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How to Adjust a Garage Door Opener

The key to maintaining the proper and safe operation of your garage door is keeping it in adjustment. Most standard openers adjust in similar ways, but make sure to check your owner’s manual before trying any of these adjustments. garage-door-opener-installation-7

Up/down Limits
With the door in a closed position, press the open button. If the door does not open completely but opens at least 5 feet, the limit-adjustment screw needs to be turned clockwise. If the door closes partially but not completely, the down-adjustment screw needs to be turned counterclockwise.

Garage Door Force
If the door reverses when it is closing, first check to make sure that the sensors are not being blocked by anything; if not, increase the down force. If the door does not open at least 5 feet, increase the up force.

Safety Reverse
All garage door openers today come with a safety reverse feature to prevent harm to people, pets, and objects that may be in the way when the door is closing. To test this feature, place a 2 by 4 across the garage door’s threshold. Press the close button; if the door stops but does not ascend immediately, turn the screw on the down limit clockwise by one-quarter. Then test the safety reverse system again.

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Screen Doors for Garages

Turn your garage into an outdoor room with the addition of a garage screen door. Photo: EZ Screen

Opening the garage door is an obvious way to bring in fresh air. But if you’re concerned about bugs, debris, or neighborhood pets, consider adding a screen door.

Some garage screen doors slide on tracks and stack on either side. You can still drive into both bays of a two-car garage, but you have to move the doors. Other sliding doors pull down like window shades (see above) from a cassette mounted at the top of the door opening.

Roll-up screens are a third option. The screen hangs from hook-and-loop material and includes zippered openings so you can walk in and out while the screen is down. When you don’t need the screen, you just roll it up.

How to Install a Garage Door Opener

Several types of garage door openers are sold today. Each has an electric motor driving a lifting device-a chain or belt, for example-that is fastened to the door. A professional will install a garage door opener on your door for a fee, but this job, like installing the door itself, is one that you may be able to handle if you’re an experienced do-it-yourselfer.[GARD align=”left”]

The most common type of opener has its motor mounted over the area where the car is parked. Though this variety is functional, its location is a drawback in some garages because it can obstruct the ceiling area.

As an alternative to this old standby, following is how to install a new opener that mounts on the same wall as the garage door. Meant for a door that weighs no more than 225 pounds, it is somewhat easy to install and is located out of the way. In addition, because it doesn’t employ a chain, it is relatively quiet and vibration-free. The type shown is designed for connecting to a door’s encapsulated torsion-spring mechanism. Other models of this opener are made for use with other garage door spring systems.

All manufacturers offer a variety of optional accessories, including remote controls, keyless entry pads, and keyed switches. And, of course, all openers come with manufacturer’s directions. Regardless of the type you choose, follow the accompanying instructions exactly.

1. Remove torque tube & slip on drive motor.

Step-by-Step Garage Door Opener Installation

1This opener is designed to fit onto a torque tube spring system; refer to the manufacturer’s directions for other types of springs. If the torque tube has already been installed, remove it and slip the drive motor onto it.

2. Reinstall torque tube, bracket & drum.


2With the drive motor in place, reinstall the torque tube, end bracket, and cable drum.


3. Securely fasten mounting brackets.


3Using 1/4-by-2-inch-long lag screws, fasten the mounting bracket for the drive motor to the wall above the garage door. Make sure the lag screws amply penetrate the beam or any other framing members located above the door.

4. Fasten disconnect cable.


4Attach the disconnect cable to the motor with an S hook, and thread it through the wall bracket and the handle. Pull it just enough to remove the slack, and secure the bracket to the wall at least 6 feet above the floor. Put a label on the wall to identify this emergency disconnect device.

5. Tighten track bolts as per manufacturer’s instructions.


5To keep the door from lifting, clamp locking pliers on both side tracks just above the third roller. Use a socket wrench to rotate the winding bolt head the number of turns specified in the owner’s manual for your door.



6. Adjust emergency disconnect.


6Set the emergency disconnect in the manual position and raise the door until it is fully open. Then lower the door until it is fully closed to be sure it moves freely. Attach the stop bracket to the drive motor.

7. Attach power cord.


7Securely plug the female end of the power cord into the opener. Then run the cord to the nearest grounded receptacle and plug it in. If the cord is not long enough to reach a receptacle, use an approved cord extender.

8. Mount remote control and test.


8Mount the remote control. Install the battery provided and replace the touch pad. Finally, test the door. Place a 2 by 4 flat on the ground under the door to make sure it stops and reverses automatically when it encounters an obstacle.

