Residential garage door openers are either chain drive, screw drive or belt drive. If you look in the long rail that extends from the opener power head to the front wall, you will either see a chain (similar to what's on your bike), a long screw, or a plastic belt. Each of these types of openers have their advantages and disadvantages, and it's up to you to decide which one will work best for you.
SCREW DRIVE: In a screw driven opener, the carriage is attached to a long threaded rod along the rail. As the motor turns the rod, the carriage slides up or down along the threads.
Advantages: Screw driven openers have less moving parts that chain or belt driven openers, which means less parts to wear out. Because screw drive openers are directly driven, they offer higher power.
Disadvantages: Screw driven openers tend to be move expensive than the chain or belt driven openers, and they don't far too well in area with big fluctuations in temperature.
CHAIN DRIVE: In a chain driven opener, the carriage is attached to a long chain which is looped around a sprocket in the power head. As the motor turns, it turns the sprocket, which in turns moves the chain and the carriage either up or down.
Advantages: Chain driven openers are the most economical style of opener. They have been around for a long time and are known to be reliable.
Disadvantages: Chain driven openers can be very noisy. While some people prefer this so they know when the garage door is being opened, others would rather a quieter version, especially if they have living space above the garage. The chain itself needs to be greased and tightened every so often as it will start to sag.
BELT DRIVE: Belt driven openers run exactly like the chain driven openers, except instead of a chain they use a plastic belt.
Advantages: The biggest advantage of a belt drive opener is the noise, or lack thereof. Compared to their chain driven counterparts, the belt drive openers are virtually silent. There is little to no maintenance and the belts are guaranteed by most manufacturers to last a lifetime.
Disadvantages: Belt driven openers tend to be more expensive to purchase and service.
So what you are looking for in an opener will determine which type is best for you. Here are links to our best screw drive opener, chain drive opener and belt drive opener, however we do have lesser priced options available. Check out our Garage Door Openers page under Services for the complete list.
Picture this. You pull into your driveway with a car full of groceries. It's pouring rain, you're starving and still have to unload all the groceries and make dinner before you can eat. You press that fancy little button built in the ceiling of your car to open the garage door, and...nothing happens. You press it again, a little harder this time. Still nothing. So you're stuck making several trips from your car to the front door (which is all the way on the other side of the house) in the rain. There are times when a situation like this is unavoidable, but by maintaining your garage door and opener properly you can drastically reduce your chances of being stuck outside your garage in the pouring rain.
We have put together an easy checklist for you to do every year. We recommend inspecting your garage door in the fall. That way you'll know it's working properly for the upcoming winter, when having a garage door is the greatest luxury.
There's a downloadable version at the bottom of this post, but here's what steps you should take to ensure you get the maximum life out of your door and prevent problems before they arise.
1. Visually inspect each door section. Look at them from inside and outside the garage. Small dents and dings won't really affect the doors performance, but a large crack of dent could cause the door to not function properly.
2. Visually inspect the door springs. Extension springs should be taut. Torsion springs should be unbroken and tightly wound. (Your garage door will have one or the other. Extension springs run parallel with the horizontal tracks near the ceiling. Torsion springs are mounted on a bar above door and are visible only when the door is closed.)
3. Visually check the mounting pad for cracks or splits. This is the wood or other support where the torsion bar is mounted to the front wall. (This is only necessary on a door with a torsion spring system.)
4. Lubricate springs with WD-40, white lithium or any garage door lubricant.This will keep them working smoothly and prevent rusting. Here's a link for the kind we use. It can be purchased at your local Home Depot for less than $7.00.
5. Run the door up and down a few times and look at the alignment. Make sure the door is moving smoothly and the springs are lifting the door evenly from each side. If the door is going up crooked you have a problem.
6. Visually inspect the rollers on each side of the door. They should be moving freely along the track. Lubricate these if necessary. (Only lubricate the metal rollers, don't lubricate the nylon rollers!)
7. Visually inspect all hinges, brackets and hardware. If any hinges or other hardware appears loose, tighten it up.
8. Visually inspect the weather seal at the bottom of the door. If it's dry rotted, cracked or torn, you should replace it to ensure a proper seal when the door is closed.
9. Visually inspect all the cables. Cables are used to lift the door and contain springs. If you see any fraying, you should have the cable replaced.
10. Visually inspect the door track. It should allow the door to move smoothly up and down. If your track is bent or broken, you should have it checked out or replaced.
11. If you garage doesn't have an access door, you should have a manual release handle in case the opener fails. Test this to ensure it is working.
12. If you have a garage door opener, disconnect it by pulling the emergency release. Open the door manually and let go halfway up. If you door does not hold itself midway up, your springs need to be adjusted or replaced. Do not attempt to replace garage door springs, especially torsion springs. They are under a lot of pressure and could cause serious damage, injury or even death if not handled properly.
If you have a garage door opener, you'll want to give it a once over as well.
1. Start with the opener bracing, that's the support holding the opener to the ceiling. It'll most likely be angle iron of some sort. Give it a little shake to ensure that it is solid.
2. Run it up and down a few times and just double check that it is working properly. Watch and listen for anything that might be out of the ordinary.
3. Check that the wall control, outside keypad and car remotes work properly and replace batteries if needed.
4. Check and replace light bulbs in the opener if needed.
5. Perform a Non-Contact Reverse Test. With the door all the way up, place an object, like a cardboard box, in between the sensors. Press the button to put the door down. It should reverse and go back up. If it goes all the way down, disconnect the opener and do not use it until it serviced. Having an opener that doesn't comply with today's safety standards is dangerous.
6. Perform a Contact Reverse Test. This time place a piece of wood on the ground under the door, roughly 1.5" inches high. Run the garage door down on the wood. It should go back up after hitting the wood. If it doesn't reverse, disconnect the opener and do not use it until it serviced. Having an opener that doesn't comply with today's safety standards is dangerous.
A garage door is the largest moving object in your home and, if not cared for and maintained properly, can cause serious injury. If anything is worn out, bent, broken, or could possibly cause a problem in the near future, you should have it checked out by a professional garage door company.
If this whole process sounds a little daunting give us a call at 410.398.2205. At Bay Area Overhead we offer a 30 Point Inspection and Tune Up for $90.00. This tune up includes all the tightening and adjustments, batteries, light bulbs etc. Click here to see a full list of what's included.