Tip 1: Make sure the door parts are working
If your garage door is opening slowly or making a lot of
noise, the problem may not be your opener. So before you
buy a new one, check for broken or wobbly rollers and
brackets. But don't replace
the bottom roller bracket yourself—the cable attached to it
is under extreme tension. You'll need to call a pro.
If you're replacing the rollers, get nylon rollers. They operate quieter than steel
rollers and cost only a few bucks more.
Next, check the torsion spring (mounted on the header
above the door opening) to see if it's broken. When one
breaks, you'll see a gap in the coils. You'll need a
pro to replace a broken spring.
Tip 2: Check the door balance
Make sure the door is balanced. Close the
door and pull the emergency release cord (always close the
door first so it can't come crashing down!). Lift the door
about halfway up and let go. The door shouldn't
move. If it slides up or down, the torsion spring needs to be
adjusted (or maybe even replaced).
Adjusting the torsion spring is dangerous, so don't
attempt it yourself (you could get seriously hurt). Call a pro
to adjust it.
Tip 3: Choose the right opener
When buying an opener, choose a 1/3 hp
or 1/2 hp opener for a single garage door (1/3 hp can be
hard to find at some home centers). Go with 1/2 hp for a
double door and 3/4 hp for a door that has a wood or faux
wood overlay (they can be heavy!). Openers have a set
opening speed, so installing an opener with a higher
horsepower won't open your door any faster.
Openers are available with a chain drive, screw drive or
belt drive. Chain drives (a long chain pulls the door open
and closed) are the least expensive, but they're loud.
Screw drives (a long threaded rod drives a mechanism
that opens and closes the door) are priced in the mid-
range. They require the least maintenance, but they're
not as quiet as belt drives. Belt drives (a rubber belt
opens and closes the door) are the quietest, making
them the best choice if you have living space above the
garage. They're also the most expensive.
Tip 4: Set the opener on a ladder for easier installation
Follow the manufacturer's instructions to assemble the
opener and mount the rail to the header bracket above the
door. Then set the opener on a ladder where you're going to
install it. The ladder (usually an 8-footer) holds the opener
in position while you measure for your lengths of angle iron. If necessary, put boards under the opener to raise it.
Have the door open when you install the opener (clamp
locking pliers onto the roller track below a roller to keep the
door from closing). It's easier to align the opener with the
center of the door when the door is open.
Tip 5: Buy heavy-duty angle iron
Garage door openers come with everything you need for
installation. But the mounting straps that are included are
often so flimsy that you can bend them with your hands. So
buy slotted angle iron at a hardware store. Cut it to size with a hacksaw.
Angle iron provides a stronger installation and reduces
vibration, which helps extend the opener's life span. In an
unfinished garage, attach the angle iron directly to the face
of a joist with 1-in. lag screws. For finished ceilings, attach
angle iron along the bottom of a joist with 3-in. lag screws.
Hang the opener using two more lengths of angle iron and
nuts and bolts. Use lock washers or thread-locking
adhesive to keep vibration from loosening the nuts.
Tip 6: Replace all the components
Don't be tempted to reuse the old photoelectric eyes and
wall button (opener button). The new photo eyes and wall
button are designed to work with your new opener.
If the wires that run from your opener to the photo eyes
and to the wall button are exposed, replace them, too. Those
wires have probably been in your garage for 10 years or
more, and they may be nicked or worn. Newer openers are
extremely sensitive and won't work if a wire is damaged. It
only takes about 15 minutes to run the new wire, so it's time
well spent. If the wires are protected inside the wall, you
don't need to run new wire.
Tip 7: Check the door's opening force
Your instructions probably don't cover checking the opening force. If your door encounters more than about 5 lbs. of
resistance when it's opening, you want it to stop. This is an
important safety feature. The “resistance” could be your finger caught in the track.
To check the opening force, rest your foot on the door handle near the floor and open the door using the remote control. When the door lifts against your foot, it should stop
with very little pressure. If the door continues to
open, adjust the force.
Tip 8: Fine-tune the opening and closing force
The opener's instructions probably tell you to place a 2x4 on
the floor under the center of the door, then close it. When
the door contacts the wood, it should stop and then reverse.
Proper closing force ensures that if something is in the
door's path, the door won't crush it.
The locations of the opening and closing force adjustment
screws vary. Our unit has two screws on the front. When
adjusting the opening or closing force, turn the screw only
about 1/8 in., then recheck the force.
If the door starts to open and then stops on its own,
increase the opening force. Likewise, if it stops on its own
while closing, increase the closing force. You might have to
make several small adjustments to get the force exactly how
it should be.
Tip 9: Use bulbs that handle vibration
Garage door openers vibrate, so you'll need special light-
bulbs that can handle it. Look for “rough service” or “garage
door” on the label.
Be sure to use the wattage specified in your manual. If you
use a higher wattage, the heat could melt the plastic cover
over the bulbs or even damage the circuit board inside the
This is one place where LED or CFL bulbs aren't the best
choice. LEDs have a low light output, and CFLs aren't
designed to handle the vibration. And since the lights are on
only briefly, the energy saved with these bulbs would be
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Tip 10: Fix a reversing door
The most common problem with garage door openers is the
door reversing when it's closing, even when there's nothing
obvious obscuring the photoelectric eyes. If your closing
force is adjusted correctly, then the problem is almost
always the photoelectric eyes. The eyes are very sensitive—
even cobwebs can interfere with them.
First make sure the eyes are still in alignment (some-
thing may have knocked them out of whack). Then make
sure the eyes are clean and the path between them is clear.
Finally, look for loose wires in the eyes and the opener.