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Garage doors have been made from wood, steel, aluminum, and fiberglass. Each of these materials has its benefits, though wood and steel doors are by far the most popular homeowner choices. Today we strictly sells steel garage doors.

Steel doors are much stronger and more secure than wood, aluminum, or fiberglass models. Steel doors have many design options ranging from standard raised panel to unique carriage style designs. Today’s steel doors can rival the look of wood doors without the need for regular maintenance.

Steel doors are made in several ways. The simplest, least expensive includes a single sheet or panel of steel that forms the door. These doors also tend to be flimsier than their more solid counterparts. The other types of steel doors are made with a front and back panel for greater rigidity. An option with these doors is the availability of insulation that can be installed between the two door skins.

The steel used to make garage doors comes in several thicknesses referred to as “gauge thickness” and ranges from 20 to 28 gauge. The smaller the number, the thicker the steel which means a 24 gauge door has thicker skins than a door with 28 gauge steel.

When you shop for garage doors you might see reference to the quantity of “layers” with regard to a door’s construction. For example, a 4-layer door might consist of a composite overlay on top of a steel front panel. The back is made up of another steel panel and in between is an insulated core.

Similarly, a door with a steel front, polystyrene insulation and no back panel would have 2-layer construction.

Insulation is important in a garage door for many reasons. Insulated doors help control the temperature of the garage allowing less heat to escape in the winter and less heat to get in in the summer. This reduces the amount of energy required to cool or heat your home which saves money! Insulated doors also reduce noise from the exterior of your home. In addition to helping control the temperature, insulation adds strength to your door while reducing exterior noise.

The amount of insulation a garage door provides is represented in its R-value, which represents its resistance to heat flow. It is important to select a garage door with an R-value that is consistent with your local climate and lifestyle. Ask yourself these questions when deciding the R-value that best fits your needs:

  • Is my garage climate controlled? If you heat or cool your garage, insulation is very important. Having a well-insulated garage door will keep your heating or cooling costs down by reducing the heat flow through the door.
  • What climate do I live in? Someone living in an extreme hot or cold climate would likely require a garage door with a high insulation value. Even in milder climates, having an insulated door can still affect the temperature in your garage by a noticeable amount, as well as provide additional benefits.
  • Is my garage attached to my house? If your garage is attached to your house, the insulation value of your garage door affects the insulation of your whole house. The R-value of your walls affects how much heat escapes from your house into your garage, and the R-value of your garage door affects how much heat then escapes into the environment. Insulating your garage well will help keep down the heating and cooling costs of your home. In addition, Insulation helps reduce the noise of your garage door as it opens and closes.
  • Do I spend a great deal of time in my garage? People who like to work on their cars or who have workshops in their garages may want their garage to be more insulated, especially if in a colder climate.
  • Is there a bedroom or other interior room above my garage? Many houses are built with rooms over the garage. Whether this room is a part of the house or is a separate apartment-style room above an unattached garage, the insulation value of the garage can greatly affect the insulation of the room. And, again, a higher insulation R-value can equal lower heating and cooling bills. In addition, insulation helps reduce noise.

To clean the surface of your pre-finished steel garage door, simply follow these easy steps annually:

  • Remove dirt, chalk, and mildew by the use of a diluted solution of mild detergent (with less than .5% phosphate) at a concentration of one cup in five gallons of warm water. Be sure to clean behind weather stripping on both sides and top of door.
  • Rinse with clear water after washing and allow to dry completely.
  • For added protection of a pre-painted steel door, apply wax suitable for automotive use.
  • You can wipe the inner surface clean like you would a range or refrigerator.
  • Note: Do not use a pressure washer on your garage door!

Yearly cleaning and inspecting your wood garage door is easy. If the finish appears to be in good condition, cleaning and touch-up work is often adequate.

  • Remove dirt, chalk, and mildew by washing your wood door with a diluted solution of mild household detergent at a concentration of one cup in five gallons of warm water.
  • Rinse with clear water after washing and allow to dry completely.
  • If the finish is badly eroded and thin, clean the areas where the wood substrate is showing through as described above and prime those areas using an oil/alkyd primer.
  • Follow the cleaning and priming with a complete priming and finish coating.
  • If there is no bare wood showing through, finish coating only may be required.

