Safety cables unravel when door is almost open

A client came to me with a peculiar problem: His garage door would only close about 75% before the safety cables would become loose.

This is not a particularly common problem, but when he told me what it was I knew what was wrong. The client was a do it yourselfer, and had started the job as a spring replacement. The job seems to have gone well, except for the safety cable slackening. And he told me that he had done the job twice and increased the number of turns on the springs (to increase tautness). He felt that there was something binging on the cable drums or springs,

I knew from the way he explained his situation that he had bought the wrong size garage door springs. In fact the springs were too strong for the job. This raises the question, why would the cable get slack if the spring was too strong? The answer is that the spring bracket twisted out of shape, and caught on the safety cable drum causing it to lock up.

In a case like this you either need to measure the springs in an unwound state, or you should just call a professional.


Do I have to replace both garage door springs if one breaks?

A client called me with this problem:

He lives in a split level house and his living room is practically over his garage. But  he doesn’t use his garage for  his car, but uses it for storage. Since he rarely opens and closes the door, he has never bothered to buy an automatic door opener and remote. One day he hears a terrible bang sound coming from the garage and lo and behold one of his garage door springs had broken. Turns out that since the door was never opened, the springs were always tensed. Opening and closing the door keeps the springs “limber” for lack of a better term. He wanted to know if since he never really uses the door if he could just leave one spring on there and maybe buy a used garage door opener to compensate for the missing spring

The answer to that is NO. If one spring breaks, or needs replacing for any reason, they both need to be replaced. The reason for that is that these springs are under terrific tension (that’s why such a loud bang when it popped), and they bear a lot more weight than the average garage door owner realizes. And garage door opener motors are not particularly strong. They rely on the tension and balancing of the door to do most of the work. Additionally, if you replace only one of the springs, the other one will be weaker and will cause undue tension on the new one.

Insulating your garage door

It’s well know that insulation is a big ,money saver for homeowners, but a lot of people neglect to insulate their garage door. Often they think of their door as being “outside” and you don’t need to insulate the outside of your house. In reality, your garage door is half way inside and half way outside, so you should insulate like the rest of your house.

First a quick work on insulation values. R-value is the value given to designate the thermal resistance in your insulation. The higher the R-value the better the insulation. You will naturally need more insuluation in northern places than Texas, nevertheless it does get cold In Texas, in some places. Different parts of the house need highrer R-values than others. For instance, attics need more than walls, which need more than floors. Additionally. R-value can vary according to what kind of heating system you have, whether it be gas, electric, oil or whateven.  One more thing: when you make the layer of insulation thicker, you also increase the R-value, but in the case of garage doors there is not a lot of latitude with regards to thickness.

There are various kinds of insulation, though any of them will do at least a decent job.

Batt insulation is what most people think of when they thing of insulation. It’s the stuff that’s made of fiberglass and comes with the brown paper backing and it has an R-value of 3-4 for every inch of thickness.

Foam board insulation is the one that comes in panels of polystyrene annd it has the shiny aluminium foil look. This stuff is great because it is very thin as well as effective.

What kind of insulation do I need for my door? If you have a steel door, you can use pretty much uses any kind of insulation you like. It will have to be inserted into the frames, but you should be able to squeeze any type  you want.

If you have a wood frame and panel door, you will need a rigid form of insulation because it will need to be inserted into the panels of the door frames. Fit as many as you can for maximum insulation.

If you have a regular wood door, or another variety that doesn’t have panels, you will need to affix the reflective variety inside on the back of the door.

Estimate: a typical two door garage with standard 9 foot doors should come to about $200 give or take. Additionaly, you should be warned that insulation will add some weight to the door. It’s not a lot but you will probably notice it.

Insulation not only makes your home warmer, it makes it quieter, which is a bonus if  you live on a busy street.

Problems with garage door opener?

Sometime you just can’t get your garage door open. Often the problem is with the opener. But before you call the repair man, try a few things first.

The first thing to check is the battery in the remote control. It should like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people think it last.

Next you should check the power source by making sure it’s plugged in. Again, it’s simply but lots of people don’t think of the easy solutions first.

When you pull the emergency cord to release the door, the latter should slide freely. If it does not, the problem is not with your opener.

You might check for other damage, like if your wife accidentally “bumps” into it with her car and forgets to tell you. This can throw the door off.

Some of the less expensive doors use plastic gears, which can simply wear down, particularly in conjunction with a chain drive. If this is the case, the gears themselves cost little, usually about $25. Installation is something you should undertake if you have experience repairing opener.

Finally, there will be times when your garage door opener has simply died, in which case you will have to spring for new one.


Simple tips to get your garage door working

Garage doors are used more frequently that most people think about. In fact sometimes the garage door is used as often as the front door. This means that it’s getting a lot of wear and tear. Once in a while the door will simply not work, and here are a few things you can do to get yourself back on your feet.

Step one is to stay calm. Every problem has a solution, and you will just to take a few steps until you can find it.

First check to see if the opener works. Sometimes the battery is just dead. If this is the case, you might want to keep some extra batteries in the car in case of emergency. The same thing applies for the remote.

