How to Know When It’s Time to Repair or Replace Your Garage Door
Your home’s garage door is probably something you take for granted. You hit the button on the remote and expect the door to quickly and quietly open and close. But when your garage door has a problem, it can be a real pain. The question is, do you simply need a repair or is a replacement in order?
Signs You May Only Need a Repair
In most cases, a garage door replacement isn’t necessary. Garage doors – and the mechanisms that control them – are made to last and most issues are tied to simple fixes. If you’re experiencing any of the following, then a repair should be adequate.
The Door Stops Opening and Closing (Without Warning)
The most common issue homeowners report is a garage door that won’t open or close. And while this can be alarming and inconvenient, it isn’t usually a reason to worry. In almost all cases, an unresponsive garage door can be repaired and brought back to fully functioning order.
One of the more common causes is photo-eye sensor obstruction. The photo eye sensors are located about six inches above the ground, one on either side of the garage door. These sensors send out an invisible beam that connects them. It’s easy for someone or something to bump one of these sensors and move them out of alignment. When this occurs, you simply need to realign the sensors.
If the sensor isn’t the issue, it may involve your opener. Perhaps the battery needs to be replaced in your car opener, or something has happened with the wiring between the wall opener and the system.
Finally, there’s always the chance that there’s some sort of physical obstruction in the wheel track. Conducting a simple visible inspection should be able to tell you if there’s a problem here.
Uneven Garage Door Movement
Have you noticed that your garage door seems to be uneven when opening and closing? Perhaps one side moves faster than the other, or something seems to be out of whack? When it comes to uneven movement, the problem tends to be related to either spring issues or track issues. A garage door repair professional should be capable of quickly identifying and correcting the problem to restore normal operation.
Slight Squeaking and Squealing
As homeowners, we tend to become used to the little quirks and issues of our houses. So maybe you stopped noticing how squeaky your garage door is…until someone else points it out. Should you be alarmed?
Slight squeaking is nothing to worry about. In most cases, it’s simply the result of parts scraping against each other. There may also be the presence of dirt and debris, which can gunk up the tracks. A repair professional can come in and get everything cleaned up, or you can try applying a lubricant yourself – such as WD-40 – to see if it makes a difference.
Signs It’s Time to Replace the Garage Door
While they’re made to last, garage doors certainly aren’t made to last forever. There comes a time where it simply makes more sense to perform a total replacement than to keep limping along and throwing money into regular repairs.
If you’re currently dealing with some issues and are unsure how to proceed, here are some possible signs that you need to go ahead and think about replacing your existing setup.
You Don’t Like the Appearance
Sometimes homeowners simply don’t like the appearance of a garage door and feel as if it takes away from the aesthetic appeal of the home. If you’re tired of looking at an ugly garage door, then there’s not much you can do to repair it. A replacement may be your best option.
The Door is Seriously Damaged
A garage door is unique in that part of it is “indoors,” while the other half is exposed to the outdoor elements. Between weather, vandalism, and collisions, garage doors can take a beating over the years. If there are entire broken/dented sections on your door, or you fear it’s actually a security issue, then a replacement is probably something you should seriously consider.
Unreasonably Loud Vibration and Noise
Squeaks and squeals shouldn’t worry you too much, and can be remedied by applying some lubricant or cleaning the parts, but unreasonably loud noise may be cause for concern. If you notice that there’s also severe vibration and parts look to be rubbing against each other and causing excess friction, then it would be smart to have a professional come out and look at the situation and provide more clarity on how to proceed.
Lacks Child Safety Features
For the most part, today’s garage doors have features that are designed to keep infants and pets safe. They can detect when an object is in the way and will stop before completely closing. However, it’s possible that older homes still lack these updated features.
If your garage door doesn’t have some sort of mechanism that prevents it from closing when an object is in the way, like photo-eyes, it’s best to invest in a replacement. Some people will try to upgrade old doors with these features, but it’s typically a better investment to go ahead and replace it.
