How Can I Tell If My Garage Door is Unbalanced?
A typical garage door can weigh up to 400 pounds. Make sure those 400 pounds are always working for you and never against you. As precision instruments, overhead doors will degrade over time. They will give you clear signals that they have lost their balance.
Warning Signs of an Unbalanced Garage Door
Look for some easy to detect signals in your garage door’s appearance and behavior.
Visually inspect your door. If you notice that the door seems to be loose, hanging, or lopsided, it has likely started to come out of alignment. Reference the frame of your garage door. Make sure that the straight lines align with your door’s frame.
Your door may make unusual noises when opening and closing. If anything sounds strange, including grinding, scraping, or impacting, make note of it. If the noise is recurring, it could be a sign of a serious problem.
Sometimes, your door just won’t stay open. If it is rising or falling slowly, it may be in the beginning stages of losing balance. If your door lifts or falls at unusual speeds, you have a real issue on your hands.
Should your overhead door appear to be off balance for any reason, the next step is to perform a balance test. Always think in terms of safety. Take all necessary precautions to avoid injury while testing.
How to Do a Balance Test
Both single-piece and sectional doors can be checked for balance in the same way. Follow these steps:
Make sure that the garage door opener is disconnected from the door.
Consult your owner’s manual. You can find out how to connect and disconnect the opener from the garage door. The process may change depending on what type of door you have. Stay safe and follow directions.
Completely close your garage door.
The first check should be to determine if your garage creates a seal when closed. Monitor the padding at the bottom of your door to see if it has been warped or if the weight that it bears is uneven. Openings in the door’s seal mean that at least part of your door is taking on more weight than it should.
Clean the moving parts of your garage door.
The tracks on which your door’s wheels move can easily be blocked by dirt, dust, and debris. Once cleaned, oil all parts that need lubrication. This includes everything that runs through the track and all moving pieces.
Open the door manually using only one hand.
A single arm should provide more than enough power to lift and lower the door without strenuous effort. If at any point the door becomes difficult to raise or lower, search for foreign objects in the movement path and remove them. When the path is clear, try to lift again. If the door still doesn’t move well, its balance may be at fault.
Raise the door in major increments.
A quarter, half, and three-quarters of the way open are good checkpoints. A perfectly balanced door will stay put when you let go of it. Sometimes, the door may slowly move up or down until it reaches the top or bottom. While it poses no immediate danger, it’s advisable to fix the problem before it gets too big.
What if my door is already out of balance?
An unbalanced garage door can upset the accuracy of the entire unit. It contains small parts that work with precision measurements and timing. Continued use of an unbalanced garage door will damage the high tension springs that enable your door’s movement. The door will also lose support from the springs, causing it to rise and fall at dangerous speeds.
If you have an automatic garage door opener, you could also be damaging the chain lifts that allow the door to move. If the lifts are pulling extra weight or working against tension for which they aren’t designed, it can wear on the chain. The motor will also have a hard time dealing with stress. Electronics that work with the machinery in the automatic opener will also be working outside of their limits. Electric parts that overwork pose serious problems for electrical systems as well as the machinery they help.