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How to Install a Garage Door

Considering a DIY garage door installation project? This illustrated step-by-step guide shows you how to install a garage door quickly and easily, with moderate do-it-yourself skills and tools.

Nearly every company that sells garage doors offers full service, including delivery, removal of your old door, and installation.

how to install garage door

Steel sectional garage door is installed one section at a time, from the bottom up. Photo: CHI

Because garage doors are large, heavy, and mildly complicated, most people who buy them take advantage of these services. But, if you’re pretty adept at DIY tasks, you can save some money and enjoy the satisfaction of doing the job of installing a sectional garage door yourself. (Sectional garage doors travel up and down on rollers that ride along tracks at each side of the garage doorway.)

The garage door shown is equipped with a torsion spring system, which is much safer to adjust than the typical torsion-spring model.

You should not attempt to adjust or remove a garage door that has a standard torsion-spring mechanism because these are under extreme tension, which makes them dangerous. Call a professional garage door installer instead.[GARD align=”left”]

The instructions that follow will guide you through the general principles of sectional garage door installation. Be sure to follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions implicitly.

1. Tack on panel and attach hinges.


1After attaching weatherstripping to the bottom edge of the first garage door panel, set the panel in the doorway and fix it in place by driving nails partway into each jamb at an angle so that they wedge the door in place. Attach the hinges to the top edge of the door if they aren’t already attached.

2. Assemble the tracks.


2Assemble the various pieces for the vertical, curved, and horizontal tracks, following the manufacturer’s instructions.


3. Install rollers and brackets.


3Install the rollers and any necessary brackets on the garage door section and any wall- or jamb-mounted brackets according to the manufacturer’s directions. At one side of the doorway, slip the vertical track onto the rollers of the first door section. Repeat at the other side.


4. Guide rollers into tracks.


4Install the rollers into the second section. With a helper, lift the section, set it in place, and slip its rollers into the vertical tracks at both sides of the doorway.


5. Connect the sections together.


5Fasten the hinges of the first section to the second one. For most types of doors, a power drill with a screwdriver tip or nut driver will make this much faster and easier.


6. Fasten top plates and tracks.


6Install the third section, using the same procedures. Check the door for level and the vertical track for plumb. Fasten the top plates of both vertical tracks to the wall. Make sure the lag screws amply penetrate the framing members because the door will exert considerable force as it moves up and down.

7. Attach brackets to tracks and framing.


7Attach the jamb brackets to the tracks and fasten them to the framing members. Again, make sure the lag screws go into sound framing. Don’t tighten down the lag screws yet because you may need to adjust the tracks.

8. Install curved and horizontal tracks.


8Install the curved and horizontal tracks, positioning the curved track as shown. Bolt the pieces together. If necessary, you can rest the horizontal track on top of a ladder.

9. Mount track onto hangers.


9Check the horizontal track for level, and then cut the rear track hanger to the length necessary for supporting the track. Screw the track hanger to solid framing (a ceiling joist or blocking), and loosely mount the track to the hanger. Repeat with the other horizontal track. Fit the last door section in place, and remove any temporary nails.

10. Install and adjust torque tube.


10The type of garage door shown provides the necessary lift assistance with a “torque tube.” If you intend to use an opener, wait to install the tube. Otherwise, install the torque tube according to the manufacturer’s directions. Roll up the door about 4 feet to check for the alignment of the tracks, and make any adjustments. Then tighten all fasteners.[GARD align=”right”]

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How to Paint a Garage Door

Because there is no gutter along the eaves above my sectional garage door, water spills down the door’s front and splashes up from the driveway.

This splashing water, along with my failure to follow the instructions when the door was first installed (I didn’t paint the inside of the door), peeled the paint and delaminated the lower section of the plywood-skin door. The result wasn’t the greatest-looking presentation for the front of the house.

Nothing revives a tired-looking garage door like a new coat of paint.

I decided to refurbish the door but wanted to do something a little different. My garage door, like most, is a very large, flat surface. (Mine is a flush sectional roll-up model.) It is a very dominant-but uninteresting-part of the house’s facade. Rather than paint it a solid color, I wanted to give it a more interesting faux treatment-the type that is sometimes used indoors on walls. (I figured I could always cover a botched idea with another layer of paint.)[GARD align=”left”]

Unfortunately, before I could repaint the door, I had to replace the surface of the lower section, and to replace that, I had to remove the entire section. It sure would have been easier to paint both the outside and the inside of the door in the first place.

A garage door is extremely heavy. This type utilizes a torsion spring across the top to make it easier to lift. Working with a torsion spring is not a job for do-it-yourselfers because the spring is powerful and therefore very dangerous. With that in mind, I hired a garage door installer to handle this part. (In retrospect, it probably would have been only slightly more expensive to have the installer put in a new section.)

