How To Adjust Garage Door – Step By Step Instructions For A DIY Project

Wooden Garage Door

Garage doors are extremely convenient, whether they are manual or automatic. They rely on springs to handle the weight of the door and put it up or down without too much hassle. But then, these things will not last forever. While some issues are easy to fix, some others may require professional help. There are also a few issues that may look impossible to deal with, yet you can fix them yourself with no hassle and stress at all.

Learning how to adjust your garage door is imperative when the problem strikes. The spring tension is usually responsible for the issue – the door will no longer open or close the right way. While there are all kinds of garage doors out there and different types of springs, most of them can be tackled at home. To get the job done, you will need a few tools, a bit of experience and perhaps a mechanical background – otherwise, seek help from an expert.


How To Adjust Garage Door – Get Everything Ready First

You do not have to be a genius to adjust a garage door, but you have to take it easy and assess the situation first. Springs can usually go in two categories – side mounted or torsion springs. As a general rule of thumb, the spring tension is easier to adjust in side mounted extension springs.

They are easy to identify because they are above the door track – in a parallel way. You can see a cable and a pulley. The cable is responsible for the spring and attaches to some hooks. One of them is above the track, while the other two springs go on each side of the garage door.

Torsion springs are a bit more dangerous. Such a garage door repair asks for a bit of mechanical background. These garage door openers are located on top of the door – you will see them along a metallic shaft.

The mechanism is more common in large doors – those that are 10 feet or more in width. Smaller doors might come with a single spring, while the large ones come with two of them. Make sure you know what type of springs you have and move on to assessing the problem.

The wrong tension will be responsible for numerous issues when the door closes or opens. Some of the main issues involve difficulty when the door must open and close, a super fast operation when the door opens or closes, failing to fully close or closing in an uneven manner.

Based on what the issue is, you will need to adjust the door mechanism – add more spring tension or decrease it. If the door does not close evenly, you will have to work on the tension on one side – by the side that leaves a gap. If the door opens and closes too fast or slow, you will need to increase the tension. Finally, decrease it if the door does not close all the way down.

Then, you will need some tools for the job. Health and safety come first – get a hard hat, some goggles and gloves. You may also need the following:

  • Masking tape
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Ladder
  • C clamp

You will need a few extra items if you have torsion springs, so get a couple of solid steel rods – anywhere between 18 and 24 inches long. If you cannot find any, two winding bars will also do.

home garage door

How To Adjust A Garage Door – Working With Side Mounted Springs

Release all the spring tension first – there should be no garage door force. Open the garage door all the way up. If it is automatic, open it up and disconnect it from the opener. Open it fully and clear out the spring tension. Use the C clamp to secure it – you do not want it falling while working on it.

Take the spring hook out – you will find it by the track hanger. It is fitted with a nut – easy to work on with the adjustable wrench. You can freely move the hook then – lower or higher for less or more tension.

In order to get the optimal tension, adjustments must be small – one hole only. Go for both springs equally if the door is well balanced. If you need to lower the tension on a door that does not close all the way down, get the hook to a lower hole. The tension is reduced then.

On the other hand, if you want to increase the tension, go higher on the track hanger. If the tension is right on one side and wrong on another one (uneven closing), work on the side with the gap and decrease it.

The job could be time consuming. You make single hole adjustments. You must unclamp the door and test it. You might need to go through everything again, but at least you can see progress straight away and you will know precisely when to stop.

The cable inside your spring will also need a few repairs or adjustments. It can be adjusted by working on its knot – loose it and tighten it for more or less length. You can shorten it for more tension and increase it for less tension.

Everything should work properly once you are done with everything. Make sure the door is tested – it closes perfectly and leaves no gaps. Get rid of everything you used to secure the door.


How To Adjust Garage Doors With Torsion Springs

Torsion springs are more sophisticated and riskier, but still doable. If the door is automatic, unplug the opener. Spring will be under very high tension. You need good lighting and you require a good physical condition. Make sure all the tools are inside the garage.

Secure the door with a C clamp above the bottom roller. Find the winding cone – it is by the end of the spring. It has four holes and a couple of screws. You need to adjust this cone first – simply get the winding bars into the holes and rotate it. The direction is irrelevant.

Find the winding collar and throw a solid steel rod inside it. Hold it in place, then work on the screws. Get the bars into two nearby holes in the winding cone. This operation could be a bit risky. If the garage door spring breaks, you do not want to be in front of it, so you should be at the end of these bars. Also, unexpected situations may arise, so get ready to move fast.

Rotate the cons in 90 degree increments – a quarter of a turn. If the garage door opens and closes too fast, wind the cone up to add some tension. If the door does not close all the way down, you need to wind it down. You might need multiple adjustments. Go through all these steps, test the door and do it again then.

Stretching the spring may also be necessary. Remove the bar at the top and keep the bottom one in. Measure around ¼ of an inch into the cone (from the end) and mark it with masking tape. Pull the bar a bit up and towards the middle. Tap with the other bar until you stretch the spring to reach the masking tape mark on the shaft.

You will then need to lock the spring in place on the shaft. Simply reverse one of the previous steps – tighten the screws. At this point, it depends on what torsion spring mechanism you have. If you have two springs, you will need to perform the exact same steps for the second one. You need to keep these garage door springs balanced, so go equally on each side.

Get rid of the clamps used to keep the door secure. It is time to give it a test. Is the tension adjusted enough? If it is not, you will have to go through all the steps again. It might be time consuming, but you can never guess the right tension – it is about trial and error. Once you reach the perfect tension, you can plug the opener back – in case you have an automatic door.

A bit of maintenance will help in the long run and can prevent such problems from bothering you again. It does not take too much work – simply lubricate your mechanisms a couple of times a year. Focus on the springs, but do not overlook bearings, hinges or rollers. You should use a silicone spray or a lithium one. While it might seem tempting, WD40 is not recommended for this task.


In the end, learning how to adjust garage door will prove helpful at times, as unexpected situations can cause lots of hassle. But then, it depends on what type of springs you have. Some of them require a bit of mechanical education. If you are not sure, simply call a professional and avoid taking any risks yourself.

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