Monthly Archives: March 2011

24 Hour Emergency Service- When Should You Call a Garage Door Technician?

So you are experiencing trouble with your garage door system, when should you call a trained garage door technician? If you do not feel comfortable working on the garage door- Do Not Do It! There are a few things you can do easily in order to secure your garage door or get your car out, but in some cases it can be dangerous to move the garage door.

The bottom line is safety! What is safe to do and what is dangerous to do?

If your garage door is missing rollers, has a broken spring, or has a cable broken or off-line—STOP! IF for any reason the door will not move by hand normally—STOP! To that point, check the balance of your garage door 1-2 times per year to get a feel for what the door should move like under normal conditions. We have a how-to video describing how to check the balance here.

It can be very dangerous to operate a garage door if it has rollers out of the track. If you can easily get the roller(s) back in the track, try moving it up and down. If a spring is broken, the door will be considerably heavier and you definitely DO NOT want to run the garage door with the opener. Another situation that can be dangerous is when a cable is off the drum. Often times the door will get stuck at an angle in the opening, as the side with the cable still on the drum will pull up- and the other side without the cable on the drum will slide down. In these cases, you definitely want to call a technician.

If you cannot get the garage door closed and secured, you would also want to contact a garage door repair service. I recommend using a company that doesn’t charge extra for after-hours calls! There are plenty of them out there. You should expect a garage door technician to arrive at your home prepared to complete the work. If you cannot afford the cost of the necessary repairs, you may end-up paying for the technician to make the necessary efforts to get the garage door safely on the ground and secured.

When your garage door opener malfunctions, you can open and close the door manually (assuming the opener is not malfunctioning because of the door) by pulling the red-handled emergency release cord. Then move the door up and down by hand and determine if the garage door itself is causing the problem. Garage door openers usually have preset force limits that, when exceeded, will cause the opener to stop working in order to save itself. IF the garage door is running rough, or is too heavy, the garage door will not open or close it. IF you can get the door on the ground, it can be secured by preventing the rollers from moving upwards. Try a pair of vise-grips on the track, one on each side of the door, preventing the roller to move up. Under normal conditions, your opener is responsible for locking the garage door in the closed position. IF you disconnect the door from the opener, you will need to find another way to secure it (unless you can reconnect the door to the opener again because it malfunctioned in the down position).

Many service companies will be happy to answer questions over the phone, but it can be difficult to diagnose problems over the phone. They should be able to help you decide whether or not it is safe to try to work on yourself. You can also submit questions to our blog and we can help!
Good Luck!

Is Your Garage Door More Than 10 Years Old? How Replacing the Bearings can Save You $$!

If your garage door is more than 10 years old, you should be concerned about the hardware on the door that allows it to go up and down safely and smoothly. Why is this important? Well, it is a moving wall that you probably use more often than your toothbrush! Most homeowners do not know the proper maintenance tasks that need to be performed annually, and as long as the garage door opener is working they assume that all is well…

…Garage door hardware is designed to last between 5-7 years, with a small percentage that will last longer. When I say “garage door hardware” I am referring to the garage door springs, bearings, rollers, cables, drums, and other parts like hinges and brackets. Of this list, the most important parts are the springs, bearings, and rollers.

At a minimum, it is very important to visually inspect the cables to make sure they are not fraying, lubricate the hinges (and tighten the nuts on wood doors), check the balance of the garage door, and ensure that there are no obvious points of friction when operating the door manually. You can find a how to video on how to check the balance of the garage door at www.spokanegaragerepair.com/tips_tricks.htm. These maintenance tasks need to be performed at least once per year, to ensure that the garage door is not too heavy. If the springs are fatigued, and the garage door is heavy, the only way to know this is to check the balance of the door. If the door is out of balance, the garage door opener will have to work too hard to open and close the door. Most openers will continue to operate until either they destroy themselves, or exceed preset force limits. IF you check the balance periodically, you will be able to notice the problem before it destroys your opener- which is designed to ‘guide’ the door, not pull or push- and probably has a lot of plastic parts.

