So you're having some trouble with your garage door or opener. Why else would you be looking at garage door repair web sites? Let me introduce myself. My name is Phil Spencer, owner of Don't Panic Emergency Garage Door Repair. If you live in Cobb county GA or any of the counties bordering Cobb (Douglas, Paulding or Cherokee) I would like you to consider me and my little business for solutions to your residential garage door or garage door opener needs.
The purpose of this web site, aside from being my only form of advertising, is to inform and educate visitors on the names and purposes of various parts of the residential garage door-garage door opener combination. Hopefully after reading the information here you will be better able to describe the nature of the problem with your door or opener when you call me to set up a service appointment.
I am licensed and insured. I strive to provide my customers with excellent quality materials and workmanship. I treat all of my customers and their property with the utmost respect.
Very often, same day service is available. I offer late evening, Sunday and holiday repair service for reasonable rates. I live in Marietta GA and I consider the following cities to be my regular service area.
Broken springs are the most common problem a garage door may have. Many parts of the door suffer from wear and tear but the springs are the only part of the door that are virtually guaranteed to break/fail during the service life of the door. Spring life expectancy is gauged primarily in terms of cycles. One cycle is one opening and closing of the door. The cycle life expectancy of the average garage door spring is normally 10,000 or more. So the answer to the question "How long will my springs last?" is basically how many years will it take for you to open and close your door 10,000 times.
People who park their cars in the garage will run the door anywhere from 2 to 20+ times a day. At an average of 2 cycles per day that works out to 13.7 years estimated life span. That is a best case scenario. Usually the average is more like 4 to 6 cycles per day. At 4 the life expectancy drops to 6.8 years and at 6 we have 4.5 years.
10,000 cycles is a minimum value. Many springs are rated for much higher values. 50,000 cycles would be a very high end estimated cycle life. Average is more like 15,000 to 20,000 cycles.
All garage doors have springs and they do the hard work of raising and lowering the door. Some doors have only one spring. Most have two. Rarely a very heavy garage door may have three or even four springs. A broken garage door spring always adversely affects the operation of the door. A broken spring means the garage door feels heavy. The opener will normally not be able to lift the door more than a few inches when the door has a broken spring. That's good because this alerts the user that there is a problem with the door. If the opener can still lift the door with a broken spring, the door and the opener are dealing with much greater forces than normal and can lead to damage to the door and/or the opener.
Basically, there are four types of garage door springs.
Extension springs for One Piece Doors
In the case of Torsion and Extension springs it's pretty easy to identify a broken spring. These springs are exposed and easy to inspect visually. In the case of a torsion spring, a gap of three or so inches anywhere in the body of the spring is obvious and easy to see. In the case of extension springs usually the hook on either end of the spring will have snapped off, also easy to see.
More difficult to identify is a broken Torquemaster® spring, a spring system found on many Wayne Dalton® brand garage doors. With a Torquemaster® spring system the springs are contained inside the torsion tube. The only way to visually inspect them is to completely disassemble the spring system and extract them from the tube. This should be done by professionals only. Short of disassembly, the best way to test for a broken Torquemaster® spring is to "feel the door". With the door closed, pull the opener's manual release cord to disengage the door from the opener. Inspect the steel cables located at the left and right ends of the door, just behind the vertical track. If these cables are slack then you definitely have broken springs. If the cables are taut then you can try to lift the garage door by hand. Position yourself at or near the middle of the door widthwise and try with one hand to lift the door. If the door is very easy to open manually then the spring/springs are not broken. If you have to use both hands and put your back into it then you can conclude the Torquemaster® system has a broken spring. If your Wayne Dalton® garage door has a broken Torquemaster® spring you will likely only be able to lift the door by hand a few inches if at all. The door will feel very heavy and once you discover this information you should accept that the reason is a broken spring. If the spring tube has two springs inside and only one of them is broken, the cables may be taut but the door will feel heavy. If both springs are broken the cables will be slack and the door will feel extremely heavy. If the spring tube has only one spring inside and it is broken, the door will feel extremely heavy and the cables will be slack. The test is complete. Stop trying to open the door by hand. If you managed to open the door be very careful closing it. It may slam closed, squashing your toes or worse. The cables may have shifted or become tangled possibly leading to a door-off-track situation. Trust me, you don't want that. As soon as you discover that your garage door has a broken Torquemaster® spring you should just leave it closed until I arrive there with the repair solution.
If you know or suspect that your garage door has a broken spring of any type I recommend that you not open the door at all until the problem is resolved.
