Having a garage door that opens slowly or takes too long to fully open can be frustrating and inconvenient. A typical residential garage door should take about 12 to 15 seconds to open or close. If your door is taking significantly longer, there are several steps you can take as a homeowner to get your door operating properly again.
This guide will cover some of the common reasons a garage door opens slowly, maintenance tips to help improve the speed, and advanced troubleshooting if DIY efforts don’t solve the problem. With some basic maintenance and troubleshooting, you may be able to get your garage door opening and closing at normal speed again.
Understanding the Issue
Before diving into solutions, it’s helpful to understand what can cause a garage door to open and close the door slowly in the first place. Here are some of the most common culprits:
Possible Causes of a Slow-Opening Garage Door
- Door speed setting: Most automatic garage door openers have a speed setting that controls how quickly the door opens and closes. If this is set too low, it will make the door open slower than normal.
- Lack of lubrication: Garage doors have many moving parts including rollers, hinges, and springs. Lack of lubrication in these areas increases friction, making the door harder to open.
- Garage door opener issues: Problems with the motor, chain, or sensors of the automatic opener can prevent the door from opening at full speed.
- Tracking issues: If the door is not moving smoothly along its tracks, it will be difficult for the opener to open it properly. Misaligned tracks or hinges can cause tracking problems.
- Broken springs: Garage door springs provide lift assistance when opening the door. Weak or broken springs reduces the counterbalance force, requiring the opener to work harder to lift the door.
- Damaged rollers/hinges: Sticky or frozen rollers or hinges will also force the opener to work harder to open the door.
Performing Basic Maintenance
Before assuming there is a major issue with your garage door, it’s a good idea to try some basic DIY door maintenance steps first. Proper lubrication and adjusting the door speed setting are easy tasks a homeowner can do themselves.
Checking the Speed Setting on the Garage Door Opener
The speed setting dictates how quickly the opener will move the door along the track when opening and closing. Most residential openers have a speed preset at the factory, but home users can adjust it as needed.
Here is how to check and adjust the speed setting on a typical garage door opener:
- Locate the access panel on the opener and remove it with a screwdriver. This will expose the internal components.
- Find the speed adjustment screw, dial, or switches. Consult your owner’s manual if you’re unsure of where these are located on your specific model.
- Set the speed to the lowest setting to start. The lowest settings range from 6-7 inches per second on most openers.
- Run the door through a few open and close cycles to observe the speed.
- If needed, gradually increase the speed setting until the door is operating at an acceptable rate. Most residential garage doors should take 12-15 seconds to completely open or close.
Keep in mind that opener manufacturers configure the units differently. Always consult your owner’s manual when making adjustments to the opener.
Lubricating the Garage Door
Another basic task that can potentially get your door opening faster again is lubricating all the moving components. This reduces friction so the door can move more easily along its tracks.
Here’s how to properly lubricate a garage door:
- Use a light oil, penetrating oil, or silicone spray lubricant, not grease which can collect dirt and debris.
- Lubricate the metal rollers and any bearings inside them.
- Apply lubricant to all hinges along the sides. Move the door manually while oiling the hinges to work the lubricant into the joints.
- Lubricate the torsion spring system using the specially designed oil port if the door has one. Avoid touching springs directly.
- Lubricate the chain or screw drive along the automatic operator.
- Lubricate the locking mechanism bolts and latches.
Take safety precautions when lubricating including using a ladder or step stool to reach high areas rather than standing on the door itself. Wearing goggles and gloves can also help protect you.
Lubricating about once per year helps keep the various door components moving freely and extends system life. Avoid over-lubricating the tracks themselves as this can collect debris over time.
Advanced Troubleshooting Guide
If adjusting the speed setting and lubricating the door does not solve the problem, more advanced troubleshooting and repairs may be needed. Here are some steps to dig deeper into diagnosing the issue:
Checking the Garage Door Opener
Problems with the actual opener assembly can result in a door that opens slowly. Some areas to inspect include:
- Power: Does the opener have sufficient horsepower for the door? Larger or heavier doors may require 3/4 to 1 horsepower. Insufficient power can lead to slow operation.
- Chain/Drive: Damage or binding in the chain or drive mechanism will put extra load on the opener as it tries to open the door. Lubricate these areas and inspect for any damage.
- Sensors: Safety sensors that detect obstructions need to be properly aligned. Misaligned sensors cause the opener to pause or slow during operation.
- Limits: Improperly set limit switches that stop the travel at top and bottom positions can cause binding or obstruction during operation.
Consult your owner’s manual or call a qualified garage door technician for help diagnosing and fixing opener issues. Replacement parts may be needed depending on the problem.
