The Dangers of DIY Garage Door Repair


Some home repairs obviously require a professional. Even the best backyard mechanics take their vehicle to a shop for repairs such as a spring replacement or a transmission rebuild. A jack-of-all-trades needs to hire a trained plumber to diagnose his low-water pressure problem. Certain jobs require specific tools and expertise to complete without injury or causing damage.

Everyone has open access to information on the Internet, which makes some home maintenance tasks easy to learn. Do you want to replace a faucet? The Internet houses plenty of helpful videos that can walk you through the systematic process. Do you need the oil changed in your lawnmower? It’s a simple task if you don’t mind the mess.
You need to be realistic about what is within your skillset and tool inventory.

Over the 70 years we’ve been installing, repairing and maintaining
garage doors, we’ve experienced many situations where our service
technicians had to resolve unexpected problems on the spot. Here’s why garage door repairs are a professional-only job:

• A malfunctioning garage door opener is unpredictable and has the
power to cause serious damage if it isn’t operating properly.

• The weight of a garage door makes it difficult to move especially
if you have an insulated multi-layer construction.

• Various mechanisms move up and down and maintain a tight seal, working together as part of a whole system that will fail in some way if not properly reset.

• If you’re not a licensed business in the industry, it’s often difficult obtain the parts needed for replacement.

• If you hire a professional, you can expect efficient work even if unexpected issues arise.

There are a few maintenance tasks you can do yourself, which we’ll eventually discuss, but first we’ll describe a few common garage door repairs and examine why they are dangerous for the untrained homeowner.

Industry Training is essential


A garage door replacement is one of the least common DIY jobs attempted. The sheer weight of the door and the complex system of springs, cables, sensors and automation make it an obvious task for a professional. You can find a garage door installation how-to guide online and maybe even a friend or two who may consider the challenge, but it’s not a wise idea.

You may have the mechanical aptitude for a single-layer manual-lift garage door, which involves a few basic parts. It requires a good deal of physical strength to complete the job, but it’s achievable if you have the technical ability. If you consider the time you’ll spend installing a replacement garage door, you’ll realize the cost of a professional installer is an advantage.

Industry training is essential to properly installing a modern garage door without any complications. Specialized tools are also required to align the systems and avoid injury. Also, manufacturers won’t honor your warranty if the garage door wasn’t professionally installed.


The springs on your garage door are a major component to the opening and closing

movement. The springs unwind and rewind to lift the door up and lower it down. Lighter doors have extension springs situated on either side of the horizontal track.

Heavier doors have torsion springs situated above the door opening. Here’s how they work:

• The door raises when the springs unwind, and the stored tension turns the shaft. The cable drums are attached to the shaft, wind the cables around the grooves, and pull the door up.

• When the door is closing, the cables unwind from the drums and the springs return to the full tension of tightly coiled steel. Garage door manufacturers usually guarantee their springs for three to seven years and provide minimum opening-closing cycles of 10,000 to 15,000. Many factors can prematurely wear out door springs:

• Too much weight placed on the door. This could include the addition of glass (after manufacturing), additional insulation, many coats of paint or additional hardware.

• Exposure to highly humid environments, such as the air in coastal regions that causes corrosive cracking.

Inadequate garage door maintenance, such as oiling the wrong places or avoiding repairs to other components.

Even though some manufacturers provide instruction for replacement of springs, it’s a tricky undertaking, especially if you don’t have any mechanical knowledge. If your door is fitted with extension springs, there is a bit less danger involved with replacing. If your door uses the overhead torsion spring system, it’s a more dangerous situation without the training, specialized tools and confidence required for this difficult garage door repair.

When unqualified do-it-yourselfers attempt to replace their garage door springs, possible problems include:

• The bottom bracket breaks off when removing or adjusting what’s connected to the spring system cables

• The removal of the old spring results in its unexpected release, propelling it toward people and property

• The force of releasing the spring forces the person off the chair or ladder used to reach the spring

• If you have any doubt about your abilities to maneuver this repair properly, save yourself the time and possible accidents and hire a professional.

Fixing a broken garage door


You should enjoy many years of dependable use from a garage door opener, but with any type of mechanism, it is likely to break down at some point. It may be a minor fix, such as a bad sensor or a faulty wall switch, or a more costly issue with the circuit board or the main drive gear.

If you’re inclined to troubleshoot, you can locate a few resources online to steer you in the right direction of the problem. For instance, your only problem may be that you need a new remote or wall switch. Buying a new remote is a
simple solution, but other more serious issues could affect the malfunction.

