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
A garage door is truly a scientific marvel. The science, physics and dynamics of the garage door system is mostly mis-understood. To get a good bead on what’s going on with a garage door you have to study a system from A to Z.
Manufacturers have the edge on understanding most of the dynamics because they have been deeply involved in the study, design, and evaluation of the products for decades. Most residential garage doors sold are 7 feet high and come in various widths. Common widths are 8, 9, 14, and 16 feet, but lesser known is garage door manufacturers can make a door in almost any custom width if needed. Consult the factory for lead time and extra charges. The first two widths would be considered as a 1-car garage door whereas the last one would be considered a double car garage door.
Other double-car garage doors may be 12 or 18-feet wide. Sometimes a builder goofs and builds a door frame only 12-feet wide, which would then require you to install an undesired 12-foot door which would be tight squeeze for two cars. Even if you could park 2 cars under a 12 or 14-foot-wide door, the users would generate hundreds of dings in their car sides every year. A 12-foot wide door is for those with only one car or 2 motor bikes.
The vertical and the horizontal tracks are produced in 3 profiles, being 2 or 3-inch, which every door technician is aware of or 1-inch found only in trailers with rear end overhead doors.
Track kits come in 2 segments; one being the vertical track which is to guide the door down into the opening and seal off the opening from outside elements. The horizontal track must be strong enough to hold the full weight of the door when it is open. The horizontal track typically has the curve in it that projects the door up and back. The curve is known as the track radius and can be ordered in 10, 12, 15, and specially ordered up to 32-inch radius. The most common radius is 12”. To calculate head room clearance, you can take the vertical frame height and add the two numbers together. Let’s say the frame height is 84” and the ceiling to floor headroom is only 96”. An 84” high door plus a 12” radius = 96”, which would give you just enough space for the door and torsion spring assembly. If we take the 84” opening and add 15” for a 15” radius the two added = 99”, which will place the door too high. The bigger the radius the higher off the floor your door will be when fully opened. Working this in reverse I could say the floor to ceiling is 96”. This means if I want to install an 84” high door and use a 10 or 12” radius track it will fit. (84”+10” = 94”/ 84”+12”=96”) I have 2 choices on radius that will place an opened door just under the ceiling.
Since Hurricane Andrew hit in Florida, there has been much emphasis put on making garage doors stronger, so not to bow and able to withstand the extreme positive and negative pressures placed on the garage doors from high wind loads. After Hurricane Andrew the garage door became a focal point for the origin of many destroyed homes. It was discovered that when the garage door failed, the wind came into the garage and pushed the roof up and away. Once the roof was gone the wind pushed down interior walls. Without the interior wall, the wind could push over exterior walls from the inside. A positive pressure will push a garage door into the garage. A negative pressure will pull a door out into the driveway so the doors that meet wind load standards must be the best built in the world.
In areas of extreme winds, the vertical track shall be made with a heavier gauge and have stronger jamb brackets so not to be deformed and hold the door in place. The door panels will also be made with better reinforcement, which must be sturdy enough so not to bow inward or outward. The most common residential track kits are designed to guide a 1.75”-thick-door which is an industry standard. When door sections are made in uncommon thicknesses, the track provider must be informed so you get the jamb brackets secured with the correct offset. I prefer bolted jamb brackets because you can loosen the bolts and adjust the vertical track in order to move the door closer or further from the jambs. From a manufacturers point of view spot welding may be the least costly, but it is messy and permanent meaning you cannot make any adjustments afterwards. If you want to remove a spot weld you have to drill it out using a 1/4” or 5/16” drill bit and then hammer a chisel between the 2 pieces of steel. The jamb bracket or other will then pop away, but there will be sharp burrs, so carry a grinder to smooth out the sharp burrs.
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 email@example.com