Even if you perform all of the proper maintenance, however, you need to consider replacing some of the key components after 10 years (note: DO NOT EVER WORK ON THE SPRINGS, CABLES, BEARINGS, OR OTHER PARTS OF A TORSION SYSTEM! THIS IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS FOR AN UNTRAINED INDIVIDUAL…CALL A PROFESSIONAL!)

During the first 10 years, you will most likely replace the torsion springs once, and generally, the rest of the hardware will still be working just fine. But after 10 years, when you need to replace the springs again, it is highly recommended that you also replace the bearings and possibly the rollers. These parts are essential to the smooth running of the torsion system and are often neglected for 20-30 years. Not only will this cause the springs to fail quicker (the springs have to work harder to spin the torsion tube), but sticky, or frozen, bearings can cut the torsion tube- which is not all that thick to begin with! You can visually inspect the bearings to see if there are any obvious signs of wear, but usually they need to be inspected by a professional while the system is taken apart. That is why I recommend replacing them with your second spring change. To visually inspect the end bearings, look on the outside of the tracks where the end of the torsion tube sticks out of the end bearings. If you see a black, greasy smudge on the tube, it means that the bearings have lost some-or all- of the lubrication that helps them spin smoothly. Another spot to check is the horizontal portion of the tracks that are just under the end bearings (you will most likely need a ladder for this) to see if there are metal shavings collecting under the bearings. IF you see this, it means that the torsion tube is not spinning freely and scraping off metal flakes. This is a definite sign that you need new bearings!

For more information on garage door maintenance, visit www.spokanegaragerepair.com/tips_tricks.htm or if you have questions, submit them on our Tech-blog at www.spokanegaragerepair.com/repair_blog

Are You Considering a Replacement Garage Door?

Insulated vs. Non-Insulated

One thing that can drastically increase the “curb appeal” of your home is replacing an old, wood garage door that is sagging or looks bad from the outside. Another thing that should be considered, however, is the age, and condition, of the hardware that allows your garage door to open and close smoothly. If the hardware is more than 15 years old, it can be beneficial to replace the garage door- as it will be installed with brand-new hardware. Here are some things to consider when purchasing a new garage door…

…plan it in advance! Of course, if you have broken spring or another hardware issue- you may be forced to make the decision more quickly. Either way, the most important thing to do is get multiple bids! I worked for a company, who shall remain nameless, that had the most expensive prices because they made more money fixing the door, as opposed to repalcing it. They sold the exact same door as other companies, but for hundreds of dollars more! So I would urge you to contact at least 3 companies that offer the same manufacturer, if possible, so you can decide which company you want to do business with.

When choosing a new garage door, it is important to consider the level of insulation you want. The insulation is a key component in the structural integrity of the door. The side effect is that it will keep your garage warmer or cooler, but is essential for the durability of the garage door. Metal garage doors range from non-insulated (cheapest) to fully insulated, metal backed (most expensive, best warranty).

With a non-insulated garage door, you have no support- only a thin piece of metal. They are also much louder running up and down, but mainly weak- and hopefully you don’t nudge it with your car, or have any rambunctious kids! These doors are great, and look the same from the outside, as long as nothing happens to them over the lifetime of the door. If you plan on moving within 5 years, or do not have the funds to purchase a fully insulated door, they will function just fine.

At the other end of the insulation spectrum is the fully insulated, metal backed door. This door has a second layer of metal on the back of the door, with insulation between the two (or even three) layers of metal. This insulation will act as support for the structure of the door, allowing it to absorb more damage before it becomes unserviceable. I have seen one of these doors completely knocked out of the opening (Junior backed the family truck into the garage without the door being all the way up) and stacked on the garage floor. I put it back up, and there was barely a scratch! A non-insulated door would have disintegrated under the same impact. These doors also have much better warranties because of the extra structure in place. Fully insulated doors will also make less noise going up and down.

Somewhere in the middle are partially insulated doors. They do not have the metal back and therefore, not as much support. They are priced in the middle as well, but will act more like a non-insulated door when impacted by an object. I do not recommend this type of door, unless you are only interested in adding some thermal insulation (and noise suppression) to the door- and are unconcerned with the door withstanding significant damage (from kids or cars).

If you are in the Spokane, WA or Couer d’Alene, ID area- give us a call for a FREE estimate!