Generally, the cables on a garage door stand a good chance of lasting for the life of the door. Even so I occasionally see a cable failure. When a torsion cable breaks the door usually comes at least partially off track. That means that the door is wedged diagonally between the tracks and firmly stuck there. Some of the rollers may have fallen out. When an extension cable breaks the result is exactly like a broken extension spring, only the spring is not broken. These problems must be addressed by a professional. This is a very dangerous situation and a professional garage door repairman will have special techniques to solve this kind of problem. Trust me, keep your fingers attached to the rest of your hands and call me for a solution to a broken cable issue. That is assuming that you live in my normal service area.
A door off track resembles the above description of a broken cable except that there is no break in the cable or cables. Instead a cable simply comes off of its drum and becomes tangled around the shaft or some other part of the spring system. Usually I will see this at one end of the spring system only. The opposite end is still arranged like normal with the cable still on the drum in the usual fashion. The result is that the end of the door with the disorganized cable is hanging lower than the end of the door where the cable is properly on the drum. That usually means some rollers have fallen out and the door is wedged diagonally between the tracks.
This is another one of those door problems that should be addressed by an experienced garage door repairman. I have seen many instances where a door had come off track and someone there basically panicked and tried to put it back on, only to make the situation worse. That only makes the real repair more time consuming and expensive.
Take my advise. If your door comes off track:
Solutions for garage door off track issues are priced as service and repair issues without set prices. The reason is that the severity of these issues varies greatly depending on the situation existing at the time of service. Some door off track situations are very quick and easy repairs for me to accomplish. Others are more challenging and time consuming. The easy ones routinely take me ten to twenty minutes to solve. I have had severe ones that took an hour or more. These repairs are priced as follows:
All garage doors have springs. The springs do the work of lifting the majority of the weight of the garage door. Garage doors come in a wide variety of weights and therefore, so do springs. I keep the most common torsion spring and extension spring sizes in stock. Odd sizes may need to be custom made or ordered. When you call for a spring replacement appointment it would be best if you had already collected the following information about your garage door:
These are the most common variables. With the exception of custom springs for carriage doors, there is an excellent chance that I will have the proper spring solution for your garage door on my truck.
The following is a list of prices for spring replacements on common garage doors.
The prices listed above are for service during normal business hours Monday through Saturday, 9am to 5pm excluding holidays. For repair service on Sunday, holidays or late evening work (after 5pm) add $55 emergency service surcharge.
I warranty torsion spring replacements and Torquemaster conversions for 3 years, parts and labor.
I warranty extension spring replacements for 3 years, parts and labor.
I warranty Torquemaster replacements for 1 year, parts and labor.
The purpose of this section is to familiarize you with the names of the various parts of your garage door. If you are having a problem with your door and you see something amiss it would be helpful when you call for a service appointment if you can describe what you are seeing there using proper terminology.
We have already talked a good bit about springs. Just to reiterate, springs are a part of the garage door, not a part of the garage door opener.
With the exception of one-piece doors, all garage doors have cables. The cables are connected at their lowest points to the bottom corners of the door and at their highest points to the door's spring system. There are four types of cables commonly found on residential garage doors. They are:
These cables are under extreme tension when the garage door is closed, progressively less as the garage door is raised and should always be treated with caution. Don't ever attempt to service or repair a cable unless you know exactly what you are doing! Garage door cables are made of steel wire and can be very dangerous.
The track is what the rollers travel in. There is a right side and a left side. Each side of the track consists of two parts:
The track hangar is the bracing which holds up the end of the horizontal track section at the extreme end of the track farthest from the garage door opening. The track hangar bolts to the ceiling and drops down to also bolt to the track.
Pulleys are found only on extension spring doors, normally single wide doors. There are four of them on each door. Each extension spring has one on it's end and each side of the track has one mounted on it just above the radius. The extension cables ride in grooves on the pulleys. Pulleys have little ball bearings inside them and do wear out over time. Worn pulleys cause the garage door to run poorly, especially when closing. They can even fall apart with extreme wear. Caution: the cables which ride on the pulleys are under extreme tension!
Drums are found only on garage doors equipped with torsion springs. All double-wide garage doors and some single-wide garage doors have torsion springs. The drums are located on the shaft, just above the top edge of the door, one at each end of the shaft. Each drum looks like a large spool. One torsion cable is connected to the bottom corner of the garage door at it's lower end and to the drum at it's upper end. When the garage door is closed only about 8 inches or so of the torsion cable is on the drum. When the door goes up the torsion cables wind up on the drums in a very organized way. When the garage door is open fully virtually all of the length of the torsion cable is wrapped around the drum. When a garage door comes off track it's usually caused by one of the cables simply coming off the drum and wrapping around the shaft in an unorganized fashion.
