My garage door chain is loose

The chain on my door opener is slack, but only on one side. I have looked everywhere for a solution but found nothing. Can you help?

Help is on the way:
It’s not particularly uncommon for one side of the chain to be slack. However in some cases it can be really bad, like if it is so slack that it hits something else.

The number of solutions to this problem are few. If you do undertake the task yourself, only do the work with the door in the closed position and with the opener disconnected.

There is a thing called a master link, which is the chain is attached to the torsion cable. You will see there some nuts and washers. You can tighten the chain by loosening the nut closest to the chain, and then tighten the one farthest from the chain and closest to the trolley.
If you’ve ever tightened a motorcycle chain, it’s the same principle. In the case of the motorcycle you loose the bolts on the wheel and then turn the screws tighten the chain, then tighten the wheel bolts.

The only other way to tighten the chain is to tighten directly from the body of the opener. You need to open it up for this, but when you do you’ll see an adjustment screw directly across from the motor wheel. It may be a little difficult to get in there though.

As always, don’t make it too tight. The chain needs a little slack to do its job and tightening it will wear the links.

Gap at the top of my garage door

We had a new garage door put in recently and I notice that there is a one inch space above the door. It’s not that big a deal, but I live in a cold climate and it will certainly let in a lot of cold. What can I do about this?

The first thing I would look at is the seal and trim. If those are in bad shape, you should change them. However, I have seen this problem and I doubt that is it.

Check to see what happens if you lower the door manually. Does it “look good” after you close to but not at the closed position, ie does the gap disappear? Most likely the problem is that the door is not tall enough or the garage height is too high for the door. Since garage doors come in set sizes, the culprit would have to be the size of the garage door opening.

In that case, what i would do is buy some more trim and hammer it over the trim that is there so that it overlaps the gap. You’ll find the material cheap and easy to work with, and even better you don’t have to call a repairman.

Why is my garage door opener so loud?

One client asks:
I have a garage door that needs repair because it makes too much noise. It’s not the pulleys or anything, it’s the motor for the door opener. Is there anything can do to reduce it? Our living room happens to be next to the garage so we can’t just ignore it.

If the noise isn’t intermittent, or creaky or anything like that I’m pretty sure that the reason for the noise is that you have a really old opener. Back in the day garage doors were all AC and they did indeed make a lot of noise. But with the arrival of DC motors that changed everything. They not only were more efficient working (less jerky, no has heavy), they saved a lot on electricity. Furthermore, DC motors offer soft start and soft stop lessens the pressure between the door and the opener. Essentially the door begins moving slowly and increases rate of speed until it’s almost closed, then does the inverse operation to stop.

The drawback of the DC motor is that it’s more expensive, and more difficult to install. On top of that DC current doesn’t come out of your wall socket, so something that will convert from AC to DC will need to be installed as well.

Help! My garage door pulls to one side!

GR in Spring writes:
Russell, I’ve been having this weird thing with my garage door. A few weeks ago I put in a new garage door opener. Now, when I open the door it looks like it’s crooked and i can’t figure out if there is something with the tracks or what. The door seems to go down OK. I didn’t have this problem before I installed the opener though.

Russell writes:
This is one of the most common garage door problems, and it’s almost always something to do with springs or cables.

What happens is that sometimes the cables slip off the drum. The drums are at the top or the door and as you lift the door, one of the drums is not pulling on the cable with the same tension as the other one. And that will make the door go crooked. One thing: avoid putting the door all the way up if possible, because the higher it goes, the more it will run off the tracks and eventually you will break the track or the door will come off the track entirely. Then you’ll have a problem of the possibility of a garage door that weighs hundreds of pounds falling on you. GET A PROFESSIONAL!

Most likely you accidentally dislodged the cable when you were putting the opener in.

My Garage Door opener works intermittently

Cal M writes:
Russell, I live in Spring tex right now and I’ve been finding that my garage door opener has been acting weird, and i know it has nothing to do with the hardware. Sometimes it opens the door and sometimes it doesn’t. And even when it works there are times when it only goes up half way, or comes down half way for that matter. When I cut off the power, everything is fine. Well, I have to open and close the door manually, but it doesn’t get stuck, that’s how I know that the hardware isn’t a culprit.

Russell responds:
There could be a couple of things that are wrong, so let’s look at them. OK you’ve verified that the door can be lifted and closed manually so we know it’s the opener. One thing that could be wrong is that the opener is simply worn out. Specifically there is an electronic board like you have in all other electronic things. That thing just burns out after a long time. (You didn’t say how old the door was.) When the electronics go on these things, I generally just advise people to buy a new one. The boards can be replaced, but by the time you buy one and pay to get it installed, you could get a new one for about 30% more than the cost, and that’ll be a brand new one with a warranty. Electronic components are usually not under warranty.

One other related reason for your problem is a long shot but often garage doors use lights as a load resistor, and if you use CFL light bulbs youre going to have problems. The incandescent ones are the ones that are supposed to be used but they are going out of style. It would take a long time to explain, but the wattage in the new bulbs is lower and it’s the wattage that provides resistance. Lower wattage, higher amps, ruined components.

Improvements in Garage Door Safety

A number of years ago there was a big hue and cry about garage door safety. There had been a number of high profiles news stories about people getting seriously hurt by their garage doors. A lot of it was exaggerated, but it led to changes in product safety standards for garage doors. This led to the introduction of safety sensors for all garage door openers. This means that if the door detects something in the way of the door closing, the door closing mechanism shuts off and disaster averted.

All in all it is a good thing. While not that many people were hurt, it’s good to know that there are fewer reasons to not buy a new garage door for your home or business. Here are a few thingsĀ  you can do in order to make your garage door safer.


1. To make sure that the automatic reversing system is working, simply put a box on the ground, say something about the size of a show box, in the path of the door where it will close and then hit the close button. When the door hits the box it should reverse; if it doesn’t then you will need an experienced repairman.

2. Regularly inspect your garage door. Honestly sometimes people just don’t even look at the door until something goes wrong. Just looking at the springs, rollers and in general everything. You don’t have to know anything about garage doors, but you have to learn how to notice when something is different.

3. Learn how to use the garage door’s emergency release. A lot of people find themselves in a spot where the door doesn’t work and don’t know how to work the emergency release.

4.Don’t let kids play around with the garage door remote. This should be a no brainer, yet so many don’t keep an eye on the kids enough to prevent this very common accident.