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Garage Door Spring Repair

We had a power outage and so I had to pull that red handle to release the garage door from the opener. I’ve done it once before without any problems. This time, though, I was able to get the door open just fine, but the door would not stay up. I had to have someone hold it while I backed out the car. Then, when I went to lower it, it only would lower half-way and that got stuck. I raised it and lowered it a few more times, but it would still not go past half-way. The next day, I tried with a little more force – oops. I didn’t realize anything was wrong at first, but I was able to get the door lowered. Unfortunately, when it got all the way to the bottom it was slightly crooked. The door has never been the slightest bit crooked before.

It was also a bit harder to get the door to start raising but with a little energy, I could raise the door. Again, it wouldn’t stay when I raised it, but at least I could get my car in and out of the garage. After looking a little closer I noticed a cable dangling from the right side of the door. I had never noticed a cable over there before, but now it was hanging loose. I saw where it was supposed to attach to the door, but when I re-attached it, there was a lot of slack in the cable. Then I noticed the other end of the cable was free as well. I got on a step-stool and looked a little closer and figured out how it is supposed to be put together. The one end of the cable connects to a tab close to the bottom of the door. The other end wraps around a “drum” that is like a spool and it looked like the end goes through a slot to hold it in place. I briefly tried to re-wrap the cable, but with only a step-stool it wasn’t that easy to reach and see what I was doing. I also started to think that perhaps the tension of the cable is important and I figured I’d first look online to see if there is any guidance on how to do the repair.

The first few sites I came across said pretty much the same thing – repairing a garage door by yourself, especially if you don’t know what you are doing, can be very dangerous. I wasn’t sure if my problem was one of those that could be dangerous or not, but after reading that adjusting tension of springs could be involved, I decided it best to call a repair person.

I googled my town and “garage repair” and several suggested sites came up. Almost all had no reviews but there were two that had multiple positive reviews. I’m always skeptical of online reviews and there were a few warning signs with these two that made me look a little deeper. First, it is odd when you see multiple companies in the same field and most have no reviews and then one or two have more than 5 reviews and all are positive. I looked to see if the reviewers had done other reviews. Several only had done one review which could be fake or real. Then I found one reviewer that had reviewed 10 different companies in the garage door repair business – all on the same date and all with positive reviews. I figure that all of those companies must be related somehow – but that was a bit weird. I did see one reviewer that looked legitimate. I was tempted to go with that company, figuring that if I had a bad experience, I could always post a negative review.

For some reason, I instead decided to just go with a “company” that had an address around the corner from where I live. I figured I’d at least keep my business local. A guy with an Eastern-European accent answered the phone and I explained my problem. He said it would be $75 for a service call and if he needs to replace the cable, it would be about an extra $45 for a new cable. It was a Saturday morning and I wasn’t sure how available other repair people would be so I just asked how soon they could do the repair. He said he would send out a “technician” between 10am and noon. It was around 8:30am when I called. I figured for $125, I wasn’t likely to find anything cheaper. It sounded like the guy knew exactly what my problem was and I didn’t think it would be something to require complex work.

At 11am an older Eastern European gentleman pulls up in a pick-up and he comes to the door with his small toolbox. I’m 99% sure this is the same guy I spoke to on the phone. He didn’t say much and just asked to be directed to the garage. He looked around for a minute, lifted up the garage door, pulling the dangling cable out of the way and then asked me to hit the opener button. The opener chain started moving and then it locked into place with the door in the raised position. He then went out to his truck and grabbed a ladder. He went over to the side where the cable was loose and got up on the ladder. I couldn’t see exactly what he was doing, but I’m guessing he was winding up the cable. He then asked me to pull and hold the release cord at which time he pushed the door up a little higher and connected the end of the cable to the door.

He lowered the door a little and then said I could let go of the release cord. He lowered the door part way and when he started to let go, the door went down towards the ground. He lowered it all the way down, and to my relief, it wasn’t crooked anymore – at least I didn’t have to worry about a more expensive problem. He then moved his ladder to the middle and tightened the giant horizontal springs above the door. He did this by first inserting a metal rod into a hole on the right spring. He then loosened two screws that held the spring in place. The rod sticking into the hole kept the spring from losing tension. He then tightened the spring by pushing the rod upward, against the tension. He then inserted a second rod into the next hole and after removing the first rod, pushed the spring tighter. He repeated this several times until the spring had increased tension. I’m not sure how he knows how tight to make it, but it seemed like it was offering a fair amount of resistance after he tightened it. He then tightened the two screws so that the spring would hold its tension. He then removed the rod he used to tighten the spring.

After this, he raised the door up and while it still fell back down towards the ground, it was much slower this time. He got back up on his ladder and repeated the spring tightening for the left spring. When done, he then raised up the door and this time it stayed where ever he moved it. He then raised the door up and said I could hit the garage door opener button again, after which the chain moved and locked into the door again. He said it was all fixed and it would be $100. I asked him why the cable came loose in the first place and he said it was because the tension in the springs wasn’t adjusted properly, so there was slack in the cable which caused it to come loose. Hopefully that is all that it was.

Either way, he was able to fix it in about 20 minutes and it seems like he knew what he was doing. I have no idea if $100 is reasonable, but considering he came out within 3 hours of when I made the call and got it fixed, and it seems he knew what he was doing, I believe it was money well spent.

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