Jammed garage door

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Hi guys, I hope someone here can help me out. We're in a bit of a jam!
Our garage door is jammed. No amount of force seems to be able to move it. I have been able to lift it about 18 inches using our two car jacks, but no further.
I have disconnected the electrical opener, so it is not working against that.
At the top of to door openeing, on the wall is a horizontal bar with two coil springs. At the end of the bar are two pulleys with cable that go to the bottom of the door. I think this is a counter-weighting mechanism to enable easy lifting of the door. The right-hand spring seems broken. The cable on the right is slack, the cable on the left is very tight.
The door is jammed solid, I cannot move it up or down by more than an inch or so. I checked the rollers on the sides and they do not seem jammed. Any ideas on how I can free up to doors? We need our cars!
Thanks!
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MikeB wrote: ...

When the torsion spring broke, it apparently jammed somewhere. You'll have to find where that is and release it. Be careful to not get caught anywhere there's still tension/compression in the spring, obviously.
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dpb wrote:

I doubt that's the reason, the door should be able to be move up with one or both cables slacked.
The OP didn't describe the size or material of the door, but it's likely just too heavy for him to lift by himself. He should get a few strong friends and give it a try.
My single width garage door exerted a downforce of about 250 pounds when almost closed and resting a scale with both cables disconnected. I probably could have lifted it by myself but didn't want to risk a hernia. (I made that weight measurement to determine what strength expansion springs to buy when one of them bust. No color coding on the original springs.)
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wrote:

I always forget to mention something crucial to my problem, don't I? :)
It is a double-sided garage door made of wood with foru windows along the top. The door is quite old, if it is as old as the house, it is upwards of 25 years old. We were actually thinking of replacing it, since it is starting to rot through at the bottom.
I checked and the rollers seem free in their tracks and the cables don't seem jammed anywhere.
If the door weighs 250 lbs, then that would explain why I can't open it. My one neighbor recently moved out and the other one is disabled, so I can't count on them. I've found a guy on CraisgsList that said the'd come out for $99. Hope he's good.
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MikeB wrote:

Sure the opener is disengaged? If it is, when you operate opener it'll free run.
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wrote:

I always forget to mention something crucial to my problem, don't I? :)
It is a double-sided garage door made of wood with foru windows along the top. The door is quite old, if it is as old as the house, it is upwards of 25 years old. We were actually thinking of replacing it, since it is starting to rot through at the bottom.
I checked and the rollers seem free in their tracks and the cables don't seem jammed anywhere.
If the door weighs 250 lbs, then that would explain why I can't open it. My one neighbor recently moved out and the other one is disabled, so I can't count on them. I've found a guy on CraisgsList that said the'd come out for $99. Hope he's good.
Make sure the tension cable on the side where the spring seems to have broken isn't catching on something. If you can lift it an inch or so and then it stops solid, it isn't a case of it just being too heavy. Something is catching and jamming. It could also be that it isn't lifting straight and is binding up as you lift it and it tilts to one side or the other.
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Don't spend a dollar on repairs in that case. Just replace the doors. Wooden doors suck anyway, IMO. They're heavy, they rot, they sag and they break. Definitely replace the tracks too although you can probably re-use the existing opener if it's in good condition.
Replacing our wooden garage doors with some good quality insulated metal doors was the best thing we've done on our 20 year old home. It didn't cost an arm or a leg either.
Around here at least, the smaller independent garage door contractors will do the job better and quicker than Home Depot et al. Just be sure to check references etc. because there are some cowboys in that game.
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On Sep 27, 5:40pm, snipped-for-privacy@malch.com (Malcolm Hoar) wrote:

