Overhead garage door repair - frustration

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by chassis, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. chassis

    chassis Engineer

    Messages:
    339
    Location:
    SE Pennsylvania
    Hello all,

    I have a pretty typical 4 panel sectional overhead garage door. The motor pulls from the center, the spring is a torsion type, there is one track on each side, and 5 rollers on each side.

    Maybe 3 or so months ago the rollers started eating themselves. I didn't notice any changes in the door setup, so I replaced the rollers (standard type). Now again the #1 (not the bottom, the next one up) and the #2 rollers have been destroyed. It looks like the tracks are twisting.

    The puzzling thing is this door is 25-30 years old, and I have replaced rollers over the years (I have lived in this house for 7 years).

    The springs and operator motor have been replaced. The culprits in my mind are the tracks or the hinges themselves. How would I diagnose the situation?

    Any suggestions are welcomed, I am at a loss as to what could be the problem. I feel like if I keep throwing new rollers at it, they will keep getting destroyed. Thanks.
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Location:
    New England
    Do you know how to test the spring adjustment to verify it is correct? Over the years, it's not uncommon to have added a few coats of paint and if you replaced the spring with the same strength, it may not be correct anymore since the door may now weigh more.

    If the motor attachment is not centered properly at both the motor mount between the two tracks or at the door, it will pull sideways and give problems as well.
  3. chassis

    chassis Engineer

    Messages:
    339
    Location:
    SE Pennsylvania
    Thanks Jim. I will check this tomorrow. I suspected something was out of whack (motor or springs) but didn't know how to inspect or diagnose it.

    What is the best way to check the spring tension?
  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    A homeowner should not even consider messing with torsion springs. The lack of appropriate tools, and more important the training and knowledge needed, make these extremely dangerous to work on.
  5. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

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    The first thing to do is pull the release on the door opener so you or someone else can manually push and pull the door open and shut while observing and feeling what it feels like. If the door is not easy to open and close by hand, start looking for the reason why, because it should be.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,268
    Location:
    New England
    If the spring(s) are proper (both in the strength and adjustment), you should be able to raise and lower it with little resistance and, when about 1/2-way, should stay where you leave it, being balanced perfectly, or at least close. As mentioned, if it is heavy, drops easily on its own, or springs up on its own, the spring is not adjusted. A torsion spring can be very dangerous if you don't know what you are doing - it can break an arm, fingers and maybe tear off parts...best left to someone that knows. The spring has a LOT of strength in it, can catastrophically break if you overtighten it and should be left to the pros. There is an exception, if it is one designed for homeowner installation, but most aren't.
  7. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    Location:
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    There's a time to be frugal and DIY things, but there are times when "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" can kill you. Screwing with torsion springs is one of the times you need professional help. A door company repairman knows more about how to diagnose and repair door problems than you even know exist, plus he has the knowledge and tools to quickly and safely fix it.
  8. chassis

    chassis Engineer

    Messages:
    339
    Location:
    SE Pennsylvania
    Thanks all. I am not going to mess with the spring. I want to get a good diagnosis on it, so when I call the repairman I can point to what needs fixed so he doesn't spent more time than needed searching for the problem.

    The first thing is I need to replace a bunch of rollers, because several are shredded. Then I will do the "easy up-down test" with the door disengaged from the lift motor. If I recall, I think the spring tension is insufficient because the door wants to fall down unless you hold it. BTW the door is pretty heavy. It is an insulated door with some stiffening ribs. Plus, it has been painted a few times over the years which adds some weight.
  9. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Houston, TX
    You may want to Replace the Rollers with Steel Rollers that have Ball Bearings.

    If You can not open the door 1 foot or so or it slams shut, Then the springs need adjusted By a Pro with the proper Spring Tool.
  10. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,386
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I wouldn't spend anytime trying to diagnose the problems. Give him the basic problems you are having, go into the house and have a cup of coffee, and let the man do his job. He'll want to check everything himself anyway.
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,268
    Location:
    New England
    The original spring was probably the right one for the door...as they age, get multiple coats of paint and possibly absorb some moisture, the door may require a new, heavier duty spring. Over winding or stretching an inadequate spring is asking for disaster.
  12. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    Yes, do check them out. There are 10 of them, and of the 10, 9 of them advise leaving the repair work to trained professionals. Why is it everyone thinks if they own a Crescent wrench and screwdriver they can fix anything that moves? Many of these DIY end up in the emergency room, cause serious damage to the thing they are trying to fix, and end up spending 10 times the cost of the professional they should have called in the first place.
  13. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

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    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Just thinking of future readers of this thread -

    To follow-up on testing the door by pulling the release handle: If there is any concern that there is a broken spring, make sure to only pull the release handle when the door is CLOSED. I made the mistake of pulling the handle with the door open, and a broken torsion spring. A very heavy wooden door came crashing down; fortunately no one in the way.
  14. Simmons30

    Simmons30 New Member

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  15. benedictwilles

    benedictwilles Benedict Willes

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    Location:
    Australia
    Hey!! I think you should pull the release on the door opener and at least someone can manually push and pull the door open and shut while observing and feeling what it feels like!! this would help you to find out the exact problem!!
  16. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,386
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I revisited this thread not realizing it was an old one that had been revived. As I read the various answers, I began formulating a reply until low and behold, there was my reply...the one I had made when the thread was new. Reading on, I again starting thinking about a response, when again I came upon my own reply. My suggestions haven't change. Don't screw around with garage door springs. It is not unmanly to admit there are somethings you can not DIY safely and/or properly and are best left to the pros. Sure, you can pull the release cord and open the door manually so you can get the car out, but that's far enough.
  17. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Location:
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    quote; I want to get a good diagnosis on it, so when I call the repairman I can point to what needs fixed so he doesn't spent more time than needed searching for the problem.

    IF he is a "good" door repair mechanic, he DOESN'T need you to tell him how to fix it. AND, there may be a completely different problem than you think you have, regardless of YOUR diagnosis. Tell him what is happening and let him do the diagnosis. IF you tell him what you want done and he does ONLY that, you are going to be unhappy if the problem happens again in a short time and might say it is his fault for not fixing the REAL problem. In my business, I seldom, if ever, listen to what the customer says is the SOLUTION/repair and just ask him/her what the PROBLEM is. Then I find the source of the problem and fix it.
  18. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

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    Very True.

    That is Great.
  19. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I wonder if the OP does the same thing when he has a medical problem, or if his car isn't running right? Sadly, lots of folks think they are doing the professional repairman a favor and can save some money if they diagnose the problem. HJ's response is right on the money.
  20. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Houston, TX
    It is nice to have a good helper

    The funny thing about it is the first thing the doctor asks is "what is wrong with you".

    I say if I knew I would not be here.

    Doctors are always practicing.

    HJ is right on the money, and has a great helper.


    Love Helper.jpg


    I bet HJ plays Doctor a lot.
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