Top Garage Door Tips From a Pro

The garage door is the largest moving object in your home and often the most overlooked. You rely on it every day to enter and exit your home. In this article we are going to address the most common repair and safety issues from a pro’s perspective.

Replace Both Garage Door Springs When One Spring Breaks

Broken right spring on garage door, left spring is not broken

If you have one spring that breaks on your garage door and your door is equipped with two springs, it’s best to have both springs replaced. The reason for this is both springs have the same number of cycles on them. Opening and closing the garage door is counted as one cycle, and standard garage door springs are engineered for 10,000 cycles.

By replacing both springs simultaneously, you will save time and money. If you only replace one spring, the second spring could break in one week, one month, or one year. No one can tell you when a garage door spring will break. By having both replaced at the same time, you save the labor costs of having the garage door company come back out and tear down your garage door spring system to be able to remove the second spring. Also, you won’t have to take off work again to meet the garage door repair man. You can read our article that goes into more detail about having two garage door springs replaced.

Have Your Rollers Replaced While Your Springs Are Being Repaired

Leaning garage door roller that needs to be replaced
Leaning garage door roller that needs to be replaced

Garage door rollers are designed to last 10,000 cycles similar to your garage door springs. Having your rollers replaced at the same time is good maintenance and could possibly prevent your garage door from coming off track if one were to ever break. Since the garage door company is already there replacing your springs, many companies will replace your rollers at a reduced rate. This is good preventative maintenance that will help keep the largest moving object in your home on track. Check out our Complete Guide to Garage Door Rollers.

Garage Door Won’t Close?

Chamberlain LiftMaster receiving safety sensor

The most common reason for a garage door not closing is the safety sensors are misaligned or not getting power. The safety sensors are the laser beams mounted about six inches off the ground down by your vertical tracks. If they are not lined up or getting power, the [automatic opener will not close]. You could be having other issues such as a cable off the drum or broken Torquemaster spring, but this is the most common.

Reduce Interference with an LED Garage Door Bulb

One of the most recent issues we have seen is LED light bulbs causing garage door remote interference. Many times what happens is the homeowner will install an energy-efficient LED light bulb only to find out they now have to be standing right in front of their garage door for the remote to work. Most of the time this happens with LED bulbs rated at 75watts or more.

Chamberlain and Genie Company have both released garage door light bulbs that are designed specifically for garage door openers to help reduce interference with remotes. The bulbs are rated for 25,000 hours and are universally compatible with most garage door openers. They are also vibration and shatter resistant and have been tested to endure harsh conditions including damp and cold environments.

Garage Door Opener Beeps Every 30 Seconds

LiftMaster Replacement Backup Battery
LiftMaster Replacement Backup Battery

If you hear a beeping sound that is coming from your garage door opener, then you most likely have a battery backup equipped opener. The garage door opener is beeping to tell you the backup battery needs to be replaced. They usually last about 2-3 years.

A battery backup garage door opener is designed to run up and down a limited number of cycles while the power is out to the home. The lights on most openers will not shine when running off the backup battery so as to preserve battery power. You can easily replace most batteries yourself using a step stool and a screw driver. A replacement battery can be purchased online.

Lubricate Your Garage Door Twice a Year

Lubricating your garage door is an easy process that any homeowner can do. We recommend doing this at least twice a year to keep all moving parts loose and it also helps keep the door quiet. Make sure to choose the correct garage door lubricant. We have another article on this site that goes into greater detail on which lubricant to use and how to lubricate your garage door.

Lubricate Your Screw Drive Opener

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

A screw drive garage door opener features a long screw drive assembly that moves a carriage down the rail to open and close your garage door. This assembly is all metal and will start to get very loud due to lack of lubrication. The increased noise will be subtle because it happens slowly over time. You can use a good white lithium grease to fill in the grooves of the screw assembly and this will quiet down the opener and prolong the life.

Pocket Door Parts and Tips - Askthe...
Pocket Door Parts and Tips - AsktheBuilder

Disable the Manual Lock on Your Garage Door

Garage door slide lock disabled with zip tie
Garage door slide lock disabled with zip tie

When first moving into a home, you want to make sure the garage door lock is disabled. The image we have above shows a simple way to disable a garage door slide lock by attaching a small zip tie. This will prevent someone in the home from locking the door and another family member coming home to open the door and it comes off track or causes damage. This is a basic fix that will save you lots of money and frustration. If your garage door does not have a lock, you can purchase one online.

