Garage Door Openers Checklist
Power Can Be Destructive
A garage door opener has lots of power. In fact, if you don't have it adjusted right, it can actually break the top portion of the door. In cold climates garage doors can actually freeze to a slab. When the opener tries to open the door it can actually rip the top rail of the door off in extreme cases. An opener that is not adjusted properly can sometimes deflect the top of the door when it closes.
The point is, be aware of these problems. This doesn't mean that you should buy a low powered opener. It means that you should make sure the top of your garage door is reinforced. Most doors are from the factory. If you are in doubt about the stability of your door, ask a professional door company.
Taking the Fall
Garage door openers often get blamed for things that are not their fault. If your door jerks as it opens or makes noise or rattles, check all door hardware first. Missing hinge bolts, loose or broken rollers, or a loose spring may be the cause of the problem. Inspect the door hardware and look for problems.
Watch the Springs
Garage doors are very heavy. Some larger ones can weigh in excess of 300 pounds. The openers do NOT lift the doors. They simply start the process. The massive springs that you often overlook do 95 percent of the lifting. Before you install an opener you need to make sure the springs are adjusted perfectly. If you have to strain and grunt to lift your door, then the springs are way out of adjustment. If you don't adjust the springs, you will burn up or shorten the life of the opener.
NEVER attempt to adjust the springs yourself. They are highly dangerous. NEVER tamper with hardware that connects the door to the springs. For example, doors equipped with overhead springs often have a thin cable that runs from the spring down to a steel bracket at the base of the door. NEVER take off this bracket or loosen the bolts! The springs can rip the bracket out of the door and cut your head off as it violently retracts up to the ceiling of the garage. Working on springs is a job for a professional. Trust me on this one.
Most garage door openers require little, if any, maintenance. When you get your new opener, simply look at the owner's manual and see what it says about lubrication. Some moving parts may need periodic attention. The other thing you want to do is to take a zip lock freezer bag and store the owner's manual and all other literature. Secure the bag with twist ties or string to the angle iron that supports the garage door track. Be sure the bag is not close to any moving parts. This paperwork is important and if you store it someplace, it will get lost for sure. Leaving it out in the open is a constant reminder of its location.
The Wall Switch
Openers come with an inside switch. Most instructions say to mount this high on a wall - about 5 feet or more. There is a reason for this. While you are away from the door, your kids or a neighbor child may decide to use your door as a Medieval guillotine. Switches placed high on a wall make them work for this dangerous thrill.