My garage door chain is loose

The chain on my door opener is slack, but only on one side. I have looked everywhere for a solution but found nothing. Can you help?

Help is on the way:
It’s not particularly uncommon for one side of the chain to be slack. However in some cases it can be really bad, like if it is so slack that it hits something else.

The number of solutions to this problem are few. If you do undertake the task yourself, only do the work with the door in the closed position and with the opener disconnected.

There is a thing called a master link, which is the chain is attached to the torsion cable. You will see there some nuts and washers. You can tighten the chain by loosening the nut closest to the chain, and then tighten the one farthest from the chain and closest to the trolley.
If you’ve ever tightened a motorcycle chain, it’s the same principle. In the case of the motorcycle you loose the bolts on the wheel and then turn the screws tighten the chain, then tighten the wheel bolts.

The only other way to tighten the chain is to tighten directly from the body of the opener. You need to open it up for this, but when you do you’ll see an adjustment screw directly across from the motor wheel. It may be a little difficult to get in there though.

As always, don’t make it too tight. The chain needs a little slack to do its job and tightening it will wear the links.

Gap at the top of my garage door

We had a new garage door put in recently and I notice that there is a one inch space above the door. It’s not that big a deal, but I live in a cold climate and it will certainly let in a lot of cold. What can I do about this?

Answer:
The first thing I would look at is the seal and trim. If those are in bad shape, you should change them. However, I have seen this problem and I doubt that is it.

Check to see what happens if you lower the door manually. Does it “look good” after you close to but not at the closed position, ie does the gap disappear? Most likely the problem is that the door is not tall enough or the garage height is too high for the door. Since garage doors come in set sizes, the culprit would have to be the size of the garage door opening.

In that case, what i would do is buy some more trim and hammer it over the trim that is there so that it overlaps the gap. You’ll find the material cheap and easy to work with, and even better you don’t have to call a repairman.

My Rollers keep wearing down. Is my door unbalanced?

Q:
I have a garage door that is nearly 20 years old. Several months ago I notices that the rollers were wearing very quickly to the point of destructing. Everything else seems to be the same, ie the door seems balanced and I’ve been taking good care of the door in general. So I changed the rollers and they started wearing again soon afterward. Like I say, I’ve been maintaining the door well and have replaced the motor and springs once in the past 5 years. What can I do?

A:
First I highly recommend you not mess with the springs as they can be extremely dangerous. Which side is your motor mounted on. Center is the best but you really have to make sure it’s right so it won’t pull to either side. One way to test this is to disengage teh motor by pulling the release which is usually on the ceiling. Then pull the door shut and push it open. Do you feel it “catch” or bind anywhere? Also, try to leave the door in mid closed mid open position. It should hang there. If it starts gliding up or down you have a balancing problem.

If you’ve painted your door over the years sometimes that locks moisture in and warps the door slightly knocking it out of alignment.

My garage door opens in the middle of the day!

Q:
I have a strange problem with my garage door: come home from work my garage door is open. This doesn’t happen often and fortunately I don’t live in a neighborhood where I have to worry. Still it’s unnerving and people can still see all my stuff.

A:
This is a strange one and I’ve seen it only a few times in my years fixing garage doors. There are a number of things that you can check. First, there is a close switch that is supposed to be tripped when the garage lowers to the ground. When you hit the ground, it should shut the opener off. If it’s set to shut a little lower than reality, you might need to adjust it. What I would do in this case is reset then entire door and start from scratch.

Another problem could be a circuit board gone bad. If you have any extra remotes in the garage they can mess with the door.

One other thing that can cause this is if you live near an airport or an air force base, these guys have some heavy duty equipment that can effect things for a few miles near the base.

Choosing a garage door opener

The garage door opener remote is what makes garage door openers great, and when they get lost, it’s a serious pain. So lots of people buy an extra one to be on the safe side. You can get them at the local hardware store, but which one?

There is a fair amount of variety in garage door remotes so it’s worth your while to bone up on them. Manufactures have their own propriety models, but there are universal openers as well.

How do i find out the specs of my remote? First you have to dig out the documentation that came with your opener. Lacking that, note the exact model and manufacturer and buy one that is meant specifically for your door. This is not normally necessary unless your model is older than say 10 years or it is no longer manufactured.

Universal openers are the other main choice. They can be programmed to work with just about any model; however there are several universal models (which sound like a contradiction) and the work with different openers.

You need to determine how many features you want as well. If you just want the door to open, then only one button will be needed. If you have more than one door and you want the remote to do other things like turn on the lights, well it can get about as complicated as you want.

My garage door makes clicking sounds

One client writes:
I have a problem that doesn’t happen often but it’s annoying. When the door is going up I can hear a clicking sound on the right side. I lubricated everything I could, and it helped a little, but it’s still there. This is a first for me.

