Garage doors are a key part of your house and are the entrance you probably use most often to access your home. While offering convenience, they also need to ensure security and protect your house and possessions, and that means they need to operate efficiently and safely every time.
To ensure the required reliability, safety and security, their design has evolved over the years and they are now very simple and rugged machines that can stand up to significant abuse and generally keep on working, even if they have some minor damage and need repairs and servicing. That means that as we go about our daily lives, we seldom take notice of them and never check them or carry out routine maintenance. We are used to carrying out regular and routine maintenance on other appliances and furnishings, but despite their importance to our lives, we never give the Garage Door the attention its importance demands.
But as they are made of metal and plastic parts and components that move, rotate and slide, they do wear and sometimes fail. Infrequently, this failure is very noticeable and the door sticks or jams, and even on rare occasions it is spectacular, like the door falling off or coming out of its tracks.
But mostly, before you have major problems, the door will give you an early warning that something is wrong. Typically you will notice that it has started making a strange or different noise, or it does not move up and down as smoothly as it did before. Sometimes the door picks up a minor and intermittent problem like stopping and reversing and you need to operate it several times before it opens or closes properly. Another typical indicator is that when you return home the door is open, but you are sure you closed it when you left
The tools required to repair Garage Doors are pretty basic, and you can repair most garage doors problems if you have:
- Socket set (Metric and AF)
- Spanner set Metric and AF)
- Screwdriver set
- Claw hammer (16-20oz)
- Electric drill / driver
Safety to yourself and any one assisting you should be the priority, and remember that Garage Doors weigh up to 130kg (and sometimes more) and when that weight is 2-3m above the garage floor, that means that there are some significant hazards, particularly when you are working with the structural elements of the door or the springs.
Below is some advice on some simple repairs of Garage door openers, and hopefully this will give you some useful insight.
- Repairing problems with Remotes and push buttons.
If you have an automatic opener that is operating erratically, start by looking for problems with the Remotes. These radio transmitters take a lot of abuse while dangling on key rings, living in sweaty pockets, and being dropped and bashed, etc. So they eventually do fail, or become erratic, or start working spontaneously.
Repairing remotes is easy if it is a battery that needs replacing, or a faulty button and coding in another button is a solution.
But when it is not something easily repairable, to ensure reliability, it is better to replace it. Now that these remotes are freely available online, as well as from the large hardware stores, replacement remotes are now relatively cheap. Alternatively you can go directly to the original suppliers, who should have agents or branches in the big centers.
But in this world of online shopping, probably your most convenient option is to use a reputable online supplier like Retro-remotes (http://www.retro-remotes.com/), as they will supply original or generic replacement remotes, along with an instruction card for coding them in, and they also offer free technical advice.
If the opener has a “Bell Push” wall button, these are normally quite crude and cheaply made. Often if you have problems like the door opening spontaneously, this may be caused by bad or loose connections inside the bell push or the flex connecting it to the opener. It also may be that the spring inside the bell push has become worn with repeated use, and is connecting continually
- Repairing and replacing the worn out gears on your old chain driven opener.
More difficult for the DIY home owner are defects or damage to a major part such as the main gears inside the door opener, or the springs on the door. In such cases, the repair is more involved, and requires a higher level of knowledge and skill with tools.
If you can hear the motor running, but the chain is not moving, chances are that one of the gears on the main drive is broken.
Before attempting a repair, you should check that the Control Card and Limit Switch are OK, and this you do by running the motor and checking that the shaft rotates first in one direction and then stops at (say) the top limit, and then when you start it again, it runs in the opposite direction and then stops at the bottom limit. Repeat this a few times to ensure that is does this reliably, and so that you know which is the top limit, and which is the bottom.
If it does not do this, your repair has just become a lot more complicated and expensive, but if the Control Card and Limit Switch perform as they are meant to, then you can be pretty certain that it is one of the cogs or the drive sprockett that is damaged
Before attempting any repair, first and foremost you should disconnect the electric supply to the garage door opener to protect yourself from electric shock.
Next check that the main drive sprocket on top of the opener that drives the chain, is still intact. Sometimes these are fixed with a split pin or cotter pin, and if this pin has sheared, the motor may be driving the shaft but as the drive sprocket is no longer attached to the shaft, it does not rotate.
Another common problem occurs when the soft metal bearing on the shaft collapses in the direction that the chain pulls it. If it wears a bit, the motor may become more noisy, but will still operate reliably, however, as it wears even more, the drive sprocket may start scraping on something and making a noise, this is generally an indication that the bearing has collapsed more than is safe.
If the motor is running but the sprocket is not turning, also check that bearing hasn’t collapsed so much that the shaft started touching the pressed steel casing of the opener and that over time this has cut into the shaft itself so much that it has weakened and sheared off.
Careful scrutiny of this is needed, as the chain may hold the sprocket it place even if the shaft has sheared off