DIY Garage Door Repair 101: 6 Easy Solutions to Common Garage Door Problems

Most of the time, your garage door works like a dream — you never have to think about it. But stuff happens — you hit the track with the car or mower, the door stops opening, your door starts to warp. That’s when you need garage door repair — whether DIY or from a professional. Here’s what to do if you damage your garage door.

Most garage door problems have fairly simple causes — and simple solutions you might even be able to do yourself. Let’s break them down.

Springs Break

Springs only have so much life in them — usually about 10,000 lifecycles, the number of times a door can go up and down before a spring needs replace. But since most homeowners open their doors an average of three times a day, you’ll probably need to replace your garage door springs every 3 years. This, however, is not a DIY garage door repair. Those springs are under incredible tension and can cause serious injury. Always hire a professional for this repair.

Photo Eye Problems

Legally required on all doors installed after 1993, the photo eye is the disc on the outside walls at the bottom of your door that send a signal to each other if an obstruction is in the way — say a bike, a running kid or pet. Occasionally they can become misaligned, dirty, or blinded by the sun. Fixing these is fairly easy. You can clean the eyes, reposition them, shade them from the sun, etc.

Wear & Tear

Garage doors are like anything else — use them enough, and they’ll start to break down. Rollers wear out. Springs break, rust, or slacken. Garage door bottom seals break and need repaired or replaced.

Beware of an Overpacked Garage

Many of us use our garage doors for storage — but before we know it, this can get out of hand. If your garage becomes too cramped tight with stuff, it’s easy for boxes, tools, and sports equipment to get in the way of the door. This can cause damage to the door — or simply cause your door to quit working because an obstruction sets off the automatic stop in the photo eyes.

Door Off Track

One common problem with garage doors is when the door comes off track. This can be caused by a track that not exactly straight because the fastening hinges have loosened. The important thing is to stop using the garage door as soon as it comes off track. You can usually reposition the door back on the track by bending the track open with pliers and realigning the track. It’s important to reposition the connecting braces so the track is horizontal — preventing the problem from happening again.

You’ve Hit Something

Let’s admit it — you’re not your brightest at 6 a.m. Backing out of the garage, it’s easy to hit something — the garage wall, the track, or a door that hasn’t fully opened. It happens. If you have homeowner’s insurance, the damage is typically covered by your policy. If the damage was caused by someone else — say a friend or family member who’s not part of the household — it’s likely covered under their car insurance. Talk to a insurance agent for further details on coverage.

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A Brief Guide for Inspecting Garage Door Springs

You’ve probably heard you should never attempt to repair garage door springs yourself — it’s extremely dangerous. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore them either. It’s a good idea to closely inspect your springs every few months for signs of wear and tear. Look for any signs of rust, brittleness, loose or sagging coils. If you notice anything wrong — or even anything you’re not sure of — call a professional for a more detailed examination. Most garage door springs have a lifecycle of 10,000 or so — meaning you can use the door 10,000 times for the life of a spring. But considering a door is used on average 3 times a day, most springs will last about 3 years — so they will need repaired or replaced from time to time. But always call in a professional for this job. It’s too dangerous for DIY.