Garage Door Adjusting: How to Balance Your Door

Having an unbalanced garage door can put extra strain on your garage door opener. You’re going to want to balance your door so that you paying for expensive repairs later on.

Below you’ll find out how to diagnose a crooked garage door and fix any problem you might have.

Let’s get started.

Why Your Garage Door Keeps Shifting

If your garage door is off-balance, the constant weight of the door will burn out your garage door opener over time. Knowing what you need to adjust for will help you diagnose the problem.

1. Frayed Cables

Check the garage door cables under the cable drum. The rough groove within the drum can fray the cable over time. Salt and rust can also wear down your cables.

The cables can also be frayed near the bottom of the door. If you suspect that the cables are the issue, then it’s time for a replacement.

2. Old Rollers

Garage door rollers should be replaced every 6-7 years. The rollers help the garage door stay on the track.

Inspect the rollers and ensure they aren’t rusted or noisy. If they’re producing a lot of sound, that indicates they’re having difficulty moving on the track. Apply some lubricant for a quick fix.

Check to see if there is any debris in the track or if your rollers are damaged. If they seem old and worn out, check out the best garage door rollers for replacements.

3. Torsion Springs May Be Unbalanced

The torsion spring is the one directly above the garage door, the extension springs are mounted on the side.

The most common reason for an unaligned garage door is an unbalanced torsion spring. The spring can have too little or too much tension, causing the garage door springs to be unable to counterbalance the weight.

Test this is by manually opening and closing the door. Once your garage door is in manual mode, lift it to the halfway point. If your springs are balanced, the door should stay in place. If it slams on itself or you need to forcefully open the door, you’ve found your problem.

Safety Precautions

Be VERY careful when working on your garage door springs. If you aren’t, you might injure yourself. Always wear glasses, gloves and have a partner nearby if you need anything.

If you’re adjusting the torsion of the spring, use winding bars. Do not use a screwdriver or make your own, springs can snap and cause serious damage. Keep the door down when you’re making adjustments.

Adjusting Your Garage Door Track

If you can’t move your garage door at all, start by loosening the bolt that holds your garage door to the wall. Slide the track back into place and then reattach the bolt once you’ve realigned the track.

Use a hammer or a mallet lightly to move the track back into place. You should be able to open/close your garage if you’ve realigned the track properly.

Adjusting the Tension Spring

Tools you’ll need:

  • Safety glasses
  • 3/8th inch wrench/socket
  • 2 .5″ winding bars
  • 2 vice grips

If you don’t feel comfortable doing an adjustment or don’t have the tools required, call an expert. This is not a job you want to do without confidence.

Make sure the power is off and the garage door is in manual mode.

Step 1

With a ladder, take one vice grip and attach it to the shaft (the long bar that holds the tension spring). You want it to lean up against the ceiling or against your wall. This will keep the drum and cable from turning while you adjust the spring.

Put the other vice grip on the track on the side of the door. This will keep the garage door in place should it move while you’re working on the spring.

Step 2

This is where you want to keep your body away from the tension spring. Never get directly in front of the spring, always be to one side. Be careful of your hands as well. Ensure your ladder is secured in place and position yourself to the side of the spring.

Insert the winding bar into the hole on the side of the spring, when you hear a click that means you’re good to go. With your wrench, take a little tension off of the set screw. There are normally two of them. You don’t need to remove them, only take some of the tension off.

You want to take your winding bar from the bottom and do 3 quarter turns upward. As you push up one winding bar to a quarter turn, place the other one in the hole that’s coming up.

Put a mark about 1/8″ inch from the cone. What you want to do is hold the winding bar in the down position, and then tap it over with the other winding bar to where you made your mark.

This will keep the spring from binding and locking up.

Tighten the set screws down now. When you feel that they’re tight, go 1/4th of a turn more. Take the winding bars out gently.

Step 3

Repeat Step 2 on the other side.

Step 4

Release the vice grips and open the door to see if it slams down as it did before. You want to try it from the 1/4th, 1/2, and 3/4th open position on the door.

Step 5

Your garage door should be fixed at this point. If you weren’t able to adjust your garage door properly, you might want to call on experts to handle the job.

Adjusting the Side-Mounted Spring

Before you start working on the side-mounted springs, you’ll need to release the tension. Do this by opening the door until it hits the stop bolt and can’t open any wider.

If your garage is automatic, then unplug the opener and put your door into manual mode before opening the garage door.

Step 1

Use a c-clamp or vice grip below the bottom roller. This will hold the door up while you do any adjustments.

Step 2

The spring is attached to the track hangar by a large hook that’s keeping it in place. When you no longer have tension on the spring, you should be able to remove it. Remove the nut on the back of the hook with your wrench.

You can now move the hook up or down to decrease or increase the tension. Moving it up will increase the tension and down will decrease the tension.

Step 3

Only adjust one hole at a time. Make sure that you adjust both springs equally.

To fix a door that isn’t closing fully, move the spring down one hole on the hanger.

To fix a door that’s difficult to open or closes quickly, move the hook to a higher hole.

If your door is crooked, then only adjust the side that’s having problems. Move the spring down one hole to close the gap.

Once everything is in place, you can replace the nut back on the spring hook and tighten it again.

Step 4

Unclamp your door and test multiple positions. It should hold its own weight if the problem has been fixed. If you’re still having problems, continue increasing or decreasing the tension until your door is working properly again.

Step 5

You can make minor adjustments if you’re close to balancing your garage.

The cable inside the spring will be attached to the track or the hook. You can adjust this by tightening or loosening the clamp or knot until you find a good balance. If you have an S-hook, all you need to do is move the hook higher or lower on the track.

Shorten the cable if you need to increase tension and increase the length if you need to decrease tension.

Step 6

Test the door again. If you’ve found a good balance, you shouldn’t need to make any more adjustments. If it’s not as balanced as you’d like, continue making minor adjustments until you’ve found an equilibrium.

Final Words

That should be everything you need to adjust your garage door. If you’ve done all the steps and nothing has worked, your next option is to call a professional.

About Roy Cohen

I'm Roy, founder of Hack My Garage. I started out like most not knowing how to hammer a nail, but now I know more than most people about home improvement and DIY. I want to spread my wealth of knowledge with the world and hope to make it a better place.