When it comes to garage doors most people know about the opener, the panels and the remote. That’s about it. But a typical garage has dozens of components and if any one of them goes wrong it could spell trouble. Should a spring fail it can affect the way the door opens and put excessive force on the tracks, rollers, cables and more. Should the opener fail you’re back to opening and closing the door by hand. But among all the things that could go wrong, few people give much thought to the hinges. You know, those small metallic objects at the bottom and top of the panels that make it possible for the door to turn the corner from vertical to horizontal. Below we’re going to take a close look at the hinges as well as some of the most common problems that can befall them.
Common Garage Door Hinge Problems and Solutions
There are a surprising number of things that can and do go wrong with garage door hinges. Let’s take a look at five of the most common problems we encounter on a regular basis.
- Squeaky Hinges - We might as well start with the most common problem affecting garage door hinges. And that’s squeaky hinges. People are often aware of the sound of squeaky hinges but they mistake it for squeaky rollers.
Solution: Fortunately, squeaky hinges is not just the most common type of garage door hinge problem, it’s also the easiest one to fix. All it takes is a little WD40 applied to the hinge and your squeaking problem will be history in a matter of minutes. If you need you can remove the pin and apply the lubricant directly to the pin. If you don’t have any WD-40 you can use petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly has the added benefit of not creating a runny mess.
- A Stuck Hinge Pin - The stuck hinge pin is a common source of the squeaking we just discussed. But more than that it can impede smooth action of the door and put undue stress and strain on the motor and chain (or belt). If the door has been in place for 10 or 15 years or more stuck hinge pins actually become a pretty common problem.
Solution: One option is to remove the stuck hinge pins - but doing it yourself can be a major hassle. If you’ve tried to remove them but haven’t had any luck, your choices come down to A) replacing the entire hinge or B) calling the pros from A Better Garage Door. We’ll have someone there in a jiffy to set things right.
- Loose Hinges - As hinges age, one of two things usually happens. Either they begin to corrode, swell up and get tight or they get loose and the door starts to rattle and roll as it rises and falls. There are several reasons why doors might begin to loosen up. For instance, in a place like Colorado where the temperature can be scorching hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter the metal in the hinges expands and contracts. Over the course of years, all that expanding and contracting can cause the hinges to loosen. Also, if the door was involved in some type of accident (say the car accidentally backed into it before it was completely open) this can result in the hinges coming loose. Finally, if any modifications were made to the door (say panels were replaced) the screws may not have been reset properly.
Solution: Thankfully, many loose hinges can be tightened yourself without professional assistance. However, if you’ve tried to tighten your hinges and the problems still persist, or you’d rather not get your hands dirty, we’d be happy to help. Call our local service team for low rates on same-day service appointments.
- A Skewed Jamb - If the garage door jamb isn't level it can cause the entire door to rise and fall at an angle. Allowing the door to run while out of whack like this can put an enormous unnatural strain on the hinges. The hinges, remember, are the only thing holding the panels together. So if the force exerted on them is not straight up and down vertical then it’s going to create problems. The hinges themselves may warp, screws will come loose and more. The uneven forces will also create stress and strain on the rollers and tracks.
Solution: Some people would say that the only way to deal with this type of problem is to remove the door, level the jamb and then re-hang the door. But while there are certainly times when that might be the only option, you may be able to effectively address the problem in a less drastic way. If the jamb is less than about ½ inch out of level you may be able to correct the problem using a shim. If the jamb is more than ½ inch off though, you’ll likely need to remove the door and reset the jamb.
- A Broken Hinge - Perhaps the car made accidental contact with the door and broke a few hinges and panels as a result. Or maybe a branch fell and hit the door during a twister or a blizzard and broke some hinges. In either case, replacing garage door hinges is not typically a big deal.
Solution:Any reasonably competent do-it-yourselfer can replace garage door hinges pretty quickly. But if you don’t have the time or inclination just call the pros from A Better Garage Door. We’ll send someone right over to set things right.
Garage door hinges are small, discrete parts of the door assembly. But it’s crucial that they’re always properly lubricated, securely fastened and operating effectively. If you have any questions about the hinges on your garage door talk to the pros at A Better Garage Door. We’re here to help.
