Your motorized garage door may seem like a fairly simple device. After all, there isn't much to it -- a motor, a few springs and pulleys, and the door itself. However, this door can be dangerous (or even deadly) if disassembled by someone who hasn't received proper training. If you've ever been tempted to save money by performing your own garage door repairs, you may want to reconsider. Read on to learn more about the three types of garage door repairs you should never attempt yourself.
Broken or tangled cable
One of the most frequent problems reported with garage doors deal with the cables -- the thin wires that hang on either side of the door and help the motor guide it up and lower it down. Over time and with frequent use these cables can become worn, stretched, and brittle. If your cable begins to stretch too far, it is prone to becoming tangled in the motor itself or one of the garage door handles. If your cable becomes brittle, it may break mid-use, which can cause one side of your door to come crashing down.
Although it may be tempting to just tuck a stretched or broken garage door cable back into place, doing so can cause permanent structural harm to your garage door or even the walls of your garage itself. You shouldn't ignore a cable that is beginning to look worn or brittle (you may even be able to see the wires that are twisted together to form the cable start to fray). Consult a garage door repair company to replace your cables and ensure that your door is in good working condition before you resume use.
One of the reasons replacing a broken or tangled cable can be so dangerous is that it involves releasing the tension from the springs that help hoist and lower the garage door. This is a process that requires a professional. Because these springs are made of thick, heavy metal and are under thousands of pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure, an improperly-released spring could kick back and hit you hard, causing severe injury or even death.
Broken or worn spring
Along with the cables that help guide your door, the springs that help lift it are also prone to overuse injuries and damage. In some humid climates (particularly those on the coasts) your springs may become rusted or corroded with exposure to the moist, salty air. Unlike a cable failure, which at worst can cause your garage door to crash down suddenly, a spring failure can cause major damage to your vehicle and (if you have the bad luck of being nearby when it gives way) your person.
It's important to perform a visual inspection of your garage door components, including your springs, at least once per year. Check carefully for any signs of rust, cracking, or corrosion that could indicate that your springs are beginning to weaken.
Although replacing your springs is a fairly inexpensive repair, for the reasons mentioned above, it is not something the average homeowner has the tools or know-how (or health and life insurance) to undertake.
Another common problem that may crop up with your garage door after a long period of use is the dying motor. Like all small motors, your garage door motor has a limited lifespan -- and if you use your door frequently, it may eventually give up the ghost.
Although your garage door motor doesn't have high-pressure springs or cables attached, it does hook into your electrical system -- and to disassemble the motor, remove it, and install another one can sometimes necessitate the temporary tension release of your door's springs. As with the other garage door repairs, replacing your motor is best left to a professional repair person.