If a professional repair technician is examining your problem, you can expect a quick and proper diagnosis. Transmitters, tracks, cables and springs make your garage door go up and down. It can be difficult to identify what elements are malfunctioning. It may appear that the problem is with the door opener, but the real issue could be that the tracks are affecting its operation.

With our many decades of experience, we’ve seen every issue related to garage door repair. We train our service technicians to notice the unexpected, such as minor track obstructions or minimal buildup on sensors.


Punctures, dents and gouges can happen from time to time. Even if one panel is affected, the whole garage door appears worn and damaged. Every manufacturer has a unique process for removing and replacing panels, but you can typically replace one panel instead of the whole door.

• Many problems can pop up from DIY garage door repair, including the following:

• The wrong size or panel type is bought, which usually happens with repair on older doors that are difficult to identify manufacturer and model

• The door can pop open unexpectedly if not properly disconnected

• The improper removal of springs can cause injury to people or damage to property

• Other panels break when trying to gain access to the broken panel

• Injury can occur because manual opening and closing of the door during the repair is strenuous

• Unless you feel especially skilled in the workings of a garage door, it’s wise to call a service company to complete the job without further damage.


If your door comes off its tracks, it’s inoperable. If you notice it as soon as it comes off, you may be able to hoist the rollers back on the track. Your ability to do this will depend on your strength and understanding of the situation, so it could be a simple DIY garage door repair in some situations.

You’ll likely need the help of a professional to assess the situation and to determine why the roller left the track. If you don’t fix the initial cause of the separation, it may happen again in the near future. If the door detaches and further damage occurs, a service technician will examine every component to be sure it is safe and offers full functionality.

Replacing or repairing door rollers


The rollers on the door keep the door balanced and moving smoothly as the garage door opens. If your door comes off the track, it could have damaged rollers. A number of other problems can occur with the rollers, which is why you need a professional inspection. It will determine exactly where the malfunction started and what elements of the garage door system are affected.


Strong dependable cables are essential for opening and closing a garage door with an automatic opener. Through a pulley system, the cables wind up around the cable drums and pull the door up or they slowly unwind to allow the door to slide down. These cables can wear out from years of normal use, or they can break from undue stress.

The method to replace the cables differs from door to door, and the style of the cable pulley system will be different depending on the manufacturer. Replacing cables can be tricky and time consuming, which makes this a repair task for professionals. These high-tension cables carry enough force to seriously injure or kill someone if they snap.


We’ve discussed a number of dangers related to repair situations. It’s equally important to remember to complete garage door maintenance tasks, as well as practice proper garage door safety. Here are a few tips:

• Regularly close the door with a roll of paper towels under it to test its functionality. The door should reverse immediately when it reaches the roll. If the door closes on the paper towel roll, you should stop using it and call a professional.

• Keep the manufacturer’s instructions and your emergency release mechanism easily accessible. Make sure other members of your household can find this information and can use the emergency release if necessary.

• Take time to educate children on safety around the garage door. They should know to stay away from the door while it is moving.

• Install activation controls at around six feet above the floor to prevent children from touching the buttons. Also, be sure your remote is out of reach of children.

• Remember that keypad switches allow for an added layer of safety to prevent children from operating the garage door.


Our technicians conduct regular inspections and preventative maintenance for garage doors, along with repairs as needed. There are, however, a few maintenance tasks you can handle yourself:

• Observe the garage door operation. You should regularly look at and listen to your garage door. If anything looks or sounds amiss, call a professional.

• Check the hardware holding the garage door system to the building. The constant movement and vibration can cause bolts to loosen, so a quick tightening of all the hardware will keep your door system from malfunctioning due to an unbalanced door or unsecure brackets.

• Test your door for balance. Disconnect the garage door opener and manually lift the door halfway up. If the door doesn’t stay put, have the springs adjusted or replaced.

• Inspect the garage door weather-stripping as part of your annual winterizing. Replace brittle, cracked or torn weather-stripping. Fit it into the grooves, placing the wide angle of the flange on the inside of the door.

• Lubricate the garage door opener’s chain or screw. Use white lithium grease and an appropriate spray lubricant to coat the overhead springs.

If you’re a good do-it-yourselfer, you’re confident in your abilities to complete jobs safely and properly, but you also know when the situation calls for a trained professional. Our service technicians are equipped to deal with any maintenance and repair issues, so your door operates safely as soon as possible.

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