Emergency Release Rope Attached to Your Garage Door Opener

Red emergency release rope on Chamberlain garage door opener
Red emergency release rope on Chamberlain garage door opener

The emergency release rope on an automatic garage door opener is often overlooked and this can be very dangerous. This rope is normally red and hanging down from the opener rail. It is used to release the garage door from the automatic opener in case of emergencies or fire. It is also used to release the door when you need to open it by hand when there is a power outage. You will want to familiarize yourself with how the carriage engages and disengages on your brand of opener.

Replace Your Weather Seal to Keep Out Rodents and Pests

Missing bottom weather seal on a garage door
Missing bottom weather seal on a garage door

Missing, cracked, or short weather seal on the bottom of a garage door is very common. Bottom weather seal on a garage door needs to be replaced frequently… especially in hot climates where the sun shrinks the rubber seal on both sides causing it to be short. Replacing your weather seal will help keep out pesky rodents and help keep your garage floor clean from all the leaves and dirt blowing in from the outside.

Image Credit: Xcluder Rodent & Pest Defense

There is a product on the market called Rodent Block Weather Seal that is designed specifically to keep out rodents. It features a patented “XCLUDER” fill fabric that creates a tough barrier that is impenetrable to rodents. The inner core fabric provides protection against gnawing rodents and is laminated to a durable outer gasket make of black EPDM synthetic rubber which works well in all temperature conditions.

Vacation Lock on Your Wall Button

The button on the lower left is the lock button. If you hold this down for two seconds, the green light behind the large white button will flash meaning the lock is activated.

If your remotes suddenly stopped working, make sure the vacation lock is not engaged on the wall button. Most new garage door openers installed today feature a “lock” on the inside wall button. This lock or as some call it “vacation lock”, is designed to prevent the remotes from working when activated. The first place you always check when all your remotes stop working is the lock on the wall button. The light behind the button will either be flashing or completely off. This lets you know the vacation lock is activated. One some brands of garage door openers it even prevents the outside keypad from working.

Do Not Put Stuff in the Corner of Your Garage

Stuff in the corner of a garage can cause the door to come off track if it comes down on something when closing
Stuff in the corner of a garage can cause the door to come off track if it comes down on something when closing

We highly recommend not storing anything up in the corners of your garage where the garage door vertical tracks are. We know it’s tempting to lean shovels, brooms, pipe, and boards, but please refrain. This is probably the number one reason garage doors come off track. What usually happens is one of the handles lays over toward the garage door tracks and sticks inside the vertical track… just enough for the bottom corner of the garage door to catch on it causing the cable to come off the drum. What a mess that can be.

Do Not Build Overhead Shelves to Close to the Garage Door

Garage shelving mounted very close to garage door opener and around spring assembly
Garage shelving mounted very close to garage door opener and around spring assembly

If you plan on installing shelving above your garage door, try to stay at least six inches away from anything related to your garage door or automatic opener. The reason for this is a garage door repair technician will need access to your spring to unwind and remove when replacement is needed. Some companies may charge more for a repair that takes longer due to shelving that is in the way.

The second reason to stay at least six inches away is in case you ever upgrade your garage door to a carriage house style that uses different tracks and requires more headroom. Keeping some distance in between will future proof your garage and possibly save you money down the road.

HD Opener Bracket on Steel Back Garage Doors

Heavy duty operator bracket can be mounted on insulated or non-insulated garage doors. The garage door above is a steel back insulated door.

Steel back insulated garage doors do not have a continuous stile that runs down the section like a non-insulated door. This is why it’s important to make sure you have the proper components installed to prevent damage to your garage door. A heavy duty opener bracket allows you to connect the pick up arm to a one-piece solid reinforced bracket that attaches to the top and bottom of the section. This provides a secure connection with the door preventing it from pulling out of the metal like many standard brackets do.

While a heavy duty operator bracket is not required for non-insulated garage doors, it is required for steel back insulated garage doors. Steel back garage doors do not have a full reinforced stile behind the inside layer of metal. A heavy duty operator bracket provides a secure connection to the door from the top behind the strut down to the screws that hold on the hinge. This prevents any damage to an expensive steel back insulated garage door.

