with garage doors not working is your remote’s battery is dead. Here’s how to test it.

  1. If you have a second remote that works, pull it out.
  2. Swap batteries with the first remote.
  3. If it worked, all you need is a new battery. 
  4. If you don’t have a second remote, simply buy a new battery.

Unsynced Garage Door Remote

Did you know your garage door remote might unsync itself, and you’ll have to reprogram it? Now you do! You’ll need to consult your garage door opener owner's manual to find your garage door’s remote programming procedure. 

Broken Garage Door Wall Opener 

Like your garage door opener’s battery, your wall opener can lose power from frayed wires or a broken switch. Here’s how to fix both.

Frayed Wires

  1. Disconnect the power at the fuse box to the garage.
  2. Once the power is off, remove the section of the frayed wire using wire cutters. 
  3. Splice in the section of the new wire using electrical tape, connectors like Posi-Taps, or soldering. 
  4. Reconnect the power and test the garage door.

Broken Wall Opener

  1. If your garage door’s wall opener is broken, you’ll need a new one from a hardware store.
  2. Disconnect the power at the fuse box to the garage.
  3. Disconnect and remove the wall opener.
  4. Replace and connect the new wall opener.
  5. Reconnect the power and test the garage door.

Broken Garage Door Motor

If your garage door motor is kaput, smoking, or grinding its gears whenever you open or close the door, you’re going to need a new one. With these steps, you can easily install the replacement.

  1. Disconnect the power at the fuse box to the garage.
  2. Unplug the garage door motor from the ceiling outlet.
  3. Unscrew the motor’s mounting hardware and drop the motor to the floor.
  4. Remove the cover enclosing the chain mechanism.
  5. Detach the garage door emergency release so the door is free of the motor and chain.
  6. Disconnect the garage door motor’s chain from the trolley assembly.
  7. Remove the chain from the motor.
  8. Replace the broken motor with your new motor.
  9. Reinstall the garage door chain to the trolley assembly and close the cover.
  10. Attach the motor to the mounting hardware.
  11. Plug in the new garage door motor to the ceiling outlet.
  12. Reconnect power to the garage at the fuse box.
  13. Test the new garage door motor.

Broken Garage Door Chain/Belt

A garage door’s chain or belt, the part that actually moves it up and down, can break over time. Replacing it is the only way to fix the issue. Here’s how to replace a garage door’s chain/belt.

  1. Disconnect the power at the fuse box to the garage.
  2. Unplug the garage door motor from the ceiling outlet.
  3. Unscrew the motor’s mounting hardware and drop the motor to the floor.
  4. Remove the cover enclosing the chain mechanism.
  5. Detach the garage door emergency release so the door is free of the motor and chain.
  6. Disconnect the chain rail from the garage door.
  7. Disconnect the garage door motor’s chain from the trolley assembly.
  8. Remove the chain from the motor.
  9. Remove the idler pulley assembly.
  10. Disconnect the chain from the trolley threaded shaft.
  11. Disconnect the masterlink.
  12. Take the end of the cable and put about 12 inches of cable through the idler pulley window.
  13. Pull the cable around the idler pulley.
  14. Connect the cable to the trolley.
  15. Connect the new master link to the trolley.
  16. Making sure the chain isn’t twisted, connect the new chain to the motor.
  17. Reattach the chain rail to the garage door.
  18. Reattach the motor to the mounting hardware and plug in the motor.
  19. Reconnect the power to the garage.
  20. Test the motor and chain.

Broken Garage Door Springs

The Drive has a full guide on how to fix and replace your garage door springs. As it’s a labor-intensive and extremely dangerous process, we suggest clicking the link and following along closely or calling a professional. 

Garage door lubricatant.
Depositphotos

Garage door lubricatant. 

Unlubricated Garage Door Hinges

As a garage door ages, it will lose some of its lubrication. Here’s how to fix that.

  1. Shut the garage door.
  2. Using a ladder, unplug the garage door from the outlet on the ceiling. 
  3. Vacuum out the garage door’s tracks.
  4. With a damp rag, wipe down the garage door’s tracks and hinges.
  5. Spray the garage door grease on the garage door’s hinges, rollers, and tracks. 
  6. Spray down the outside bearing plates (the two circular metal pieces on each end at the top of the garage door).
  7. Using the ladder again, spray the grease along the top rail that goes to the garage door motor. 
  8. Wipe away any excess grease.

