How to replace garage door horizontal track?

Diagnostic the horizontal section of garage door track is the one that is parallel to the floor in your garage and it also has the curved radius that the garage door needs to sit above your head. Just like vertical track the only thing that damages the horizontal track that I can think of excluding extreme circumstances like an earthquake or something of that nature when your garage door jumps cable drums they tend to go sideways and crooked and will bend the horizontal track as well as the vertical track.

Cost: $50¬ 100
Difficulty: medium¬ difficult
Time to repair: 30 ¬90 min.
Tools needed: 3⁄8 ,7/16 ,1⁄2, 9/16 wrench or socket. Impact drill (not necessary but recommended).Reciprocating saw with steel cutting blade. Vice grips. 6¬10 20d size nails. Drill with set of metal drill bits. Hammer drill (if project has concrete or masonry walls). Ladder.
Before you get started you must identify what kind of horizontal track that you have because there are two different types, standard lift and low headroom lift . The way to determine the difference between the two is low headroom lift horizontal track will have two sets of tracks one stacked on top of the other. The top track will have either no curve radius track or it can have up to a 5 inch radius curve on the top track. The bottom track will have a lot bigger 15 inch radius curved track. If you do not see two tracks on your horizontal then you will have standard lift horizontal track this is just one track from front to back. Now both types of track can I have subtle differences that are very important if you have low headroom track then the only difference will be the top track because it can either have no curved radius in the front or a 3 inch curve and up to a 5 inch curve. Now when it comes to standard lift track there can be several differences from manufacturer to manufacturer. The first thing you should look at is the outside of the track because there is angled steel that is riveted to the outside of the track to give it strength and rigidity. Most lightweight garage doors do not require a lot of reinforcement in the track and would probably only have about 18 to 24 inches of angle support. On the other hand track with extra support can pretty much runs the length of the track this track is meant for heavier wood doors or custom carriage house doors. The other difference in standard lift track is the curved radius part of the track. Standard residential garage door track comes in 10,12 and 15 inch radius curves. . The way to measure and figure out what size radius your curve track is to measure from the bottom of the curved track where it meets the vertical track bring your tape measure up to the very top of the track and you will get a measurement it may not be exactly 10 or 12 inches its depending on where you are measuring two on the tape measure remember the track is 2 inches thick but if your measurement is 10 1/2 inches then it its 10 inch radius if it measures to about 13 inches or 12 1/2 inches then it is 12 inch radius track and the same goes for 15 inch radius track. Now there is something you need to look out for most of the time when you have a wood panel garage door some of the older manufactured track will have a couple inches of straight track at the bottom of the curve before it meets the vertical track this can make a big difference if you are using a horizontal track that does not have that 2 inches of straight track it is hard to explain without visualizing it but its about 2 inches so you will lose 2 inches of height when you install new or track that does not have that extra 2 inches of straight track. I am not for certain if they still manufacture this kind of track because I always see it on older wood panel doors. If you cannot find this type of track for your wood panel garage door then you might have to also replace the vertical track as well and since you cannot buy just vertical track or horizontal track separately because when it is sold it it comes as a set two pieces of vertical and two pieces of horizontal left and right side I dont know anybody who just sells horizontal or vertical tracked separately not to say that you couldnt get somebody to do that for you but it may be more difficult than you think. If your garage door is not that old and you need to replace the track because there was an issue with the door and the track got bent this is going to be much easier then replacing old track with track that was manufactured recently. This is because you want everything to line back up where it was to make this process relatively easy if you are in the position that you have to use newer track on an older door that had a different type of track made years ago then there are other things that need to be moved down like the bearing brackets and the spring center bracket that attaches the torsion springs to the wall. This is going to make your project a lot more difficult and dangerous because now you have to unwind the torsion springs and then wind them back up which is very dangerous to somebody who has never done it before. If you think this is your situation this is where you have to think about either doing it yourself or hiring a professional.

Step one: you must put the garage door in the down position all the way closed. The first thing you should do is examine the horizontal track look at where all the bolts are and where they connect. And again you should always take a photo with your phone if you have one for positioning reference especially if you need to know which slot or a hole that a certain boat needs to go into you can go back and look at your pictures. Before you start loosening any bolts you will need to secure the top section to the wall using a 20 d size nail holding it along the very edge of the door panel and driving into the wood leaving enough left over so you can bend the nail over the section securing it. This is because when you remove the horizontal track this is where the roller on the very top of the garage door is held in place with to remove the track there is no more support for that roller and that corner of the door most likely will want to come down. If you have a automatic opener unit on your garage door and you close the door all the way and do not pull the emergency release cord the opener will keep the top panel pushed up against the wall. If your garage door it has extension springs as a lift assist then the first thing you have to do is disconnect those springs for this you will have to put the door in the all the way up position have somebody else hold the garage door so it does not fall disconnect your springs and have your helper help you bring the garage door down slowly with the springs disconnected if it is a real heavy wood door you might want to get a couple of other people to help but you have to remember that without the springs on the door you want to let the door down horizontal level you do not want one side to go down further than the other to far because this will cause many problems including the garage door falling onto you. If you have two people you should have one person on each side and together slowly let the garage door down. When you get nearly to the end do not let it come down your fingers just let it go at the same time and let it fall it should not hurt anything as long is less than a 12 inch drop. The reason for this is extension springs use a really long cable that stretch from the back of the horizontal track all the way down to the bottom right or left hand corner of the garage door where they attached to the bottom hinge. And this kind of spring setup always has some sort of pulley usually a steel round wheel with a groove for the cable to go through sometimes they are four or 5 inches in diameter sometimes six or 7 inches in diameter. You have to remove this puli to put it onto the new track that you are installing and you cannot do that when the door is under tension it is dangerous so this is why you need to remove the extension springs.

