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A Guide to Repairing Garage Door Windows

garage_door_window_panelsIf you have a panelized garage door with some windows in it, there’s a possibility of having a window break at some point. Fortunately these windows are easy to repair and if you’re just a little bit handy, you can do this yourself.  Just carry out the following simple steps for repairing two types of garage door window.

Tools You Will Need

A few simple tools are all you need to carry out these repairs, along with a replacement window of course. Here’s the list of tools and materials:

  • Power drill
  • 1/8-inch drill bit
  • Screwdriver
  • Some plywood or other thin wood strips
  • Some masking tape
  • Some all-weather caulking
  • Putty knife
  • Wood chisel
  • Work gloves

Repairing a Window in a Frame

Some garage door windows consist of glass or Plexiglas encased in a frame. Here are the steps for repairing this type of window.

1) Undo and take out the screws from the outer side of the frame.

2) Have someone push the window towards you from the other side of the door so you can remove it.

3) Place the replacement window and frame on a sheet of plywood or some wood strips on the ground with the outside(the wider side) of the frame face up.

4) There will be a template provided with the new window. Place this template on the frame of the new window and line-up the guide marks with the window frame edges.

5) Fasten the template to the replacement window with some lengths of masking tape.

6) Using the drill and 1/8-inch bit, drill holes through the frame using the template as a guide.

7) Fit the window into the opening with the wide side facing outward and the edges with rubber seals facing inward.

8) Fasten the frame to the garage door with screws through the holes you drilled.

Replacing Window Inserts

The second type of window is made up of glass or Plexiglas inserts which fit into the framework of the garage door. The following steps explain how to replace this type of window in your garage door.

1) You will see some small tabs holding the insert in place in the frame. Alternatively the insert may be held in place with wood stops. If the window has tabs, carefully straighten them with your putty knife. If the window has wood stops, pry them gently away from the window opening using the tip of the wood chisel.

2) Wearing your gloves, cut away the caulking bead at the edges of the window opening with a sharp utility knife.

3) Remove the Plexiglas or glass from the window opening.

4) Use the end of your wood chisel to scrape off any caulking which remains at the window opening.

5) Run a regular bead of fresh caulking along each edge of the window opening.

6) Gently push the new Plexiglas or glass panel into the window opening.

7) Use your fingers to bend the tabs back against the front of the panel. If wood stops are used in place of tabs, run another bead of all-weather caulking around the external edges of the window opening and refit the wood stops.

That’s all there is to it. Of course if you really don’t fancy doing this task yourself, a local garage door installation and repair expert will be able to replace the glass for you.

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5 Tips to Troubleshoot an Automatic Garage Door

bigstock-Girl-Opens-Old-Garage-21316331When they are working well, automatic garage doors are the best thing since sliced bread. When they start to play up though, it can be more than a little annoying. Even if you perform routine maintenance on your garage door and opener, sooner or later something will wear out or malfunction. Before you get on the phone to a repair specialist though, follow these 5 tips to see if you can resolve the problem yourself. A little DIY is good for the soul and even better for your credit card if it saves the cost of a technician’s call out fee.

#1 Check the Power Supply

If your garage door opener doesn’t respond at all when you press the open or close buttons, it could be a problem with the electricity supply. Inspect the power outlet which supplies the door opener to make sure the wiring is OK and that the plug hasn’t come loose. If the outlet appears fine and you can establish that there is definitely no power, it’s probably time to call on that technician, or an electrician. If the problem doesn’t appear to be anything to do with the electrical supply, follow the next tip.

#2 Pull the Manual Release

Try operating the garage door’s manual override by pulling on the manual release rope or chain. This should enable you to open the door manually. If this doesn’t work and the door appears to be stuck, move on to the next tip.

#3 Check the Door Tracks

Inspect the tracks in which the door rollers run for any obstructions. Small pebbles, hard-packed dirt and other debris can seriously affect the operation of an automatic garage door. It only takes a small obstruction in the tracks to cause a door to stick fast. Clear out any obstructions you find and test the door. If it still isn’t working correctly, proceed to tip 4.