Let Us Help
Believe it or not, garage door repair can actually be a very dangerous task. Not only is the garage door the largest moving mechanism in your home, but the springs are under extreme tension and could seriously hurt or even kill someone who isn’t properly trained in the field.
While most garage door repairs are very affordable, messing something up by attempting to do it on your own can result in a much more expensive bill when you’re eventually forced to call in the professionals. It’s best to avoid the risk and save your time and money by calling on the experts the first time around.
At GarageDoorRepair.com, we connect you with local garage door repair experts from around the country. Find a locally licensed company with highly-trained technicians who can provide 24-hour garage door repair services in both commercial and residential settings.
Considering DIY Garage Door Repair?
Here are a few reasons you might want to reconsider…
A sign in a Pennsylvania bicycle repair shop reads:
$ 50.00 per hour
$ 75.00 if you watch
$ 100.00 if you help
$ 200.00 if you worked on it first
There’s a lesson here and it is that the bicycle repairman has learned from years of experience that some things are more complicated than they look, more dangerous, and in the long run, more expensive. DIY attempts to perform door work might well carry the familiar warning ‘don’t try this at home’.
Of course homeowners can and should inspect their doors, apply lubrication, and look for obvious signs of wear. This includes things like listening to doors and operators in motion, or checking to see if the perimeter weatherstripping is doing the job, all the while using common sense as you would with any large moving object.
List of safe DIY Garage Door Inspections
- Park your vehicles outside, close the door and see if it moves smoothly.
- Disconnect the door from the operator and move it by hand. Does it stay closed? Does it drift down from the open position?
- Look to see if it sits level on the garage floor.
- Does it clear the header when in the fully open position?
- Check to see if the photo eyes are clean and properly aligned.
- Inspect the sections inside and out; worn or damaged sections can mean that the door no longer provides security for the home, and could cause property damage and serious bodily injury.
- Is the operator plugged in correctly?
- Make sure the track is fastened securely to the jambs, look for frayed cables, broken springs, worn rollers, and loose fasteners.
Be mindful of the fact that to the untrained eye it’s easy to miss something that is worn, loose, or broken.
Doing these things should be a regular part of household maintenance. If you are handy around the house go ahead and snug up a loose fastener, tap that nail that holds the weatherstrip to the jamb, clean and lube the door as necessary. When a serious problem arises, however, it’s best to turn to an expert for help.
3 Serious Reasons to reconsider DIY Garage Door Repair
- Tools. An experienced garage door repairman will have the proper ladders, specialized tools, and the correct parts needed to fix most problems. He will also have things the homeowner won’t have and can’t buy at a big box store: cold rolled steel winding bars of various sizes, aircraft cable, special cable pulleys, operator parts, spring stock and gauges, torches and much more. Hammers, screwdrivers and pliers are good for small jobs around the house, but of little use, and can cause injury, when performing proper garage door repairs.
- Training. Another consideration is that with overhead garage doors things must be done in the proper order. What’s the first step to take to adjust, replace, or wind a spring? Are repairs made with the door in the open or closed position? How would you attach a new cable to a spring, drum, or bottom fixture? If you attempted to do the work yourself, how would you test it to see if it was okay? Tested it safely, that is. The garage door spring is among the most dangerous repairs and can result in serious injury, or even death, if not done correctly.
- Ladders. It sounds simple, however, each year thousands of people are injured or killed in home-related accidents. And, almost without exception, the number one leading cause is always falls. The Home Safety Council says falls account for roughly 6,000 deaths annually. While you’re always susceptible to a fall, you should do everything you possibly can to avoid situations where falls are particularly dangerous. This includes climbing ladders to fix garage door issues.
The old definition of an expert was someone who came from more than 50 miles away and was carrying a briefcase. Mark Twain joked that an expert was just a regular fellow from the next town over. Our factory trained technicians are close at hand, have a truck full of parts and specialized equipment and have something else in their tool kits – Safety. In most trades, a pinch, a cut, and a bump on the head are all common on-the-job injuries, and as a result workers quickly learn from experience how to do things the right way, the safe way. In our business training and experience are top priorities.