Rollers are the little wheels that the garage door uses to roll in the tracks. Rollers have two parts:
Rollers can and do wear out over time. The wheel portion is made of steel or plastic materials. The stem is always made of steel. The rollers may or may not have ball-bearings. Heavier garage doors probably will have rollers with ball-bearings. Lighter garage doors will probably have rollers which do not have ball-bearings. If the wheel portion of your rollers are made of steel then there are ball-bearings inside. If the wheel portion of your rollers are made of plastic materials they may or may not have ball-bearings inside. If your rollers have ball-bearings it will be beneficial to periodically lubricate them with a penetrating oil. Try to get the oil inside where the ball-bearings are. If your rollers have no bearings there is usually no need to lubricate the wheel portion of the roller. This type of roller can actually be harmed or damaged by lubricants. Garage doors which are made up of four sections will have ten rollers. Five section garage doors will have twelve rollers.
Hinges are used to connect garage door sections to each other and like any hinge have a flex point. The flex point allows the sections to rotate with respect to each other so that they can travel through the track radius without binding. Each hinge at the garage door's right and left end is also charged with holding a roller stem. Hinges located at other spots on the garage door only connect sections together.
There are many different designs of hinges and they come in different sizes as well. Some makes and models of garage doors come with hinges that are specific to only that make and model of door. Some garage door manufacturers seem to revel in making the hinges for their doors unlike any others. Only hinges produced by that company will work on that door. A few examples are:
Each garage door has several different sizes of hinge depending on which part of the garage door they are mounted on. The hinges connecting the bottom section to the first intermediate section will be #1 hinges. The hinges connecting the first intermediate section to the second intermediate section will be #2 hinges. The Hinges between the second intermediate section and the top section will be #3 hinges. If your garage door has five sections it will also have #4 hinges. All of the hinges not at the ends of the garage door will be #1 hinges. Hinges are usually stamped with a number, 1,2,3 or 4.
Hinges can and do wear over time and I have seen many that were actually broken. Visually inspect your hinges for breaks, cracks and bends. Lubricate hinges at the flex points with penetrating oil. Lubricate the roller stem holder tubes with the same penetrating oil, trying to get some lubricant between the roller stem and the stem holder tube. The stems of the rollers need to be able to slide easily in the hinge's roller stem holder tube for proper garage door operation.
As with all applications of lubricants to garage door parts, be careful to apply the least lubricant possible to accomplish the task. Drips and runs on the inside surfaces of the door make the door a greasy mess. Lubricants dripping from the garage door onto the paint of your cars will ruin the clear coat. After applying any lubricant try to wipe off any excess to avoid these problems.
Top fixtures are not hinges since they do not have a flex point. They are installed on the top section of the garage door near the top right and top left corners of the top section. They have a roller stem holder tube and are adjustable. Lubricate these between the roller stem and the roller stem holder tube the same way you would if it were a hinge.
Like top fixtures, bottom fixtures are not hinges because they do not have a flex point. They are installed on the bottom section of the garage door at the bottom right and bottom left corners of that section. They hold a roller stem in a similar way to a hinge and can be lubricated the same way as a hinge.
Bottom fixtures perform another vital function. The cables are attached to them and because of this fact they are very dangerous.
The most common bottom fixture problems I see is a track-cut bottom fixture. This problem is the result of years of scraping or rubbing of the side of the bottom fixture against the inside edge of the track. When this happens it almost instantly produces a door off track situation.
Garage door sections, sometimes referred to as panels, comprise the main body of your garage door. Most of the garage doors I see are made up of four sections. These are usually seven foot tall doors. Eight foot tall doors will often be made with five sections. The names of these sections from bottom to top are:
The bottom section will have at its bottom edge what is called the bottom rubber. On wooden garage doors the bottom rubber is relatively flat and is nailed to the bottom edge of the section with galvanized nails. Many hardware stores will carry this type of bottom rubber and so replacement of it could be a DIY project. If you have an 18 foot wide wooden garage door you may have difficulty finding the replacement bottom rubber at the hardware store. I have only found it there in 16 foot lengths. My professional garage door parts suppliers offer it in long lengths. So if your garage door is 8, 9 or 16 feet wide you should have no problem finding replacement bottom rubber at your local hardware store.
Bottom rubber for metal doors is generally bulb shaped with it's edges contained in grooves or slots in the bottom rubber retainer. Metal door bottom rubber/retainer designs are often specific to manufacturer and model. Replacements will often only be offered by the original manufacturer.