#4 Check the Condition of the Garage Door

To be sure that the door itself hasn’t sustained any damage, give it a visual once over. The door may have been hit by something which went unreported. If you do discover any significant damage to the door, you will probably need a professional repair. If you find no damage, check the next tip.

#5 Check that the Door Opener Motor isn’t hot

It’s always possible that the motor for your garage door opener has overheated. Carefully check the motor housing with your hand. If it feels very hot, leave the door alone for a while and let the motor cool. Then try the door opener again.

If this alleviates the problem, you will probably be looking at a new motor very soon. An overheating motor typically means it’s reaching the end of its serviceable life. If the door still won’t respond after the motor has had time to cool, contact a garage door technician to perform further investigations.

These are just a few things you can investigate to troubleshoot a malfunctioning door. It’s far from being an exhaustive list. However these tips do cover the most likely problems with your door and opener. If after following them, you still haven’t identified the issue, it’s probably worth calling a garage door repair company to come and cast a professional eye on your door apparatus.

 

 

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4 Tips for Monthly Garage Door Inspections

bigstock-Remote-Control-3731908To keep the biggest door in your home operating smoothly and safely, give it a monthly inspection. You can save unplanned garage door repairs by employing a simple monthly set of checks. If you don’t wish to perform the inspection yourself, many companies that repair garagedoors offer inspection and service plans. However, this can prove expensive and the attention required to keep your door in tip-top shape is within the capabilities of pretty much any healthy person.

If you feel ready to tackle some basic inspection tasks on your garage door, here are four tips to help you begin your own monthly program. Just to be on the safe side, inform everyone in your home before you carry out maintenance and tell them not to try and open or close the door until you’ve finished working on it.

#1 Begin with a Visual Inspection

The first thing to do is perform a quick visual check of the door. This should be done from inside your garage with the door closed. Check the door cables for any fraying or wear. Test all the mounting hardware by hand to see make sure no screws or bolts have loosened. Perform a visual examination of the pulleys, door rollers and springs. If you find something which doesn’t look or feel right, make contact with a garage door technician to have a professional inspection performed.

#2 Perform a Balance Test

A door which is out of balance will put unnecessary strain on your automatic door opener, if you have one. To check the balance, disconnect the door opener with the door closed. Now open the door by lifting it manually. It should open smoothly without resistance and should remain fully open when you let go of it. If the door doesn’t remain open or feels hard to lift, it’s probably out of balance and you will need a technician to carry out a service.

#3 Test the Door Opener Reversing Mechanism

Garage door openers manufactured from January 1993 onwards are required by law to have a reversing mechanism, triggered by sensors. This safety mechanism is to prevent the door from descending on anyone and injuring them.

To test the reversing mechanism, place a piece of wood or similar object in the center of the door opening where the door would meet the floor on closing. Next, use your remote control to close the door. As soon as the door makes contact with the wood it should reverse direction. If the door does not immediately reverse, have a professional take a look and perform remedial action.

#4 Test the Reversing System Sensor

As well as reversing when it makes contact with something, it should also reverse direction when the sensors detect something in its path. To test the sensors, press the button on your remote to close the garage door and, while the door is descending, wave a broomstick or similar item in front of the sensors. The door should immediately reverse direction. If not, have a professional repair carried out.

Performing the four simple checks above will save you from any dangerous incidents or emergency callouts to fix a broken door. If you are really handy you can carry out some basic repair tasks if you spot issues with your garage door. If not, a local installation and repair service will be happy to come and fix any problems that you identify.

 

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How to Open Your Automatic Garage Door Manually

An image of a man trying to repair his garage door opener.Most people who enjoy the benefit of an automatic garage door opener agree that in terms of convenience, it’s an extremely worthwhile investment. Opening your garage door with a press of a button is a whole lot easier than manually lifting it up and down.  That said; the only time you might find yourself cursing your automatic garage door is when the power’s out.

Fortunately we enjoy a stable supply of electricity in the USA, but even so, power outages do occur. If you do suffer a power cut, you could well find that your car is in the garage and you need to get out, or vice versa. Therefore, although power outages are rare events, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the manual operation of your automatic garage door.