Inspecting the Garage Door for Issues
In some cases, the door itself may be the culprit for slow operation, not the opener. Some areas to inspect on the door include:
- Rollers and hinges: Sticking rollers or frozen hinges will slow the door down. These should spin freely when lubricated. Replace damaged rollers or hinges as needed.
- Spring tension: Weak or broken springs will require the opener to work harder to lift the door. Have a professional evaluate spring tension and condition.
- Door reinforcement: Wood doors can become warped over time. Additional reinforcement braces may help strengthen the panel and reduce binding issues.
- Track alignment: Misaligned horizontal or vertical tracks will cause the rollers to bind. Tracks need to be straight, parallel and plumb for smooth operation.
- Weather seals: Check for damaged weather seals, which can cause drag along the tracks. Replace worn or loose seals.
Addressing issues with the door panel itself helps reduce the load and friction the opener has to overcome to raise the door.
Calling for Professional Help
In many cases, a slow garage door can be fixed with some simple DIY steps. However, if you’ve tried adjusting the opener, lubricating and inspecting the door to no avail, it may be time to call a professional to diagnose the problem.
A qualified garage door repair technician has the expertise and tools to accurately diagnose the issue and make all necessary repairs. This can actually save homeowners money and prevent them from making the problem worse through trial-and-error repairs.
A professional can:
- Properly evaluate all components of the door system including springs, rollers, panels, tracks and opener.
- Troubleshoot and fix opener problems, including motor, drive mechanism, and sensor issues.
- Identify specific problems like broken springs and cables.
- Correct alignment and tracking along the tracks.
- Replace severely worn or damaged parts.
- Perform preventative maintenance to maximize longevity of the system.
While a garage door may seem like a simple machine, today’s doors have many intricate components and electronics to operate safely and efficiently. Calling a reputable garage door service company to handle slow door issues provides peace of mind the job will be done right.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I make my garage door open faster?
There are a few steps you can try to make your garage door open faster if it seems to be moving slower than normal:
- Check the speed setting – Most garage door openers have a speed setting that controls how fast the door opens. Refer to your owner’s manual to find the speed adjustment and turn it up slightly if the current speed seems too slow.
- Lubricate the moving parts – Lubricating all the moving components like rollers and hinges reduces friction so the door can move more easily. Use a garage door lubricant or light oil on these parts.
- Inspect the door and opener – Make sure the door is balanced and tracks are aligned. Check the opener chain, motor and sensors for potential issues. Have a professional make repairs as needed.
- Replace old springs – Weak or broken springs prevent the door from opening smoothly. A professional can assess if new springs are needed to restore proper lifting power.
- Upgrade the opener – If your opener is more than 10 years old, its mechanics may be worn. Replacing with a new motor often provides faster open and close speeds.
How do I reset my garage door?
If your garage door opener is malfunctioning or being unresponsive, resetting it often gets it working properly again. Here are the steps:
- Locate the reset button on the motor unit inside your garage – refer to your owner’s manual for its exact location.
- Disconnect power to the opener by unplugging it or switching the circuit breaker OFF.
- Press and hold the reset button for 5-10 seconds.
- Reconnect power to the opener.
- Retry normal operation with the remote or wall switch. This should reset its programming and electronics.
If problems persist, check the sensor alignment. You may need to call a technician for further repairs. But resetting the motor is usually the first step for an unresponsive garage door opener.
How do you fix a stuck garage door?
If your garage door seems stuck and won’t open or close, try these tips:
- Check for obstructions near the floor level like boxes or tools in the way. Remove anything blocking the door’s path.
- Examine the door tracks for damage or debris that could cause sticking. Use a vacuum to clear out dirt.
- Test the door balance. Disconnect the opener and see if the door manually lifts without much effort. If not, the springs likely need adjustment.
- Lubricate the rollers and hinges. they may just be stuck from lack of lubrication.
- Check the opener chain, motor and sensors for issues if those components seem related to the sticking.
- Adjust the limit settings if the door is binding at the open or closed position.
- Call a professional if the door sticks while closing and the safety sensors don’t reverse the motion. Adjustments to the door springs or cables may be needed in that case. Sticking issues varying by case but those steps can resolve most situations.
Having a slow garage door can quickly go from a mild annoyance to a major inconvenience. Understanding common causes for the problem gives homeowners some initial troubleshooting tips. Many times lack of lubrication or improper speed settings are primary culprits that can be easily fixed by the homeowner themselves. But issues like broken springs, damaged rollers and malfunctioning garage door openers may require professional repair service to get the door opening and closing properly again.
Regular preventative maintenance is key to preventing slow operation problems in the first place. Lubrication, inspection of parts and adjusting opener settings once per year helps keep the garage door system operating smoothly. But when a door becomes extremely slow, contacting a qualified garage door technician ensures the problem will be accurately diagnosed and safely repaired. Investing in professional care helps restore normal operation quickly with long-lasting fixes.