The lock section is the section where any door lock mechanism will be mounted. If the garage door has a mechanical operator, the lock mechanism may be disabled. Most installation manuals for garage door openers recommend disabling the lock mechanism to help prevent damage to the door. A garage door opener will not be able to open a locked door and damage to the garage door may occur. If you are having problems with your garage door opener and need to operate the door by hand until the problem is solved, you may need to enable the manual lock. If your manual lock is disabled you may have some investigative work to do. Inspect the mechanism, trying to discover what disable technique was employed. Once you find it the solution to enable it should be obvious. You may need tools to undo the disable technique. Once undone you should be able to manually lock the door. This will be important for the security of your home until your garage door opener problems are resolved. Once the opener problems are sorted out I recommend that you disable the lock. Many times I have seen garage doors damaged due to an opener trying to open the door while physically locked! Don't let this happen to you!
Intermediate sections are the simplest sections. If the garage door has windows, often they are on this section.
Top sections may also have windows. The opener's J-bar is bolted to the top section, usually in the middle of the section widthwise and fairly near the top edge of the section. When the opener opens or closes the garage door, all of it's forces are put into the top section through the J-bar. The rest of the sections are just along for the ride. The top section is easily damaged by running the opener when the door is physically locked or with a broken spring. If your garage door has a broken spring you should not try to open or close the door using the opener. Usually the opener will not be able to open the door if a spring is broken. For many people, the first sign of a broken spring is an opener that opens the garage door a few inches and then it stops.
Prices for individual garage door parts vary. A replacement hinge may cost only a few dollars while a replacement section may cost hundreds of dollars. Labor is a separate issue. Parts for old garage doors may no longer be available. Some basic parts like rollers, hinges and cables may be available at your local hardware store for reasonable prices. Replace parts of your garage door at your own risk! In my opinion, garage door parts should be replaced by a professional, experienced garage door repair technician.
A garage door opener, sometimes called an operator, is an appliance that performs the task of opening and closing a garage door. An opener is a completely separate issue from the door itself. The opener has a relationship to the garage door similar to the relationship between your lawn and your lawnmower. Your lawn needs to be cut thereby creating the need for a lawnmower. Similarly, your garage door needs to be opened and closed thereby creating a need for an opener.
A garage door's spring system does the work of lifting about 95% of the door's weight. The opener (or your muscles if lifting by hand) manages the remaining 5%.
I find that many people think about their garage door/garage door opener combo so seldom that they are not aware of what parts they see in their garage are garage door parts and which are opener parts. Many times a customer has told me that they need a new "door" when actually they meant "garage door opener". A simple but confusing error.
Parts of the garage door are covered in the section called "Parts of the door".
Compared to the number and complexity of garage door parts, garage door opener parts are few and relatively simple. They generally consist of:
The motor or motor head is the part of the opener that contains the actual drive motor and the majority of the electronics for the system.
The rail is the long, slender part that extends from the front of the motor to the wall mount just above the garage door.
The J-bar is a curved bar, shaped vaguely like a letter J. The top of the J-bar connects to a carriage or traveler of some sort on the rail. This carriage is what actually moves when the opener runs. The bottom of the J-bar connects to a bracket which is bolted to the garage door itself, always on the top section, fairly near the top of that section.
The photocells are a portion of the electronics and what they do is inform the motor electronics when there is an obstruction in the way of the door. They usually take the form of two small units, held by brackets, bolted to the frame of the garage door opening or clipped onto the garage door track itself, one on either side of the garage door about five inches off the floor. Mainly they are designed increase safety for children who may be in the vicinity of the garage door. One of the photocells emits a beam of infrared light and the other photocell receives that beam at the opposite side of the garage door opening. If anything blocks this beam the garage door opener will not close the garage door. Photocells are not foolproof. Children allowed to play in or near the garage should be supervised by an adult even if the garage door opener has photocells.
The wall button is usually located near the entry door, screwed to the wall and is the main user interface for opener operation. The wall button may be a simple button resembling a doorbell button. This kind of wall button can only be used to run the opener. Or it may be a "wall console" which in addition to the usual "Go" button has other functions such as a light control button for the motor head's light bulb and a "lock" button. Some wall consoles also will display information such as time, temperature and system status. The wall button is normally "hard wired" to the motor and requires no batteries.
Remote transmitters, or simply "remotes" are normally located in your car and allow the user to run the opener from within the car. Normally the remote can only be used to open and close the door. The buttons on the remote are "Go" buttons only. They can not control the lights on the motor or the "lock" function. Remotes have batteries which need to be replaced periodically. The batteries are specialty items which may be found at your local hardware store. Radio Shack® sells them for sure. The buttons on remotes will tend to wear out after many years of use requiring replacement of the unit. Replacement remotes can often be found at your local hardware store.