To prepare your pre-finished steel garage door for painting, it is important to give it a good cleaning, but do not wax.

  • Remove surface wax to prevent the paint from peeling or flaking. Lightly scuff the surface with a fine steel wool pad saturated with soapy water. A final wipe and rinse should be done with clean water only to remove any loose particles and any soapy film residue.
  • Remove surface scratches which have not exposed the metal substrate by lightly buffing or sanding with 0000 steel wool or No. 400 sand paper to create a smoother surface for painting. Do not over buff or sand the garage door, because paint will not adhere to the door if the surface is too smooth.
  • Do not attempt to remove scratches if your steel door surface has a finish painted texture representing wood grain, stucco, etc. because of the increased danger of exposing the metal substrate. Simply paint them with a high quality metal primer. Follow drying time on primer can label before applying topcoat.
  • To prevent rust from forming, treat any scratches that have exposed the substrate by sanding the exposed area lightly and then painting with a high quality metal primer specifically intended for galvanized surfaces to protect the area from corrosion. Follow drying time on primer can label before applying topcoat.
  • After properly preparing the surface according to the above instructions and allowing it to dry thoroughly, coat the door with a premium quality latex house paint. Follow the paint label directions explicitly.
  • Oil base paint is not recommended.
  • Note that if substrate is exposed, painting with latex paint may cause accelerated rusting of steel. Follow previous instructions on priming the door for painting.
  • Re-painting of a finish painted steel voids any pre-finished surface warranty.

Your overhead garage door is the largest piece of moving equipment in your home. Most families use their garage door more than their front door. In order to ensure a properly working door and operator, you should have your overhead garage door and operator serviced every year.

The noises your door or operator make are your initial “warnings” that something is not quite right. The longer you put off the necessary service, the more damage may result. Regular service can extend the life of your door and operator.

The most common torsion springs have an expected life of about 10,000 “cycles”. A cycle is one opening and one closing of the garage door. The steel spring experiences tremendous force each time the door opens or closes. Gradually, the steel fatigues with each flex, and eventually cracks and breaks, usually releasing its stored energy in an instant with a loud noise or bang. In garage door repairs, most accidents occur during the replacement of the springs. While many door companies quote a flat fee for spring replacement, we prefer to quote a range and charge our customers for the actual cost of the spring that is on their own door. (Springs can vary in price by more than $30/spring.) Also, if one spring breaks and they were installed at the same time, it is likely that the other will not be far behind since they both have the same wear and tear. For this reason, we suggest changing both springs at once (we always replace both if they are extension type) to save you the expense of a second service trip.

With the garage door fully closed, simply pull the red release cord down toward the floor. Always take special caution whenever you release the garage door opener if the door is not in the fully closed position, since the door may want to slam closed when released. If at all possible do not release the garage door when open, except for emergency or security purposes and close the door with caution. Some older openers may not have a red release cord and may need to be released by pulling down a handle, a spring loaded clip, or even possibly unbolting the arm from the door and opener. If you do have an older door that is difficult to disconnect you may want to replace the opener with a new garage door opener that has an easy pull red release cord.

Disconnect the operator by pulling the red release cord with the door fully closed. Open the door halfway by hand and let go of the door. The door should pretty much stay in the same position, although some slight drifting may occur. If the door wants to drop or if it opens on its own, the garage door springs should be adjusted by trained and experienced garage door service technicians.

If your garage door is having an issue going down and seems to reverse itself, keep an eye out for your operator lights to blink when this happens. This is usually a sign that your safety beams the the bottom of both sides of your garage door are having issues. Sometimes they just need to be cleaned off or have slight adjustments. 

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 lengthen a garage door’s life span is to perform the following maintenance on at least an annual basis.