Switch the Door to Manual Mode

The first thing you will need to do, assuming you have access to the inside of your garage when the power goes out, is find the bypass control. Very often this is a handle on the end of a rope, usually colored red. Pulling down on this handle will put the garage door opener into manual mode.

If ever you are in a situation where power may be off for a while, or if there is a problem with the motor of your door opener, you will probably need to keep the door in manual mode. When in manual mode, you will have to open your garage door by physically lifting and lowering it. To make sure the bypass rope doesn’t end up caught in the tracks, pull the rope down around the back of the door opener motor.

Reengaging Automatic Mode

Once the power is restored to your home, you will need to switch the garage door opener back into its automatic mode. There are two ways in which you can do this. The first way is to use the rope. Pull down hard on the rope and make sure you see the mechanism lock back into place. Another way to reengage the mechanism is simply to activate the door using the button on your remote control. The track should then force the spring attachment to lock back into place.

Opening the Door from Outside

If you are unfortunate enough to be locked out of your garage when the power goes out and you don’t have any keys to the rest of your house doors, you may be able to release the spring mechanism lever from outside. You’ll need to try and slide something like a bent clothes hanger through the gap near the top of your garage door. You may have to use something as a shim as well if you have weather stripping on the door. Use the clothes hanger to try and flip the lever from outside.

As a final note of warning – If a power outage occurs while your garage door is up, you should prop the door with a couple of 2x4s to stop it from crashing down when you pull the rope and engage manual mode. Hopefully you won’t often have to deal with power cuts of more than a very short duration. Just in case you do though, it’s a good idea to go locate that bypass rope, so you can find it easily in the event of an outage.

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Is Your Garage Door Hurricane Proof?

weather stripIf you live in a region exposed to hurricanes or very heavy coastal storms and you’ve been there a while, you may already know the following fact, but just in case you don’t, here it is. Your garage door seals the largest opening in your home: if it fails to hold back a hurricane, the resulting change in air pressure can blow the roof off your home or cause other serious structural damage.

There are not many situations in which you would be recommended to replace or upgrade an undamaged garage door, but if you live in a hurricane prone area, this is one of the few.

How to Get Your Garage Door Hurricane Proof

Quite simply, you have two options to get your garage door hurricane proofed. One option is to replace your existing door with one which is hurricane proof. The other is to install an add-on kit which can be used to provide extra bracing in the event of a storm.

Whichever option you choose, you should purchase a product which is rated to meet the wind load requirements of your locality. For example, in Miami-Dade County, Florida, Garage doors or add-ons should be able to withstand wind speeds of 150 MPH. In other counties the requirement may be a little more relaxed.

Once you know the wind speed that your garage door should be able to withstand, you can either purchase a specially designed hurricane proof door and have it installed, or get an appropriately rated add-on solution.

Add-on or Active Bracing Kits

An add-on system uses braces which must be preinstalled. The braces have mounts on the garage floor and install vertically from these, through the header above the garage door. Often, the braces are also fixed through the actual garage door hinges as well.

Once the mountings are installed, you need to physically fit the braces when you know a storm is on the way. Obviously you can’t use your garage door once you attach the braces, but during the storm they will prevent the door from getting blown inward. Braces which are fixed through the hinges also protect the door from being sucked out by negative internal pressure. After the storm or hurricane has passed, the braces can be removed again and the door operated normally.

Passive Bracing Systems

Passive systems need no action in advance of a storm other than locking your garage door. The drawback is that they include a specially reinforced garage door. In other words you need to replace your existing door with a new, reinforced one. A hurricane proof door such as this has internal bracing which is activated when you lock the door itself. These systems also include reinforced door tracks and the best ones include some additional braces which you can attach on the approach of a storm.

While all this may sound rather drastic, the power of hurricanes should not be underestimated. If you have a large, double garage in particular, the stresses places on the door during a storm are immense. A storm proof replacement door or active bracing kit is an investment which will potentially save your home from thousands of dollars in repairs. Any money spent on preventing this is surely an investment and may well be a requirement of your home insurers.

