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Reasons Why My Garage Door Cable is Broken. Now what?

Your Garage Door Cable and Why It Might Break

Residential Garage Doors / April 11, 2022
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Have you ever lifted an old garage door or a garage door with broken springs or cables? It is not an easy task. Overhead Door Company of Huntsville/North Alabama™ can help if this happens to you. 

Garages are often used for multiple trips in and out of the home. As a result, the garage door may roll up and down repeatedly several times a day. Let’s take a moment and consider what makes this seemingly simple device work. 

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Let’s Talk About Garage Door Springs and Garage Door Cables

The garage door operating system is complex and has many moving parts. Working knowledge of the components of a garage door is essential if you wish to maintain its function. The cable and spring system is the central part of a garage door, allowing for easy and efficient opening and closing. 

 Garage Door Springs

Without a working garage door spring system in place, a garage door won’t remain counterbalanced, which means the door will be challenging to open and close and often isn’t able to do so by the automatic opener.

Garage door springs are placed under tremendous pressure while lifting the garage door. These springs are subject to tension and could break, causing serious injury or damage. 

There are two kinds of garage door springs: torsion and extension. The main difference between the two is that torsion springs work by twisting while extension springs work by expanding and compressing.

  • torsion spring system has one or two springs at the top of the garage door. These springs sit against the wall above the door itself, parallel to it. Torsion springs wrap around a bar directly above the door. When the garage doors are opened, the springs unwind to release the stored energy and lift the doors. Torsion springs store their energy by coiling. While lifting the garage door, the torsion spring expends its stored energy. The torsion spring coils back up while lowering the door, storing energy for the next lift.

Torsion springs are considerably more efficient because they apply equal pressure to both sides of the door. 

  • Extension springs work differently. Extension springs are stretched with added tension when closing the door and contract into a relaxed position with the door open. If you have extension springs, these springs will run vertically on the right and left sides of the garage doors. Extension spring systems are typically used when there’s less space above the garage doors, preventing torsion spring installation. 

Extension springs operate independently of one another, which can cause one side to lift at a higher rate than the other. Extension springs are generally more dangerous than a torsion spring setup. 

Garage Door Cables 

Depending on which spring systems you use, different garage door cables are installed for torsion springs and extension springs. Both types of cable wrap around the drum at the top of each side as the garage doors open.

Torsion Spring Cable System 

Lift cables attach to the garage door torsion springs. These counterbalancing steel cables connect to the drums on each side of the shaft. The door opens by rotating a winding cone at one end of the shaft. This causes the spring to uncoil and release the energy required to spin the drums, wrap the cables, and lift the door. When the garage door lowers, the process reverses.

How Do You Know if a Lift Cable has Snapped?

  1. The door is struggling to open. The motor appears to be working fine. The spring or springs appear to be intact. If this happens to your garage door, it’s likely either a broken spring or a broken lifting cable, and it will need repairing as soon as possible. 
  2. If you notice a cable hanging loosely beside the garage door, it’s likely the remains of a lifting cable that has snapped.

Extension Spring Cable System 

Garage doors with extension springs use retaining cables/safety cables. Located inside the springs, retaining cables prevent a broken spring from turning into a projectile if it breaks, causing serious damage and even death. The spring can come off the pulley system and damage property. Extension springs and their retaining cables run down each side of the garage door. The extension spring cables connect to the door and the springs.

As you can see, it is crucial to inspect your garage door cables regularly and to call a professional if one is broken or damaged.


What Might Cause Your Garage Door Cables to Break and Come Loose 

  1. Age or normal wear-and-tear. Garage door cables can and will break from time to time. Cables can break simply due to their age. Just like every other component, cables experience wear and tear. These cables may eventually become frail and snap over time.
  2. A garage door set down on an object will create an uneven weight distribution and slack in the cables on one side of the door. This slack will cause the cable to jump across the grooves in the drums, causing issues. The crooked garage door in the opening is most often caused by closing the door on top of an obstruction.  
  3. A broken extension spring. 
  4. A broken torsion spring. It’s always best to have a two-torsion spring setup when the option is available. The second spring can temporarily keep some tension on the cables until repairs are made if one spring breaks. When a single spring breaks, the door doesn’t have a backup; this can cause slack in the cables causing them to slip out of the grooves.
  5. Corrosion. Garage door cables can break because of rust. If you don’t catch it quickly, rust can eat through a cable, causing the cables to corrode. 
  6. Wrong spring configuration. The door won’t work properly if these springs are not calibrated or installed per manufacturer specifications. 
  7. Wrong cable drum configuration. 
  8. Loose set screws. 
  9. Excessive manual force. 
  10. Fraying is another reason garage door cables can snap. Many little wire cables twist together to create a stronger and thicker cable. Broken cables can cause fraying of the surrounding cables, leading to the cable snapping.
  11. Incorrect cables installed for the weight of the door.  
  12. Loose or uneven installation. Defective cable assembly. 
  13. Sometimes the pulleys get worn. If this happens, the cable will not slide through as smoothly, and you’ll notice your door becoming stuck or cocked towards one side. If this is the case, replacing the pulleys is a must. 
  14. Worn out roller wheels. 
  15. Bent door sections.
  16. Bent track or unlevel track that can cause the garage door to catch or bang rather than roll smoothly. 
  17. Broken brackets or drums. 
  18. Poor maintenance.  


How can you avoid damaging a garage door’s cable?

You should inspect your garage door cables regularly for fraying or kinks. Always check the pulleys as well, as they can wear out. To determine the cause of the frayed cable, you can follow the cable’s path. There may be something sticking out of the cable causing the damage. You can then remove whatever it is before it causes more damage. 

Your cables’ health is also essential. Clean your cables of any debris. Also, keep them free from lubricants. These lubricants can attract dirt and grime which can cause cables not to work correctly.


When Cables Break, Avoid Using Your Garage Door, Even Manually

Broken cables can cause extra tension to transfer onto the other cable, putting tremendous strain on it. The garage door can become unbalanced and crooked by this. If your garage door starts shaking, creaking, or acting strangely, it could be a problem with the cable. If a cable is damaged or frayed, the only option is to remove it and use a new cable to replace it. We highly recommend you call a professional for this. 

Opening or closing a garage door with loose or frayed cables can be dangerous. The remaining cable could snap, causing the door to crash down to the floor or get stuck halfway in the opening. 

You should not open or close your garage door using your garage door opener if it has a broken cable. The added force needed to lift the door could strip the internal nylon drive gear. Broken cables can lead to more damage, resulting in more expensive repairs. You should always leave any damage to the professionals to avoid any injuries. Call for service immediately. 


Why You Shouldn’t Fix your Garage Door Cable Yourself

Garage door cable repairs should be performed by a professional. Each year, thousands of people are hurt trying to fix broken garage doors every year. Don’t attempt to repair a garage door —instead, contact professionals for a reliable, safe repair.

Overhead Door Company of Huntsville/North Alabama™ can diagnose and repair any garage door cable that is fraying or has snapped. Our technicians are skilled in diagnosing the problem and getting your garage door running smoothly again. We promise to provide a high-quality garage door repair service at an affordable cost, no matter the problem.



A repair by Overhead Door Company of Huntsville/North Alabama™ will also include an inspection of the garage door’s overall performance.

We will: 

  1. Identify the root cause of the broken garage door cable. 
  2. Repair any damage caused to the garage door itself. 
  3. Replace any broken, damaged, or faulty parts. Springs, drums, and cables. 
  4. Rebalance the weight of the door. 
  5. Set the correct tension on the spring.
  6. Confirm the proper operation of the garage door opener. 


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