  1. Visual Inspection. Stand inside the garage with the garage door closed. Look over the garage door springs, cables, rollers, pulleys and mounting hardware, such as hinges, for signs of wear or damage. If you notice any loose screws, bolts, or nuts, tighten them so parts won’t fall out of adjustment. Look for cable wear or fraying. Is the mounting hardware becoming loose? If something doesn’t look quite right – or doesn’t sound quite right – it could be the symptom of a more serious issue. Have the garage door system inspected by a trained service technician. NOTE: Garage door springs, cables, brackets, and other hardware attached to the springs are under very high tension and, if handled improperly, can cause serious injury. Do not attempt to repair or adjust torsion springs yourself. Only a trained service technician should adjust them.
  2. Door Balance Test. If your door is equipped with an automatic opener system: close the door and disconnect the automatic opener. You should be able to lift the door smoothly and with little resistance. It should stay open around three or four feet above the floor. If it is difficult to open or does not remain open, the door may be out of balance and should be serviced by a trained service technician.
  3. Reversing Mechanism Test. With the door fully open, lay a piece of wood such as a section of a 2 x 4 on the floor in the center of the garage door opening where the door would touch the floor. Push your garage door opener’s transmitter or wall button to close the door. When the door strikes the wood, the door should automatically reverse. If the door does not automatically reverse, the door should be serviced by a trained service technician. Note: Garage door openers manufactured after January 1, 1993, are required by federal law to be equipped with a reversing mechanism and a photo eye or edge sensor as added measures of safety to prevent entrapment. If your system does not have these features, replacement of your automatic operating system is recommended.
  4. Photo Eye Test. With the door fully open, push your garage door opener’s transmitter or wall button to close the door. Wave a long object, such as a broomstick, in front of one of the door’s photo eyes so it “breaks the beam.“ The door should reverse.
    If it does not reverse and reopen, pull the broomstick out of the path of the closing door. Close the door. With the door in the closed position, clean the photo eyes with a soft, dry cloth. Gently adjust the photo eyes by hand if they appear to be out of alignment. Open the door and repeat the photo eye test. If the door does not reverse and reopen, the door should be serviced by a trained service technician.
  5. Force Setting Test. With the door fully open, push your garage door opener’s transmitter or wall button to close the door. As the door is closing, hold up the bottom of the door with your hands outstretched and stiff. If the door does not easily reverse and continues to close, pull your hands away immediately. The closing force is excessive and the door should be serviced by a trained service technician.
  6. Lubrication. Apply a small amount of spray lubricant to the door’s hinges, rollers and tracks. Visit a door professional for the proper lubricant.

There are a variety of sources you can turn to to purchase or obtain garage door products, the most popular of which is the door dealer professional, such as an International Door Association (IDA) Dealer. IDA Garage door dealers are often the most reliable and dependable source for several reasons. These include experience, knowledge and- most importantly- the fact that IDA Dealers make their living by selling, installing, and servicing door systems.

Garage Openers

Before selecting an opener, you will need to determine:

  • The size (height, width, thickness) and construction (steel, insulated, wood) of your garage door. This will help to determine the size of the motor and type of drive needed to lift the door.
  • The clearances above and on the sides of the door opening, which will help determine where to mount the opener.
  • The living spaces that are near or above the garage, which may affect how quiet an opener you’ll want.
  • The safety devices, features and accessories that you want so that your new garage door system fits your needs and preferences.

Your garage door is the largest, and probably, the heaviest moving object in your home. So the safety features of the device that lifts and closes the door are all-important.

For the opener to work, certain safety devices must be installed. This is true regardless of the type, size or brand of opener you choose. These safety devices are built into the garage door system to prevent the door from closing when an obstruction is in the door’s path. Most openers auto-reverse the door when an infrared beam detects any obstruction in the door’s path. The U.S. government mandated the use of non-contact safety protections on all residential, motor-operated garage doors in 1993. Other safety features are.

  • Rolling-code technology selects a new, non-repeating access code from among billions of possibilities every time the remote control is operated.
  • A keypad or touchpad outside the garage allows entry via a programmable code. If this feature doesn’t come standard with the unit you choose, it can be added as an option.
  • Many units have a simple doorbell-style button for opening and closing the door. Others have a more complex control panel with keypad programming and vacation lock to prevent the door from being opened while you’re away.
  • Most openers include a light, which should stay on for a few minutes after the unit is activated to allow time to get into the house.
  • Battery Backup feature that continues to operate the garage door opener even when the power is out, helping residents, homeowners and property managers through unforeseen, inconvenient outages. These units often supply power for up to two days, so even after 24 hours of standby time (i.e., full-day power outage), garage door opener will still perform 20 full “up and down” cycles.