All new garage doors come with safety sensors, and sometimes they get blocked. It doesn’t take much to block the infrared light and often it’s just a piece of dirt or something similar that is the culprit.

Barring that, pull the emergency release that descends from the ceiling and see if you can lift the door manually. If not there is probably something else wrong and you will have to call a professional.


Garage doors provide biggest bang for buck

Many people relegate a garage door stuff to maintenance, but your garage door really makes your home’s value appreciate more than anything else. True, you don’t spend very much on a garage door, but it’s the most visible thing on the exterior of your home so why not get the most out of it? Remodeling jobs are essential if you want to keep the appearance and value of your home up, but how do other home improvements stack up?

When you remodel for value’s sake, you need to make the right decisions.  The consensus is that kitchen and bathroom remodels are the most important, but they don’t always provide the biggest payback. For instance, a $10,000 bathroom remodel will return about $16,000 on its investment, and the same investment in a bathroom remodel will amount to about $15,000.

That’s not bad, but when you consider that a $1,600 investment on a garage door returns 80% over the price of the door, it makes sense to start thinking about a new garage door, especially if you’re selling.


Navy signals cripple garage doors

This is one of the weirder garage door stories around. Apparently radio signals sent out by submarines off the coast of Connecticut are rendering remote garage door openers inoperable. The signal is related to a mobile radio system the navy is using in conjunction civilian emergency services. The signal uses a very low frequency that is the same or close to the one used by the Navy. The story surfaced because local garage door repair companies began getting complaint calls over garage door openers not working. Garage door customers are up in arms because resetting the frequency will cost $300.

Choosing a wooden garage door

wooden garage doorWooden garage doors are hands down the most attractive type and most sought type of garage doors. They just look better. Add to that the fact that wood lends a certain polish and warmth to almost anything it is made of, and you can understand why wood is the only choice for some garage door owners.

Cost should not pose many problems for wooden doors. They are not particularly expensive compared to, say, metal doors, but they may be more expensive than fiberglass or aluminum. The price of your wooden garage door will depend on the type of wood you choose and how it is manufactured. Grade A woods will naturally be more expensive, but there are many fine looking and durable woods that are lesser quality If budget is really important, you can purchase doors made from reclaimed wood, that is, wood previously used in another building for another use. Reclaimed wood has a unique look that a lot of customers actually prefer. Gr

Downsides to having a wooden garage door are related to maintenance. Most important, you have to make sure you door is painted. Vinyl coatings do not really need that much care, but they don’t look as good either. The paint in wooden doors will fade more quickly because of the porous nature of the material. This is not to say that the wooden door does not last as long, but merely that it requires more attention to maintenance details than doors made of metal or synthetic materials.

Repair and replacing garage door springs

garage door springs torsion springsGarage doors are mechanical, so one day you’ll have to face that fact that it will need to be fixed. Garage door springs are probably the most common repair. We do not recommend that you replace your own garage door springs, because the springs are under very high tension and if the slip or snap, you could be seriously injured.

The tools you will need are simple. You will need your new springs, of course. You will need vice grips, preferably two, for loosening the torsion mechanism, two winding bars and an adjustable wrench. Also a ladder , and maybe some socket wrenches.

Safety should be a top priority, since springs are under high tension. Please note that you should not try any of these instructions unless you have the proper skill set. People have been seriously hurt in the past, and even people with years of experience end up needing stitches here and there, so the content of this article should be considered informational. Whenever you work with garage doors, assume something is going to break as you are working with it, so that you will be mentally prepared in case it does.

After you have made the proper preparations, the first thing you need to do is measure the worn out springs with a ruler. Avoid touching the springs to avoid injury. Then take your new springs create a comparison measurement. You need to measure the length, the inside diameter of the spring and measure 20 coils lengths to make sure that the gauge of the wire matches.

Should you buy an up and over garage door?

First off, let’s make sure we know what we are talking about. An up and over is a garage door that has a door that is in one piece, and it is usually made of metal. Differentiate up and over with sectional, which has hinged panels that fold up as the door.

There are a couple of different types of up-and-over garage doors:

up and over garage door

The Canopy up-and-over is considered the budget garage door. It consists simply of two tracks and a torsion spring to help you lift it. When you open it, the top part of the door passes back into to garage, and the bottom part passes outward and over the user, whence the name ‘canopy’. Since they are budget doors, they do not usually come with openers.

retractable up and over garage door
Retractable up-and-over doors are somewhat more complicated than their canopy brethren in that the entire door retracts inside the garage compartment, i.e. non of it passes physically over your head. Retractable doors are superior because they are better for tight spaces where swing out is inconvenient, and there is less opportunity for the user to be hit on the head by the door as he closes it. The retractable door is also considered more stable than the canopy because it is supported on all corners. As you might expect, retractable doors are more expensive.

But why should you choose an up-and-over garage door over other kinds? Here are a few reasons:

  • As has already been stated, they are cheap.
  • Their simple construction means few repairs. Up-and-over-doors are not suited for remote openers, and retrofitting one would be expensive. Sometimes, however, you will find the retractable variety which has a motor. If you are looking for simplicity, stick with an up-and-over
  • They are suitable for most needs. Whether you need a narrow door of a wide one, which means you won’t need to shop around.