How to troubleshoot garage door speed issues

In contrast to commercial overhead doors, residential garage doors aren’t designed to open and close rapidly. But this doesn’t mean they should operate at a snail’s pace. Generally, they should move at a speed of about seven inches per second. This equates to roughly 12 to 15 seconds for opening or closing. If your garage door is going slower or faster than this, it means something might be wrong. Here are some tips for troubleshooting speed issues with your garage door.

Troubleshooting a slow garage door

It’s much more common for garage doors to dawdle than to hustle. Here are the typical problems that cause sluggish garage doors and how to fix them.

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  • The tracks, roller brackets, and hinges require lubrication.
    Over time, grime builds up on parts and lubricant wears off. For your garage to open and close smoothly, the tracks, brackets, and hinges have to be well lubricated. A technician does this as part of regular maintenance, but you can do it yourself if you’re handy. Here’s how:
    • Close the garage door and remove all grease and grime from the tracks, brackets, and hinges.
    • Apply a few drops of a penetrating oil or spray garage door lubricant on these parts, using a stepladder to reach the upper hinges and doing so safely. If you use a spray, make sure to wear goggles and a dust mask.
    • Open and close the door several times to distribute the lubricant.

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  • The garage door opener’s speed setting is too low.
    Not everyone knows this, but most garage door openers have a speed setting switch that you can use to adjust the rate at which the device opens and closes your garage. It’s usually pre-set to the lowest setting. If your garage door is still lagging after you’ve lubricated the parts, you can try changing the speed setting.

    The switch is found within the opener’s housing, behind the access panel. To reach it, you’ll have to get up on a stepladder and remove the panel by pressing tabs located on either side of it then tipping it up or down. Once you’ve removed the access panel, you should see a screw. That’s what you need to turn to adjust the speed. Use a flat-head screwdriver to do this. Be sure to check your owner’s manual before doing this.

Troubleshooting a fast-closing garage door

A garage door that closes abnormally fast is generally more concerning than one that’s being sluggish. A door that slams shut presents a serious danger. Typically, this points to an urgent problem involving the garage door’s spring (or springs) and cables.

The torsion spring (or two extension springs) on your garage door is designed to counterbalance the force of gravity on your door and control its speed. The cables support the spring and balance the weight of the garage door when opening and closing. Garage door springs last, on average, seven to nine years before they break, and cables weaken over time and can eventually loosen, fray or snap.   

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If your torsion spring, extension springs, or cables are broken, avoid using your garage door and call in a qualified garage door technician right away. It’s highly dangerous for a non-professional to attempt to repair these components themselves, as garage door springs are under extremely high tension.

To detect a damaged torsion spring, look for a two-inch gap in the middle of the spring. This is the spot where the break occurred. For more indicators, consult this article. A broken extension spring can usually be spotted easily, as it will be visibly damaged or deformed. The same goes for a broken cable.

It’s rare that a garage door opens unusually fast. If this happens, take a look at the garage door opener’s speed setting, as explained above. If it can be reduced, then that might be all that’s needed to remedy the situation. Otherwise, call a professional to diagnose the problem.

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The best way to avoid garage door speed issues, and the serious underlying problems that can cause them, is to have your garage door maintained regularly. A trained professional will apply lubrication where needed and will inspect the springs, cables, and all other key components. Regular maintenance by a professional increases the lifespan of your garage door and its parts, saves you money on future repairs, and helps keep you and your family safe.

Garage door maintenance and repairs in Western Canada

If there are issues with your garage door, you can count on the team at Creative Door to take care of them. We have the tools, parts and expertise to repair any garage door. To schedule a repair call, contact us today!