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Your garage door impacts your home’s visual appeal and security, so when something goes wrong, you should never procrastinate with repairs. The machinery gets used a lot, and eventually, things break down. Maybe it’s a broken spring or motor, or perhaps a sensor fails, and your door won’t open.

You might have physical damage to the door. Damage to garage doors can happen in various ways, from hitting them with your car to banging into them with the lawnmower or a bicycle. Tree limbs can dent them, as can a stray basketball. Some people accidentally close the door on an object higher than the sensor can detect, which often happens when loading a truck with extended objects. Panels can warp from temperature fluctuations too.

Regardless of how the damage occurred, you don’t always need to replace the whole garage door when physical damage happens. Instead, garage door panel replacement may be the best option, and if you’re handy, you might be able to do it yourself. Here’s a guide to help you understand how your garage door works and how to replace a panel.

Garage Door Panels

A broken garage door panel

Image via Flickr by dr.coop

Every garage door has at least four panels and could have six or more. These panels run the length of the door horizontally and connect via hinges that allow them to bend around the corner at the ceiling in your garage. They sit within a track that keeps them in position.

The top panel attaches to the pulley system that raises and lowers the door. The next panel attaches to the bottom of this panel and to the panel beneath it until you reach the last panel. The final panel will have a rubberized bottom attached to it to seal the door from the weather. This bottom panel has the greatest risk of damage as it gets closed on objects or gets banged into by things due to its low position. 

Step 1: Measure the Door Panel

You need to measure the length of the panel from end to end. Never measure the width of the garage opening. Measurements typically run in whole numbers. You’ll need to measure the height of your panel too. Standard sizes are 18, 21, and 24 inches, but you may have a specialty door. Last, you need to measure the thickness of your panel. Common sizes are 1-3/8 and 2 inches.

Step 2: Find the Brand Name

Most manufacturers put a sticker on one end of the bottom or top panel where the rollers meet the track. With any luck, your sticker will include the brand name, panel style, color, serial number, and measurements. It should also have a phone number or website to call or visit to order parts or service. 

If you can’t find this information, you will have to find who installed the doors. If you don’t know who installed the doors, it’s time to call a professional garage door replacement panel company like us at Overhead Garage Door.

Step 3: Remove the Damaged Panel

Once you’ve purchased the garage door replacement panel, you can begin by unplugging your garage door opener for safety reasons. You’ll need a hoist to attach to the top of the garage door track at one end. The other end of the hoist gets attached to the hinge above the damaged panel. Find the cables joining the brackets between panels and secure the cables to the drums with a vise grip. Usually, there are two cables per door. 

Lift the garage door around 4 inches using the hoist and use a 2×4, brick, or something sturdy to support the door’s weight when you detach the panels. Now you can unfasten the hinge bolts holding the broken panel to the panel above. Start on the outside and move toward the middle. If you’re replacing the bottom panel you can remove the damaged panel and set it aside.

If you are replacing a middle panel then you need to detach the hinge bolts holding the damaged panel to the panel below it. Once you’ve removed these bolts, you need to use the hoist to raise the upper section away from the broken panel before you can lift the broken panel free and set it aside. 

Step 4: Install the New Panel

Take the new panel and place it in the tracks, lowering it onto the panel beneath it. You can use vice grips to secure the panel to the tracks on either side to keep it in place while you re-attach the hinge bolts to the panel below. Lower the upper section of the door onto the new panel using the hoist and then re-attach the hinge bolts. 

Step 5: Test the Door

Once complete, you can remove the vise grips, plug in your garage door opener and raise the door. Go slowly, looking to see that your hinges bend smoothly and the panels are level with each other. If it works smoothly, you’re done. Congratulations, you’ve successfully replaced your garage door panel!

Garage Door Panel Replacement Cost

A garage door replacement panel’s cost varies by size and material but typically costs less than $200. If you’re handy, the procedure isn’t that difficult, provided you have the proper tools. Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed by the project. That’s what we’re here for, to help. At Overhead Garage Door, we handle all types of panel replacement and machinery repair and maintenance, plus we install whole new doors and systems. We encourage you to visit our website to learn more about our products and services.

We have proudly served the Chicagoland area for over 50 years. There isn’t a door out there that we haven’t worked on, and our selection of brand-name new doors will please the most discriminating tastes. You can contact us, and one of our friendly, knowledgeable staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have. We also offer 24/7 emergency service. If your garage door malfunctions for any reason, we’ll send someone out right away to fix the problem. We are fast and friendly and reasonably priced.