What Causes Garage Door Cable to Come Off?

June 15, 2024
Garage door cables support the door’s weight as it opens and closes, working with other parts to ensure smooth operation. A common issue with these cables is that they slip off their drum or pulley. But “What causes garage door cables to come off?”

There are a few reasons why garage door cables come off their pulley or drum, usually due to user error or cable damage. However, many other issues can affect your garage door. When one part fails, other parts can become strained and damaged. Following are some of such issues:

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1. Door Set on Object

The main reason cables slip off the drums is the door being set down on an object in the opening, often one that circumvents the path of the safety sensors. Common objects include vehicle bumpers, broom handles, chairs, and tools. An overhead door set down on an object creates uneven weight distribution and slack in the cables on one side of the door.

This can cause the cable to jump across the grooves in the drums, causing a tangled mess or worse. Doors that sit crooked in the opening are often caused by closing the door on an obstruction.

2. Broken Torsion Spring

If a spring breaks with the door in the open position, it could come crashing down to the floor. It’s best to have two springs installed to temporarily keep tension on the cables until repairs can be made. When a single spring breaks, the door doesn’t have a backup, causing slack in the cables and potentially making them slip out of the grooves.

This can generate a large amount of force, potentially snapping the cables. However, most garage doors are kept in the closed position, so this is rare.

3. Broken Extension Spring

Unlike torsion springs, extension springs are installed along the horizontal tracks and stretch out. If an extension spring breaks, the cables usually unwrap or get tangled around the pulley. You might notice slack in the cables and a loose spring hanging down. Safety cables can help prevent damage to people or property.

4. Excessive Manual Force

Manual force must be used to open and close the door without an automatic opener. Raising the door too fast or above parallel can cause the cables to slip off the drums.

5. Corrosion from Damp Environments

Moisture and chemicals (like salt) can weaken metal door components, such as cable fittings. Corrosion usually happens at the bottom loop sleeve end of the cable, causing it to eventually break. If you operate in damp environments, regularly check cables for rust and consider using higher-quality, corrosion-resistant cables.

6. Wrong Spring Configuration

If garage door springs are not installed or calibrated correctly, they can cause slack in the cables, leading to them slipping off the drums. Springs that are too weak or too strong can pose safety and performance issues.

7. Improper Torsion Spring Tension

Incorrectly installed or tensioned springs can cause cables to come unwound. Adding extra winds to weak springs or adding excessive weight to a door can cause these issues. Springs wounding in the wrong direction (backwound) also causes problems.

8. Wrong Cable Drum Configuration

Using the wrong size or type of drum with a specific track configuration will cause cables to come off the drums. The grooves on the drums are sized for specific cable diameters, and mismatched sizes will cause the cables to slip out.

9. Frayed Cable Assembly

Fraying occurs when cables rub against an object over a long period. Over time, frayed cables will weaken and eventually snap. Regular inspections for wear and friction are essential.

10. Loose Set Screws

Set screws on cable drums must be properly tightened. Loose screws can cause the drum to spin out of position, while over-tightened screws can damage the torsion tube.

11. Door Frozen to Floor

Garage doors can freeze to the ground in cold climates. Running the opener with the door frozen can cause the door to jump and the cables to slacken and come loose.

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Wrapping Up

A broken garage door cable is a very common issue faced by countless garage door owners. This often makes them wonder, “What causes garage door cables to come off?” Now you know there are multiple reasons. Only a garage door expert can rule out the right one.

Your safety comes first. So, refrain from fixing any garage door issues yourself. Contact our garage door experts at Garage Door Service Master. We have a decade of experience in providing top-notch garage door services. Call us at (832) 391-8827, (832) 838-9090 or (713) 769-8365 to book a service.