Manual Garage Door Won’t Open

Problem: A manually operated garage door will not open when the latch is turned and you attempt to lift it up.

Background: Garage doors, whether operated manually or with electric openers, are the heaviest moving equipment around the home. They depend on 1 of 2 types of springs to operate. Some mechanisms use ex tension springs that stretch like rubber bands to slow the closing of the door, and then contract to help lift the weight of the door when it is opened. Other doors use torsion springs that wind up like the springs in window shades to handle the weight of the door. Caution: If springs break, be careful when closing the door; the door’s weight will cause it to fall quickly and heavily.
A garage door may stick for many reasons, ranging from the key not working properly in the lock or a faulty latch mechanism, to more serious problems such as broken cables, bent or loose tracks, and jammed rollers.

What to do: If the outside handle won’t turn, it may be because the key or the latch are worn out. If the handle turns, but the door won’t lift, enter through the service door if there is one, and check the mechanism on the inside of the door. The problem may be a track bent inward which will not allow the horizontal bar (turned by the outside handle) to clear its slot. The solution, in this case, is to care fully bend the track back with a tool such as a pipe wrench. If that doesn’t work, or if the problem is more serious, it is best to call a garage door technician.
If the door opens, but takes more than a little effort to lift, the springs may need adjustment. However, at tempting to adjust garage door springs can be dangerous and should be done by a professional. Adjustments on torsion springs can be especially dangerous because special tools are required to do the job. The brackets that hold springs to the garage frame are also under tension; attempting to make adjustments to these brackets also can be hazardous.

Special advice: Do not attempt to solve difficult door-lifting problems by simply installing an electric opener. Call a technician to balance the door, even if you plan to install an opener. (Openers required to lift heavy, unbalanced weights may develop mechanical problems.) Regular, light maintenance can extend your garage door’s life. Check the cables for shiny spots, and be sure that strands at connections are not partially broken. Pulley wheels for cables should roll, not skid.
Also check the tracks to see that they are not bent or loose where they attach to the garage, and that the wheels roll freely. See that all bolts and screws are tight, and that all cotter pins are in place. Lubricate pulley bearings, wheel bearings, and door hiriges with lightweight house hold oil or a spray silicone.

Helpful hint: To check the balance of a garage door, start with door closed. (If your door is operated by electronic opener, disconnect its re lease mechanism so you can open it by hand.) Lift the door halfway up. It should lift smoothly, with little resistance, and it should stay open when it is 3 to 4 feet above the floor. If it doesn’t, it is out of balance and should be adjusted by a professional.