All make for an effective garage door opener, but each has its advantages.

Chain-drive openers are the oldest style, and they continue to be very popular and a good value. They can be noisy, though, and may not be a good choice if the garage is under a bedroom or adjacent to a room where quiet is appreciated. On the other hand, some people appreciate being warned (through the garage door opening) that someone is about to walk into the house.

Screw drives feature a solid-steel direct drive for increased strength. Direct drives have unmatched reliability, too. They have no belts, chains or gears to wear out. And their simplistic design – the motor shaft connects to the drive screw with a coupler – allows power to be transmitted in a straight line to maximize motor efficiency with minimal loss of torque or power.

Belt-drive openers are identical to chain-drive openers except that they operate with a rubber belt. They don’t use chains, so there is no noise from metal-on-metal contact so they are ultra-quiet

Prior to 1993, garage door openers used dip switches on the receiver and transmitter. While these switches provided garage door systems with 256 different codes they were not designed with high security in mind; the main intent was to avoid interference with similar systems nearby.

Today’s garage door openers use rolling code technology, whereby a new code (from billions of possibilities) is generated each time the transmitter is used. This approach prevents perpetrators from recording a code and replaying it to open a garage door. This virtually eliminates the possibility of hacking, and helps to prevent unauthorized entry to your home through the garage.

The average life span of a door opener can vary from 10 to 20 years depending on the model and usage. If the door and door opener are maintained properly, some openers will last more than 25 years. New features, safety devices, etc will continually be made available, so when an existing operator breaks down, the repair cost and age must be taken into account to determine value of repair versus replacement.

Your overhead garage door is the largest piece of moving equipment in your home. Most families use their garage door more than their front door. In order to ensure a properly working door and operator, you should have your overhead garage door and operator serviced every year.

The noises your door or operator makes are your initial warnings that something is not quite right. The longer you put off the necessary service, the more damage may result. Regular service can extend the life of your door and operator.

Safety beams are actually an invisible, continual, infrared electronic beam that stretches across the door at its installation point. This beam scans the garage door opening at all times and if interrupted by a person, animal or object, it automatically stops the door from traveling. To work properly, beams should be located at least 5 inches but not more than 6 inches from the floor.

It depends on the model so always refer to the owner’s manual for further instructions. You can open the door from the inside using the red emergency release cord, which hangs from the mounted overhead opener. With the garage door fully closed, simply pulling the emergency cord straight down should release the door from the carriage, allowing you to operate the door manually. If at all possible, do not release the garage door when open, except for emergency or security purposes and close the door with caution. Opening the door from the outside requires installation of an emergency release lock.

The likely culprit is an obstruction in the path of the door. Check for and clear any obstruction in the path of the door. If the problem persists, check to see if the safety beam LED indicator is blinking. If it is, check to be sure that the lenses are mounted 6″ from the floor on either side of the garage door opening. If the safety beam lenses appear to be installed properly, refer to the troubleshooting section of the owner’s manual for additional causes and solutions.

The door may be disengaged. Check to be sure that the red emergency release cord hasn’t been pulled. If this is the culprit, re-engage the carriage. How to re-engage the carriage depends on the model. See your owner’s manual for more details.

Does the opener have electric power? Plug a lamp into the outlet the opener is plugged into. If it doesn’t light, check the fuse box or the circuit breaker. Keep in mind that a wall switch may control some outlets. If there is power to the operator then there is some type of mechanical or electrical problem within the garage door opener itself and may need to be diagnosed by a qualified service technician. Have you disabled all locks on the garage door? Is there a build-up of ice or snow under the door? The door may be frozen to the ground.

Pull the emergency release cable and try to manually lift the door. If the garage door does not lift, the door springs may be broken. Call us to replace or adjust the springs. NOTE: Repeated operation may have tripped the overload protector in the motor. Wait 15 minutes and try again.

It sounds like the photo-cell safety beams are blocked, misaligned, or malfunctioning. Move any objects that may be interfering with the signal and verify that the photo-cell LED lights are illuminated as per the manufacturer’s instructions. If the infrared beams are not blocked and the photo-cells appear that they are aligned, you will want to have an experience service technician diagnose and repair the problem. You will not be able to close the door with the remote control transmitter until the photo-cells are in proper working order.

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