How To Adjust Garage Door Cables (We Have A Fix)

Benjamin Wright
by Benjamin Wright

If you are having trouble opening your garage door or getting it to close properly, the problem could be linked to a faulty garage door cable. Cables are often installed incorrectly, a problem that leads to the garage door cables either being too short, too long, or out of balance. If your garage door issues are caused by cables in need of adjustment, here is how to fix the problem.

Adjusting your garage door cables so that they provide the proper amount of tension on both sides of the garage door can be done by adjusting the length of the cable going through the cable bracket. You can find the cable bracket where the cable attaches to the track.

Do You Need a Garage Door Repair Service?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Common Reasons for Garage Door Cables Getting Loose

Before adjusting your garage, door cables it is good to know why the cable came loose in the first place. First, you want to avoid experiencing the same problem again in the future. Second, the process that is required is dependent on the cause of the problem.

Garage door cables can need adjustment if the door has been damaged or if the hardware is worn out or faulty. Adjustments may also be needed if the track has become bent or if the garage door system was installed incorrectly. An example of an incorrect installation would be an uneven installation. Configuration issues are also common causes of loose garage door cables.

When the Garage Door Closes on an Object

One of the fastest ways for a garage door cable to get loose is when the garage door comes down on an object. Whether it is a car, a toy, a lawnmower, or any other obstruction, when the garage door closes in an uneven way the cables can become loose.

1. Damaged Door

Garage doors offer a surprising amount of stability and structural integrity to the overall garage door system, including cable tension. While the garage door sections are very thin, they are supported by struts which are connected to the bottom of the garage door (the bottom section). When one or more of the sections are damaged, the possibility for the garage door frame bending becomes very real.

2. Bent Track

Another common reason for garage doors needing adjustment is a bent track. When the cables are forced to move in ways they are not designed for, it is very easy for them to become either too tight or too loose. If a bent track is the problem, no amount of cable adjustment will solve the problem (in a safe way) until the track has been repaired.

3. Faulty Hardware

Garage doors are surprisingly complex. There are many parts that must work well together to ensure smooth action. If any of these parts experience a problem, it is possible that the cables will need adjustment. Brackets and drums, roller wheels, set screws, and torsion springs are just a few examples of the parts that you should check.

Adjusting Your Garage Door Cables

With troubleshooting behind you, it is time to adjust the tension on your garage door cables. Fortunately, the process for doing so is actually quite simple.

Step One: Safety First!

The first thing that you should do is disconnect the garage door opener so that you can open the door manually. Garage doors are held up by large springs, but the springs are often not strong enough to hold the garage door open once the cables have been removed from the bottom section.

After disengaging the garage door opener and opening the door, you will have to secure the door. Use two vice grips for this. You can place one set of vice grips on each track, just below the bottom section of the garage door to hold it in place.

The last thing you want is for the door to come crashing down on you when you’re in the middle of adjusting. These vice grips will keep the door in place while you work. If you have an automatic garage door, you’ll also want to shut off the electricity to prevent any electrical accidents.

Step Two: Disengage the Cable from the Bracket

The next thing that you should do is check the bracket on the track. Garage door cables are connected to the bracket on one end and the bottom of the garage door on the other end. The end of the cable that is connected to the bracket is adjustable, making it possible to adjust the tension of the cable itself. The garage door cable is connected to a hook that attaches to the bracket. This makes removing the cable a simple process.

Step Three (a): Reattach the Cable Hook to the Bracket

Many garage door tracks have a bracket with multiple entry points for a garage door cable. This means that it may be possible to adjust the tension on your garage door cable by reattaching the cable to an entry point that is further away from the original. When this option is possible, simply find an entry point that leaves minimal slack in the garage door cable.

Step Three (b): Adjust the Cable Bracket

The end of the garage door cable that attaches to the track also has an adjustable bracket that allows for finetuning. If you are unable to create optimal tension using the alternate bracket holes as described in the previous step, adjusting the tension using the bracket is your next option.

To do this, loosen the screws on the bracket until you can slide the cable through the bracket. Once it is loose, feed the cable through the bracket until you have achieved the tension that you require. After that, tighten the screws and reattach the cable bracket to the garage door track. Be sure to create the same level of tension on both sides of the garage door. Otherwise, the door will not open or close evenly.

Step Four: Check Your Work

After you’ve made all the necessary adjustments, verify that both cables are aligned correctly and that they have not come unraveled on either side. If everything looks correct, remove the vice grips and lower your garage door manually. Then, reestablish power to the opener so that you can test the door.

By pulling the cord that hangs from the opener, you will activate the lever that reconnects the door to the track. Or, you may be able to simply press the button on your remote control to reengage the track.

Finish off by closing the garage door completely to test functionality. If the cables were adjusted correctly there won’t be any gaps at the base of the door and the edge will be flush against the ground. Open and close the door a couple times to verify that the cables are working as expected.

Related Questions

Why do cables come off garage doors?

There are a few reasons that garage door cables can come off. First, it is important to note that garage door cables maintain their ideal tension when used under normal conditions. Therefore, almost any improper use or damage to the drums, tracks, or garage door can cause garage door cables to come loose.A few of the most common reasons for garage door cables to come loose include, the garage door setting down on an object, loose set screws, bad roller wheels, bent garage door sections, excessive force when opening or closing manually, broken extension spring, and much more.  While these are just a few of the many possibilities, they are good places to start when troubleshooting.

How do you fix garage door cables that have come off the drum?

Depending on why the garage door cables have come loose, the process required for adjusting them will vary. If the cables have come off the drums – which is one of the most common issues – the first thing that you should do is secure the door on the tracks. Vice grips are useful for this.With the door secured, detach the end of the cable from the bottom fixture of the garage door. Unravel the cable from the drum, then wind the cable around the drum again. Finally, reattach the cable to the garage door.

Do You Need a Garage Door Repair Service?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Finishing Up

With the garage door cable tension set and the cables reattached, you can now reengage the garage door opener. This is usually done by operating a switch on the garage door opener. The next step is to remove the vice grips and check the tension. If the garage door opens smoothly and there is no slack in the cable, your job is done.

If the garage door is uneven or if the door catches on the track at any point, it is possible that the tension is not balanced between the two cables. This can be fixed by adjusting either one side or the other. Before adjusting, however, remember the safety precautions from Step One – Safety First!

If you are looking for guidance on other garage door related issues, such as how to install a garage door opener or how to make a garage door work without sensors, check our other guides.

Benjamin Wright
Benjamin Wright

Benjamin is a proud homeowner who loves to write about DIY projects and home improvement projects. Traveling, perfecting his home, and spending time with his family are just a few of the many things that keep him inspired.

More by Benjamin Wright