The garage door tips in this article can be used by homeowners, realtors, property managers, apartment maintenance, handyman, and home inspectors.
Buying, selling, and managing properties is a tough job. Many realtors work long hours trying to locate the perfect home, while property managers balance the delicate relationship between the tenant and the owner. The garage has become the main entry point into the home, so now more than ever, it’s important to educate your customers and tenants on how to use their garage door.
In this article, we cover the most important garage door tips for realtors and property managers that can be used when renting or selling homes and apartments. These invaluable tips will help homeowners when moving into a new property and set expectations between property managers and tenants during the initial walk through. The material in this article is also great for property managers at apartment complexes with garages, as they deal with hundreds of residents at one property.
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What Qualifies Me to Write This Article?
Anyone reading this is probably asking what qualifies me to write this article. Here is a quick breakdown of my experience with realtors and property managers.
- I was trained by a seasoned garage door company owner with over 30 years of experience repairing residential garage doors under management.
- Our company currently does garage door repair and installation for over 60 Property Management and Real Estate Groups
- Our company has completed over 30,000 jobs on homes for sale and under property management.
- We are very familiar with the most common garage door issues on residential rental homes and properties for sale.
Recode Remotes and Keypads When New Occupants Move In
Recoding the garage door opener will provide safety, security, and peace of mind for new tenants and homeowners. A neighbor, mother-n-law, or friend of previous tenants might have your remote code programmed into their vehicles. There could also be additional remotes floating around that we’re not turned in, and multiple codes programmed into the outside keypad. Clearing out the memory in the garage door opener circuit board will eliminate any security risks.
Most garage door openers can store up to 10-20 remotes and keypads in the circuit board memory. A tenant or occupant in a rental property can purchase additional remotes online or at their local home store and program them to the opener without anyone knowing. This is why it is important to clear out the circuit board and have all remotes and outside keypads reprogrammed.
The process of recoding the garage door opener is similar to rekeying the front door on the home, and it is equally important. Usually, the walk through door going from the garage into the home will not be locked. Your local garage door company can provide this service and check the door for proper operation. Completing this simple step will provide a fresh start for anyone moving into a new property.
Finally, have the garage door opener re-programmed after all contractors have completed necessary repairs on the home to get it ready for the next move in. This ensures a contractor did not program a remote or additional keypad code giving them access to the home later.
Make sure to use a garage door company that is insured and reputable in your community. As a property manager, you need to have an invoice with a garage door company letterhead that shows the system was properly recoded and all remotes and keypads were re-programmed. This protects you as a property manager and ensures everything was completed by a professional. A garage door company will also service the door while they are there to make sure everything looks ok and is running properly.
Collect a Separate Deposit for Garage Door Remote’s
One of the most common service calls garage door companies perform for realtors and property managers is replacing missing remotes for automatic openers. Tenants will often lose or misplace the remotes, which can cost the owner a lot of money. Or, they get misplaced while a home is for sale.
Property managers are starting to take deposits for remotes left with tenants. If you collect a separate deposit specifically for the remotes, you will have the money to replace them if needed. This will also leave more money in the original deposit for other repairs that might need to be made in and around the home after tenants move out.
It is expensive replacing remotes for a garage door opener if you have to call a service company once you include trip charges and service call rates. You must collect enough deposit money to cover the cost of the remotes and labor to have them re-programmed.
Some property managers and owners have stopped providing remotes for the garage door opener because this is such a common issue. We have seen them referred to as a “luxury item” that is not provided at the move-in. You can choose to go this route as well, but it can be a hard sell and create some turbulence on move-in day, especially if you’re renting a home in an upscale area.
Disable Garage Door Lock if Automatic Opener is Installed
If there is an automatic garage door opener installed, the manual lock on the garage door needs to be disabled.
Garage doors have a manual lock that is used when the door is operated manually and there is no automatic opener installed. Some doors have a keyed lock that is accessible from the outside, and others have an interior slide lock only available on the inside of the garage. It is good practice to disable these locks when there is an automatic garage door opener being used to open and close the door.
We have seen on many occasions where the lock was engaged and someone attempted to open the garage door with the automatic opener. When this happens, it usually causes significant damaged to the garage door. Something as simple as a small cable tie can prevent someone from locking the door. This one small preventative measure could save the homeowner a lot of money and prevent many headaches for property managers.
