4 reasons why your garage door can come off its tracks

Modern garage doors can improve the kerb appeal of your property and add an extra level of security to your home. But even if you invest in a good quality up-and-over garage door, things can occasionally go wrong with the door opening mechanism.

Modern up-and-over garage doors either have canopy or retractable gearing. With canopy gearing, the door panel runs vertically on tracks on the side frame, with a spring assembly on the top of the frame instead of tracks running along the ceiling into the garage. When the door is open, a third of it sticks out from the building, forming a canopy.

Garage doors with retractable gearing are operated electrically. The door opens on horizontal tracks that pull the door back into the garage. When the door is open, it sits beneath the garage ceiling, fully hidden from view.

Both of these roller/track assembly opening mechanisms are cleverly engineered for reliability and ease of use. But if your garage door has come off its tracks, there are typically 4 main reasons why this has happened.

  1. Problem with the metal tracks

Whether the garage door installation is at fault, or a problem has developed over time, take a close look at the metal tracks that run up the sides of the door or across the top.

A double garage door can weigh in the region of 100-185kg. To support the weight of the door, the metal tracks should be made from 14-gauge steel reinforced with L-shaped angle irons, so that the tracks cannot bend inwards. When inferior steel is used that’s unsuitable to support the garage door, even a slight sudden impact to the door can cause the tracks to bend.

Next, check the alignment of the tracks. The vertical rails should be parallel and properly aligned with the horizontal tracks. However, if this isn’t the case, perhaps because a bolt on the bracket that holds the tracks in place has become loose, the bracket will start to move every time the door opens and closes.

Eventually, the misalignment will cause the rollers to come off the tracks, with potentially serious results.

  1. Damage to the rollers

Your garage door has small wheels or rollers attached that sit in the metal tracks. When the door opens, the rollers move it along to the desired open/closed position. Rollers are made from nylon, steel and nylon-covered steel and should have a minimum of 10 ball bearings. Short stem rollers should be used for single garage doors while long stem rollers (with double hinges) are suggested for double doors.

Problems can arise is one or several of the rollers become damaged or break, possibly as a result of low quality materials, extreme wear, or both. This will put extra stress onto the remaining rollers in the hardware system, who may also break, and the entire door may come off its tracks.

What’s more, the extra weight on the tracks due to malfunctioning rollers can make the horizontal rails bend, with results as described above. The heavier your up-and-over garage door, the more serious the repercussions are likely to be.

  1. A broken lift cable

Lift cables are situated on either side of the garage door. Each cable winds around grooves in a drum, the drum being attached to a steel shaft that holds a torsion spring. The bigger and heavier the door, the thicker the cable should be – and regular inspections should ascertain that the cable is in good condition.

It is rare for a lift cable to break but it can happen, especially if you have an older or poorly maintained garage door. Also, if the door has become misaligned, the cable may not line up correctly, unravel and ultimately break.

When the lift cable breaks, all the weight of the garage door transfers to one side, which is too heavy to hold the door so will remain closed. The result is a half closed door, with the other side open and up in the air and the rollers off the track system.

  1. Accidental impact

If you or someone else has accidentally driven into your garage door, rest assured that this is much more common than you may think. What’s more, the car doesn’t have to be going fast to cause damage. Typically, it’s the lower sections of the door that suffer most from an impact accident, but the driver may also have caused some of the rollers to come off their tracks so that the whole door system may be affected.

While the cost of the repair may be a job for your car insurance and home insurance, carrying out the actual repair is definitely not a DIY job. Call a garage door specialist, preferably the company that installed the garage door in the first place, for a professional repair to put your garage door back on its tracks.

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