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9 Steps to a Clean Garage Door

9 Steps to a Clean Garage DoorYour garage door represents a large part of your home’s frontage. In most cases, the garage is visible to anyone walking or driving past your home. Perhaps more importantly though, your garage door is the first thing you see when you pull your car onto the drive, or even when you enter your home on foot. A clean, new looking garage door will add to the feel good factor when you come home from a busy day at work or from a few days away.

It’s Easy to Clean Your Garage Door

Giving your garage door an occasional clean therefore, is a quick and easy way to maintain your home’s curb appeal and present the impression of a welcome haven when you enter your property. Here then, is a nine-step guide to getting your garage door clean:

1) Grab yourself a hose, a bucket, some gentle detergent and a scrubbing brush or cloth.

2) Wet the entire outer surface of your garage door using the hose.

3) After filling the bucket with some warm water and detergent, use this solution with your rag or scrubbing brush to gently scrub the door down. If your door is marked with oil stains, or something more stubborn than regular dirt, use a diluted solution of bleach to scrub it with, rather than detergent.

4) Spray the garage door down with your hose to rinse it off.

5) If your door is constructed from metal, apply a coat of wax polish to restore its luster.

6) Repeat steps 1 through 5 on the inside surface of your garage door. While the inside is not so visible, keeping it clean is important to keep dirt from getting into the door tracks and mechanism.

7) Now, use a broom to remove any dirt and dust from the tracks that your garage door runs on. For any clods of mud or harder to remove dirt, use water and a rag to get inside the track and really clean it out. Keeping the tracks clean is important to prevent your door from getting derailed or jammed in the future.

8) Now that the tracks are clean, lubricate them along with the wheels on your door, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

9) Finally, organize and clean up the area around the garage door. If possible, keep this area clear of anything that could fall and obstruct the opening and closing of the door.

Check the General Condition of the Garage Door

That’s really all there is to it. If your garage door is painted, once clean you will be able to see any damaged or flaking paintwork or areas where bare metal is showing. To avoid corrosion problems, it’s a good idea to sand these areas down and give them a fresh coat of paint.

By giving your garage door an occasional cleaning, following the nine steps above, you can keep it looking like new. It’s also the perfect opportunity to check for any maintenance tasks that need completing on your garage door or its mechanism.

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Tips for Buying a Wooden Garage Door

Garage DoorThere’s nothing quite like the look of an elegant and warm-looking wood garage door to set off the front of your home. In terms of curb appeal, timber has it in spades. There are hundreds of designs to choose from and if you have the budget, you can get a completely unique, custom-designed door. If you are thinking about investing in a wooden door, there are a few important things to consider before you buy.

Choosing the Wood Species

One of the most important factors in your choice of wooden garage door should be the species of wood used in its construction. Popular species used in garage door construction are Hemlock, Cedar and Redwood. You can also get doors constructed from oak, fir and walnut. Cedar and Redwood garage doors are a sensible choice if you live in a rainy or damp climate. These materials also look great if you already have Cedar or Redwood siding on your home exterior. Matching the siding with a garage door of the same material is a great way to add a cohesive appearance to your home.

Make sure you find out about any specific building code requirements in your locality. For example, in some coastal locations, garage doors over 10 feet in width must be constructed with Hemlock stiles and rails. Hemlock is a good choice of material if you plan to stain your garage door. If you intend to paint your door instead, wood garage doors with MDF or MDO panels make it easier to get the best finish, without any roughness or flaws.

Initial and Ongoing Maintenance

Garage doors constructed of wood do require a bit more maintenance than other materials. It’s important to bear that in mind. However if you’re prepared to put in just a little effort, the beautiful appearance of natural wood makes the small amount of work worthwhile. Just remember that if you neglect this maintenance, your door won’t look so attractive after two or three years and may even develop problems with opening and closing.