Any garage door company you call out can easily disable the lock upon request.
Show How to Use Emergency Release Rope
Every automatic garage door opener should have a red release rope hanging down that allows someone to disengage the opener from the door in case of an emergency. If one is not present, a replacement rope will need to be installed by your garage door company. This is a vital safety feature that allows the garage door to become a critical exit point in case of a fire or power outage.
One of the most common service calls for any garage door company is a disengaged carriage on the automatic opener. The carriage is what connects the door to the opener drive system. So many times the red rope will be pulled causing the motor to run, but the garage door will not move.
Every property manager should know how to properly re-engage the carriage on the garage door opener and demonstrate this to the tenant. This will prevent those awkward service calls you will have to bill the tenant for, therefore making your life easier.
Manually Lift the Garage Door
The garage door should be balanced enough so that you or the tenants can open it manually in case of an emergency or power outage. Start by pulling the red rope while the garage door is in the down position. Next, try lifting the garage door to make sure anyone can lift the door and exit the home through the garage if needed. Once this is confirmed and completed, you can mark it off your safety checklist.
Test Safety Sensors
Safety entrapment sensors have been mandated on all automatic garage door openers manufactured from 1993 to present. They are required to be installed near the garage door vertical tracks, no more than six inches off the ground. If you can’t locate any safety sensors for the garage door opener, you will need to call a garage door service company to evaluate the situation.
If the automatic garage door opener was manufactured before 1993 and has no sensors, it is best to have the unit replaced. This will reduce liability for the property management group and the owner of the home. If you are selling the home, the inspector may point it out on their report. Whether it is grandfathered in your area will be dictated by your local laws and ordinances.
Garage Door Should Reverse When Going Down
While you are with your new clients, you will want to demonstrate how the safety sensors work. Safety sensors on garage door openers are only active on the down cycle. They have no purpose when the garage door is going up. If you activate the garage door opener to close the door, you can kick your foot through the invisible safety sensor beam and the door should reverse and go back up. If it doesn’t reverse, you have bad sensors, and they need to be replaced.
Make Sure Sensors are at the Right Height
The safety sensors for the garage door opener must be mounted at the correct height when a home is rented or sold. The requirement is the sensors should be mounted no more than six inches off the ground. This is important so the broker, realtor, or homeowner involved not held liable for accidents or injuries caused by improperly mounted sensors.
Sensors Need to Be Properly Secured
The most common service calls a garage door company will receive are usually related to safety sensor issues. A good practice is to check the safety sensors to make sure they are properly secured to the wall or garage door vertical track. Something as simple as bolting the brackets to the tracks or making sure they are securely attached to the wall will greatly reduce unnecessary work orders.
Vehicle Parked Halfway in Garage
If a vehicle is parked halfway in the garage, the safety sensors could make a connection under the vehicle. If the sensors are making a connection and someone hits the button to close the garage door, the door will come down on the vehicle. This happens more than you think.
Another example is when someone pulls their truck in the garage and drops the tailgate. The tailgate of the truck could be in the path of the garage door coming down while the safety sensors are making a connection under the tailgate. These are important scenarios to discuss with new homeowners and tenants to prevent costly accidental damage to their garage door.
Demonstrate Lock Feature on Wall Button
Many new garage door openers feature a vacation lock on the wall button that is designed to provide security while you are away from your home. When this lock is engaged, the wall button will continue to function as normal, but the remotes and keypads will no longer work. This feature would be beneficial if your vehicle was broken into and a criminal got their hands on your remote in the car.
New occupants need to be educated on how this feature works. In most circumstances, you can identify the button on the wall button because it will say “lock” or feature an icon of a padlock. It is important to note that some brands will lock out the remotes and outside keypad, while others will only lock out the remotes.
This is a very common service call performed on rental homes. By educating your tenants, you can prevent unnecessary service call fees and the headaches that go along with trying to get reimbursement from the tenant. A little less arguing will make your job that much easier.
Doorbell Wall Button
If you have continuous problems with this, remove the deluxe wall button and have a doorbell wall button installed. A doorbell wall button has only one button, which prevents someone from accidentally activating the vacation lock. Ideally, it would be best if the wall button did not have a vacation lock on a rent home to prevent unnecessary service calls.
