5 Questions to Ask Garage Door Installation Companies Before Hiring

If you’re looking at garage door installation or garage door replacement, you’ve probably already found that you have quite a few options when it comes to hiring. The garage door installation industry in the U.S. employs about 64,789 people — but not all those people are equally qualified or will give you a comparable experience. So how can you find the right company to hire? Here are five questions to ask before you make any decisions:

  1. Do You Offer Service Plans or Warranties?

    Many homeowners see the word “warranty” and immediately think that they’re protected. But some businesses use service plans, warranties and guarantees to give customers a false sense of security. Actually dig into any warranty that is offered and ensure it’s providing you with the coverage you want and isn’t distracting you from bad service upfront.

  2. How Long Have You Been in Business?

    There’s a relatively high turnover rate for all businesses in the home construction and repair industry, which means that working with a newbie company is a risk. If something goes wrong just a few months down the road, the company could be gone — leaving you with no recourse. If you can work with a garage door repair and installation company that has years of experience and a good reputation in your area, that’s absolutely the best way to go, even if it costs slightly more.

  3. Are You Licensed, Insured and Bonded?

    Garage doors are heavy, and that makes installing them or the electric openers that operate automatic garage doors a sensitive process; garage doors can weigh up to 1,000 pounds on the heavy end, meaning they can cause serious injury if proper care isn’t exercised, and the average opener raises and lowers doors of 150 or 200 pounds more than a thousand times every single year. In order to protect yourself — both from injury or liability should someone else be injured — you’ll want to make sure your garage door installation company is bonded and insured, and that it uses only licensed and highly trained installation technicians.

  4. What Payment Methods Do You Accept?

    Especially at certain times of year, there are an unfortunately high number of door-to-door housing scams being run, and some of these involve garage doors. If a company comes to you, quotes you a low price for a new garage door and then wants you to pay in cash, that’s a huge red flag.

  5. Will You Provide Me With References?

    The best endorsement you can get for a company is a former customer saying they’d hire the company all over again. Ask for a list of references you can contact before you sign any papers, and then do some follow-up on your own with online review sites and the Better Business Bureau to make sure the company you’re considering working with truly has a top-notch reputation.

What else should homeowners know before hiring a garage door company? Add your thoughts in the comments.

Your Guide to Garage Door Springs

Of all the parts that make automatic garage doors work, springs are among the most important. They control the ascent and descent of your door, meaning that a broken one will put your garage door out of commission until it’s replaced. With that in mind, here’s a basic guide to garage door springs for all homeowners.

Basic Types of Garage Door Springs
There are two types of springs your garage door might use. The first are garage torsion springs. These are generally attached right above the garage door (you should be able to see it when your garage door is closed), and work by twisting. They’re often used for heavier garage doors — remember, garage doors can weigh up to 1,000 pounds, though a few hundred pounds is more normal. Extension springs, the second kind, are generally installed in pairs and located on either side of garage doors.

The Lifespan of Garage Door Springs
Garage door springs are very heavy-duty, but they won’t last forever. They generally have life-cycle ratings, such as 10,000, 25,000, 50,000, etc. That may make it sound like springs should last for a very long time, but consider this: One nationwide survey found that 71% of homeowners use garage door openers to enter their houses every single day, and it’s estimated that the average electric garage door opener raises and lowers a 150- to 250-pound garage door over a thousand times annually. All that opening and closing puts strain on your garage door springs, too, and that strain can be exacerbated by a poorly calibrated garage door system or harsh environmental conditions.

Inspecting Garage Door Springs
Because a broken garage door spring essentially means a broken garage door, you can save yourself some grief by inspecting your springs every time you clean your garage (once or twice a year, ideally). Look for any signs of rust or springs that look stretched out. You should also pay attention to the rate at which your garage door descends, because an increase in speed over time may indicate that your springs are wearing down and should be replaced.

How to Replace Garage Door Springs
If you’re wondering how to replace garage door springs, the simplest answer is to pick up the telephone and call a few garage door companies for quotes. Yes, it’s possible to buy garage door replacement parts, including springs, and DIY. But garage doors are heavy, and changing springs can actually be a very dangerous task if you’re not properly trained. It’s possible to learn how to do your own repairs, but it’s not something you should attempt as a weekend project.