Working on garage doors may seem intimidating for the average person, but adjusting garage springs is actually fairly routine. In fact, maintaining not just the springs, but all parts of the garage door can mean extending the life of your door and avoiding more costly problems down the road. Following some simple guidelines, any homeowner from Erie to Denver can feel more confident in maintaining their garage door springs.
An Introduction to Garage Springs
Garage springs are very tightly wound, heavy duty springs that are responsible for all the heavy-lifting in opening and closing garage doors. They are under an immense amount of tension which offsets the weight of the door, making sure it opens and closes smoothly.
Because of the monumental amount of work they do, it’s no surprise that they get worn out over time. When your garage door starts acting funny - like stopping or pausing during its opening/closing cycle, appearing crooked, or closing too hard - chances are, the springs could use an adjustment.
Recognizing Your Garage Springs
On modern sectional garage doors, there are two main types of springs:
Torsion springs will be wrapped around a metal shaft located above, and running parallel to your garage door frame. There may be one or two of them, depending on the weight of the door. These are usually used for doors over 10 feet wide.
Side-Mounted or Extension-Mounted Springs
Just as they sound, side mounted springs are mounted above the side tracks running into your garage on either side of the door mechanism. These have hooks that attach on one end to the track assembly, and on the other to a cable that acts in a pulley system. There will always be two side-mounted springs, one on each side.
It is important to note: As mentioned, torsion springs in particular are under an immense amount of tension. Homeowners should always exercise caution, wearing proper safety equipment and using proper lighting while working on garage doors. Homeowners in need of a full replacement should consider hiring a professional to avoid danger of bodily harm.
Openers may also have an instruction manual which should be referred to first.
Common Garage Door Spring Problems and Solutions
Here are some basic problems and solutions:
- Not closing fully
- Difficult to close
- Opening too quickly
Solution: INCREASE tension
- Difficult to open
- Closing too quickly
Solution: DECREASE tension
Tension should be adjusted evenly on both sides UNLESS:
- Closing unevenly.
Solution: In this case, the answer is to adjust the tension only on the side where the gap is.
Basics of Torsion Spring Adjustment
Prepare. All tools should be inside the garage unless there’s an alternate point of entry/exit. Door is unplugged (for electric openers) and down all the way. To ensure that the door stays in the down position, the C-clamp is placed on the garage door track above the bottom roller.
It is important that the door stays down. The torsion spring must be under tension for it to be adjusted, and with the door in the down position it will be under a great amount of tension. As the spring is adjusted, the door can rise creating a dangerous situation. Please consult a professional if this is not a task you've done before or have been properly instructed on.
The winding cone. At each end of the spring, there’s a winding cone which locks the spring in place. The cone has four holes, evenly spaced in an X around the cone. It also has two screws which hold the cone in place.
Hold and loosen. A winding bar or metal rod is inserted in the bottom hole of the winding cone. While using the bar to hold the cone in place, the screws are loosened.
Adjust. A second bar or rod is inserted into another adjustment hole either directly in front of or behind the first one. I.e. the rods should be next to each other, not across from each other.
Rotate. Using the bars as leverage, the cone is rotated up (increase tension) or down (decrease tension) at 90 degree increments in the same amount on each side.
Test and repeat. One 90 degree turn should be done at a time, testing the door and going through each step over again as needed.
Basics of Side-Mounted Spring Adjustment
Prepare. For side-mounted springs the door must be fully open to make sure the tension on the spring is fully released. Electric openers must be unplugged and disconnected. The c-clamp can be used below the lowest door roller to hold it open.
The spring hook is removed from the track hanger (nut holding hook in place is also removed).
Adjust. The hook is moved to a higher hole to increase tension, or a lower hole to decrease tension.
Test and repeat. Door is tested and steps are repeated each time.
Denver-Area Homeowners: Take Maintenance Into Your Own Hands
While it is sometimes better to seek professional help in home repair, having an active role in minor maintenance can mean a better awareness of the health of your garage door. Adjusting garage springs is just one simple way to protect your home investment.