Common Garage Door Issues: Warped or Misaligned Tracks

Posted on September 14, 2016 by

The metal tracks that your garage door runs on must remain properly aligned for the door to open and close with ease. Misaligned or warped tracks often result in unwanted noise as the garage door goes up and down. Such tracks can stress the motor or other components, eventually increasing overall repair costs. Therefore, timely repairs are best.

When warped or misaligned tracks keep a garage door from closing securely, it is particularly important to address the problem right away. A certain percentage of residential burglaries occur because thieves gain easy access through a garage door that is left open or is no longer secure.

Reasons for Misalignment

Garage door tracks become misaligned over time or because of accidents:

Gradual wear and tear – Although most garage door systems are designed to provide years of carefree service, it is not uncommon for a track to get out of alignment after a garage door opens and closes literally thousands of times.

Acute events – Sometimes, a track is knocked out of alignment when a vehicle or other large object strikes the garage door. Keep in mind that, although there is often visible evidence of a misaligned track, other damage may have occurred. Therefore, a professional inspection is advisable when something like this happens.

Evidence of Misalignment or Warping

Track problems often produce a rubbing noise as the garage door reaches a certain point on the tracks. Over time, the sound usually becomes more and more noticeable. As the problem worsens, the door may begin to slow down as the rollers reach the problem spot.

When a track goes out of alignment, it is common to see a gap develop between the rollers and the rail. When the problem is more severe, the roller may come right out of the track. It is also common for a misaligned track to bend or warp over time. Therefore, prompt attention to misalignment may increase the chance that repair, rather than replacement, will be a sufficient response.

Basic Realignment

When a garage door is sticking or not operating smoothly, it is important to properly diagnose the problem. If it indeed is a matter of track misalignment, it is typically necessary to loosen the screws that hold the track in place, and to use a rubber mallet to move the track back into a proper position. The use of a level ensures that the realignment is successful.

The screws are then re-tightened, and the garage door is tested for smooth operation. It is important to realize that the misalignment initially occurred for a reason. If it is due to screws loosening over time, that problem must be addressed to ensure that the track will remain in alignment going forward. Sometimes, the movement of screws gradually enlarges the screw holes. In fact, this may be the reason the track went out of alignment in the first place.

Professional Realignment

Garage door professionals have the appropriate equipment required to successfully and safely realign the garage door. In some cases, prolonged misalignment leads to one or more bends in the tracks. When this occurs, it is often most appropriate to replace the track.

Self-diagnosis of track misalignment can be tricky. Garage doors fail to move up and down smoothly for a variety of other reasons as well:

  • Transmitter problems
  • Worn rollers
  • Broken or bent track support
  • Photo eye out of alignment
  • Broken springs
  • Broken torsion spring cable

Other Track Issues

Proper diagnosis is also important because another track issue is sometimes the actual culprit:

Sticky tracks – In some cases it is not track misalignment but sticky tracks that are the culprit. Then garage door lubricant used on tracks and rollers may gradually pick up enough grit to cause sticking. Or, the lubricant may dry out dry out enough to get sticky. When either of these problems arise, it is necessary to properly clean the tracks and rollers and to re-lubricate them.

Dents and bumps – Sometimes, it is a dent or a bump on a track which causes the problem. For example, it is possible for a heavier object to strike the track and dent it. In some cases, it is possible to use a woodblock along with a mallet or hammer to eliminate the dent or bump. In other situations, it is necessary to replace the track to ensure smooth long-term operation.

Cold temperatures – Winter cold snaps can also cause a garage door to stick when it would otherwise operate well. Aging lubricant that still does the job in warm weather may not perform well when temperatures drop.

DIY vs Professional Service

It is often tempting for the do-it-yourself homeowner to use a hammer, pliers, pry bar or other rudimentary tool to try straighten the track. However, there are some problems with this. First, tracks are typically fabricated from heavy-gauge steel designed for long-term service. When this heavy-duty metal does warp or bend, it is often difficult to repair. Second, heavy garage doors, springs and tension cables create safety concerns. A person who does not regularly work on heavy garage door systems is potentially at risk. Third, it is often difficult for a DIY individual to determine whether the track should be repaired or replaced. If a track warps or bends after a long period of successful service, it is often advisable to replace it with a brand-new, perfectly straight track which will properly perform for many years to come.

NTX has proudly served the Dallas metro area since 2002. When your garage door requires service, please contact us for a free estimate. We look forward to earning your business!