Garage Door Repair
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Parts of the garage door

The purpose of this section is to familiarize visitors with the names of the various parts of your garage door. If you are having a problem with your door and you see something amiss it would be helpful when you call for a service appointment if you can describe what you are seeing there using proper terminology.

Springs

We have already talked a good bit about springs. Just to reiterate, springs are a part of the garage door, not a part of the garage door opener.

Cables

With the exception of one-piece doors, all garage doors have cables. The cables are connected at their lowest points to the bottom corners of the door and at their highest points to the door's spring system. There are four types of cables commonly found on residential garage doors. They are:

  1. Torsion cables, found on garage doors with torsion springs.
  2. Extension cables, found on garage doors with extension springs.
  3. Safety cables, found on garage doors with extension springs. This cable is installed through the center of the extension spring. The purpose of this cable is to contain the spring when the spring breaks so that it doesn't bounce around the garage. Some older garage doors don't have safety cables at all!
  4. Torquemaster cables, similar to torsion cables, found on Wayne Dalton garage doors with the Torquemaster spring system.

These cables are under extreme tension when the garage door is closed, progressively less as the garage door is raised and should always be treated with caution. Don't ever attempt to service or repair a cable unless you know exactly what you are doing! Garage door cables are made of steel wire and can be very dangerous.

Track

The track is what the rollers travel in. There is a right side and a left side. Each side of the track consists of two parts:

  1. The vertical track section. This is the part of the track which is just to the right and left of the door when the door is closed.
  2. Horizontal track with radius. This is the part of the track which is just to the right and left of the door when the door is open. The radius is the curved portion of the horizontal track sections. The horizontal portion of the track holds virtually the full weight of the garage door when the door is open.

Track Hangar

The track hangar is the bracing which holds up the end of the horizontal track section at the extreme end of the track farthest from the garage door opening. The track hangar bolts to the ceiling and drops down to also bolt to the track.

Pulleys

Pulleys are found only on extension spring doors, normally single wide doors. There are four of them on each door. Each extension spring has one on it's end and each side of the track has one mounted on it just above the radius. The extension cables ride in grooves on the pulleys. Pulleys have little ball bearings inside them and do wear out over time. Worn pulleys cause the garage door to run poorly, especially when closing. They can even fall apart with extreme wear. Caution: the cables which ride on the pulleys are under extreme tension!

Drums

Drums are found only on garage doors equipped with torsion springs. All double-wide garage doors and some single-wide garage doors have torsion springs. The drums are located on the shaft, just above the top edge of the door, one at each end of the shaft. Each drum looks like a large spool. One torsion cable is connected to the bottom corner of the garage door at it's lower end and to the drum at it's upper end. When the garage door is closed only about 8 inches or so of the torsion cable is on the drum. When the door goes up the torsion cables wind up on the drums in a very organized way. When the garage door is open fully virtually all of the length of the torsion cable is wrapped around the drum. When a garage door comes off track it's usually caused by one of the cables simply coming off the drum and wrapping around the shaft in an unorganized fashion.

Rollers

Rollers are the little wheels that the garage door uses to roll in the tracks. Rollers have two parts:

  1. The wheel portion of the roller.
  2. The stem portion of the roller.

Rollers can and do wear out over time. The wheel portion is made of steel or plastic materials. The stem is always made of steel. The rollers may or may not have ball-bearings. Heavier garage doors probably will have rollers with ball-bearings. Lighter garage doors will probably have rollers which do not have ball-bearings. If the wheel portion of your rollers are made of steel then there are ball-bearings inside. If the wheel portion of your rollers are made of plastic materials they may or may not have ball-bearings inside. If your rollers have ball-bearings it will be beneficial to periodically lubricate them with a penetrating oil. Try to get the oil inside where the ball-bearings are. If your rollers have no bearings there is usually no need to lubricate the wheel portion of the roller. This type of roller can actually be harmed or damaged by lubricants. Garage doors which are made up of four sections will have ten rollers. Five section garage doors will have twelve rollers.

Hinges

Hinges are used to connect garage door sections to each other and like any hinge have a flex point. The flex point allows the sections to rotate with respect to each other so that they can travel through the track radius without binding. Each hinge at the garage door's right and left end is also charged with holding a roller stem. Hinges located at other spots on the garage door only connect sections together.

There are many different designs of hinges and they come in different sizes as well. Some makes and models of garage doors come with hinges that are specific to only that make and model of door. Some garage door manufacturers seem to revel in making the hinges for their doors unlike any others. Only hinges produced by that company will work on that door. A few examples are:

Each garage door has several different sizes of hinge depending on which part of the garage door they are mounted on. The hinges connecting the bottom section to the first intermediate section will be #1 hinges. The hinges connecting the first intermediate section to the second intermediate section will be #2 hinges. The Hinges between the second intermediate section and the top section will be #3 hinges. If your garage door has five sections it will also have #4 hinges. All of the hinges not at the ends of the garage door will be #1 hinges. Hinges are usually stamped with a number, 1,2,3 or 4.