Dear client:
One thing we do in garage door repair cases like this is unconnect the door from the opener and manually lift the door. With a problem like this, though we know it’s the opener. The clicking sound may be a signal something else is wrong. Clicking can be caused by a number of things

If you door works intermittently and makes a clicking sound, it is usually a failing circuit board. This is often caused by a power spike during an electrical storm.

Garage door rollers can start making noises when they get worn and lose their precision. Remember that you open your garage door between 500 and 1000 times a year, and the lifespan of a set or rollers is between 10,000 and 20,000 depending on quality.

A less common reason is the photosensor on your garage door–the things that stops the door if it’s obstructed–if it gets stuff blocking it that can cause a clicking sound.

While I’m here: If you have a roll up door, you should lubricate the rollers, hinges and tracks every six months. This is not a hard and fast rule, but one that is reliable. Some people never lube their door.

Heating your garage.

It’s not something that most people think about when they think about their garage. But since so many people spent a lot of time in their garage, it’s something worth discussing.

First you have to think about insulation. At least 4 inches is recommended other wise it’s a complete waste of energy trying to keep the place warm. And we dont’ just mean the garage door, we mean the ceilings and walls. Installing insulation is just about the easiest thing out there, but you need to wear gloves and a mask and goggles. There are installation kits out there that are made specifically for garages.

First you have to think about what fuel you’re going to use to heat. There is propane, natural gas, Electric are the biggest. I myself have found natural gas to be the best, though I live in Texas. There are two main types of natural gas heaters on the market. One is called “forced-air” and the other is “low intensity”. Both are pretty good In my opinion, but the forced air ones do indeed push the air around noticeably, so if your garage is dusty it could be a problem. However, the forced air variety are pretty cheap.

There is a “high-intensity” type of heater as well but I do not recommend those. They are the ones that have coils that glow a little.

Why is my garage door opener so loud?

One client asks:
I have a garage door that needs repair because it makes too much noise. It’s not the pulleys or anything, it’s the motor for the door opener. Is there anything can do to reduce it? Our living room happens to be next to the garage so we can’t just ignore it.

Answer:
If the noise isn’t intermittent, or creaky or anything like that I’m pretty sure that the reason for the noise is that you have a really old opener. Back in the day garage doors were all AC and they did indeed make a lot of noise. But with the arrival of DC motors that changed everything. They not only were more efficient working (less jerky, no has heavy), they saved a lot on electricity. Furthermore, DC motors offer soft start and soft stop lessens the pressure between the door and the opener. Essentially the door begins moving slowly and increases rate of speed until it’s almost closed, then does the inverse operation to stop.

The drawback of the DC motor is that it’s more expensive, and more difficult to install. On top of that DC current doesn’t come out of your wall socket, so something that will convert from AC to DC will need to be installed as well.

Help! My garage door pulls to one side!

GR in Spring writes:
Russell, I’ve been having this weird thing with my garage door. A few weeks ago I put in a new garage door opener. Now, when I open the door it looks like it’s crooked and i can’t figure out if there is something with the tracks or what. The door seems to go down OK. I didn’t have this problem before I installed the opener though.

Russell writes:
This is one of the most common garage door problems, and it’s almost always something to do with springs or cables.

What happens is that sometimes the cables slip off the drum. The drums are at the top or the door and as you lift the door, one of the drums is not pulling on the cable with the same tension as the other one. And that will make the door go crooked. One thing: avoid putting the door all the way up if possible, because the higher it goes, the more it will run off the tracks and eventually you will break the track or the door will come off the track entirely. Then you’ll have a problem of the possibility of a garage door that weighs hundreds of pounds falling on you. GET A PROFESSIONAL!

Most likely you accidentally dislodged the cable when you were putting the opener in.

My Garage Door opener works intermittently

Cal M writes:
Russell, I live in Spring tex right now and I’ve been finding that my garage door opener has been acting weird, and i know it has nothing to do with the hardware. Sometimes it opens the door and sometimes it doesn’t. And even when it works there are times when it only goes up half way, or comes down half way for that matter. When I cut off the power, everything is fine. Well, I have to open and close the door manually, but it doesn’t get stuck, that’s how I know that the hardware isn’t a culprit.

Russell responds:
There could be a couple of things that are wrong, so let’s look at them. OK you’ve verified that the door can be lifted and closed manually so we know it’s the opener. One thing that could be wrong is that the opener is simply worn out. Specifically there is an electronic board like you have in all other electronic things. That thing just burns out after a long time. (You didn’t say how old the door was.) When the electronics go on these things, I generally just advise people to buy a new one. The boards can be replaced, but by the time you buy one and pay to get it installed, you could get a new one for about 30% more than the cost, and that’ll be a brand new one with a warranty. Electronic components are usually not under warranty.

One other related reason for your problem is a long shot but often garage doors use lights as a load resistor, and if you use CFL light bulbs youre going to have problems. The incandescent ones are the ones that are supposed to be used but they are going out of style. It would take a long time to explain, but the wattage in the new bulbs is lower and it’s the wattage that provides resistance. Lower wattage, higher amps, ruined components.