Door Won’t Open
Problem: A manually operated
garage door will not open when the latch is turned and you
attempt to lift it up.
Background: Garage doors, whether operated manually
or with electric openers, are the heaviest moving
equipment around the home. They depend on 1 of 2 types of
springs to operate. Some mechanisms use ex tension springs
that stretch like rubber bands to slow the closing of the
door, and then contract to help lift the weight of the
door when it is opened. Other doors use torsion springs
that wind up like the springs in window shades to handle
the weight of the door. Caution: If springs break, be
careful when closing the door; the door’s weight will
cause it to fall quickly and heavily.
A garage door may stick for many reasons, ranging from the key not
working properly in the lock or a faulty latch mechanism,
to more serious problems such as broken cables, bent or
loose tracks, and jammed rollers.
What to do: If the outside handle won’t turn, it
may be because the key or the latch are worn out (see
Doesn't Work In Door). If the handle turns, but the
door won’t lift, enter through the service door if there
is one, and check the mechanism on the inside of the door.
The problem may be a track bent inward which will not
allow the horizontal bar (turned by the outside handle) to
clear its slot. The solution, in this case, is to care
fully bend the track back with a tool such as a pipe
wrench. If that doesn’t work, or if the problem is more
serious, it is best to call a garage door technician.
If the door opens, but takes more than a little effort to lift, the
springs may need adjustment. However, at tempting to
adjust garage door springs can be dangerous and should be
done by a professional. Adjustments on torsion springs can
be especially dangerous because special tools are required
to do the job. The brackets that hold springs to the
garage frame are also under tension; attempting to make
adjustments to these brackets also can be hazardous.
Special advice: Do not attempt to solve difficult
door-lifting problems by simply installing an electric
opener. Call a technician to balance the door, even if you
plan to install an opener. (Openers required to lift
heavy, unbalanced weights may develop mechanical
problems.) Regular, light maintenance can extend your
garage door’s life. Check the cables for shiny spots, and
be sure that strands at connections are not partially
broken. Pulley wheels for cables should roll, not skid.
Also check the tracks to see that they are not bent or loose where
they attach to the garage, and that the wheels roll
freely. See that all bolts and screws are tight, and that
all cotter pins are in place. Lubricate pulley bearings,
wheel bearings, and door hiriges with lightweight house
hold oil or a spray silicone.
Helpful hint: To check
the balance of a garage door, start with door closed. (If
your door is operated by electronic opener, disconnect its
re lease mechanism so you can open it by hand.) Lift the
door halfway up. It should lift smoothly, with little
resistance, and it should stay open when it is 3 to 4 feet
above the floor. If it doesn’t, it is out of balance and
should be adjusted by a professional.