What to Do When Your Garage Door is Off Track

A common problem with automatic overhead garage doors is that the garage door is off track. Garage doors are great…when they work! Our lives are hectic, chaotic, and fast-paced. The last thing we want to worry about is our garage door not cooperating.

garage door is off track

Many of us run into the same problem with stubborn garage doors. No matter how many times we hit the remote button, they just won’t budge. On other occasions, they do move, but only to the soundtrack of a terrible grinding sound.

This is a problem that needs to be addressed right away, for obvious safety concerns. Additionally, you typically have a car that is stuck inside or outside of the closed garage door.

The sooner you learn to get your garage door on its tracks again, the quicker you can get on with your day. Identifying the problem early on can save a lot of headaches. More importantly, it can prevent tremendous damage when you can recognize the signs.

Your First Step: Stopping Operation

You’ll know quickly when something is amiss with your garage door. Before you do anything, cease its operation, or you could be looking at some serious damage. This translates into high repair costs.

If you haven’t had to stop and disconnect your garage door before, you will want to figure that out first. Check the center of the track for a dangling rope or handle, the rope is likely red and fairly noticeable. Pulling the rope will allow you to disengage the opener.

Identify the Cause to Find the Solution

Now, your garage door has become inoperable by the opener. This is good because you’re now able to lift the door manually to examine the track. There could be a number of reasons why your garage door is off track.

Tracks Are Loose

Check to see if the tracks are anchored to your garage’s walls. The tracks separating from the garage walls is a common cause of a garage door malfunctioning and getting off track.

This is an easy fix, but you will need a few tools to get the garage door working once again. Find a wrench or ratchet handle with the appropriate socket size. Then, find where the track is separated from the wall. Finally, address the loose bolts by using your wrench or ratchet to tighten the bolts, securing the bracket back onto the wall.

Dented or Damaged Tracks

Another problem could be dents or damage to the track. This will force the door off the track quite easily. It doesn’t take a particularly large dent or much damage to the track for the door to become unhinged. Dents on the tracks themselves can happen, and most of the time, you don’t even notice when they do.

garage door tracks

Car doors bumping them, bulky equipment being put away can knock a dent in the tracks. Even a good bump from stowing away your garbage bins each week can inflict consequential damage. The fix for this isn’t as clean-cut as the solution for tracks that have parted from the wall. It truly depends on the damage done on the tracks.

Your best bet is to grab a hammer and use a block of wood as your straightener, and pound out the dents as best you can. Better yet, if you have a rubber mallet, use this instead.

If the tracks have endured serious damage, you’re much better off replacing them entirely. Keeping seriously damaged tracks will incur even more damage to your garage door and quickly become a concerning safety hazard.

Track Alignment

Sometimes, the problem is the most obvious one, and that could entail the tracks being out of alignment. If you don’t notice any damage and the tracks themselves are functioning properly, the problem could be the garage door rollers being misaligned. Use a level to determine if this is the case.

Horizontal tracks should be slightly angled towards the back of the garage, and roll-up door tracks should be exactly leveled. If you find that they are out of alignment, loosen their brackets, hold the rollers in position, and gently tap them into proper alignment.

Check the Rollers

Rollers can also attract a lot of dirt and grime. Your garage itself is exposed to dust, dirt, and debris, some of which is easily caught between the functioning rollers. Thinking about how often you check the rollers let alone clean them, it’s no wonder that this is a common cause when the garage door is off track.

Cleaning your rollers and removing the buildup is an easy task, and one that you should make sure to do every so often. You can use a household cleaning solution to do the job. After the rollers have been cleaned, this will hopefully allow you to resolve your off-track door problem.

Similarly to the problem of dirt and grime coating your rollers, discovering your garage door is off track could occur because of a lack of lubrication. Your rollers require lubrication every now and again in order to function smoothly.

When the rollers aren’t lubricated, your garage door could inflict damage against it when it attempts to open and close, grinding against the rollers, sending it off track. The simple solution is just a few sprays of lubricant, or even powdered graphite. Rollers respond best to silicone spray, which is a product that can picked up at just about any local hardware store.

Loose Parts

There could be the other loose parts throwing your door of the tracks. A working garage door system has many parts to it, and any number of them could contribute to this problem.

Things like loose hinges, screws, and bolts could be to blame. Thoroughly investigate your garage door system to see if anything should require tightening, replacing, cleaning, or lubricating.

When In Doubt…

If you’re still scratching your head and cannot seem to figure out why your garage door is off track, then it might be time to call a professional repair company that deals in fixing garage doors. A professional can examine your garage door, its tracks, rollers, and other working parts to determine the problem quickly and use tools (and experience) to swiftly implement a solution.

If other parts should require replacement, a professional repair service can do that as well. This will save you the headache of attempting to do all of the work. Unless it’s serious damage or a problem with the system that’s out of your capability and area of do-it-yourself expertise, you should be able to get your door back in its tracks with these few simple solutions.

The best case scenario it’s just a matter of cleaning the rollers, reattaching the tracks, or applying some much needed lubrication, all of which can be done in an hour or so, baring any trips to the store for tools and supplies. There’s nothing more frustrating that a garage door that won’t behave itself. Fortunately, even if you find yourself stumped, there are hundreds of companies that specialize in solving garage door woes.

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