What Causes a Garage Door to Close Unevenly? How to Fix?

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It can be frustrating when your garage door closes unevenly, either sagging to one side or leaving a gap on one side. An uneven garage door not only looks bad, but it can also cause operational issues. Fortunately, there are some common causes for this problem that can often be addressed with a few repairs or adjustments.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the most common reasons your garage door is closing unevenly and provide actionable steps you can take to get it closing smoothly once again.

Common Causes of An Uneven Closing Garage Door

There are a few key components of your garage door system that, if faulty or out of alignment, can cause the door to close unevenly. Here are some of the most common culprits:

Issue with Garage Door Cable

The cables that run along either side of a garage door are critical components. They bear much of the door’s weight as it opens and closes. If one cable is damaged or breaks, it can throw the whole system out of balance. This imbalance prevents the door from closing evenly. Replacing a broken cable is often the fix for an uneven door.

Unbalanced Garage Door Opener

The electric opener motor and its associated hardware mount to the ceiling above the garage door. If any part of the opener assembly comes loose or shifts to one side, it can pull the door unevenly when opening and closing it. Adjusting an unbalanced motor assembly is usually straightforward.

Malfunctioning Torsion Spring

Large torsion springs mounted above the garage door provide the counterbalance that allows the heavy door to open and close smoothly. If one spring loses tension or breaks entirely, the door will sag on that side. Replacing broken springs or adjusting spring tension will help center the door.

Worn-out or Misaligned Rollers

The rollers on either side of a garage door ride along vertical metal tracks as the door opens and closes. Over time, these rollers can wear out or fall out of alignment. This allows the door to sag or not glide smoothly. Replacing worn rollers or realigning the door tracks is often needed to fix an uneven garage door.

Now that you know some of the most common causes, let’s look at the steps needed to identify and fix an unevenly closing garage door.

Steps to Fix an Uneven Garage Door

Fixing an uneven garage door will involve a little troubleshooting to pinpoint the problem, followed by the necessary repairs or adjustments. Here is the basic process:

Photo of an unevenly closing garage door from the front where one side is slightly raised, indicating an uneven closure. The door should be of a standard design, preferably white, and the unevenness should be noticeable but not extreme.

Troubleshooting and Identifying the Problem

The first step is observing the door in action to determine what is making it close unevenly. Here are some things to look for:

  • Which side of the door is sagging or sticking? This will indicate which components could be faulty.
  • Are the torsion springs symmetrical and moving together? If not, one may be broken.
  • Do the cables appear intact on both sides? Check for frayed or broken cables.
  • Are the rollers making contact with the tracks evenly on both sides? Misaligned rollers will be obvious.

Once you’ve identified the likely cause, you can move forward with the repairs. The following sections walk through the steps for the most common fixes.

Replacing the Garage Door Cable

If inspection revealed a broken cable, you’ll need to replace it. Make sure the door is fully closed before starting work. Then:

  • Disconnect the opener by pulling the manual release cord. The door should stay closed when disengaged.
  • Clamp locking pliers onto the broken cable below the winding assembly. This secures the cable while changing it.
  • Detach the crimped terminals at both ends of the cable. They are held by screws or bolts.
  • Thread the new cable through the openings and reattach the terminals at both ends.
  • Remove the locking pliers and cycle the door manually to test for smooth operation.

Adjusting the Garage Door Opener

If you suspect the opener is unbalanced, you’ll need to loosen components and readjust. Start by:

  • Disengaging the opener by pulling the manual release cord.
  • Examining the mounting brackets on the ceiling that hold the motor unit. Look for loose lag bolts or any cracks/damage.
  • Tightening any loose bolts securely. Or replace damaged brackets if needed.
  • Check the rail the opener travels on for level and secure mounting. Adjust if needed.
  • Engage the opener and run the door through a full cycle. The motor assembly should glide smoothly and evenly without sagging to one side. Make any additional adjustments needed.

