Automatic openers provide convenience and safety that many Americans rely on every day. It is not uncommon for a family to live in their home for years without ever having to lift their garage door manually. Garage door openers can mask a significant garage door issue - a poorly balanced garage door.
Unbalanced garage doors are all too common in homes today due to our reliance on automatic garage door openers. Your average metal garage door weighs over 150 lbs. and is counterbalanced by a spring that does the heavy lifting. If your garage door spring is starting to get weak or if the wrong springs were installed on your door, your garage door opener will have to lift additional weight which it was not designed for.
Garage door openers today are built very well but they are not designed to lift the full weight of the door. Unbalanced doors will end up prematurely stripping drive gears, sprockets, carriages, and couplers on automatic openers. Drive cables, pulleys, limit switches, capacitors, and even motors can also be affected by an unbalanced garage door.
A properly balanced garage door should stay in place when you lift it half way up. A ten year old child should be able to lift the door. If you have to strain or force your garage door up, then you have an issue that needs to be addressed by a professional.
Why Are There So Many Unbalanced Garage Doors?
Additional Weight Has Been Added to Your Garage Door
If your garage door has been hit by a car or is starting to sag when horizontal due to a crack in the section, you probably have some type of reinforcement installed to straighten the section. Any additional weight added to the garage door will affect the original operation designed by the manufacturer.
When a new garage door is ordered, the counterbalance spring will change in wire size and length based on the options you select. Manufacturers use a computer program that calculates results based on the weight of the options selected. This is the right way to build a garage door. Some companies guess at the spring size, which causes issues down the road for the homeowner.
The garage door pictured above has an 8' fluorescent light mounted to the third section. We sometimes see this because the homeowner wants good light in the garage while the door is in the up position. While it looks like a good idea, we don't recommend doing this because it adds additional weight that could cause big problems down the road.
Insulation Was Added After the Garage Door Was Installed
Many home centers sell DIY insulation kits for garage doors that homeowners can install themselves. The individual pieces don’t weigh very much, but the combined weight of the complete insulation kit can add anywhere from 15 - 20 lbs to your door. This extra weight will have a negative effect on your garage door opener.
Garage Door Springs Are Showing Signs of Age
Garage door springs will get weaker with age just like everything else in life. A qualified garage door technician can make a simple adjustment to the springs to compensate for this loss in pulling power. On occasion, springs will break shortly after being adjusted which means your cycle life has expired. New springs will have to be installed.
Wrong Springs Installed on Garage Door
Garage door springs vary in wire size and length which determines how much weight they will pull. Some garage door technicians will install whatever spring they have on their truck so they don’t have to make a special trip to the parts house. The homeowner never knows the difference because they push the button on the wall to open and close the door. This is a common problem that we come across quite often.
One Garage Door Spring Could Be Broken
If your garage door is equipped with two torsion springs, one spring might be broken. Some garage door openers are strong enough to pull a garage door up and down with only one good torsion spring. The opener is essentially pulling half the weight of the door as it opens and closes. This can be really dangerous if the emergency release rope is pulled on the garage door opener while the door is in the up position. The garage door will fall and slam to the ground.
Garage door spring repair will be needed to fix this situation. We always recommend replacing both springs if your door is equipped with two springs. This will prevent any inconvenience in the near future from another broken spring.
How Do You Fix an Unbalanced Garage Door?
You can start by removing any extra weight that has been added to your garage door. If your garage door is still heavy, call your local garage door service company to adjust or even replace your springs.
A reputable service company can weigh your garage door to determine what size spring is needed. If your door needs to be weighed and a custom spring needs to be cut, there might be an additional charge for this service.
Is Your Garage Door Balanced Properly?
Let us know in the comments section below…