Test Sensitivity/Force on Garage Door Opener
The force or sensitivity setting on a garage door opener tells the unit how hard to pull the door up and how hard to push it down when closing. Older openers have manual limits that can be adjusted with a screwdriver. If not adjusted properly, you can end up with a disaster if the force is too high. That is where the 2×4 comes in.
This is a task that is best performed by a garage door service company, but we have seen many property managers complete this test using a 2×4 they carry around in their vehicle. The test starts by laying a 2×4 flat on the ground in the center of the door where the door comes down to the concrete. The whole point of the exercise is to have the garage door hit the 2×4, reverse, and go back up.
If the garage door does not reverse when it hits the 2×4, you will need to adjust the force limits yourself or call a service company to make the necessary adjustments. They can also test the up limits to make sure they are not pulling too hard, which can cause lots of damage to a garage door in a broken spring situation.
Most of the newer garage door openers feature DC motors with electronic limits. This means there is no screwdriver adjustment for the travel or force settings. Everything’s adjusted using the buttons on the circuit board, and the unit will usually remember the resistance of the garage door from its last four cycles. It is always learning the last four cycles to make small adjustments.
Please Note: Some garage door openers will not reverse when tested properly due to the metal rail, pick up arm, and garage door bending because they are manufactured using very thin metal. This is common with builder grade garage doors and openers.
Garage Door Coming Down on Vehicle
The garage door could be damaged if someone closes the door on something much higher off the ground, like a vehicle. Many times, the force will activate, causing the door to reverse and go back up. But, keep in mind, it is not uncommon for a garage door to be damaged when it hits something taller because the force reversal system was originally designed to reverse when it hits something lower to the ground.
Common Issue with Home Inspectors
We have repaired hundreds of garage doors where the top section was damaged by a home inspector that was testing the downward force of an automatic garage door opener. The reason for this is the home inspector is testing the down force incorrectly. Instead of laying a 2×4 flat on the ground in the middle of the door, they are grabbing the garage door about waist high and providing resistance to see if it reverses.
If the home inspector provided too much resistance, the automatic opener pick up arm will force the top section downward and bend the section. The reason the sections are bending so easily is that they are now made with much thinner metal, and many builder models have all the reinforcement removed from the garage door. What you’re left with is a 16ft wide garage door that is ready to fail the first time it comes in contact with anything.
Do Not Lock the Keyless Deadbolt and Exit Through the Garage Door
Many property managers, landlords, or maintenance personnel will have a key to the front door. The keyless deadbolt on the front door provides security and peace of mind for residents while they are home. The problem that many property managers face is tenants will lock the keyless deadbolt and exit through the garage. This is fine until the day comes when the garage won’t open.
This is an all-too-common issue that comes up weekly with property managers, and it should be discussed with tenants. If a tenant locks the keyless deadbolt and the garage door won’t open, the best method for entry is to call a locksmith to drill out the keyless deadbolt or find a small window to break. These methods will cost far less than damaging a garage door section.
If the garage door doesn’t open, the only way to get through the garage door is to cut a hole in it. Yes, sometimes you can fish a wire to release the emergency disconnect, but that isn’t as easy as it looks-especially if the garage door has no windows. It’s best not to rely on your garage door as the only entry point into the home. If you do, one day you will be locked out.
If a garage door service company cuts a hole through one of the garage door sections, they could try to source a replacement section to repair the damaged door. The problem that arises in this situation is when a hole is cut into a garage door that is no longer available. This mistake can happen easily because most garage doors are labeled on the inside with the manufacturer name and model number. If a replacement section is no longer available, the entire garage door will need to be replaced. This is why we never recommend this method for entry into the home as it can be extremely costly.
If you are faced with this issue quite frequently, you could install warning stickers on the inside of the front door above the keyless deadbolt on all your rental properties.
The sticker could read:
- “WARNING $250 Lockout Fee” or
- “DO NOT LOCK if exiting through garage” or
- “STOP-Do not lock if leaving through garage”
The sticker doesn’t have to be gaudy. You could have one made in a general brass, nickel, or bronze color that will match the lock hardware on the door. By having this sticker installed near all the keyless deadbolts, you will cover yourself when a tenant is asking you to reimburse them for the locksmith fees.
Demonstrate How to Change Light Bulbs and Batteries
Demonstrating how to replace light bulbs in the garage door opener will help tenants maintain the lighting and safety in their garage. The light bulb in the automatic opener will stay on for around five minutes after a garage door is opened. This light allows residents to safely exit their vehicle and take their stuff into the home. Coming home at night to a dark garage is never a good thing.
