How to Fix an Uneven Garage Door

Bothered by a crooked garage door? Learn how to handle a garage door repair and when to call a professional to help.

An uneven garage door can be an eyesore, bothering homeowners every time they enter or leave the house.

A crooked door creates a gap that can attract all kinds of nuisances, from bugs and rodents to puddles, snow or ice.

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It’s enough to send a DIY homeowner running for the toolbox. Anyone accustomed to handling home repairs on their own might eye that annoying gap and think, how hard can it be to fix?

Professionals in garage door installation and repair have a word of advice: Don’t do it without first understanding the cause of the problem and learning about the hazards of a DIY approach.

A Quick Fix for an Uneven Garage Door

It is important to fix an uneven garage door quickly, for several reasons. The garage door is a major part of the facade of most houses. An uneven garage door is like a neon sign announcing that your house needs work. It suggests you might have structural problems, such as a foundation that is settling or sinking, or a garage floor that is uneven.

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Second, a garage door that isn’t level can cause bigger, more costly problems if you don’t repair it. A door that isn’t balanced can increase wear and tear on your garage-door opener and eventually, cause it to stop working.

The uneven stress on the door components, including hinges, the torsion springs. Cables and cable drums can cause these metal parts to wear out more quickly than they should. A crooked door also can cause a door’s rollers to fall off the track. Eventually, you may have to buy a new garage door much sooner than planned.

First Steps to Leveling Your Garage Door

Figuring out the cause of that garage door gap is the right place to start.

Many people immediately blame the weatherstripping, but that isn’t usually the problem. If it is, you have an easy fix. Weatherstripping typically comes in a roll. Remove the worn weatherstripping and use a utility knife to cut the right-length replacement strip from the roll. Then attach it to the door using galvanized nails or screws.

Next, check the balance of the garage door. Disconnect it from the electric opener and turn off the power before you begin working. Then, open and close it several times to see whether it is moving smoothly on the track. If it’s off-track or binding as it moves, you should call a professional to fix those components.

If the door runs smoothly, let it rise to the halfway point and see whether it continues to go up, stays in place or falls. If the door is balanced, it will stop at that midway point. If the door falls, the springs may be worn and weakened, losing the tension required to control the door.

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DIY Repairs for An Uneven Garage Door

Learning how the components of a garage door work together is a good first step toward a safe fix for an uneven garage door.

Repairing a garage door is a dangerous job. The average single-car garage door weighs about 125 pounds. The typical door for a two-car garage weighs in at about 200 pounds.

Most people know children and pets can be injured if a garage door closes on them as they run in or out of the garage. Less well known are the stories of the wannabe repairmen who have been hurt trying to fix the torsion springs or cables that power automatic garage doors.

Most garage doors have torsion springs mounted horizontally over the top of the door. Some garage doors also have an extension spring stretched horizontally overhead. These springs are the source of the force that pulls your heavy garage door upward. The springs are under heavy tension, and the cables that raise and lower the door are taut.

In many cases, the problem is with one of the cables attached to each side of the door. Both cables must be stretched tight, to roughly the same tension as a guitar string, for the door to rest evenly on the concrete floor. If the cable on one side of the door becomes worn, rusted or frayed, it may cause that side of the door to fall farther than the other side, creating the gap at floor level.

A retro building with a pristine and maintained garage door. Image: Pixabay

Regular maintenance is important to keep garage doors working well. Image: Pixabay

Reasons Your Garage Door is Misaligned

If the cause of your sagging door is an old worn-out cable, trying to repair it yourself can be dangerous. You may need to call a professional to replace the cable.

These steel components weaken with use and can stop working or break. Mishandling either of these components can cause a spring or cable to snap back with destructive force, breaking a hand or flying in the face of anyone trying to fix them.

Another possibility is a problem with one of the cable drums at the top of each corner of the garage door. The cable drums serve as anchors for each cable. One end of each cable is secured in a notch in the cable drum, holding it securely as the garage door is raised and lowered. The other end of the cable is attached to the bottom of the door. The cable rolls up on the drum when the garage door is raised and unrolls when the garage door is lowered.

If a cable drum slips, the attached cable will loosen and allow that side of the door to drop farther, completely closing the gap between the door and the concrete. If the cable drum on the other side of the door remains stable, that cable will stop and hold the door slightly above the concrete, creating the troublesome gap.

The door won’t pull up evenly in this case either, putting strain on the door, hinges and your electric opener. Also, the rollers on the door may not sit smoothly in the steel track. The system is likely to be noisy and wear out before the normal 10-year life of a garage-door system.

This battered and old garage door could use some maintenance. Image: Pixabay

If you wait too long to maintain your garage doors, it may be too late! Image: Pixabay

What You Need to Know to Fix Your Garage Door

If you decide to work on your garage door, always wear safety glasses and disconnect your garage-door opener.

Be wary of adjusting the springs or cables on an older garage door. If a spring gets too old, it can fail and explode violently. People get seriously injured trying to adjust an old spring that breaks and explodes in their faces. The winding cones that anchor each end of the torsion springs can fail too, sometimes breaking apart with surprising force.

Having the right tools is essential. You will need vise grips or locking pliers, a 7/16 socket wrench and winding bars to safely adjust the tension on the torsion spring. Don’t try to substitute a screwdriver or other options for these tools, or you could easily get hurt. It is often best to call a professional.

When to Replace a Crooked Garage Door

It is important to clean and maintain your garage door regularly to prevent a wide variety of problems A close examination may reveal other fundamental problems, such as warping or rust, deteriorating hardware or other signs of decay. If this is the case, consider shopping for a new garage door.

Doormasters makes this process simple by offering a quick email quotation. Contact us at 403-347-8670 with any questions about selecting and installing a new garage door for your home. We offer 3 styles to ensure a good fit for your home and your design preferences.

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Do you prefer a clean, bright design? This garage door Is a Cambridge CM, 8’ x 7’, Ice White door and overlays, 4 lites Panoramic windows.

Finding the door that is right for you

Our Design Centre will enable you to “try on” different garage doors. Upload a photo of your own home, to see how the facade will look. Many gorgeous residential garage doors are waiting for you here, we hope to hear from you soon!

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