Loud Screw Drive Garage Door Opener? Here’s Why…

If your screw drive garage door opener is making a loud noise that sounds like a machine gun, the carriage is most likely stripped. You can purchase a Genie carriage for Genie openers or there is an inner slide rack for Chamberlain, Craftsman, LiftMaster Openers. This is a simple fix that will get your garage door opener running again, so you can use your door as normal.

Screw drive garage door openers used to be legendary. The original units manufactured by Genie were heavy duty. They could be serviced by anyone and some models would last 30+ years. One thing they were not known for is low noise.

Many homeowners started relying on their genie opener to let them know when their spouse was home. They were that loud. In this article we are going to address issues with Genie, Chamberlain, Sears Craftsman, and LiftMaster screw drive garage door openers.

Screw Drive Carriage is Stripped

Genie screw drive carriage
Genie screw drive carriage

If you own an older Genie screw drive garage door opener, there will be a day you walk into the garage and hear a very loud noise when you press the wall button to open the garage door. This loud noise will sound like a machine gun going off. What you are hearing is the long screw drive in the opener rail stripping out the teeth on the carriage.

The carriage that runs down the rail is where the pickup arm attaches to. The unit has teeth on the inside that engage into the screw drive rail. This is what moves the door up and down. Once these teeth strip, the unit may work intermittently. It may only go down, but not up. The reason for this is there is usually more weight when an opener is pulling a garage door up.

To replace the carriage, you will need to remove the rail from the header bracket above the garage door. You can then slide the old carriage off. Before sliding the new carriage onto the rail, apply some grease to the teeth. It’s best to have two people available for this part. One will press the wall button while the other puts the carriage on the end of the rail and applies a little pressure until the screw drive grabs the teeth on the carriage. That’s it for Genie!

Sears, Chamberlain, LiftMaster Screw Drive Openers

Chamberlain, Craftsman, and LiftMaster screw drive garage door openers are a little different. They use a small inner slide with teeth that the carriage engages with. This unit is plastic and will strip out during normal use. You can replace the part the same way you would do the Genie carriage.

Sears, Chamberlain, LiftMaster screw drive coupler
Sears, Chamberlain, LiftMaster screw drive coupler

The screw drive coupler featured above is what connects the screw drive rail to the motor. This can be seen from the top of the unit, and it’s not uncommon to find one cracked. If you go to run your garage door opener one day and the door doesn’t move, you most likely have a cracked coupler on top. The motor will make an audible noise, but the screw drive rail will not spin.

When replacing a coupler like this on a Sears, Chamberlain, or LiftMaster screw drive garage door opener, you need to be aware of where your up and down limits are set in relation to the inner slide rack. When this coupler breaks, the limits inside the motor housing will still run and ground out, but your inner slide will not move, therefore causing them to be out of sync. This is not a hard repair to complete, you just need the know how to do it correctly.

Screw Drive Needs to be Greased

Screw drive rail on Genie garage door opener
Screw drive rail on Genie garage door opener

As time goes on, a screw drive garage door opener will get louder as the grease dissipates from the rail. Most homeowners won’t notice the increase in sound because it happens slowly over time. This is common with all screw drive garage door openers, and there is an easy fix. Lube the screw drive rail.

You need to buy some low temp grease to lube the screw drive rail on your opener. Start by cutting the tip of your grease tube at a 45-degree angle. Run the tip down the underside of the screw drive rail and skim the rail, so the grease fills into the grooves of the screw drive. That’s it.

Do not apply a lot of grease. If you do, it will bunch up at the end of the rail and fall on your car or the floor. Someone will end up tracking grease all through the garage and into the home. Messy stuff.

Install a Vibration Isolation Kit

If you have a loud garage door opener that you are trying to quiet down, you can install a vibration isolation kit. This kit includes rubber mounts that help isolate vibration from the opener motor that gets transferred through the drop hangers up to the ceiling. This can be especially useful if you have a bedroom above the garage. The isolation mounts won’t get rid of all the noise, but they will help reduce it if you prefer not to replace your garage door opener.

Older Genie Screw Drives are Just Loud

Older Genie screw drive garage door openers have always been louder than competitors. The reason for this is they use a traditional AC motor with a long metal screw drive rail that is connected directly to the motor. The only thing in between these two parts is the drive coupler. The drive coupler is a small piece that can wear out over time. If you hit your wall button one day and the motor runs, but the screw drive is not spinning, then your drive coupler is stripped.

Replace it with a Chamberlain Opener

Modern-day Genie garage door openers are not built like they were in the past. If you intend to replace your garage door opener with something quieter, look into a Chamberlain Belt Drive garage door opener. These units are full-featured with modern-day amenities like smartphone control and DC motors. DC motors are quiet and feature a soft start and stop, which reduces even more noise in operation.

There are also many other brands on the market that will achieve similar results as well. The most important factor when choosing a brand is to make sure there are servicing dealers in your area that can handle issues when they arise.

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