Having a garage door that closes slowly can be inconvenient and even hazardous. A closing time of 12-15 seconds is considered normal, but if your door is taking significantly longer it likely has an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. In this blog post, we will delve into the most common problems that cause garage doors to close slowly and provide actionable solutions to get your door operating properly again.
Overview of Potential Hazards and Inconveniences
A slow closing garage door comes with a few potential downsides:
- Safety hazard – Doors that close too slowly can obstruct the opening for an extended period, increasing the chance of someone or something getting caught underneath. This poses a physical danger to people and pets.
- Security risk – The longer the door takes to close, the bigger the window for an intruder to slip inside undetected. Most homeowners prefer their garage door to close quickly behind them.
- Temperature control issues – An open garage door allows outdoor air to flow in, which can increase heating and cooling costs. Slow closing doors spend more time exposing the garage to external temperatures.
- Opportunity for damage – If it’s windy outside, a slowly closing door is more likely to be blown around and damaged. The door itself or stationary objects around the door could be impacted.
- Noise pollution – The straining motor of the garage door opener working hard to close a sticky door can create unpleasant noise. This disturbs neighbors and those inside the home.
- Shortens opener lifespan – An opener working against a poorly operating door will wear out faster from the excess force required. Replacing openers is expensive.
By identifying and addressing the issue causing slow closure, these potential problems can be avoided.
Common Causes of Slow Garage Door Closing
There are a number of issues that can cause a garage door to close slower than it should. The most common causes include:
Lack of Proper Lubrication
Garage doors have many metal parts like rollers, hinges, and springs that rotate and slide against each other during operation. Without proper lubrication, the metal-on-metal friction will lead to binding and drag that slows the door. This added resistance makes the opener work much harder to close the door.
Inspect all moving components and apply garage door lubricant to any areas that appear dry. Pay particular attention to the rollers and hinges. Lubricating twice per year is recommended for preventing slow closure issues. Any squeaks or grinding noises are a sign that lubrication is overdue.
Worn or Damaged Rollers
The small wheels that run along the door’s tracks are called rollers. With frequent use, these rollers gradually wear down and develop flat spots. A damaged roller will scrape and drag along the track rather than roll smoothly. This halts the door’s momentum and makes the opener struggle to close it.
Check rollers for any visible damage or oblong shapes. Spin each roller to feel for rough rotation. Replace any deteriorated rollers immediately before they cause further damage to the track. Installing high quality nylon or steel replacement rollers can help the door close smoothly for years.
Misaligned or Damaged Tracks
If the metal tracks that guide the rollers become bent or misaligned, it can cause significant resistance and friction for the door to overcome. The rollers will bind in the warped areas of track rather than moving freely. Tracks can become knocked out of alignment by impact or natural settling of the building.
Inspect tracks for dents, kinks, and any sections that are no longer straight and flat. Track alignment needs to be precise for proper roller movement. Contact a professional garage door technician to have misaligned tracks straightened or replaced.
Tension Issues with Springs and Cables
Garage door springs produce the counterbalance tension needed to offset the door’s weight. This allows the door to open and close smoothly. If the springs have the wrong tension, the door will seem heavy and resist normal operation. Weak or broken springs will cause very slow closure. The lifting cables can also lose proper tension and cause similar issues.
Inspect the springs and cables closely. Signs of a tension problem include door drifting down when partially open, jerky movement, binding, and taking longer to open or close. The springs and hardware are under extreme tension and adjustments should only be made by a trained professional to avoid injury. Complete spring or cable replacement may be needed.
Steel hinges connect each door section and allow articulation as the door moves. While robust, hinges do wear out over time, especially if not regularly lubricated. Worn-out hinges that are loose or sagging will prevent the door from closing smoothly and with proper alignment.
Check all hinges along the width and height of the door. Look for hinges that appear deformed or have lost their flush fit. Any that are loose or moving erratically need to be tightened or replaced. This will realign the door sections and remove drag points.