All remotes and outside keypads are battery operated. You can expect a good, quality battery to last around two years. If the remote or keypad is starting to lose range or become intermittent, the battery most likely needs to be replaced. The light on the remote or keypad can still shine brightly even though the battery has to be replaced. Don’t think for a second the light must go completely out before replacement is required.
In most lease agreements, light bulbs and batteries are the responsibility of the tenant. If that is the case with your tenants, this needs to be explained or laid out in the contract, so expectations are set properly. If the tenant hears a beeping noise coming from the automatic opener, the unit probably has a battery backup that has to be replaced.
Reinforcement Strut Installed on Single Car Garage Doors
When most single car garage doors are installed for builders, reinforcement struts are usually not installed on the top sections of 8’ and 9’ wide doors. The reason for this is to save money. This is ok as long as there is no automatic opener installed to open and close the garage door. But in reality, an automatic opener is always installed later.
When a garage door opener pulls on the center stile of the top section, over time it will start to generate a small crack, which will eventually lead to the section collapsing and losing its strength and integrity. If you catch this problem when it first starts to show signs of damage, it can easily be fixed by installing a reinforcement strut, which will add substantial strength and straighten the section.
Opening Garage Door With a Broken Spring
The first question we always get from a property manager or owner is: Was it the tenant’s fault?
When a spring breaks on a garage door, most people have no idea. It could happen while they are at work or inside the home. There is no way to predict when it will happen, so you can prevent damage to the garage door or automatic opener, not to mention the inconvenience of having your car stuck in the garage.
Damage to the Automatic Garage Door Opener
If you attempt to open a garage door that has a broken spring, it could damage the automatic opener. Most garage door openers installed by home builders today are not made like openers of the past. We have seen on many occasions where builder grade openers have stripped drive sprockets, internal drive gears, cogs on belts, and completely bent the rails to the point the opener had to be replaced. In our area, this is most common with Genie, Marantec, and Guardian garage door openers.
Damage to the Garage Door Top Section
Another issues we see when a garage door is attempted to be opened with a broken spring is the top section is damaged. The reason for this is the automatic opener pulls the garage door up by the top section. Because the spring on a garage door is what lifts a door, the opener will attempt to pull the door up and quite possibly damage the garage door.
The reason this is more common today is that the garage doors that are being installed for home builders are built so poorly that they crumble under the first sign of any stress. In my opinion, I don’t understand how many of these “builder grade” garage doors get approved for installation in a home.
The garage door pictured above completely caved in down the center when the tenant attempted to use the automatic opener, while the garage door had a single broken torsion spring. Some might feel this was tenant caused damaged, but it wasn’t. The garage doors installed for builders have become so cheap that this is now becoming a more common occurrence. It’s hard for property managers and owners to believe, but we have seen it happen many times. When this happens, you replace the garage door.
Replace Rollers with Spring Replacement
If you are having the spring replaced on your garage door, it is best to have the rollers replaced as well. Most rollers are rated the same number of cycles as the spring, and cheap builder rollers are rated for fewer cycles. Many garage door companies will offer roller replacement at a discounted rate when having it done with your spring repair. This will prevent unnecessary future service calls and possibly a door off track from failed rollers due to improperly maintaining the garage door.
Most homes today have plastic garage door rollers with no ball bearings because they are cheaper. Your garage door service company will be able to offer ball bearing nylon rollers that will provide smooth operation and help to reduce noise by utilizing a heavy-duty nylon tire. The roller stem will also be new, allowing for proper movement inside hinges and roller carriers to prevent binding and excessive noise. Having the rollers replaced on a garage door can have a significant impact on the performance of a garage door, especially one that has not been serviced in a while.
Recommended Garage Door Openers
I have always recommended garage door openers manufactured by LiftMaster, Chamberlain, and Linear. These brands are established names in the garage door community, and they offer easy remote and keypad programming for homeowners, tenants, and property managers.
Garage door openers for rent houses should be simple and have fewer features. Keeping it simple when it comes to a rental home will cost you less money over time in repairs and service calls. It’s best to have something with a simple doorbell wall button and chain drive for reliability.