Hinges can and do wear over time and I have seen many that were actually broken. Visually inspect your hinges for breaks, cracks and bends. Lubricate hinges at the flex points with penetrating oil. Lubricate the roller stem holder tubes with the same penetrating oil, trying to get some lubricant between the roller stem and the stem holder tube. The stems of the rollers need to be able to slide easily in the hinge's roller stem holder tube for proper garage door operation.

As with all applications of lubricants to garage door parts, be careful to apply the least lubricant possible to accomplish the task. Drips and runs on the inside surfaces of the door make the door a greasy beast. Lubricants dripping from the garage door onto the paint of your cars will ruin the clear coat. After applying any lubricant try to wipe off any excess to avoid these problems.

Top Fixtures

Top fixtures are not hinges since they do not have a flex point. They are installed on the top section of the garage door near the top right and top left corners of the top section. They have a roller stem holder tube and are adjustable. Lubricate these between the roller stem and the roller stem holder tube the same way you would if it were a hinge.

Bottom Fixtures

Like top fixtures, bottom fixtures are not hinges because they do not have a flex point. They are installed on the bottom section of the garage door at the bottom right and bottom left corners of that section. They hold a roller stem in a similar way to a hinge and can be lubricated the same way as a hinge.

Bottom fixtures perform another vital function. The cables are attached to them and because of this fact they are very dangerous.

The most common bottom fixture problems I see is a track-cut bottom fixture. This problem is the result of years of scraping or rubbing of the side of the bottom fixture against the inside edge of the track. When this happens it almost instantly produces a door off track situation.

Sections

Garage door sections, sometimes referred to as panels, comprise the main body of your garage door. Most of the garage doors I see are made up of four sections. These are usually seven foot tall doors. Eight foot tall doors will often be made with five sections. The names of these sections from bottom to top are:

  1. Bottom section
  2. Lock section
  3. Intermediate section
  4. Second intermediate section (applies to five section doors)
  5. Top section

The bottom section will have at its bottom edge what is called the bottom rubber. On wooden garage doors the bottom rubber is relatively flat and is nailed to the bottom edge of the section with galvanized nails. Many hardware stores will carry this type of bottom rubber and so replacement of it could be a DIY project. If you have an 18 foot wide wooden garage door you may have difficulty finding the replacement bottom rubber at the hardware store. I have only found it there in 16 foot lengths. My professional garage door parts suppliers offer it in long lengths. So if your garage door is 8, 9 or 16 feet wide you should have no problem finding replacement bottom rubber at your local hardware store.

Bottom rubber for metal doors is generally bulb shaped with it's edges contained in grooves or slots in the bottom rubber retainer. Metal door bottom rubber/retainer designs are often specific to manufacturer and model. Replacements will often only be offered by the original manufacturer.

The lock section is the section where any door lock mechanism will be mounted. If the garage door has a mechanical operator, the lock mechanism may be disabled. Most installation manuals for garage door openers recommend disabling the lock mechanism to help prevent damage to the door. A garage door opener will not be able to open a locked door and damage to the garage door may occur. If you are having problems with your garage door opener and need to operate the door by hand until the problem is solved, you may need to enable the manual lock. If your manual lock is disabled you may have some investigative work to do. Inspect the mechanism, trying to discover what disable technique was employed. Once you find it the solution to enable it should be obvious. You may need tools to undo the disable technique. Once undone you should be able to manually lock the door. This will be important for the security of your home until your garage door opener problems are resolved. Once the opener problems are sorted out I recommend that you disable the lock. Many times I have seen garage doors damaged due to an opener trying to open the door while physically locked! Don't let this happen to you!

Intermediate sections are the simplest sections. If the garage door has windows, often they are on this section.

Top sections may also have windows. The opener's J-bar is bolted to the top section, usually in the middle of the section widthwise and fairly near the top edge of the section. When the opener opens or closes the garage door, all of it's forces are put into the top section through the J-bar. The rest of the sections are just along for the ride. The top section is easily damaged by running the opener when the door is physically locked or with a broken spring. If your garage door has a broken spring you should not try to open or close the door using the opener. Usually the opener will not be able to open the door if a spring is broken. For many people, the first sign of a broken spring is an opener that opens the garage door a few inches and then it stops.

Prices For Garage Door Repair Parts

Prices for individual garage door parts vary. A replacement hinge may cost only a few dollars while a replacement section may cost hundreds of dollars. Labor is a separate issue. Parts for old garage doors may no longer be available. Some basic parts like rollers, hinges and cables may be available at your local hardware store for reasonable prices. Replace parts of your garage door at your own risk! In my opinion, garage door parts should be replaced by a professional, experienced garage door repair technician.

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