The most important thing is to protect your wood garage door from moisture. Before installation, your garage door should be primed and painted, or stained. The stain or paint should be of a high quality and should repel water. It should also be mold, mildew and UV light resistant. The extra investment in a good quality finish for your door will prevent any warping, rotting, cracking or fading. If you prefer not to finish the door yourself, you should be able to purchase one that’s sealed, stained and ready to go from a good garage door supplier.This initial protection represents the bulk of maintenance work you will need to do. After that it’s just a case of repainting or staining your wood garage door every three or four years.

For enhancing the curb appeal of your home, wood is a practical and attractive option which will last for years if you protect it. If you have a garage door opening that is not of a standard size, wood is probably your best choice as it’s possible to customize the door construction. Customizable, adaptable and attractive, what’s not to love about wooden garage doors?

 

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Garage Door Materials: Know Your Options

garage doorA new garage door is a long term investment, meaning you only get one chance to get it right. Among the things you should consider when choosing a new door for your garage is the material from which it’s made. With developments in manufacturing technology, the range of available materials seems to grow ever wider. Which of the following materials will you select for your new garage door?

Wood

Wooden timber has been used for door construction since before coach houses became garages. Wood is still a very popular choice for modern garage doors and with good reason. A well-painted or stained garage door looks beautiful and wears well. You can also change a wooden garage door’s appearance when you fancy a change of scene. All you have to do is sand it down and apply a new finish.

As with any timber-constructed object, the only disadvantage is susceptibility to pests and water damage. Of course with the right treatment and a little maintenance you can protect a wood garage door against wildlife and the elements.

Steel

Low maintenance, durability and price make steel garage doors probably the nation’s most popular choice. You can paint your steel garage door any color or even make it look like wood. Be careful not to go too cheap when choosing a steel door though. Paying a little more is worthwhile if you don’t want your kids putting dents in the door with their basketball. Also, if you live in a coastal region, remember that steel can corrode.

Aluminum

Garage doors constructed wholly of aluminum are not cheap. However their life expectancy is greater than doors made of other materials. With laminated panels and a heavy duty frame, an aluminum garage door will stand up to plenty of punishment and will not rust. At the same time, aluminum is light in weight, so your door won’t put too much stress on your automatic door opener.

At the other end of the price spectrum, you can get a garage door with an aluminum frame, but with panels constructed from high-density polyethylene. This type of garage door will cost you a lot less and still has low weight and high durability.

Fiberglass

A fiberglass garage door is usually constructed with a steel frame. Two fiberglass layers are normally bonded to the frame with insulation packed between them. Rust will never be a problem with a fiberglass garage door, so this might be a good choice of material if you live near the ocean. Fiberglass doors don’t dent. They can be broken under hard impact though, so remember to open your garage door before reversing your car in.

Vinyl

For the ultimate in low maintenance garage doors, you might like to try kid-proof vinyl. A relatively new option for garage door construction, vinyl panels are generally affixed to a steel frame. Extremely damage resistant: Be sure about your choice of color when you buy though, you can’t change the color of a vinyl garage door.

From beautifully finished timber, to virtually indestructible vinyl, you will find a garage door material to meet your needs and budget. A local garage door installer will be able to help you if you need more advice relating to your environment and climate.

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How to Choose Garage Door Insulation Material

Big garage with gray doors, brick wall and asphalt drivewayAn insulated garage door makes the temperature in your garage more comfortable, acts as a buffer against street noise and can help reduce energy bills. If your garage door isn’t insulated, you might be happy to know you can actually insulate it yourself. Installing garage door insulation isn’t difficult and doesn’t take long. Before you install though, you need to decide which material you want to use.

There are essentially three types of garage door insulation you can use:

  • Reflective foil
  • Polystyrene foam
  • A Fiberglass or foam DIY Panel Kit

As with everything, each type of insulation has its pros and cons. The toughest part of your DIY project will probably be choosing the material. To help you make the decision, here’s a brief overview of the three options.

Reflective Foil

Reflective foil insulation is sold on rolls. The total thickness of the material is around an inch and a half. You can purchase either single foil or double foil insulation for your garage door. The material consists of a layer of polyethylene foam sandwiched between two layers of aluminum foil. Double foil insulation has two layers of foam. This material insulates well, it’s only drawback being that it’s not very attractive visually.