OK, so as I said, I got this 24/7 guy from CL to come out. He told me up front that he did not have the right spring and that I would have to wait until Monday afternoon if he had to get a spring. Anyway, since I was going to replace the doors, I told him to just come on over and open the door and we can talk about replacing the doors.
About an hour later he came on over and between the two of us we lifted the door up and moved it until the automatic opener engaged to hold it in the open position. Fastest $100 I've ever spent (and probably for the least effort from another person - oh well.
He quoted me about $1,600 to replace both the 16' and 9' side garage doors with 24 gauge steel doors. Since that was a lot cheaper than the original quote from the other guys, I thought I'd take a flyer and go with this one. The electric opener is quite new and he said it could be reused.
He looked a little on the cowboy side, just a guy in a truck and he asked if I could pay in cash, but I figured WTH. Take a chance sometime. I'll wait and see - he said he'd be back Friday to replace the doors. I got his DL#, his truck's registration and a business card (with no business address). I'm kinda wondering how this will work out. However, he has a US Marines sticker on his truck and he says his brother is in Pendleton and going to Afghanistan in January. So I'm gonna give him a bit of a break. If he screws up I'll just get the other guys back in - how bad can you screw up garage doors?
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Yeah, but it really sucks having your cars stuck in the garage!

Sounds like a decent price.

He might turn out to be excellent. Good luck, anyway!
Some things to check for off the top of my head:
1. Do the new doors appear to be properly aligned in the frame? 2. Are the tracks *securely* attached to studs or whatever? 3. With the opener disengaged, are the springs balancing the weight of the doors nicely? 4. Does the opener function smoothly, quietly and without jerking?
If those items are okay, it's probably a sound installation.
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On Sep 27, 8:10pm, snipped-for-privacy@malch.com (Malcolm Hoar) wrote:

OK, I promised y'all an update. :)
He actually called me earlier in the week and asked if he could come over on Thursday (instead of Friday). I said sure. about 10:30 Thursday, still no show so I called him and he said his technician was on the way (about 20 mins away). The kid himself actually showed with a rented U-Haul with the doors on it, about an hour later. I guess talking about a technician makes him seem bigger to himself.
He started working and it seemed a struggle to do it all by himself. The thing that mainly struck me is that while he seemed to know what he was doing, he was not experienced in the ways of contractors. He asked for drinking water and it was one of the very rare occasions where a contractor asked to use the bathroom. This inexperience became very marked since he took hours and hours to do the job single- handedly (one door is a double door 16' wide and the other was a 9' single door) and at about 7pm he asked for some food - I never realized the poor kid didn't bring anything to eat. . He damn near hurt himself when dismantling the 16ft door and he dropped the top portion with the glass panes in it - glass all over my garage. Also, he left a lot of the screws lying around, I went around that night and the next day to try and make sure I retrieve all the discarded screws and junk so as to not get an accidental flat when parking in the garage.
The other unwelcome surprise is that he tagged on a $125 removal fee to dispose of the old doors. From the way he talked, he was going to take them back to wherever he bought the new doors from andit was a pass-through charge.
The overall installation seems very solid, I checked all the things outlined in the above post, and they all seem to be just fine. I also have a couple of handymen doing some other outside renovation at this time (deck repairing, painting) and I know the guy who does that quite well - he is quite good at most jobs around the house - he checked out the new doors and says they seem very well done. So overall I'm still kind of ahead with the price.
There are a few niggly things. The old doors had windows, the replacements don't. The old doors had a latch that one could latch the doors (and open them with if they were off the opener) - the new one doesn't have this. More worrying is that the single door that is not on an opener and has no other egress than through the door has no lock like the old one used to have - not that we ever in all the time we lived here locked the door, but still. I mighe invest in a little latch on the side with a padlock if it ever gets to be an issue. It seems that he never considered that and didn't look if there were different models in the shop to accomodate the requirements.
In conclusion, I think he is very inexperienced, but that he does good workmanship and that I got a good price. My take-away lesson is to be more careful with the specifications and not simply make a blanket statement to "replace the doors."
He did tell me there was a 60-day warranty on the installation, but the trophy here would be if I never have to find out whether he honors that warranty. :)
Overall we are OK with the new doors.
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MikeB wrote:

You were lucky, and hopefully will remain that way. Sounds like he needs to hook up with your regular handymen for some mentoring. Seems like a basically good but clueless kid. Did you ask about contractor license and insurance? Warranty on the installation is less important than the warranty on the door itself- will the door company honor that with an iffy install job?
Asking to use the can on a long job is to be expected- when I had furnace replaced, I showed the guys where it was when they did the estimate. Asking for food is pushing it. Panels for a 16-foot door are a 2-man lift, both for safety and to avoid damaging the parts. As you realized, the lack of windows, the lack of an outside latch, or a lock on the second door, are due to insufficiently documented requirements. The 'disposal fee' probably paid for the rented U-haul, which may have come up at the last minute when the door wholesaler declined to load them on his pickup truck. (You gotta support the whole length when hauling stuff like that flat.)
If you do decide to add a lock to second door, and an outside latch to the main door, you should be able to buy the parts online or at the same dealer where kid bought the door. They are simple to install, and the track probably already has the notches for them. A drill and a hole saw, and a few screws. Just remember not to use opener (or pull the release pin) if you ever use the manual latch bolt on the door with the opener.
-- aem sends...
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Well, yea, I expect that people can't control nature, but, for instance these guys painting my house, they have been here every day since Monday from about 7am to 4 pm and not one of them, once asked to use the can. I've gone out and told them they are welcome to use the can, but they just don't. I don't know if they go in a bottle or behind the bushes or what... :)
So yea, using the can is OK, I just found that most contractors seem somewhat reticent to use customers' facilities.
I usually make a point of offering contractors something to drink, usually water or if they are here early, coffee. Most again decline and I know that many of them make sure they have enough liquids in a cooler or something so they are not dependent on customers.
As for the food, I felt kind of sorry for the kid. It is tough if you are youngish and don't eat for a long while. Making him a sandwich wasn't a problem. Again, if I remember, I might inquire of a crew if they have food around lunchtime. With this kid it just slipped my mind, since I was quite busy that day and didn't eat lunch myself.
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MikeB wrote:

leery of letting their people, especially subs, be anywhere unescorted in a customer's house, for fear of being accused of theft, inappropriate behavior, or damaging something. Some people in the trades are dishonest, and some customers are as well- looking for a bargaining chip to renegotiate price, or for a patsy for an insurance scam. Many in the trades hate working on occupied houses for lots of reasons- that is just one of them.
-- aem sends....
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MikeB wrote:

I bet the phone number was a cell. There are a dozen different ways I can think of to screw up a garage door install, and I'm no expert. And with a fly-by-night off-the-books installer like that, forget about any warranty claims. Is a contractor license required in your state? If he screws up during the install and gets hurt, does he have insurance to cover it? What are you gonna do if halfway during the install, he suddenly says it is going to cost a lot more?
IMHO, better to pay a real installer up front, and be done with it. But if you have your heart set on going with him, I'd insist on riding along when he goes to pick up the door- don't just give him a fistful of cash. Pretty certain he doesn't have a line of credit at the supply house, so he'll probably want material costs up front. Are the doors double-layer and insulated, or single skin bare metal? What finish is on the steel? The price he quoted doesn't sound much lower than Google ballpark prices, but I don't know how costs run in your area.
-- aem sends...
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I'm with you. I'd sure not want a one man operation, like that. Too many ways to screw up. Garage door should last much of the life of the house. Not something to leave to fly by nights.
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"MikeB" wrote

It's common here to see a perfectly decent guy, recently retired, work like that. I see no note that he asked for money *before* showing up for the install so you've made a wise choice I bet if you are in a military community area.
Can I ask you to email me? I might be able to help validate but not here. Address not grunged.
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jeff_wisnia wrote:

Just measuring the size of spring can tell approx weight of door. (wire gauge of spring, no. of turns, diameter) Some times it is color coded.
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MikeB wrote:

One spring being broken, one spring torsion can't lift the door which weighs couple hundred pounds. Try to find the jam, and try to lift the door giving more push on the broken spring side. Then leave the door open and call for the service. Make sure cable is not tangled and rollers are all on track(not jumped out). At least you should be able to open it with one spring working. I once replaced a broken spring myself not easy but can be done being very careful for the safety. Took me a whole day including the trip to hardware store for parts.
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I just don't seem to see a jam. But there probably is one, since even our car jacks have difficulty lifting the door and a car jack can lift more than a couple of 100 lbs. Will have to wait for this service guy to see what's up. This couldn't have happened at a worse time. We just got a call that our daughter's Girl Scout troop was returning earlier than expected from camp, both our cars are in the garage, it's a Sunday and my wife wanted to go to churc and tomorrow we have to get my daughter to school and we have to get to work. Murphy's law at its best.
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MikeB wrote:

Murphy's law. Luckily our trailer tow truck is always parked in the back yard car port. Good luck.
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