Do you have any tips on how to replace garage door springs on your own — safely — in some circumstances? Join the discussion in the comments.

5 Common Garage Door Problems You Should Know How to Recognize

Garage doors are typically the largest moving objects in the home, weighing up to 1,000 pounds. That means they can lead to serious — even fatal — injuries if they aren’t properly cared for and maintained. What types of problems should you be looking out for? Here are five common problems you should know how to recognize, as well as some tips on repairs or replacement:

  1. Garage Door Spring Adjustments
    One extremely common class of repairs is garage door spring adjustments. There are two basic types of springs you might be dealing with: garage torsion springs are typically mounted above doors, while extension springs are found to either side. The former are generally used for heavier doors, and the latter are generally used for lighter-weight doors. If your door stops in the middle of opening, descends too quickly or hangs crookedly, those are all signs that garage door spring adjustments or replacements are needed. You should inspect the springs themselves on a regular basis, looking for irregular elongation or visible wearing on the springs.
  2. Roller Replacements
    Rollers help your garage door to glide on its tracks; when they become bent or broken, they no longer fulfill that function. One sign that your rollers are in need of replacement is a noisy garage door, but manual inspections can also reveal problems. It’s important to replace rollers before they cause damage to the tracks, as the latter is a much more expensive problem to fix.
  3. Broken Cable Rethreading
    Garage door cables work as part of a pulley system to raise the door. Sometimes, these cables can wear or snap suddenly. The cables themselves are not very expensive, but it can be dangerous to attempt to replace them on your own due to the weight of most garage doors. This is one time it’s smarter to just call the garage door repair company.
  4. Door Panel Assessments
    Garage doors are typically comprised of multiple panels, and these can often be switched out without replacing the entire door. It’s important, however, to get a professional assessment from one or two garage door companies on why damage to a panel has occurred; sometimes what looks like cosmetic damage is indicative of an underlying structural problem that needs to be addressed.
  5. Opener Malfunctions
    Automatic garage doors are raised and lowered by electric openers — and considering that these openers raise a 150- or 250-pound door (on the light end) more than a thousand times a year, it’s no wonder they wear out or malfunction sometimes. Since fixing a broken opener takes electrical training, this is another kind of repair that’s often better left to the professionals.

How to Test the Most Important Safety Feature on Automatic Garage Doors

Garage doors are the largest moving objects in the typical home, weighing as much as 1,000 pounds apiece. That means they can cause serious injury — even death — if they aren’t properly maintained. Most homes are now built with automatic garage doors, meaning that homeowners need to pay attention to the condition both of doors themselves and of garage door openers (the machines that actually raise and lower the doors). On average, an electric opener lifts and lowers a 150- to 250-pound door more than a thousand times each year.

One of the most important safety features in an automatic garage door setup is the auto-reverse system. This is what prevents the door from crushing something or someone beneath it. When problems arise in this system, the fault can lie either with the sensor “eye” that locates objects under the door, or in the opener itself. There are three tests you can perform to check that your auto-reverse function is working as intended. Do all these at least once a year:

  1. Stationary Object Blocking Eye
    Starting with your garage door open, test your sensor by blocking the eye with a stationary object. Since these sensors are generally low to the ground, an object such as a roll of paper towels works well (a bucket or other cheap garden item would also serve this purpose). Press the close button; your garage door should refuse to descend.
  2. Stationary Object Not Blocking Eye
    Next, place an object such that it is in the door’s path, but does not block the sensor eye. A sawhorse is the easiest choice, though a folding chair or small ladder might also work depending on configuration. Press the close button; the garage door should descend until it touches the object, but then immediately reverse.
  3. Moving Object in Door’s Path
    Finally, select a long item such as a broom handle or rake. Press the close button, then wave the object in the door’s path. As soon as the moving object passes in front of the sensor, the door should reverse.

If your door fails any one of the three tests, then you should carry out further troubleshooting immediately. If the problem is with the sensor, you may be able to fix it yourself. Clean the eye and make sure it is pointing in a straight beam underneath the garage door. If the mounting is wrong, you can get garage door replacement parts from a local supplier.

Barring this kind of simple fix, it’s probably time to call the garage door repair company. If you’ve already been looking at garage door replacement parts, don’t let that tempt you to take on a project that’s really outside your expertise; this is one system you want working exactly as intended.

