One thing many people share in common is that their vehicles are stored behind a huge, heavy and mechanical garage door. Normally, we don’t give it much thought. We push a button and listen to that big wall of a door open or close. But when you are stuck out or stuck in and can’t get to work, or it’s operating improperly and becoming a security risk, it’s time to get an expert out to the house. We sat down with a local garage door repair company and the owner had some great advice for homeowners.
- What are the three most common garage door issues you’ve seen in your experience?
(1) Broken springs, the springs are the actual work horse for the door. The average door weighs between 200-300 pounds. The opener (or the average human) can not lift that much weight on a daily basis so the springs wind and unwind to balance that weight when opening and closing the door. Just like all metals do, the metal becomes weak over time and breaks. Springs should be considered an operating cost ( like tires on a car) if you use the door the springs will wear out and break.
(2) Safety sensors are broken. The sensors are actually very fragile and can be broken easily if they are hit repeatedly by bikes, shovels, rakes, garbage cans and anything else you store in the corner near the eyes. They also have a small circuit board inside them so being inside the garage where they get wet, hot and cold will cause them to malfunction.
(3) Stripped gears in the opener. Most all openers have a fail point that is meant to break if the opener is being overloaded. The gears in the openers are made of a hard nylon that will strip if the door is not running smoothly. Most people don’t ever check the door to see if it is running good, if they hit the button and it opens they assume that everything is fine. That is why the gears are made of nylon so you don’t burn up the opener by continuing to run it when it is being over stressed.
- Are there any at-home-remedies for some simple garage door problems where someone can avoid calling a garage door repair guy?
The most common thing people can fix themselves is adjusting the safety eyes. The eyes are often hit and knocked out of alignment. When the sensors are not lined up the door will not go down because it thinks something is in the way. Most all safety eyes are made to be adjusted and pointed at each other so the door can go down.
One other thing people can do themselves is adjusting the open/close force on the opener. You must first check the door to be sure that it is pretty well balanced and if it is and the door is stopping on the way up or reversing on the way down. There are usually 2 small screw like knobs that are made to adjust the up and down force on the opener. When these are adjusted just turn them ever so slightly and check the door to see if it runs at that setting. Keep doing this until you have found the correct setting to make the door rum. Remember that if the door is not smooth of is very heavy then don’t adjust these settings, call a professional to come fix that problem .
- How long do garage door operators generally last (life expectancy?) and are there some brands that last longer than others?
Garage doors openers do not have a set life expectancy but as long as the parts are available you can expect to keep that same opener for at least 20 years or so. The life of an opener is greatly determined by how well the door runs. A door that is heavy and causing the opener to strain will shorten the life of the opener. I have found that Chamberlain products have the best life expectancy. You can choose any brand that is made by Chamberlain. This is just my personal opinion and is just based on my experience in the garage door industry over the last 15+ years. Most of the parts on aChamberlain opener have been the same since 1993 or earlier. The only thing that changes every few years is the circuit board and this is because technology is rapidly growing and the want the best security and reliability for their customers.
- Do all garage door operator equipment manufacturers offer some kind of warranty? Can you name a few with corresponding warranty year length?
In the products that I am familiar with they all offer a warranty. The warranty is based on the product that you buy. The higher end of their product offers a better warranty than their baseline products. Some of the premium series openers have a lifetime warranty on the parts. The manufacturer only offers a parts warranty and not on labor but most companies that install will offer a 60-90 day labor warranty on the product. Most companies only offer 60-90 days because there are things such as lightning and power surges that can damage an opener but are not really the fault of the installation company or the manufacturer. Liftmasters base line chain drive opener has a 1 year on all parts and 4 years on the motor and the warranties go up from there based on the series opener you get.
- Can replacing your own garage door operator or trying to fix an issue by yourself be dangerous? please elaborate on any problems/difficulties
Yes, anytime that you are working on something that has electricity to it , it can be dangerous. The best thing to do when you have any problem is to call a professional but, if you choose to venture into this yourself always unplug the opener before working on it. In most cases when the customer tries to do a repair themselves they end up breaking other things and in turn costing themselves more money than they would have hiring a professional. I do not ever recommend working on the garage door itself. The door is under a lot of tension and many things are connected to each other and to the springs. The door can shift or a cable can come loose or fall on you.