What to Do About an Uneven Garage Door

Is an uneven garage door spoiling your home’s curb appeal? Here’s how to figure out what’s wrong, and whether to try a garage door repair yourself.

If you annoyed about your uneven garage door every time you enter your driveway, you can be sure of one thing: You’re not the only one noticing it.

A garage door can make up one-third or more of the facade of a home and serves as the main entrance and exit to many houses. A garage door that fails to close smoothly and evenly can be a daily irritant that spoils the appearance of your home.

You like this look? This garage door is a Standard+ Classic XL, 9' x 7', American Walnut, Clear windows.

Do you prefer rich natural materials? This garage door is a Standard+ Classic XL, 9' x 7', American Walnut, Clear windows.

If you’re planning to sell your house or even just entertain guests, an uneven garage door can do serious damage to your home’s curb appeal. It is an open invitation to bugs, snakes and rodents to move in. It also suggests to visitors and passersby that more serious structural problems may be developing, such as a sinking foundation or a crack in the garage floor.

A garage door that is not level can also be an early sign of bigger problems with the garage door system that could keep it from working at all in the future. No one wants to be trapped by a garage door that is stuck or forced by a broken door to leave the garage open in wintry or rainy weather.

Fixing an Uneven Garage Door

Garage door repairs can be complicated. Many homeowners hope for an easy fix, by replacing the weatherstripping . The weatherstripping isn’t usually the primary cause of an uneven garage door, however. At best, replacing it is usually a band-aid solution that only allows more fundamental problems to get worse.

You like this look? This garage door is a Standard+ Vog, 9' x 7', Black, window layout: Left-side Harmony.

Do you prefer a contemporary look? This garage door is Standard+ Vog, 9' x 7', Black, window layout: Left-side Harmony.

A lopsided garage door is a signal that it is time to assess the overall condition of the door’s hardware and components. The average homeowner raises and lowers his or her garage door hundreds or even thousands of times a year, causing significant wear and tear on the garage door opener and the entire system.

Checking the Balance on an Uneven Garage Door

Garage doors are heavy, weighing in at 125 pounds for a single-car garage and 200 pounds or more for two-car and larger garages. It is wise to check the balance of your garage door to avoid putting too much strain on the opener and other components. A well-balanced garage door should allow you to raise and lower it easily, with the pressure of one hand.

You also should be able to raise the door halfway, remove your hand and let it rest there. If the door flies open to the top of the roller tracks, the torsion springs, cables or cable drums that help power the door may need adjustment.

If the garage door crashes to the floor, the torsion springs may need to be tightened, or the cables or cable drums may need repair. This kind of imbalance can pose a hazard to children or pets who may try to run beneath the door. It also poses a risk of breaking any windows in the garage door.

Either problem is a signal that your door needs work.

Steps to Repairing an Uneven Garage Door

Understanding how your garage door works can help you figure out which parts need repair, when to take a DIY approach, and when to call a professional. Torsion springs are installed horizontally over the top of the garage door, and typically last about ten years. Some doors have an extension spring, which extend horizontally overhead at roughly a right angle to the torsion springs. These springs typically last about seven years.

Garage doors are also equipped with strong steel cables on each side that extend from a cable drum above each top corner of the door, to a steel bracket at the bottom of the door.

An uneven garage door might be a sign that the cable or torsion springs on one side of the door are bearing more weight than the other. Or the rollers may not be moving squarely along the roller tracks, putting undue stress on the door hinges and electric opener.

You like this look? This garage door is a Princeton P-21, 18’x 7', Chocolate Walnut door and Ice White overlays, 4 vertical lite Panoramic windows.

Is this look a fit for your home? This garage door is a Princeton P-21, 18’ x 7', Chocolate Walnut door with Ice White overlays, 4 vertical lite Panoramic windows.

If you repair the problem immediately, your hardware will last longer and work more smoothly and quietly. If you allow this condition to persist, however, eventually your garage door may refuse to open or close. Your only option at that point may be to buy a new door.

Safety Concerns When a Garage Door Isn’t Level

A garage door is the largest working component of a home. Failure to close evenly can be the first sign that more serious problems are developing.

Allowing a garage door system to deteriorate is not only a functional problem, but a safety hazard, posing risks to children, pets and adults.

Great strides have been made in recent decades in making garage door systems safer. You may recall hearing horror stories of children or pets being trapped, injured or killed when hit by automatic garage doors that closed rapidly. Since 1982, regulators have required garage door openers to reverse if they strike a solid object.

And since 1991, garage doors must be equipped with an electric eye or door edge sensor that will reverse the travel of a closing door if an object is detected in its path.

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

Timely maintenance can help your garage door work well through the years. Image: Pixabay

Still, neglect may allow a weak or rusted spring to decay to the point that it is at risk of breaking. Cables can rust and weaken over time, allowing one side of the door to fall to the floor while the other is still suspended slightly above the ground.

Lubricating the rollers, springs and hinges on your garage door can help it run smoothly and applying a small amount of lubricant to the curve of the roller tracks also can improve its functioning. Scheduling a visit from a garage door professional to clean and maintain your door can keep it working smoothy.

Risks of DIY Garage Door Repairs

Adjusting or replacing the springs on a garage door requires specific tools, including vise grips or locking pliers, a 7/16 socket wrench and winding bars made to fit the winding cone on your torsion springs. Don’t try to substitute a screwdriver or other options for these tools, or you could easily get hurt.

Turning off the power at the fuse box is essential to avoid a power outage or electric shock. And the tension on a torsion spring must be adjusted one step at a time, using the winding bar, to keep it from uncoiling too rapidly.

Replacing a cable can be risky too. Garage door cables are strung tightly, similar to a guitar string. The correct tools are needed to install and stretch a cable to the right level of tension. It is often best to call a professional.

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

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

Calling on a Pro for Garage Door Repair

If you decide the time has come for a new garage door, the experts at your local garage door dealer can help you choose one that will function well for years and suit your home and your design preferences too.

The tools we offer at Charlie’s Overhead Door can enable you to approach shopping for a garage door with the same flexibility and range of choices you would want when designing your kitchen or bath.

Garage door designs have never been more beautiful or diverse. You can choose from among many materials, including galvanized steel, fiberglass, aluminum or wood.

You like this look? This garage door is a Cambridge Traditional (CM), 8’x 7’, Ice White door and overlays, 4 lites Panoramic windows.

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

Seacoast Overhead Door Inc. makes this process simple by offering a quick email quotation. Contact us at 603-755-9430 with any questions about selecting and installing a beautiful new garage door for your home. We offer 3 styles to ensure a good fit for your home and your design preferences.

Finding the Door that is right for you

Visit our Design Centre to upload a photo of your home and “try on” several of our garage door styles. Many gorgeous residential garage doors are waiting for you here, we hope to hear from you soon!

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