Safety is a serious concern at all large major companies. Some multi-national corporations go so far as to cease production at every facility they own if there is an accident with injury anywhere in their system. Full reports and appropriate instructions are sent to all parties at every location and orders are issued before operations are resumed. That’s serious. Being safe is a priority for them and good word of advice for a homeowner.
If you decide to do the work yourself remember that you can fall, and things can fall on you. As well, DIYers working on a garage door can and do sustain cuts, bruises, broken bones, eye injuries, even electrical shocks, all as result of not having the right tools, parts, and experience.
Above all else, safety is the key factor in making the decision to use a professional.
Be safe, DDIY. Contact Your Local Garage Door Expert Today.
As the largest moving piece in your home, the garage door should command a lot of respect and attention. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t understand that garage door openers don’t last forever and never consider the possibility of replacement. If you own a garage door opener that’s more than 15 or 20 years old – and especially a pre-1993 version – then you’ll be interested in learning more about the benefits a replacement can provide.
It’s Time to Replace, When…
The average garage door opens and shuts roughly 1,500 times per year. And while everything might seem fine one day, it’s possible that it’ll give way the next. That’s just the nature of garage door openers. Sometimes they’ll give you a warning sign, while other times they simply decide to stop functioning.
There are things you can do to ensure your garage door opener enjoys a long, safe life, but there are also a number of factors out of your control. However, one of your key responsibilities as a homeowner is to remain aware of what your garage door opener is telling you. Keep an eye (or ear) out so that you know when the time is right. Specifically, here are 5 reasons to replace your garage door opener.
1. 1993 CPSC Rule
In an effort to reduce the number of deaths and injuries to children and pets who became entrapped underneath garage doors with automatic openers, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) established a new set of rules in 1993 for automatic residential garage door openers.
The rule was enacted as part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 1990 and required that any automatic garage door openers manufactured on or after January 1, 1991 conform to the various entrapment protection requirements laid out in the legislation.
The 1993 CPSC rule contains a lot of information, but the basic gist is any garage door manufactured after the ruling is required to have a safety reversing mechanism. This feature uses two sensors on either side of the door. If at any time during the closing of the door an object, child, or pet interferes with the beam running between the two sensors, the door immediately stops and reverses.
If you have a garage door opener that was manufactured and installed prior to this ruling, then it’s time to replace it with a new one. You’ll need an opener that’s equipped with a safety reversing mechanism.
Even if you have a post-1993 unit, it’s important that you regularly check the safety reversing mechanism to ensure it’s working properly. You can do this in three simple steps:
- Look to the bottom of each side of the garage door and verify that the sensors are mounted no higher than six inches off the ground. Any higher and the sensors won’t be able to recognize objects in the garage door’s path.
- Use an object to the block one of the sensors and then press the garage door opener button. The door should not close while you’re blocking the sensor.
- Lay an object that’s 1.5 inches or higher on the ground (in the door’s path) and again press the close button. The door should begin to close and then reverse direction.
Most people aren’t aware of how important their garage door’s safety reversing mechanism (or lack thereof) is. Keep these tips in mind and check to ensure you’re compliant..
2. Noise Issues
Every neighborhood or street has that home with the noisy garage door opener. Don’t be that neighbor. Not only is it embarrassing, but it can be a nuisance for everyone. If your garage door opener has been noisy for years, you probably don’t even notice. Take this opportunity to check the noise level of your opener. Is it on par with the neighbors’ garage doors, or does it seem unusually loud?
Older garage door opener models were built with large, noisy components, while newer models use much quieter chains or belt drives. The latter is virtually silent when compared to an old chain unit. You’ll be amazed at the difference.
3. Home Security
Older garage door opener models were very low on security features. They had fixed codes that could be stolen using radio frequency identifier devices, which made them a popular entryway into the home for burglars.
On the other hand, modern models use advanced technological features with rolling codes. This means the code changes each time the door is operated. As a result, the code cannot be stolen. This prevents break-ins and enhances security. If you’re still using an older model, then it’s important that you review its security features to know whether your home is fully protected.
