A garage door cable malfunction could cause major problems in the functionality of your garage. At best, this could mean the inconvenience of not being able to open or close the door; at worst, a falling door could cause a serious injury.

Even though the garage door cable is a central part of the system, it might not be necessary to call in a professional to get it back on track. Here is a DIY guide for how to fix garage door cable. As always, safety comes first, so be sure that you are comfortable with this type of job before diving in.

Disclaimer: This information is provided merely for informational purposes, and is not intended to be understood as an official step-by-step guide, workbook, or approved safety manual of garage door repairs. Because of the danger inherent in garage door repair, all repairs should be performed by a professional. By continuing to read this article, individuals are agreeing that G&S Garage Doors is not to be held responsible for any repairs undertaken by any licensed or non-licensed individual following the information provided here.

What the Cable Does

The cable is one of the most important parts of your garage door. It is a safety mechanism that runs through the torsion springs and does the heavy lifting every time the door comes up or down. It also serves as a backup in case of spring failure, protecting against a violent spring recoil. A properly-cabled spring will fall harmlessly to the ground if it snaps, preventing injury and damage to any property. It is essential that the cable is properly aligned in your garage door.

Ways it Can Break & How to Troubleshoot

Garage door cables can come off track for a number of reasons. For your door to work properly, there needs to be just the right amount of tension between the cables and the springs, and if that balance is upset, the cable can come unwound. This could be because the torsion spring is broken, the drum is the wrong size for the spring, or maybe even because the door hit an object.

If one of the cables has broken or come off track, it is possible to replace or realign it in a short amount of time, if the proper caution is taken.

First, if you have an automatic door opener, disengage the electricity from the opener to prevent any electrical accidents while you are working. Open the door all the way and use clamps on the tracks to hold the door open while you repair the cable.

Before attempting to remove the broken cable, it is essential to release the tension in the garage door torsion springs. These springs are stressed every time the door opens or closes, and they hold a tremendous amount of tension. It is dangerous to attempt to remove the cable without releasing the tension in the springs, as it can cause the springs to recoil suddenly and injure someone.

To proceed safely, use a vise-grip clamp to grip the shaft, and turn the shaft just enough to loosen the cable. (Not too much though – if you over-loosen the shaft, you could unwind the cable on the other side of the door, making a lot more work for you). You can now detach the old cable from the pin at bottom of the garage door. Slowly unwind the cable and remove it entirely from the drum.

For standard 7-foot door you will need a new cable that is 8 feet 6 inches long. On one end of the cable is a tip which fits neatly inside the drum; the other end has a loop to attach to the door. At this point, you can easily slide the tip into its slot in the cable drum, and tightly wrap the cable around the drum. Keep your hand on the cable at all times and wind it neatly until you can attach the loop at the other end to the pin at the bottom of your garage door. When it is attached, use your vise-grip once again to turn the shaft and tighten the cable around the drum one last time. Be sure not to over-tighten the drum!

After replacing the broken cable, you should check the drum and cable on the other side of the door to make sure it hasn’t come unwrapped while you were working. If both sets of cables are properly aligned, you can now remove the clamps from the garage tracks and gently lower the door by hand. Good as new!


Whether you are going to fix the door yourself, or call a professional, don’t hesitate to call us at G&S Garage Doors with any questions you may have. We would love to answer your questions.

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