Do Not Install Your Opener Too High

You want to make sure the opener rail is 2-3 inches away from the garage door when opened.

If you install your automatic opener rail too high above the garage door, you will most likely run the risk of damaging your door over time. Opener installation is all based on angles and geometry. Making sure the opener pick up arm is at the right angle at all times will make sure the force of the opener is being applied correctly when opening and closing the door. A garage door opener that is mounted too might like pictured above will cause the section to crack and then force reversal system to not work correctly.

Protect Your Garage Door Opener with a Surge Protector

If you are one of the unlucky ones to have a power surge come through your home, then you know the inconvenience and devastation it can cause. Lightning strikes close to home can send extreme power surges all over the home that will damage every appliance and GFCI outlet you have. The modern day garage door opener is no exception.

Garage door openers have circuit boards everywhere. They are located in the motor head hanging from the ceiling, the wall button on the inside of your garage, and the safety entrapment sensors at the bottom of your garage door that prevent you from closing the door on people and pets. Installing a surge protector at the outlet where the automatic opener is plugged will provide the first line of defense against power surges.

Many times when a power surge comes through the home it is the external parts of a garage door opener that get damaged. The reason for this is the main circuit board located in the motor hanging from the ceiling usually has some type of surge protection built into the board. The protection is very light and mainly covers random fluctuations in power from damaging the board.

A power surge will run into the garage door opener, through the circuit board, and down wires connecting the wall buttons and safety sensors. In the event of a larger surge, everything in the garage door opener and connected to it with physical wire usually gets damaged.

By adding an external surge protector, you prevent power surges from entering the garage door opener in the first place therefore protecting all parts that are susceptible to failure due to a surge. This adds an additional layer of protection for a very inexpensive cost providing you peace of mind. Replacing your garage door opener can cost over $400 with labor which is a significant cost.

Whole Home Surge Protection

There are many other appliances in a garage and throughout the home that can be damaged due to a power surge. Some of the more common items in the garage are controllers on a sprinkler system or water softener. Homes are becoming more and more complex today and circuit board controllers can be found just about everywhere.

A licensed electrician can install a whole home surge protector that is installed in your breaker panel. This will provide a first line of defense for all appliances in your home including TV’s, kitchen appliances, home theater equipment, and computers. A whole home surge protector combined with a smaller plug in surge protector near your automatic opener will provide the ultimate defense against power surge damage.

Great Gift Ideas for the Garage

The garage is used by the whole family in so many ways like never before. You could even argue the garage is now “smarter” with wifi garage door openers, sprinkler controls, and surveillance cameras. Let’s look at a few items that would make great gifts for the garage.

Organizer Cabinet

Clear out that junk drawer once and for all with a multi-drawer storage cabinet. You will never know how handy these cabinets are until you start using one in your home. You can store batteries, nuts and bolts, arts and crafts, tape, electrical parts, tools, or assorted charging cables and adapters for smartphones. Whatever you decide, you will be more organized than ever before.

Little Giant Step Ladder

If you want the ultimate household step ladder, look no further. This super lightweight multi-purpose ladder features industrial-rated construction in a slim profile for easy transport and storage. The large comfortable standing platform provides stability at very convenient working heights. Available in three sizes.

DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Drill Combo

This kit is similar to the one above but with one addition… it includes a 20v drill with the impact driver we mentioned in the previous kit. The drill features two speeds which allows for high speed drilling when necessary. Both units are compact and lightweight and designed to be used in tight spaces. You can do it all with this kit.

Porter Cable Pancake Compressor

No garage is complete until you have an air compressor ready to go at a moments notice. Great for airing up tires on your car, lawn mower, or bicycle. Looking to do some trim work around the home? An air compressor combined with a finish or brad nailer makes this a snap. This popular Porter Cable Pancake Compressor is compact for easy placement and very stable due to the pancake style tank. A six gallon air capacity gives you plenty of reserve while the 2.6 SCFM makes for quick recovery time. Includes 13 piece accessory kit.