4. Battery Backup
Few things are more frustrating than having your car locked in the garage during a power outage. While older models have latches that can be pulled to manually open the door, these mechanisms often get stuck over the years and can be difficult for some individuals to operate.
New models have battery back up features, which are extremely useful during power outages. Your garage door can open and close for many cycles using this battery. While you may only need to use it once a year, it provides peace of mind.
5. No Outside Keypad
Older garage door opener models had manual operation. If you wanted to open the door from the outside (without the remote opener in your vehicle), you’d have to use a key. Newer models feature keypads on the outside of the garage door, which require a simple programmable code for entry. This lets you to give access to people, even when you aren’t home.
Contact a Local Expert Today
It’s easy to take your garage door opener for granted; however, it’s imperative that you give it the attention it deserves. If you have any of these five issues, then it’s time to consider replacing your outdated model with a newer and more functional solution.
A home with a garage is a wonderful thing — wonderful, that is, when you know how to use/protect it. As great as it is to have extra storage and a place to park, those benefits become liabilities when you don’t practice proper garage safety. Keep your garage in proper working order so that it, its contents and your household members stay safe. Follow these tips for maximizing garage door safety:
Our Top 10 Garage Door Safety Tips
- Keep the Opener Out of the Reach of Children. One of the most important garage safety tips is to keep your door opener out of the wrong hands. Don’t let kids — especially small children — play with the openers, and don’t keep remotes where they can access them.
- Prepare for Emergencies. Should you need to open the door in case of an emergency/accident, you’ll want to know where the emergency release feature is located. Find out and be prepared.
- Be Cautious. Never step, walk, run or otherwise move under a closing or opening garage door. Teach your kids to never do so.
- Inspect Gears. Each month, take the time to inspect springs, cables, rollers and pulleys to know they’re still working properly.
- Test Auto-Reverse. If your garage door has an auto-reverse feature, put a roll of paper towels in the door’s path on occasion to make sure it’s working. If you don’t have this feature, look into getting a door/opener that does — it can prevent serious accidents.
- Watch Your Fingers! Don’t put fingers in between door sections, and teach your kids to avoid doing so. If you have small children, look for a door with non-pinch panels to help avoid injuries.
- Don’t Leave Door Ajar. Never leave your garage door partially open, whether or not you’re nearby. It’s both a security and a safety risk, as someone could enter the garage (and possibly your house) and/or someone could get caught underneath if the door is reactivated.
- Unplug When You’re Away. When you’re going to be out of town, unplug the door opener unit — or lock it so that it’s unusable.
- Change the Code Often. Get a rolling code that changes the garage access code with each use. Or, at the very least, regularly change the standard codes on the opener and remotes.
- Prevent Invasion. Always lock the door to your house when you leave, even if the garage door is closed. Should someone get your remote, it could mean access to both your garage and home if the service door is unlocked. Likewise, keep tabs on your remotes — don’t leave it with a parking attendant, for example, and consider putting it on a key ring so it stays with you at all times.
To protect your home and loved ones, follow the garage door tips above. At Garage Door Repair, we’re happy to help you repair or update your garage to make sure it’s safe and in good working condition.
Residential Garage Door Opener Options
Automated garage door installation is a popular project for do-it-yourself people because of the ability to customize and control such variables as noise and speed. In general, you have three types of drives to choose from, each with unique pros and cons. None are the clear best option, meaning the type of garage door opener you choose comes down largely to personal preference. Here are a few advantages to each of the three types of automated garage door opener drives: screw, belt and chain drive.
Screw Drive Garage Door Openers
What it is: Screw drive garage door openers are different mechanically than the other two options, as they require a trolley to ride on a threaded-steel rod, which rotates with a motor to move the door. It does not require the same type of pushing and pulling force of traditional belt and chain driven garage door openers.
The advantages: Screw drive openers are simple, and for that reason, preferable for people who want fewer moving parts to maintain. Screw drive units are somewhat sensitive to temperature and are not considered optimal in regions that see drastic shifts in temperature as seasons change. In most cases, they are noisier than belt drive units. Cost-wise, screw drive units tend to be more expensive than belt drive and chain drive openers.