Step two: the next thing that you will have to deal with is the bearing bracket if you have a torsion spring lift assist on your door then you will most likely in 90% of the cases have to disconnect this bracket from the horizontal track in order to remove it. The bearing bracket allows the torsion pole to spin freely when the door is opening and closing it is usually square or rectangular in shape and you will noticed it is behind the cable drums and there is a big metal bearing in the middle and you will see the torsion pool running through it this is your bearing bracket and some rare cases the bearing bracket may not be attached to the horizontal track if this is the case for you then you do not have to deal with this part just leave it alone as it is, it has nothing to do with replacing the horizontal track since it is not attached to it. Sometimes bearing brackets are bolted to the top of the track usually with two bolts and sometimes a bearing bracket is bolted in one spot to the top of the track and then on the top it can be lagged to the header or wall giving you to attach points. The only bolts you will want to remove in this case is the carriage bolt that attaches the bracket to the horizontal track if it is lagged to the wall or bolted to the vertical track instead of being lagged to the wall then you would want to leave that boat attached this will hold the torsion pole in place while you are replacing the track.

Step three: no we are going to remove the bolts needed to take off the old horizontal track you might want to grab a friend or relative to help you do this just to maybe hold the track up while you are loosening stuff just to make it easier. When you are examining the horizontal track you will see there are usually three connection points there are two or sometimes even one track bolt that attaches the curved part of the track to the flag bracket the flag bracket attaches the two sets of track together and it is lag to the wall do not remove this just leave it where it is the second point of attachment is usually 10 to 15 inches above that where the bearing bracket usually is there should be a boat that attaches the top of the track to the flag bracket also. The third point of attachment is all the way in the back where the track is supported by what we call back hangs most of the time it is punched angle but I have also seen 2 x 4s and other sorts of back hangs. Whatever the case may be or whatever you have as a back hang this is where you start when you are removing the attachment bolts. Remove any bolts that attach the horizontal track to the back hangs. Now this is where you want to grab some help have your helper stand on a ladder if needed and hold that horizontal track up that you just disconnected while you remove the bolts in the front just so the track is not an awkward position and make it difficult to loosen the bolts. Four minutes now remove the track bolts that attach the curved part of the track to the flag bracket and then remove the bigger boat that attaches the top of the horizontal track to the flag bracket if it does not easily slide off you might have to remove the very top hinge that contains the very top roller to easily remove the horizontal track.

Step four: now that you have successfully removed the old horizontal track now it is time to grab your new track and since you have already remove the old track you know where all the boats should go so now its just a matter of putting the track in place having a helper hold up the back of the track so you can reattach all the track bolts. I usually will start with the track boat that attaches the curved part of the track to the flag bracket and I do not tighten it down I just finger tight and then I will lift the back of the track up and put in the boat that attaches the very top of the track to the flag bracket. Then I will also finger tighten this boat in case I need to move the track a little bit forward or back to get the right alignment. Now the last boat you should put in is at the very back where the horizontal track attaches to the back hang. Now you can reattach the bearing bracket to the track. You should pretty much just finger tighten all the nuts and bolts so you can get the correct alignment before you tighten everything back down and when I speak of alignment I am talking about where the curved horizontal track meets the top of the vertical track you want them to be lined up as close as possible. Once you have the vertical track lined up with the horizontal track you can start to tighten down all of your bolts remember not to forget any of them this could cause problems in the future. If you have extension springs as a lift assist do not forget to reattach the pulley wheel for the spring cable this is going to be important. In the process, if you had to remove the top fixture or hands containing the very top roller please attach that to the garage door now this should be the last thing you have to do. Now you will need to remove any nails that you used to secure the top section if not then you will want to test the functioning of your garage door manually do not test for the first time with a garage door opener because if there is a problem and open your opening the door can make it a lot worse. If you have a opener unit pull down on the emergency release cord so that you can freely open the door by hand. If you have an extension spring system you will need to put the garage door in the full open position and reattach your extension springs and run your spring cable around the pulley or wheel. Now open your door a few times by hand if everything seems ok and is functioning properly like it did before any problems with the door then you have successfully replaced your horizontal track.