What Can Cause a Garage Door To Open Slowly Or Get Completely Stuck?

Garage doors and garage door opening systems don't typically require much maintenance, but they may require a little extra work if one or both of your doors is struggling to open or close. Symptoms of this problem are doors having difficulty opening and closing, getting stuck completely, and being noisy and squeaky. If the problem isn't immediately obvious you'll have to diagnose it yourself, but the good news is that you can also fix many problems yourself.

Garage Door vs Garage Door Opener

If you use an electric garage door opener, the very first step is to see whether the problem is with the door itself or with some mechanism in the door opener. To do this, make sure the door is closed completely, then pull the release cord hanging from the top. This usually is a cord with a red handle. The door will come loose from the door opener trolley, and you can open it freely by hand.

Try to open the door manually. If it works fine, your problem is likely with the door opener. If you still have trouble, you've got a problem somewhere on your door, your hinges, or tracks.

Diagnosing Door Opener Problems

How you look at your garage door opener will depend on what model you have, but most work generally the same way. A trolley, which moves on top of the bar sitting perpendicular to your garage door, pulls the door up and down whenever activated. The trolley's track doesn't often need to be lubricated, but if it's getting stuck, lubrication doesn't hurt. If you try this, remember two things:

  1. Use a non-grease lubricant, as grease attracts dust and can make the problem worse.
  2. Spray inside the top of the track where the trolley moves. Spraying anywhere else won't cause a problem, but it also won't accomplish anything.

You can also investigate the track and watch the chain move to see if it's catching on anything or hitting any obstacles. Something could have fallen into the track, or there could be something blocking the chain. If you feel up to it, take the cover off the motor and see if everything looks fine in there as well. You may need to call someone to inspect it if you can't find the problem.

Diagnosing Garage Door Problems

If your door is meeting resistance when you try to open it, or even getting stuck completely, you should look at your tracks first. The door should slide easily up and down, but only if the tracks are aligned. If they have been moved or bent, the door wheels will grind against the track and cause it to get stuck.

You should also listen to your door to help gauge the problem. If it's squeaking very loudly, it needs lubrication. For general maintenance, lubricate everything that moves except the tracks. You can, however, lubricate the wheel bearings. Make sure you get all the hinges on your door as well, and make sure the squeakiest areas get the most lubricant. If you've used grease-based lubricant in the past, there could be a buildup of dust, so you may also want to do a little cleaning first.

Next, look at your pulleys and springs. Springs won't usually make a door get stuck, but if their strength is failing, it will make the door much harder to move. When checking the pulleys, look for any damage or obstructions to the cables. If the cables are tangled, frayed, or not aligned onto the pulley properly, the door won't be able to open all the way. If you think you may have a pulley or spring problem, call a professional like Kim's Garage; these parts are under high tension and are dangerous to work with.

Sensor Problems

Many doors will get stuck on the way up, but if your door won't close completely, then you might want to make sure your garage door opener safety sensors are properly aligned and that there are no obstructions. If the sensors detect any obstructions, the door will stop on its way down, then reverse and open back up again.


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