A standard garage door opener is only long enough to fully open a standard seven foot tall garage door. If you have an eight foot tall garage door, an extra long opener which is rated for an eight foot tall door is what you need. So, before you order or purchase a new garage door opener you might want to measure the height of your garage door.
Homelink® buttons are garage door opener buttons built into the car. Once programmed they take the place of the standard remote transmitter. There are usually three of them. They operate from car power and do not have separate batteries. To program a Homelink® please refer to the owner's manual that came with your car.
There are many different types of repairs that my customers need for their openers. So many that it would be impossible to list them all here. Prices for opener repairs are quoted upon discovery of the exact nature of the problem. Some opener repairs are expensive enough that a wise choice would be to replace the whole thing. Let me remind you that a garage door opener is a convenience appliance who's purpose is to relieve you of the chore of opening and closing the garage door by hand. They do not last forever. In my opinion, if a repair to your garage door opener costs more than $150 then perhaps it's time for a new one. Some repairs are virtually impossible because replacement parts are no longer available. An expensive repair to an older garage door opener is hardly worth the investment when a new opener usually won't break the bank.
There are a few garage door opener problems which are common enough and simple enough to solve that the cost of repair may seem preferable to replacement. Three are worth mentioning here.
The brands and model types of openers listed above are the most popular and numerous having sold millions of units worldwide. I estimate that 95% of my customers have one so I get to see a lot of them. The gear and carriage wear comes after 10 to 15 years of faithful service. Assuming that you haven't had any other problems with the garage door opener, replacement of these parts is warranted. These repairs are a lot cheaper that having it replaced with a new one.
The following prices are for one new professional grade garage door opener including standard installation, with take down/haul off/disposal of your old garage door opener. This is for a 7' opener which means that it will fully open a standard 7' garage door. If you have an 8' tall garage door you will need an extra long garage door opener. An opener for a 7' garage door will not fully open an 8' garage door. Please measure the height of your garage door before ordering a new garage door opener. An 8' rail adds $25 to the prices shown below.
At this time my business is really geared more toward the service and repair side of the business and less toward new garage door installation. When someone in my normal service area asks me to install a new garage door for them, if I have time for the project, I try to accommodate the request. If my service work has me very busy I may not have the time to devote to their project.
So, having said that, the next section is intended to provide information for those considering having their garage door replaced. There are many considerations, not the least of which is cost. Basic garage doors are very affordable. Higher end garage doors can be ridiculously expensive.
Virtually all garage door companies provide and install steel garage doors. Some will install wooden doors even though wood doors are pretty much out of fashion. A few garage door companies specialize in custom made wood doors which are total works of art. Most likely, if you get a new garage door installed it will be a steel garage door. Steel garage doors are available in a variety of styles with options to suit virtually any architectural and aesthetic criteria.
If you must have custom made wood doors, hopefully you won't have to sell your Ferrari to pay for them.
If you live in a neighborhood that has a Home Owners Association they may require you to submit your plans to them for approval.
If you are interested in getting quotes for a new garage door over the phone from any garage door company, it will be necessary to whip out your handy-dandy tape measure. The easiest thing to do is simpl measure the width and the height of the door from the inside. Don't include the track in your measurement, just the door itself. You can measure for headroom by measuring the height of the ceiling over the top of the closed garage door. If you have over 13" of headroom you should be ok with standard track for your new garage door. Any less and you may need special low headroom track solutions. You can also measure the width and height of the opening. This can be done from the outside with the garage door open or closed.
These measurements are absolutely required when when trying to get a serious quote over the phone for a new garage door. Even with these measurements, a garage door company will still need to conduct a pre-install site survey.
Make sure that the quotes you get are for replacement of the complete garage door and it's supporting components. As always, the garage door opener is a completely separate issue. Some garage door companies take shortcuts like re-using the old track, springs, rollers and hinges. Those kind of shortcuts are foolish even if they make the project cost less.
Also, make sure the quote includes replacement of the stop molding. This is another shortcut that I often see.
Different garage door styles are called by different names by different manufacturers. The names I use for the different styles are:
Basic Carriage Door
Carriage Door with composite overlay
I usually prefer to start quoting prices for new doors over the phone. I must, of course, know what size door your house needs, how many and what style you are interested in. If you like my price then we can go to the next step; the site survey. During the site survey I will be looking for any unusual challenges to the project like:
Any garage door that I install comes with a one year warranty in addition to any manufacturers warranty.
I hope you found this website informative.
Have a great day!
Website by Phil Spencer. Inspired by a2zez. All rights reserved. Copyright 2016, 2017
1311 Fairridge Circle, Marietta GA 30008