Do you have any recommendations on choosing garage door replacement parts or hiring garage door companies? Share your thoughts in the comments.

7 Benefits That Come With Replacing Your Garage Doors

If your automatic garage doors are sticky or creaking, it’s possible you can get away with a simple garage door repair service. You might even be able to solve the problem yourself by using a light household oil on the tracks, hinges, rollers and springs (don’t use a petroleum-based product or get lubricant on the opener itself). But sometimes, garage door replacement is simply a better investment. How do you know when to replace garage doors, instead of repair them? While immediate cost should always be a factor, there are quite a few valuable benefits you should calculate into your decision. Here are some reasons to consider new garage doors:

  1. Increased Home Value

    New garage doors can vastly improve curb appeal and the overall appearance of your home. When combined with the appeal of newer, lower-maintenance technology, this means new garage doors can increase the value of your home. In fact, 71% of homeowners who installed new garage doors recently believe their home value went up as a result.

  2. Heating and Cooling Efficiency

    Newer garage doors are better insulated and wind-resistant than older models. For houses with attached garages, this can lead to an improvement in heating and cooling efficiency — leaving you with a lower utility bill each month.

  3. Reduced Maintenance

    New garage doors are designed to be almost effortless to care for. A finished metal garage door requires nothing more than an occasional wash with soap and water. If you’ve been flaking and repainting your wooden garage door, this should definitely be considered if you’re debating when to replace garage doors.

  4. Safer Storage

    A new, secured garage door can give you the confidence that anything you store in your garage — anything from your cars and motorcycles to expensive power tools — is safe. Most new garage doors are equipped with security measures so that thieves can’t generate codes to open them.

  5. Restricted Home Access

    In addition to providing access to your garage, most garages also provide access to your home (and many people don’t lock the door between the garage and the house). A solid, secured garage door can give you peace of mind that no one is in your house who shouldn’t be.

  6. Lower Accident Risk

    Garage doors are heavy, weighting up to 1,000 pounds, and can fall and cause serious injuries if they’re not properly maintained. By getting a new garage door, you can be sure that it’s in top condition and has all the latest safety features.

  7. Improved Insurance Outlook

    By making your home more secure against both criminals and the elements, you may find that a new garage door can help you lower your homeowners insurance rates.

Do you have any tips to share on when to replace garage doors? Join the discussion below.

5 Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Garage Door in Tip Top Shape

You probably open and close your garage door (or doors) several times a day; a recent nationwide consumer survey concluded that 71% of homeowners access their homes using garage door openers daily. But how much thought do you give to garage door maintenance? These oft-used doors are all too often neglected. By doing some simple maintenance, you can ensure your garage doors are always working smoothly — and avoid the costs of garage door repair or even garage door replacement. Here are five easy steps you can take to maintain your garage doors:

  1. Clean

    Dirt and outdoor pollutants can create a stubborn grime on garage doors if they’re not cleaned regularly. Warm water and a mild detergent work just fine on most doors; metal doors should also get a light coat of car wax, which protects the finish.

  2. Inspect

    Once a month or so, look at your closed door and its corresponding parts from the inside of the garage. Check the door and springs, cables, pulleys and hinges. If anything looks worn, frayed or loose, then it’s probably time for professional garage door service.

  3. Test

    All modern electric garage doors have two important safety mechanisms that you should check periodically. The first is a reversing mechanism. You can test this by laying a board on the ground in the path of the garage door and then hitting the button to close the door; it should reverse as soon as the bottom of the door touches the board. The second is a photo eye, which prevents the door from closing when something is in its path. Push the button to close the door, and then wave an object (not your arm!) in front of the sensor. The door should immediately begin to re-open. If it doesn’t, clean the sensors with a soft cloth and repeat the test. If the test fails again, call a technician.

  4. Lubricate

    Tracks, hinges, rollers and springs can be lightly lubricated with household oil twice a year or as needed. Wipe away any extra when you’re finished, and remember that the openers themselves do not need to be lubricated.

  5. Insulate

    Even if you’re not willing to invest in a fully insulated garage door, you can keep the chill and damp out by installing and regularly inspecting weatherstripping or seals at the edges of your doors.

What have your experiences been like with garage door companies? What do you look for when picking a new home service company? Join the discussion in the comments.