Known as the Door Operator Guru, Roy Bardowell is one of the most respected and knowledgeable men in the garage door and operator industry. His special passion for residential garage door, commercial door and gate operators leaves an impression on everyone he meets. Roy's training sessions at IDA Expos are always the one of the most widely attended sessions. He has been recognized by IDEA with the "Commitment to Excellence Award" and is an IDEA Certified Door Dealer Consultant. Roy is a member of the tech service team at Micanan Systems. He was Operations Manager at Guardian until 2012. We hope that you find Roy's articles informative and entertaining. Feel free to leave your comments for Roy.
by Roy Bardowell, CDDC
Unknown to most homeowners is, your automatic garage door system is the largest moving appliance in the household. It is basically a moving wall that offers a great convenience, but also carries some risks and can be unsafe if not cared for.
As soon as you motorize your garage door, it becomes an automatic system. As long as your garage door is going up and down, there is never any thought given to maintenance. Really garage doors, the hardware, and the automatic door openers are manufactured with great care and will be long-lasting, durable, and reliable for a long time. Even-so, just like all other mechanical systems, the day will come when the door system has a malfunction and will need service. Garage door service can mean just lubrication, or a total rebuild. When the day comes when your door cries out for help, the repairs are not something that a novice handyman should take on himself.
To assist with the task of lifting a heavy garage door, all garage doors require a counterbalancing system. Seventy-five years ago, this was done with counterweights. Today most counterbalancing is accomplished with the use of extension or torsion springs. The spring or springs are under extreme tension and should not be messed with unless you have experience and the specialized tools to adjust the springs. Springs on a garage door is the one component that is the most dangerous and the person without knowledge of the danger points can be seriously injured. Basically, if your springs wear out and fracture you must call a garage door specialist to make repairs. This is for your own safety.
Other than the springs, the cables can fray or break. Once again-the cables are also under extreme tension and cable service should be done by a qualified service technician. The motor operator can also develop problems. Most of the time the problem with an operator is in the force settings or the photo sensors have been knocked out of alignment. If your door doesn’t want to close, you can try holding in the wall button and see if the door closes to the floor. If the door does close with the button maintained in, but not with the remote control, then this is the number 1 symptom of misaligned photo-sensors. Each sensor has an LED that will be illuminated when the eyes are both well aligned.
All garage door operators are built with force limitations. The force limitations are there for your safety. You don’t want the garage door to exert hundreds of pounds of downward or upward force. So, every operator comes with an up and down force setting. Older operators had an adjustable potentiometer that permits a person to set the push and pull forces higher or lower. Because of improper settings or other human errors, the adjustments on newer openers were removed and are now made automatically which is far less dangerous. If the operator senses more than the usual force is needed to move the door, it will stop or reverse the door. Adjusting the force setting to be a little less sensitive is not the answer, because the extreme forces can severely injure someone if they find themselves under the door while closing.
If your door operator is working fine and then one day it just stops on the way opening, this could indicate a change in the weight of the door or there is a binding in the tracks. To find out what’s wrong, you may have to pull an emergency release and try the door manually. Check all moving components including the cables. If something went wrong with the door and it is now too heavy to lift, then the door may need service.
Remember this: if the door cannot be opened manually, then neither will the operator open the door. Then an adjustment or repair will be needed. A simple rule of thumb says, if a man can’t open the door neither will the motor operator. This rule goes against common belief. Many times, I’ve heard people say, “I can’t lift my door anymore”. Please put a motor on it. Occasionally you could get lucky and find an operator to lift the broken door, but unfortunately in only a short time the motor operator will develop mechanical breakdown and stop working. It will be better for you to spend your money into a good garage door repair and not spend anything on a motor operator that will be prematurely destroyed because of a broken door.
Plain and simple: a motor operator should only be installed on a garage door unless the garage door when it is working perfectly and it is easy to open and close manually.
So, let’s recap:
I. Your garage door is the biggest appliance in your house.
II. It will require periodic lubrication or other repairs.
III. Listen for any unusual noises, or grinding sounds. A well working garage door will actually be quiet. Unusual noises may come from the hinges, springs or the door itself. Also checked all rollers or track wheels. A simple silicon spray lubricant can quiet most noises. They should not be wobbly and should make hardly any noise.
IV. If your springs or cables fracture or fail, remember these components are under extreme tension and can you if you’re not careful you could be seriously injured. And for your own safety have the repairs done only by a qualified garage door technician. Monitor your garage door performance by testing it manually every three months. Most service companies offer a Lube and Tune service.
V. Your garage door should be easily opened by using only one arm.
VI. Another test is to open the garage door to the midway point and let go. Keep your toes back from the closing plane of the door. The garage door should stay in place and not drift downward or upward. Drifting from the midpoint indicates a problem in the counterbalancing system. Don’t mess with the springs because you could be seriously injured. Many fingers have been lost when a person decided to forgo professional service and go DIY. Any time you suspect a problem with the springs or cables you must call for professional service. Unless you don’t need all of your fingers.
VII. If you want the motor operator to last a long time ensure the garage door is maintained, balanced, and working well.
VIII. Read all operating manuals and do any recommended service.
IX. A silicon spray lubricant should be periodically spayed on the hinges and other moving components. Do Not spray the operator rail. Otherwise the dripping lubricant excess can stain your car.
X. Enjoy the convenience of having a motorized garage door.
Roy Bardowell, CDDC, is a member of the tech support team at Micanan Systems. He served as Operations Manager at Guardian Access & Door Hardware until 2012. He has been in the door and operator industry since 1973 and is known as one of the industry’s most experienced operator technicians and trainers. Roy received the IDEA Commitment to Excellence award in 2008 and IDA’s Jerry R. Reynolds Volunteer Service Award in 2017. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org