Chain Drive Garage Door Openers
What it is: Chain drive units are classic garage door openers and are among the oldest and most common styles, running the door along a track. These units rely on a bicycle-like chain to push the trolley connected to the J-arm, which is attached the garage door itself.
The advantages: One caveat (or advantage, depending on how you look at it) is noise. Because of the design, chain drive units tend to cause a slight vibrations and metal-to-metal noise. For that reason, these units are more popular for detached garages than garages situated beneath a bedroom, for example. Some people prefer a garage door that opens with a bit of racket so they can be warned if someone is about to enter. Over time, chain drive units have become much quieter with newer technologies, such as softer start-and-stop features and DC motors. Chain drives are considered to be the most economical option.
Belt Drive Garage Door Openers
What it is: For many people, belt drives are considered to be the most luxurious option because of their sleekness and relative low level of noise. Belt drive openers use the same mechanisms as chain drive openers, with the exception that instead of a chain, they use a belt — largely eliminating the vibrations and noises associated with chain drive openers. The belts are typically made from fiberglass, steel-reinforced rubber or polyurethane.
The advantages: Belt drive garage openers are the quietest types of openers (almost silent by comparison with chain drive units), although they tend to cost just a bit more than the chain option.
* If you’d like further information and prices on garage door openers, be sure to consult one of our expert garage door repair companies. Find your local expert by entering your zip code in the form in the footer!
If you’re like most homeowners, you probably give little thought to your garage door — until it breaks. Suddenly, you’re forced to make all kinds of decisions about materials, installers and even the types of springs required to safely raise and lower your garage door.
Your garage door springs are more important than you probably realize. Property damage, personal injury and even death are just a handful of the dire consequences awaiting homeowners who gloss over garage door spring selection and safe installation. Yes, actual deaths have been a result of poorly installed springs, which is one of many reasons replacing a broken garage door spring should not be a DIY project. Always contact your local garage door experts when you are dealing with a broken garage door spring.
This article covers the most common spring types:
Different Types of Garage Door Springs
Although there is a broad range of different spring types (and sub-types), the two most popular categories are extension and torsion springs.
1. Extension Springs
Usually located above the upper horizontal tracks on both sides of the door, extension springs are the most common residential garage door spring type. In order to open the door, these springs extend — providing counterbalancing force to support the door. The more force that is applied (via hand or motor), the more the extension spring expands. All extension springs should be paired with safety cables. Safety cables prevent the extension spring from becoming a projectile in the event of a spring, cable or bottom bracket failure. These events can occur at any time while the door is open, closed or in motion. Safety cables should be installed on all extension spring doors.
2. Torsion Springs
Whereas extension springs “extend” or “stretch,” torsion springs use torque to raise garage doors. Attached above the garage opening, torsion springs slowly twist and coil on the shaft whenever force is applied (via hand or motor).
Torsion springs come in a wider variety of options, including various wire sizes and lengths. These variations are calculated specifically dependent upon your garage door weight, height, track radius and more.
Which Garage Door Springs Are Best?
Because extension springs are usually much cheaper, they are often the garage door spring solution in most residential construction projects. It is important to note, however, with more exposed parts, they’re also more dangerous.
By contrast, torsion springs are able to support more weight and last twice longer. They offer greater overall balance, making it easier to open and close your garage door. And with fewer exposed parts, they’re also safer to use. As a result, torsion springs tend to be more expensive.
If you’re in the market for new garage door springs, be sure to factor in the added benefits of a torsion spring system. When it comes to home improvement projects, garage door replacements provide some of the highest returns. You can further boost the ROI of your investment by choosing longer-lasting torsion springs over extensions springs.
Remember that whether through stretching or torque, both types of springs operate using extreme tension. To limit exposure to damage or injury, it is strongly recommended that you consult with a professional garage door installer before attempting any repairs on your own. To find reputable consultants in your area, use the free search tool located in the footer below.