Polystyrene Foam

Polystyrene foam insulation is sold in large sheets which will need to be cut to fit in the panels of your garage door. It’s a little tougher to work with than foil because of its rigidity. It is however, a better insulator than reflective foil.

Panel Kits

These kits come with about 8 pre-cut panels which fit inside the channels of your garage door frame. The panels can either be made of fiberglass or plastic laminated polystyrene. Of the two materials, polystyrene offers the higher insulation. Fiberglass panels are more resistant to water and mold. Both types of panels look good and installation is easy and fast. You should be able to insulate your garage door with a panel kit in around an hour. This is probably the best option if aesthetics are important to you.

Things to Consider When Choosing

There are a few things you should think about when deciding upon garage door insulation material. In particular, the weight of insulation is something to be mindful of. The extra weight may affect the operation of your garage door. You may need to contact a garage door technician to rebalance the springs after you install the insulation.

Another thing to consider is something called R-value. This is the rating given to a material according to its insulating effectiveness. Ideally you should obtain material of the highest R-value that you can fit inside your garage door panels.

Under no circumstances should you use spray-in insulation or fiberglass batt insulation. Neither of these insulating materials is suitable for use in garage doors. Also, don’t try to place insulation over the springs of your garage door. Doing so may affect your ability to open or close the door.

Once you have decided upon the right insulation material, the remainder of your garage door installation project should be a piece of cake. After an hour or so of labor, you’ll have a cozier, more energy efficient garage to show for your efforts.

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How to Cure a Noisy Garage Door

New two-storied beige stone cottage with garage in front of it.Does your garage door make a racket when you open and close it? If so, you can probably cure it yourself and have it opening and closing quiet as you like within an hour. Follow this simple, step-by-step guide to find the source of noise and put an end to it.

Tools and Materials

Naturally you will need a few tools and materials. If you choose not to buy all the materials up-front, the job might take a bit more than an hour. Just add the amount of time you think you’ll need to rush to the hardware store. Here’s the list:

Tools: Socket set, assorted screwdrivers, adjustable wrench, wrench set, stepladder.

Materials: Replacement hinges, nylon rollers, garage door lube.

5 Steps to a Quiet Garage Door

1) Tighten all the nuts and bolts on the garage door and the track hardware. Use a socket and ratchet for this and be careful: Over-tightening can strip the bolt threads or pull the bolt heads through the door skin.

2) Check all the garage door rollers for wear and identify any that need replacement.

3) Replace the rollers one at a time. To do so, unbolt the hinge and tilt the roller out of the track in which it runs. While the hinge is off, check it for wear. Metal filings or gray dust around the hinge pin are sure signs of wear. If you see an oblong shaped hole where the tubular hinge pin and the hinge bracket mate, you should definitely replace the hinge. Replace the worn roller with a new nylon one and then re-install the hinge or fit a new replacement.

Warning – If your garage door is mounted on torsion springs (most of them are), do not try and replace the rollers on the bottom-most hinge brackets. These are under tension and can seriously injure you if you unbolt them. Call in the professionals if the bottom rollers need changing.

4) If your garage door has an automatic opener with a chain mechanism, check the chain for tightness. A loose chain creates a lot of noise. If the chain is loose, follow the opener manufacturer’s manual for the correct way to tighten the chain.

4.1) If you have an opener with a track drive, use some grease to lubricate the track. Squeeze a large amount of grease onto your hand (wear gloves), then wipe it onto the track. Operate the opener a number of times to spread the grease onto the trolley and along the track.

4.2) If you have a screw-drive garage door opener, grease the threads of the screw thoroughly.

5) Use the garage door lube to spray the springs, hinges and roller bearings. Also spray any other pivot points on the door or opener. Remember to repeat this lubrication every six months to keep your door running smoothly and quietly.

Your garage door should now open and close quietly. Remember to call in a garage door technician if you need the bottom rollers or hinges replacing.

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