If an automatic opener is used to operate the door, problems with the opener itself can also cause slow closing. Low power, mechanical issues, and problems with the wall-mounted button or remote can prevent the opener from closing the door properly. Opener motors gradually lose torque over years of use as well.
Check that the opener has power and is responsive to the button or remote. Most openers have a force or speed adjustment that may need increased. Listen and watch for any straining or abnormal movements during operation. Have a garage door technician inspect the opener components and make repairs as needed. Installing a brand new opener is an option if the current model is outdated or underpowered.
Issues with Closing Force Adjustment
Automatic garage door openers have a force adjustment that controls the amount of power applied during closing and opening. If this closer force setting is too low, the motor will have trouble overcoming friction to close the door. Turning the force adjustment to a higher setting can resolve this.
Locate the adjustable force dial on the opener and incrementally increase the force setting until the door consistently closes without issue. Be careful not to set the force too high, as this can damage the door and create a safety hazard. Finding the ideal force level may take some trial and error. Consult the opener manufacturer’s recommendations.
Weather Stripping in Poor Condition
Weather seals are installed around garage door perimeters to block out wind, rain, dust and other outdoor elements. If the weather stripping has become brittle, torn or detached, it allows air to enter the garage and create added resistance against the door closing.
Inspect weather seals on the top, bottom and sides of the door. Check for cracking, gaps or missing sections. Compressed seals that no longer spring back may also need replacement. Install new weather stripping designed for garage doors to restore a tight perimeter seal when closed.
Accumulation of Debris and Dirt
Over time, debris like dust and dirt can collect in garage door tracks and moving components. This buildup leads to gritty friction as the rollers move through the tracks. Any debris that gets lodged inside hinges or springs can also impede normal operation and make doors close slower.
Use a vacuum and rag to thoroughly clean garage door tracks, removing all built up debris inside. Blow out or dislodge any dirt that has collected inside hinges, rollers and springs. Following a regular maintenance routine will prevent major buildups in the future. If dirt and sand are getting blown into the garage frequently, consider sealing any cracks or gaps that allow infiltration.
Electrical Problems with Sensors or Wiring
Automatic garage door openers rely on electric sensors that detect objects obstructing the door. If something is blocking the photo eye beam or motion sensor during closure, the door will reverse open. Any electrical issues with the sensors or opener wiring can also cause unintended reversal or stoppage that prevents proper closing.
Check for loose sensor brackets, malfunctioning sensors, cobwebs blocking the sensors, and any damaged wires. Address sensors that appear askew or have blinking lights indicating signal problems. Repair or replace damaged wires. Thoroughly cleaning sensors and realigning brackets often resolves closure issues. Have an opener technician assess electrical components for other problems.
Troubleshooting a Slow Garage Door Closing
If your garage door is closing very slowly, use the following troubleshooting tips to identify the cause:
- Listen closely to the operating door to locate any grinding or binding noises. These indicate problem areas needing lubrication or repair.
- Check that the door is moving evenly on both sides. If one side lags behind, there may be alignment or hardware issues.
- Inspect all rollers, hinges, springs and cables closely to spot any damaged or worn components needing replacement.
- Test the door mid-closure to see if it drifts down freely. If it doesn’t continue closing smoothly, there are likely tension problems with the springs or cables.
- Make sure opener settings like force, limit, and photo eye alignment are properly adjusted and not impeding closure.
- Clean the full lengths of track to remove any debris buildup or obstructions that add rolling resistance.
- Apply garage door lubricant to all moving metal parts, including spring coils and bearings.
- Repair or replace any visibly damaged or missing weather seals around the perimeter.
- Check all electrical connections and sensors related to the opener system.
- Adjust the opener’s force setting incrementally higher until the door closes at the desired speed.
- If issues persist after cleaning, lubrication, and adjustments, professional repair or replacement of worn parts may be needed.
Following regular maintenance procedures can minimize the chances of doors closing abnormally slow in the future. But with frequent use over time, garage door components do wear out and malfunction. If a slow-closing door cannot be remedied with DIY efforts, contact a reputable garage door company to perform needed repairs.