Garage Door Off Its Track

A slightly trickier issue is when your garage door pops off its track. There are a myriad of reasons how and why this can occur, but rather than spending time describing every situation, it’s happened so let’s get through it. Here’s how to put your garage door back onto its track. 

  1. Using a ladder, unplug the garage door from the outlet on the ceiling.
  2. Release the door from the garage door opener’s chain.
  3. Find the wheels that are off their track and lock a pair of locking pliers just underneath them.
  4. With a rubber mallet, knock the wheels back onto the track. 
  5. Once they’re back, manually open and close the garage door. If it works, you’re done.
  6. If the wheels pop out again, your track may be bent. Using the rubber mallet, you can bend it back into position. Test the track again. If it works, you’re good.

Garage Door Closes Then Opens Immediately

One easy-to-fix issue is when your garage door closes, then immediately opens back up. There are two reasons this will happen. First, if there’s something obstructing the garage door sensors, and second, if the sensors are misaligned. The first will just require removing the object. As for the second, here’s how to align them.

  1. With the garage door remote in hand, close the door.
  2. As it gets closer to the ground, attempt to align the two sensors so that the infrared beam lines up. This may take a few attempts.
  3. Once the garage door closes and remains shut, you’re done!

Garage Door Seals Are Broken/Falling Off

Garage door seals can crack, break, and fall off over time. Although many will survive with broken seals, the seal at the base of the garage door can lead to higher heating and air conditioning bills as warm and cold air impacts the inside door to your home. Here’s how to repair the seal.

  1. Open the garage door.
  2. Unscrew/detach the old/broken garage door seal. 
  3. Install the new seal.
  4. Close the garage door to make sure you have a tight fit. Adjust as necessary.
Thumbs up.
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You're done! Congrats.

Get Help With a Garage Door From a Mechanic On JustAnswer

The Drive recognizes that while our How-To guides are detailed and easily followed, a rusty bolt, an engine component not in the correct position, or oil leaking everywhere can derail a project. That’s why we’ve partnered with JustAnswer, which connects you to certified mechanics around the globe, to get you through even the toughest jobs. 

So if you have a question or are stuck, click here and talk to a mechanic near you. 

FAQs About Broken Garage Doors

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers! 

Q. How Much Does It Cost To Repair a Garage Door?

A. A majority of the culprits above won’t set you back hundreds of dollars thankfully, but there are a few that will reach inside your wallet and take what they please. Average garage door repairs range between $5-$300, with larger repairs costing a few thousand. 

Q. Is It Safe To Repair Your Garage Yourself?

A. By taking the necessary safety precautions, repairing your garage door yourself isn’t too dangerous. Errant parts, however, can break without warning, so always be mindful of the task at hand. Resetting garage door springs, in particular, require extreme focus and some strength to safely get the job done. As always, call a professional when in doubt.

Q. Can a Garage Door Kill You?

A. What did you call its mother? Did you murder its sensei? Is it part of a long-standing blood feud that would rival the Hatfields and McCoys? If you answered no to any of these, it’s very unlikely. Some people have been injured and killed by garage doors and its parts, but it’s very, very rare.

Q. How Long Do Garage Doors Last?

A. Garage doors are engineered to last between 15-30 years. But that doesn’t mean you can forget about them between when your first child is born and when they bring home their first bundle of joy and poop. Maintain your garage door like you’d maintain your car.

Q. How Often Do You Need To Lubricate a Garage Door

A. It’s best to lubricate your garage door once a year, especially if you live in a locale with inclement weather or where dirt and debris can be blown into its tracks.

Q. How Much Wind Can a Garage Door Withstand?

A. Different doors vary in strength and wind resistance. You’ll need to consult your garage door’s manufacturer specifications to determine exactly how much wind it can withstand.

Q. Are There Hurricane-Proof Garage Doors?

A. There are! Some can even withstand up to 200mph winds, which we’re told is a lot! There are also impact-resistant garage doors to ensure no debris kicked up by hurricanes or tornadoes damage your home.