The Best DIY Method To Get Your Garage Door Back On Track

An off-track door is misaligned, and this causes all kinds of issues as you try to move it up and down: parts rub together and wear prematurely, and there are gaps at the sides and bottom that compromise safety or let the weather in. If you're trying to sell your home, a wonky garage door might be hurting your home's resale value. All this to say, it's imperative you get it working again — and quite smart. Thankfully, fixing this problem won't involve knocking your finances off course. If the repair doesn't require you to touch the tension springs (and most, if not all, garage door track issues don't) and you have a few essential tools already on hand or can get them easily, you can safely DIY the job.

If you've hit the door with your car or something heavy and it's no longer opening smoothly, chances are the rollers have popped out of their tracks, or the tracks themselves have re-dinged or bent — of course, it could be both issues. Occasionally, the everyday vibrations in the tracks dislodge the rollers over time. If your tracks are old, the channels might be filled with so much grime that there's no longer space for the roller. In other cases, the rollers themselves, or the brackets that hold them in place on the door, are broken; there's not enough lubrication; or the coils — they create tension on the door that helps it go up and down — are loose.

Repairing garage door track problems

Gather a step ladder, screwdriver, wooden mallet, wood block, rag, a can of WD-40, and a pair of locking pliers. Disable the opener to move the door manually. Troubleshoot your garage door issue first. You might need to open and close the door to spot the off-track rollers, securing the door with locking pliers once you figure it out. If the tracks are dirty, de-gunk them using a rag and WD-40.

If a roller has come off the tracks, twist the track and pop the roller back into its channel. Loosening the screws on the wall brackets helps a stiff track. When a roller refuses to move back into its channel, unscrew the tracks near the bend and slip it through the gap. Smooth any dings by holding a wooden block behind the dent and hammering it flat with a rubber mallet.

To replace a worn roller, unscrew the bracket that attached the roller to the garage door (remove at least two screws), slip the old roller out of its casing, and replace it with the new roller. Depending on the door brand and model, they come in various sizes, so make sure you source the right one for your door. Sometimes, the cables that pull the door up and down are loose. Locate the cable and unhook it from the roller using a screwdriver. Then, simply rewind the cable around the drum, following the grooves in it, and reattach the cable to the roller.

Safety first when fixing off-track garage doors

Complicated jobs with multiple issues — top and bottom rollers out of their tracks, bent tracks, and loose cables all in one garage door — could take up to 45 minutes to diagnose and repair, so be patient. Wear heavy-duty gloves and eye protection, especially when working with the coils. Testing the garage door after you've finished fixing the tracks is an essential step in the repair process, but never open or close the door if you're still up high on a stepladder or your face is close to the tracks. Step well away from the door and use the remote or wall-mounted switch. And don't forget to remove those locking pliers from the tracks!

Anything outside these simple fixes — such as replacing the entire track system — may require professional help. After all, a door that won't close properly won't do much to protect your garage from break-ins. The peace of mind security brings is worth the expense of professional services. Plus, DIYing solutions to track problems require operating the garage door manually, and non-automated garage doors are heavy. If you don't think you can manage the door yourself to the point where you risk it falling on you, talk to a garage door repair company. And, if a new door ends up being the solution, as advised by the pros, don't trash your old door: a brilliant way to repurpose old garage doors in your garden is to turn them into raised beds.