Preventing Slow Closure Issues
Here are some tips to keep your garage door closing properly for years to come:
- Lubricate the rollers, bearings and hinges – Twice yearly lubrication is the easiest way to combat friction and maintain smooth operation.
- Inspect hardware regularly – Look for signs of wear yearly and replace rollers, cables and hinges as needed.
- Clean tracks seasonally – Remove debris before it builds up and clogs the track system.
- Check weather seals and replace if damaged – This prevents wind resistance and outside elements from entering the garage.
- Test door balance yearly – Adjust spring tension and cable tautness to offset door weight.
- Have opener serviced if needed – Update old openers and keep tuned up to ensure proper closing force.
- Listen for noises and binding – These are the warning signs of underlying issues that require correction.
- Watch for alignment problems – If one side of the door lags, realign the tracks.
- Adjust opener force properly – Setting too low makes closure difficult, too high risks equipment damage.
When to Call a Garage Door Professional
While minor issues can be addressed with regular DIY maintenance, there are some scenarios where a trained garage door technician should be called for assistance:
- If the door binds or sticks frequently even after lubrication. This indicates worn rollers, hinges, cables or springs.
- If the tracks are dented, misaligned or damaged. Tracks require precision alignment the average DIYer cannot achieve.
- For any major adjustments to spring tension, cable tautness or opener force. Improper adjustments can cause equipment damage and injury.
- If the door drifts or falls when partially open. The spring system has likely failed and the door is unsafe.
- When electrical issues affect the opener remote, wiring or sensors. Electrical problems should be handled by professionals.
- If attempts to remedy problems have been unsuccessful. A technician can assess and replace worn parts.
- For professional installation of new garage door openers or hardware components.
- To lubricate and maintain the opener motor, chain and additional parts.
- For an overall maintenance inspection and tune-up every 1-2 years.
Reputable garage door companies have experienced technicians that can quickly diagnose and resolve any issues leading to abnormally slow closing. Investing in professional preventative maintenance greatly reduces the chances of dealing with slow doors and more serious problems in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my garage door slow when cold?
The cold temperature causes the metal parts of the garage door to contract. This can lead to the rollers and hinges binding slightly rather than moving freely. It also causes lubricant to thicken, increasing friction. The opener may also lose power efficiency in very cold weather. This leads to slower operation. Lubricating the door and warming the garage a bit before use can help.
How do I lubricate my garage door?
- Use a garage door lubricant, not just any household oil which can attract dirt. Spray liquid or wipeable lubricant works best.
- Lubricate all hinges, rollers, pulleys and any springs/cables with visible moving parts.
- The inside of the track itself does not need lubrication, just the hardware components.
- Lift the door halfway to access and lubricate the full length of hardware.
- Re-lubricate twice per year as routine maintenance. More often in dusty/sandy environments.
How do I keep my garage door running smoothly?
- Lubricate the moving metal parts like hinges and rollers a few times per year using a garage door lubricant.
- Inspect hardware components for signs of wear regularly and replace as needed. Rollers are most prone to wear.
- Make sure tracks are aligned properly and free of debris, dust, rocks, etc.
- Check cables, springs and opener settings to ensure proper tension and force.
- Clean weather stripping and replace if worn to prevent air resistance.
- Address any grinding, squeaking noises right away before it worsens.
- Have a professional garage door tune-up to check balance, alignment and condition annually.
Having a garage door that closes too slowly can be a daily nuisance. It also creates potential hazards and risks that should be minimized. With regular inspection and maintenance, most closure issues can be prevented or caught early before causing operational failure. Pay attention for early signs of friction and resistance like grinding noises.
Lubrication and cleaning are simple first steps for combating slow closure. For problems related to worn parts, damage, or opener issues a professional garage door technician should be contacted to make repairs and get your door closing smoothly in 12-15 seconds again. Following the recommendations in this post will help ensure your garage door continues to open and close reliably for many years.