Tackling 2 Common Problems With Sectional Garage Door Tracks

A sectional garage door may look simple enough, but it relies on a multitude of different components to function effectively. The tracks attached to the walls on either side of your garage door are very simple, but they are also very important to the door's functionality.

Any problems with the tracks can stop your door from working properly, and may even leave you and your vehicle locked out of your garage. In extreme cases, track problems can do serious damage to other components of your door.  Here are two of the most common problems that can affect sectional garage door tracks:

Rust And Corrosion

Most garage door tracks are made from steel, and like all steel structures, they are vulnerable to rust and corrosion, which is caused by exposure to air and moisture. To prevent rust, tracks are almost always treated with a protective, galvanized coating, but these coatings will start to wear away after years of use. 

Track rust is generally very easy to spot — look for a reddish-brown, flaking layer of rust on the interior surfaces of your tracks. Track rust is more likely if the roads outside your home are salted during winter. Road salt massively accelerates the corrosion process and can cause rust to appear practically overnight.

As rust spreads, the damaged tracks will become rough and bumpy, increasing friction and preventing your door's track rollers from moving smoothly. Serious rust can leave rollers tightly jammed into the tracks, preventing the door from moving at all. Rust can also affect the screws and fasteners holding your tracks in place, and may cause track misalignment if the screws shear off or fall out.

If you catch rust on your door tracks early, you may be able to remove surface rust using consumer-grade rust removers, available from most hardware stores. However, if rust has penetrated deep into the metal, the track will need to be replaced. Properly aligning a replacement track is difficult without specialized tools and know-how, so it is better to have tracks replaced by a professional residential garage door repair service.

A word on aluminum tracks: while aluminum does not rust like ferrous metals, it can still corrode over time. If your door's aluminum tracks are very old, you may spot small holes starting to appear in the metal, and the track will need to be replaced. 

Bent Tracks

For garage door tracks to function properly, they must be as straight and vertical as possible. If the track becomes bent, or the overhangs that hold the rollers in place are dented or damaged, it can seriously affect how smoothly the door opens and closes, or cause the door to get stuck fast in a half-open position.

Sectional garage doors are especially vulnerable to problems with bent tracks. If one track is bent and causes the rollers on that side of the door to jam, the individual sections of the door can be forced together as the other side of the door continues to move. Under this kind of pressure, the panels can rapidly buckle, causing expensive damage and potentially ruining the panel's insulated core.

If you notice your sectional garage door is not moving smoothly or is making more noise than usual while functioning, check the tracks for any visible bending or distortion. It may be possible to straighten out small dents and bends with basic hand tools, but more seriously damaged sections should be professionally repaired or replaced.

Bear in mind that garage tracks are designed to be strong and durable — if they are badly bent, you may be looking at more serious structural problems with your garage. Subsidence and other foundation issues are common causes of track distortion, so it may be worth having your foundations professionally inspected.

For more information on residential garage doors, contact a company near you.