Repairing or Replacing the Torsion Spring

Torsion springs should be checked by a professional technician for replacement. However, you can attempt to adjust spring tension on your own:

  • Disengage the opener and carefully clamp vise grips onto the torsion shaft to lock it in place.
  • Examine the coils of each spring as the door rests in the closed position. If coils appear to be sticking unevenly, the spring is likely broken.
  • For springs that appear intact, carefully mark the shafts on either side at the precise point the coils stop rotating. This marks the door’s resting point.
  • For the spring on the sagging side, tighten the set screws on the winding cone by 1/4 turn. Then re-engage the opener to test door travel. Repeat until even closure is achieved.

Replacing Worn-out or Misaligned Rollers

With the door fully closed, check the following for each roller on both sides:

  • Spin the roller with your hand to ensure it rotates freely without wobbling. If not, remove the roller and replace it with a new one.
  • Make sure the roller spins in the track without excessive side-to-side movement. If not, the track may need realignment.
  • Examine the track brackets holding the roller axles. Tighten any loose screws to prevent roller misalignment.

With any necessary roller replacements or track adjustments made, run the door through a full cycle to confirm smooth and even operation throughout.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my garage door shifted to one side?

There are a few possible reasons why your garage door may be shifting or sagging to one side:

  • Broken cable: If one of the cables running along the side of the garage door breaks, it can cause that side of the door to droop or shift downwards from the imbalance. Replacing the broken cable is needed to get the door back to closing evenly.
  • Worn/damaged hinge: The hinges connecting the door panels can become bent or damaged over time. This allows the door to shift to the side with the faulty hinge. Adjusting or replacing worn hinges will help realign the door.
  • Improperly balanced: The torsion springs running above the door provide counterbalance as it opens and closes. If the springs are improperly balanced, the door can lean heavily to one side. Professional spring adjustment can re-balance the system.
  • Track alignment: If the vertical tracks on either side of the door are out of alignment with each other, it can cause the rollers to bind and pull the door off center. Aligning the tracks properly will square everything up.

How do you balance a garage door?

To properly balance a garage door so it closes evenly without sagging, a few key areas need to be adjusted:

  • Spring tension: The torsion springs provide the counterbalance force needed to lift the weight of the door. If tension is uneven, the door will be heavy on one side. Adjusting spring tension or replacing damaged springs will help center the door.
  • Roller/track alignment: Misaligned vertical tracks or worn rollers can allow the door to veer off course. Check the track mounting points and roller brackets to make sure everything is square and tight.
  • Cable tension: Cables need equal tension on both sides. Adjust cables by tightening or loosening the threaded terminals at either end until centered. Broken cables must be replaced.
  • Opener rail position: The rail that the opener travels on while opening the door needs to be centered on the door. If not, the opener can pull the door unevenly to one side.

Why does my garage door close unevenly?

There are a few common reasons a garage door may not close smoothly and evenly:

  • Broken torsion spring: The springs mounted horizontally above the door provide balanced lift assistance. If one spring is broken, the door will sag on that side. Replacing the springs is needed.
  • Worn or damaged rollers: Over time the rollers on the sides of the door can wear out or fall out of their track. This allows the door to drop on that side. Inspect rollers and replace any faulty ones.
  • Bent track: If one of the vertical metal tracks gets bent, it can cause the rollers to bind and stick. Bent tracks need to be replaced or professionally straightened.
  • Loose/broken cable: The cables on either side of the door attach to the bottom corners and provide support. A broken cable will throw the system out of balance. Replace cables immediately.
  • Unbalanced opener: If the electric opener motor shifts out of alignment, it can pull the door unevenly when operating it. Adjust the opener mount and rail to properly center it.

Conclusion

It can definitely be annoying dealing with a garage door that just won’t close right. But in most cases, identifying the underlying problem and making a few repairs is all it takes to get things working properly again.

The most common causes – broken cables, unbalanced openers, faulty springs, and worn rollers – can all be fixed with a little mechanical knowledge and DIY spirit. Just be sure to exercise caution and disengage the opener before working near the heavy door components.

If the needed repairs seem beyond your skill level, don’t risk injury or damage by taking on a finicky garage door yourself. Consulting a professional garage door technician is your best bet to get things realigned and closing smoothly once again. But whether DIY or pro, we hope this overview gives you a better understanding of what causes uneven garage door closure and how to fix it.

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