Avoiding Sudden Garage Door Breakdowns and Repairs

Published on By Champion Garage Door Repair

In a recent post, a Fixit community member spoke of continually broken garage door bearings and hinges. Broken hinges and worn bearings are a major safety concern as they may create excessive pressure and/or binding. Excessive pressure on the torsion tube, binding and vibrations may cause the cables to come off the lift cable drums and while torsion systems feature two galvanized cables stretching from the bottom brackets up to the lift cable drums, it takes only one broken cable to bring the door out of balance and the garage door off its tracks. Some garage door off track scenarios can be easily repaired while others can be quite complicated to handle and can result in severe damage to the garage door itself and to any related equipment.

To prevent sudden breakdowns, damage to the garage door and avoid costly garage door repair, we first need to understand why hinges and bearings may break (leaving normal wear and tear aside) and why they are an essential component for safe operation and system longevity.

Real Names Tell You the Story of the Things They Belong To

The garage door hinges are a crucial element in garage door systems as they are the pivot points that allow the garage door to rotate and follow through a given trajectory. The hinges are also the one component who connects and holds the doors’ sections together. Other than that, in most sectional door systems, side hinges contain and hold the garage doors’ rollers within their shaft, which guide it on its tracks while traveling up and down. As a vital component, it is necessary to ensure that the hinges are in good condition. Defective hinges would cause the garage door to be vulnerable to damage by the aforementioned dangers.

Why Garage Door Hinges Break?

Broken Garage Door Spring

Garage door hinges can break due to broken garage door springs. As the springs are the main component holding the garage door’s weight, a broken spring will cause the garage door to be extremely heavy. In a broken spring scenario, since the spring is no longer effective, the door’s weight is being carried by the hinges, rollers and automatic garage door opener. Therefore, operating a garage door with a broken spring is not only dangerous, but also overloading the garage door components, causing structural load and eventually, structural failure, preliminary wear and tear and unexpected system breakdowns.

How to Detect Broken Garage Door Spring

Detecting a broken garage door spring is a very simple procedure. In a torsion system, simply look at the torsion tube hanging above the garage door/garage header and see if the coil split in two. Most torsion systems have two springs installed on both sides of the spring anchor bracket, however, some systems have only one spring. In extension garage door systems, the extension springs located on top of the horizontal tracks while in 1-piece systems, extension springs located on both sides of the garage door (starching from hinge to vertical jambs). Another way to detect a broken spring is to simply disengage the door from its automatic opener by pulling the emergency release cord (while the door is fully closed). Once the garage door is disengaged, try lifting it by hand. If the door is extremely heavy to operate, the spring is probably broken. Important note: if you suspect that the spring is broken, DO NOT disengage the garage door from its automatic unit while the door is in open position.

Imbalanced Garage Door

There are three main reasons for imbalanced system: wrong torque value, wrong springs size and worn springs. If the garage door springs aren’t correctly wound up and/or worn out, torque value won’t be sufficient to operate the door safely, causing the garage door to be heavy in some parts and/or very light/pull up in other parts. Imbalanced garage door overloading the system structure, increasing stress on the garage door mechanisms such as: hinges, rollers and automatic opener, causing preliminary wear and tear and structural failure. In some cases, imbalanced system can also cause the cables to come off the drums, bringing the door off its tracks. In case the wrong springs installed, increasing the tension by adjusting the spring’s torque value won’t resolve the issue, therefore, to prevent overloading, breakdowns and future costly repairs, the springs need to be replaced and correct size must be installed.

How to Test Garage Door Balance

You can test and detect imbalanced garage door system in the following way:

  • The first step is to disengage the garage door from its automatic opener while the garage door is fully closed.
  • Check that the garage door stays closed and not pulls up on its own.
  • Lift the garage door up slowly to the waist line. Once it’s in position, let go. The garage door should stay in position and not slam shut or pull up.
  • Bring the garage door to fully open position. Again, the door should stay open in position.

Overall, a garage door should be pretty easy to operate by hand, if the door slams shut, falls back down or pulls up, there’s a balance issue. Please note that there nothing wrong with gently drifting garage door.

Wrong Garage Door Hinge

18 Gauge Garage Door Hinge

18 Gauge Garage Door Hinge

It is necessary for a structural engineer to determine the structural loads and be able to assign the right elements that will support a given garage door properly. As part of the garage door’s structural system, the hinges must be able to support the weight of the door and deliver smooth and safe operation. Other than normal wear and tear, garage door hinges can wear out due to bindings, faulty installation, worn garage door rollers and wrong gauge hinges installed. For instance, a given 24-gauge steel garage door or a given wood/custom garage door with 18-gauge hinges or plastic hinges installed would most likely stress the hinges, causing deformation in structure, preliminary wear and tear and breakdowns. Furthermore, in some scenarios, operating a garage door with the wrong hinges may cause the cables to come undone and the garage door to come off its tracks which results in unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs.

Why Garage Door Bearings Break?

Bearings are significant component in garage door torsion systems as they support and hold the torsion tube in space. While the shaft is rotating along, they also reduce friction and maintain clearance between the stationary end plates and center bracket to the torsion tube. Aside from normal wear and tear, garage door bearings wear out due to system misalignment. There are two types of garage door misalignment:

  • Offset or parallel misalignment
  • Angular misalignment

In both cases, misalignment increases rolling friction and applies excessive force on the garage door torsion tube and bearings. Excessive force on the garage doors’ bearings will wear out the inner race and may cause it to pull out its position over time. Additionally, constant pressure on a given inner race’s wall damages the rotational direction. Inaccurate rotation of the bearing’s inner race may cause bindings, the cables to come undone and the grinding of the shaft until it shears off.

Faithless is He That Says Farewell When the Road Darkens

Due to the consequences of these failures on safety and efficiency, it is crucial to be able to identify type of failures in equipment and machinery during operation, and failure causes. As a reputable garage door supplier, while carrying out garage door repair or garage door installation, utilizing experience, basic methods and advanced workflow techniques, enable us to achieve reliability, maximize performance and ensure safe operation of residential overhead garage door systems.

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