A few of our favorite units are any basic Chamberlain chain drive opener or the LDO50 and LDCO800 openers offered by Linear. The Chamberlain brand can be purchased from big box stores, while the Linear brand is installed by garage door dealers. Both brands are simple to program, adjust, and accessories for both can be found just about anywhere.
Home Warranty Companies
Make sure as a property manager to check with the owners first to see if they have a home warranty. This will save the garage door company you use an unnecessary trip to the home. The feedback we have received from most of our property managers is home warranty companies are not worth the trouble.
Many times they send out second rate companies who do a poor job making repairs. The biggest complaint is when a property manager tries to get a home warranty company to pay the bill. They usually look for every excuse they can, so they don’t have to pay for the repair.
Custom Painted Garage Doors
Many garage doors on new homes today are custom painted by the builder. This means the color of the garage door is not a standard color offered by the manufacturer of the door. If a tenant damages a garage door, or you need to fix up a home for sale, keep this in mind when you gather bids to have sections or the complete garage door replaced. Here is an article we wrote that explains critical mistakes to avoid when painting a garage door.
Painting the Whole Door
If you are only having one section replaced on a garage door, many times you will need to have the complete door painted. The reason for this is the paint on the garage door sections will slightly fade every year. If you only have the replacement section painted, you will be able to see a difference between the older and newer paint. This is something to keep in mind when you have to have a garage door section replaced. Make sure to get a bid from a contractor to paint the complete exterior of the garage door.
Repeat Visits to Properties
When dealing with rental homes, there will be repeat visits. In our line of work, 99% of the time, a repeat visit to a property will not be warranty. It’s not because we don’t warranty our work, it’s because a tenant, contractor, handyman, realtor, or home inspector damaged the garage door or automatic opener.
The garage door is the largest moving object in the home, and almost everyone comes in contact with it in one form or another. Probably one of the most common callbacks we get while a home is for sale is someone opens the garage door while it is locked. Because there are so many prospective buyers brought through the home, the chances of someone manually locking the garage door increases exponentially. The next person shows up and presses the button on the wall, and the rest is history.
Owners Micromanage Property Managers
Property managers are always caught in-between the tenant and the owner. The reason for this is many owners of rental homes will hire a property manager, but they won’t let them manage their investment. They hire them only to micromanage the property manager.
It is unfortunate how often we see this because the owner is the one who ends up paying more in the long run. By giving the property manager the authority to make repairs up to a reasonable amount, the property manager can make on the fly repair decisions with companies they trust onsite. This reduces additional trip charges and service call fees, which ultimately saves the owner of the home a lot of money. This also prevents the tenant from having to take more time off work to meet the contractor.
Question for Property Managers and Realtors
Would you be interested in a: Garage Door Course for Realtors and Property Managers?
The course would cover everything in this article in greater detail and include more photos, videos, and bonus content.
- Property Managers
- Apartment Maintenance Personnel
- Home Inspectors
- Homeowners who own rental homes
Bonus Content Ideas
- Sticker templates for inside of front door
- Walk through 10 point checklists
- Tenant contract for remotes with keypad code to be written down
If so, please send a quick email to email@example.com to let us know you’re interested and what you would consider to be a good price for such a course. We can put your email address on a list and let you know if we ever decide to release such a program.
After spending years working with property managers and realtors, I know many of them want to know more about the basics of garage doors, so they can handle simple issues on their own.
The course could be something a realty office could purchase to train their associates. Knowing a little more about the in’s and outs of garage doors can save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in repairs and service calls every year.
Or, Would Prefer a Less Expensive PDF Cheatsheet?
- Illustrated PDF download you can print?
- Use it in the field
- Train your associates
Either way, please let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Because the garage door has become the main entry point in the home, garage door companies are busier than ever trying to keep up with service calls. Educating new tenants moving into a home will go a long way in reducing service calls and make sure you are both on the same page. Having tenants sign a separate contract for remotes and keypads with a deposit will ensure there is enough money to replace them if need be.
New homes for sale are no different. Realtors are hustling at a record pace trying to close the next sale. There always seems to be a simple garage door issue when a home is for sale that really doesn’t warrant a service call. If only the realtor, handyman, or home inspector was a little more knowledgeable, they could save hundred’s of dollars a year in service calls. Moreover, providing new homeowners with the tips laid out in this article will give them knowledge they can use the rest of their lives.
The tips in this article should set you on the right path to further your knowledge of garage doors, which in turn will make your job that much smoother. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with someone!