Once the tension was released from the spring, I clamped the upper sections in place and unscrewed the hinges and rollers from the section that needed removal. Then I lifted it out of its tracks. Replacing the veneer was just a matter of prying off the old material, sanding the frame, and gluing a new skin of matching 1/4-inch plywood veneer onto the frame with waterproof glue. (I cut this piece to size face up on my table saw, using a fine-toothed blade.) While I had the section down, I also primed the front and back surfaces.

Then I reassembled the door.

Again, I had to hire the garage door installer to rewind the torsion spring. While he did this, he told me a few horror stories of unsuspecting homeowners who had gravely injured themselves while trying to do this. Enough said.[GARD align=”left”]

Finally, I was ready to paint-or at least prepare to paint. At this point, I used a flat scraper to remove all of the loose paint and then followed up with a wire brush. (Be sure to wear safety glasses if you do this type of work.) Next, I used my orbital sander, fitted with a medium-grit paper, to smooth the surface. Using a putty knife, I applied vinyl spackling compound to voids and dents. After it dried, I sanded again with fine-grit sandpaper.

Following a dusting with a rag, it was time to prime the rest of the door. For best adhesion, I used an oil-alkyd primer. I rolled it onto the large, flat surfaces and then worked it in with a brush, being careful to paint the edges of the veneer and the areas between the sections.

Now for the faux finish. I began by applying two coats of a deep gray acrylic latex paint. After allowing that to dry thoroughly, I rolled on a light, thinned coat of greenish, oil-alkyd-based paint. Before that dried, I used clean rags to swirl and blot away excess paint, creating a mottled effect. This process involved a bit of trial and error, but I quickly got the hang of it. The result was a multidimensional, frescoed appearance.

I’m happy to say that the first rains saw my garage door well protected and looking better than ever. Maybe one of my next projects had better be to run a gutter over the garage door.

Garage Door Maintenance & Repairs

Though they look relatively simple in construction, garage doors actually have many components, especially if they’re hooked up to an electric opener. Because of this level of complexity-and the fact that a garage door must stand up against harsh weather-a garage door may suffer from any of several problems.

garage door parts diagram

Garage Door Parts Diagram

Garage Door Is Too Heavy

The most common problem is that the door becomes difficult to lift and lower. This may be something that can be resolved with a few simple adjustments and basic maintenance, or it may be more serious. If the door is connected to an electric opener, the first clue is to disconnect the opener mechanism from the door by pulling the release cord or lever. If the door works fine manually, the problem is with the electric opener; in this case, consult your owner’s manual or call a garage door opener repair pro.

A door that seems unusually heavy to lift may have a problem with spring tension. Garage door springs are under extreme tension because of the loads they must lift, and this makes them dangerous to adjust. If your door’s springs are out of adjustment, do not attempt to work on them yourself. Call a qualified garage door contractor.[GARD align=”right”]

Garage Door Lock Repairs

Problems with a garage door lock can usually be traced to a poorly aligned lock bar. Fixing this is often just a simple matter of loosening a couple of screws, realigning the mechanism, and then tightening the screws.

Garage Door Needs Adjustment

Because a garage door is a very large, heavy, moving part, it’s prone to fall out of adjustment with daily use. When this happens, the door becomes harder and harder to lift and lower. The best way to prevent a garage door from growing obstinate is to inspect it every year for loose or worn hinges, springs, and other hardware and, when you notice a problem, to address it immediately before it has a chance to worsen.

Oil rollers & hinges at least once a year.

Use hammer and block to adjust track alignment.

The first line of defense is to lubricate the moving parts. As shown below left, apply penetrating oil to all rollers and hinges at least once a year. If you notice any loose screws, bolts, or nuts, tighten them so parts won’t fall out of adjustment.

To prevent binding, tracks must be properly aligned to guide the rollers. If one or both of the tracks needs adjustment, loosen its mounting bolt and use a hammer and a wood block to persuade it into the proper direction, as shown at right. Then retighten the bolt.

Garage Door Finish Problems

If you have a wood door, be sure to keep it properly painted or stained, both outside and inside. If you finish only the outside of a garage door, the door may warp and the moisture will subvert the paint, causing it to peel. Manufacturers of wood doors recommend you initially paint both the inside and outside and repaint the exterior surface every year or two.[GARD align=”right”]

Sagging Garage Door

If you have a swing-up, one-piece door that sags in the middle when it’s in the raised position, you may be able to solve the problem by having a garage door contractor install metal reinforcing strips or rods across the inner face of the door. Then again, it may be time to replace the door with a roll-up door.

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