Leaving your garage door uneven may not only be an uncomfortable eyesight, but it is also potentially hazardous. When garage doors get out of balance, they tend to close (or open) quicker and rather unexpectedly, posing a safety threat to anyone in the vicinity.
Additionally, an uneven garage door can easily get damaged, which will lead to a more expensive repair or will require purchasing a whole new door. Typically lighter doors with a hollow shaft at the top do not have an automatic adjuster for levelling, so you will need to learn how to level a garage door to perform it correctly.
Luckily, you don't need a specialist to level your garage door. Even if you are a beginner, you can do it yourself smoothly and successfully, as long as you follow some basic guidelines. The principles are the same if you need to repair an industrial, commercial, or residential door or no matter how big it is.
Take All the Safety Measures
Before you begin, make sure you can proceed with your garage door repair by following all possible safety precautions
First of all, the power should be turned off at all times whenever you meddle with the door's wiring. Depending on your door type, you will need to cut the power in its operator or directly at the power source (your fuses).
You should have a firm, stable ladder that is a suitable size. It is especially vital if you have to repair an industrial or commercial door, as these garage doors are significantly bigger. You will probably need to work on a ladder with an extension.
Identify the Problem
A good first step is to move the garage door up and down several times (ideally, you should do it manually to feel it better, but it is not always possible) to see in what places it moves quicker and where it stays suspended.
If you notice that something is indeed wrong, you are probably dealing with an uneven garage door, and you need to balance it. In that case, you have to do the correct measurements. You will need to know where are the gaps you want to close or what are the diameters of the shaft at the top of the door and the drums on each side of the door.
Issues with the garage door cables are among the most common causes of unbalanced garage doors. With time, cables may get so worn out that they get frayed and start sagging; also, a cable can simply slip from the cable drum.
However, if this is the case, you will most probably need to call a professional, as replacing or resetting cables involves dealing with electricity, which can get quite dangerous for someone without any experience.
Solution 1 - Adjust Both Sides of the Garage Door
How to level a garage door? First, you need to measure the size of the gap underneath your door and the shaft diameter and the drum diameter.
Then you can start adjusting. You need to begin on the opposite side of the door from the gap. Once you tighten the set screws on the drum on that side (by turning them clockwise), the other one will rise, already evening the door a little.
Then, move to the side with the gap and climb up to the cable drum again. Make two marks on it - around one-fourth of an inch apart from each other if the gap is wider than one inch and one-eighth if it's less than one inch.
After that, make sure to hold the shaft tightly with vice grips. Check it twice - you will be adjusting the door, so you don't want it getting out of control. Tighten one of the set screws on the drum to make the marks you made line up.
Do it again if you see that the drum is moving, as it may start spinning, and don't stop until the marks line up entirely. Be careful, and don't lose control over the garage door movements.
Solution 2 - Adjust the Garage Door Spring Tension
Uneven garage doors may also result from issues with torsion springs and their tension, so it may be worth adjusting them.
To begin safely, you need to open the door but let it lean against something to relieve the tension and to avoid things spinning out of control. The torsion springs can't be pressured when you want to adjust them. It's best to put a ladder under the garage door or anything else that's tall and stable enough to keep it from closing.
Then, you can remove it from its track hanger. If your door was initially too loose and was closing too quickly, move the spring to the higher hole on the bracket to tighten the mechanism. If it was too tight from the beginning and was opening abruptly, move the spring to the lower hole.
Make sure that the springs on each side of the garage door are adjusted in the same way. This should level it properly.
Solution 3 - Adjust the Lift Cable
If you feel like you need to level your garage door, it may also be enough to adjust the lift cable that is attached to the door, run to an S-hook, and right to the track support.
All you have to do is to prop open the garage door, take the S-hook out and adjust the cable by tightening or loosening it (depending on how you need to level it).
Test the Garage Door
Once you're done, you have to check the results of your work. See if your garage door is balanced, that is, if the gap has been closed. If that's not the case, but you can see at least some improvement, simply repeat the whole process. Make new marks on the shaft, tighten the set screws, or adjust the garage door springs' tension.
Beware not to over-tighten the set screws, though. Don't force anything.
Reconnect the door to the power source and conduct another test. Repeat until you actually level the door or notice that the problem is somewhere else, e.g., there's an issue with the cables.
Now that you know how to level a garage door yourself, you can save some money on hiring a professional (unless it's an issue with wiring or cable drums that involves dealing with electricity).
With the help of only a couple of basic tools, you can carry out the garage door repair yourself. All going well, everything can be done in under 2 hours.