Crescent 170-piece Mechanics Tool Set

The Crescent 170-piece Tool Set offers everything one could need for the garage. The set includes 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ drive tools in standard and metric sizes. Screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, ratchets, and sockets are all included. Tools meet ANSI and ASME specifications for quality and come with a full satisfaction guarantee. The plastic folding case keeps all the tools secure for easy transport and storage.

Keter Folding Compact Workbench Work Table

The Keter Folding Work Table is an engineering marvel. This table folds down to 4.4 inches for compact storage and opens back up fully assembled in less than one minute. Two removable clamps are included for securing your project and the large flat top offers plenty of workspace with a weight limit of 1000 pounds. The table is made of resin that won’t peel, rust, dent, or crack.

CopperPeak 50ft Retractable Extension Cord Reel

If you prefer the all in one retractable extension cord, this unit will come in handy. Three grounded outlets allow for versatility while the spring loaded auto-rewind ensures proper return every time. The 180 degree swivel allows you to release cord from multiple directions. There is a built in circuit breaker to prevent blown fuses and breaker trips and it includes an LED status light. You can easily mount to the ceiling, wall, floor, or workbench.

Tekton Digital Tire Guage

A tire gauge is a must have in any garage. The Tekton Tire Gauge features a digital display that instantly shows the exact tire pressure eliminating guesswork found on analog gauges. The lighted nozzle and display screen is great for dark garages and the unit will automatically shut off after 30 seconds to save the batteries.

Stanley Portable Jump Starter with Compressor

If you wake up to a dead car battery, the Stanley Jump Starter will help you out in a pinch. This unit features 500 instant starting amps and 1000 peak battery amps. It offers 12-volt and USB outlets to charge personal electronics and has a 120 PSI compressor with backlit gauge for airing up a low tire. This all-n-one emergency unit will really come in handy when the time is needed.

Highland Park Right Parking Mat

If you know someone who struggles parking in the garage, this is the perfect gift. The Highland Parking Mat is designed to position the vehicle in the right spot every single time you pull into the garage. Made of durable recycled rubber, the ant-skid bottom keeps it from moving around and the universal design fits all cars, trucks, and SUV’s.

MEGUIAR’S Classic Wash & Wax Kit

Make any car lover happy with the Meguiar’s Complete Car Care Kit. This 8-piece car care kit includes everything to keep your car maintained from the Gold Class Car Wash solution to the Hot Rims Wheel & Tire Cleaner that provides a long-lasting, high gloss protection keeping tires black with a rich, dark gloss finish. Finish up with the Cleaner wax to create a strong, long-lasting protection to preserve the paint finish. Foam applicator, supreme shine microfiber towel, and foam sponge included so the job gets done right.

Stanley 6 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum

Tackle any mess in the garage or car with this powerful 6 gallon shop vac. With on board cord and tool storage, everything will be kept nice and tidy. The tank features easy to roll casters and the 4hp motor will handle clean up with no problem. The plastic exterior has a nice industrial look and helps keep the unit rust free.

Google Nest Cam Indoor Wired Security Camera

There is no better way to protect the stuff in your garage than with 24/7 live video and the Nest Cam is one of the most popular ways of doing this. This superb camera offers an 130 degree wide-angle all-glass lens that records in 1080p HD, day or night. The built in speaker and microphone allows for two-way talking through their app and phone alerts keep you updated when the Nest Cam detects activity. Setup is quick and easy through the downloaded Nest app and no hub is needed.

Lynk Sports Rack Organizer Gear Storage

This sports rack will help your kids organize all their gear in one place. Specially designed hooks hold baseball bats and tennis rackets. Adjustable hooks help to maximize storage and the unit can be mounted to the wall with the included hardware.

Chamberlain Garage Door Openers

If you are planning to buy a garage door opener online, the brand we recommend is Chamberlain. They offer many different belt drive and basic chain drive models to accommodate any customer. Chamberlain’s MyQ technology will allow you to open, close, and monitor your garage door from anywhere in the world with no monthly service fees to worry about. They are simple to assemble and the accessories program very easily.

Conclusion

Owning a home can be tough with all the maintenance required to keep investment working properly. Hopefully these garage door tips will help you to resolve simple issues and save you money on service call fees. While garage doors and openers have become more complex, the basic operation has been the same for the last one hundred years.

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