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About That New Garage Door Opener

by Gabby Hyman
Repair-Home Columnist

Installing a new or replacement garage door opener is not a home improvement project for everyone. Most home improvement stores offer advice and instructions when you buy a new opener, but they can be too much for the inexperienced homeowner. The steps are straightforward--as are the precautions--but if you're not the DIY type, think about calling in a contractor to do the job.

First, you should know that the three main types of garage door openers are:

  • Chain drive
  • Screw drive
  • Belt drive

If you're shopping around, it's good to know that screw drive garage door openers never need adjustments after their installed; they run on a scant 1/3 to 1/2 horsepower; and they don't need a chain or belt to run the door up and down. The opener just sets things going: springs in the door do the hard work. After you install the door, if the springs are cranky--or if the door is unbalanced--you may need the services of a contractor to set things right.

Garage Door Precautions
Before you begin the project, turn off the electric or breaker switch to the power source you're going to use to connect the power unit. Remove any ropes or objects hanging on the door and take off any jewelry that can get caught in the tracks or wiring. Lubricate and test the door. If it doesn't move easily by hand (without power) you may need to locate a contractor to rehang it before installing the opener.

If all is well, then you can move forward. First, consider workable heights for the system. Is there sufficient clearance for the power unit--for people or auto or truck parts? On the other hand, are you able to install it at a height low enough that the manual disconnecting cord drops within arm's length?

Most power units are easy to assemble if your follow the manufacturer's directions. You need to attach it to your garage framing studs with a manufacturer's header bracket. Make sure the door opens smoothly without hitting against the traveler tube of the opener. Then attach the linkage to the traveler.

Install the power buttons at least five feet off the ground so children can't reach them. Be sure all connections to the power source are properly grounded. Newer models come with an electric eye that stops all activity of the door opener whenever someone passes in front of the sensor. The manufacturer should provide adjustment directions for the sensor eye.

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.