A properly working garage door is vital for the operator to work effectively. Therefore, it is important to test the two mechanisms independently (garage door opener, and garage door) to fully determine the status of the opener.
Garage door openers rarely fail without a lot of warning. If you believe something is not working properly, start by detaching the operator from the door and see if the door operates smoothly and is balanced. This is determined by whether the springs are doing the lifting on the door. Garage door openers are designed to move doors rather than lift them. It is the springs that do the lifting. If you lift a door halfway up the door should stay in place. If it freefalls to the floor there is a problem with the door which can damage the operator.
But, like all mechanical devices, your garage door opener won’t last forever. It also won’t self-improve and keep up with advances happening with garage door opener technology. Garage door safety, security and efficiency have improved leaps and bounds in the past decade. The only way to keep current is to replace your old garage door opener.
Automatic garage door openers have been around for decades. Early models were simple. They had few features other than being able to lift a heavy door up and down several times a day. Over the course of a year, this could be a thousand or more cycles. And over several decades, this amounts to twenty thousand-plus back and forth trips. No wonder they wear out.
How do you know when it’s time for replacing a garage door opener? Usually, it’ll let you know. The signs start when your garage door opener begins operating erratically. It’ll get slow and protest with creaks and groans. The noise gets louder as it gets older.
Understanding these warning signs will pay off. They’ll alert you when to replace a garage door opener before it quits for good.
Signs Your Garage Door Opener Needs Changing
There will be obvious signs your garage door opener needs replacing. The first thing you may notice is your opener starts working intermittently or it ceases to work at all. This can leave you stranded and forced to get out in the dark or in harsh weather to wrestle open a 16-foot, double-wide door by hand.
That’s not good for you and your back. It’s also not fun or always safe. Here are some other sure signs your garage door opener needs changing.
Slow-Moving or Detaching Garage Door Opener
Not all signs of needing a new garage door opener are that sudden. You may find your garage door moving slower when rising. Or worse, it detaches from your opener and freefalls to the floor. That scenario is outright dangerous and could be deadly for children or pets entrapped below. You’ll also notice your opener hesitating. That’s a sure sign it’s tired and ready to check out.
Loud and Unusual Garage Door Opener Noises
Noise provides another huge red flag your garage door opener is ready to pack it in. Older garage door openers seem to be intentionally designed as noisy. Chain drives are especially loud and obnoxious. Rattling drive chains are usually the first thing someone inside your home hears when you arrive home. That’s even before you nose your car up to the garage door.
Slack and vibrating chains aren’t the only noise culprit telling you it’s time for a new one. Electric motors get really loud when they near their end. A garage door motor change will quiet things down. But usually, the entire assembly is shot. The only real remedy is replacing your entire system.
Random and Intermittent Garage Door Opening and Reversing
Opening and suddenly reversing is a common sign of a failing garage door opener. This problem might be with the safety “eye” feature models installed after 1992 were equipped with. But, more often, reversing is due to faulty electronics within the actual opener. Replacing a unit is almost always better than spending the time and money trying to fix an antiquated machine.
Intermittent operation is a common warning your opener is on its way out. You push the remote and nothing happens. You push it again, and maybe it connects. When it gets to half a dozen tries until something finally happens, you know it’s time to call a professional and have your old, outdated garage door opener replaced with a new, high-tech unit.
Noticing a Vibration on a Garage Door Opener
Something else to watch for in a worn out opener is vibration. You’ll see this rather than hear it. Old motors with worn armatures or bent shafts will vibrate inside their housings. If the damage is severe enough, you’ll likely notice the opener mounts shaking loose. That can result in a catastrophic failure where your opener breaks free from the ceiling attachment and falls on the roof of your car.
Security Matters with Garage Door Openers
You expect more than just convenience from your garage door opener. Certainly, you want your opener to operate dependably every time you need it. That goes without saying. But security makes up a highly important part of your entire garage door opener system. Your opener has to keep your door shut and unauthorized people out.
Older garage door openers weren’t designed with the advanced security features today’s new models have. Some manufacturers build security features into an opener. Others become available as options or upgrades. Often, it’s a case of what your budget will allow, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can get for a few dollars more.
On the other hand, think of the potential loss you can take when your garage door fails to keep burglars out, and they make off with ten times more than a new opener costs. Sure, your insurance might cover some loses, but every claim will affect your premium rates. Plus, your insurance company might require you to replace your garage door opener if it let thieves gain entry.
How Older Garage Door Openers Work
Most older garage door openers were simple. They worked on a system of an electric motor powering a drive that ran along a track hoisting your door up and down. Controls consisted of a wall button inside your garage and, at best, a battery-powered remote control you clipped to your car’s visor. A real luxury was a keyless remote attached to the frame outside your garage.
Those were the good old days. Unfortunately, these old garage door openers weren’t very secure. You could defeat or cheat them easily. Older garage door remotes had a fixed frequency easy to pirate. A simple transmitting device that could broadcast across the radio frequency spectrum your old remote operated on would tell the opener it was time to engage.
Many people who bought townhomes or houses in planned communities weren’t aware developers would purchase and install masses of inexpensive garage door openers to serve their buildings. These older and less-sophisticated homes had garage door openers all operating on a similar remote frequency. Often, one resident would push their remote, and one or more of the neighbors’ garage doors would also rise. Or the doors could dangerously fall if already up.
Enterprising thieves knew this flaw and exploited it:
- They acquired a standard garage door opener remote and drove through communities holding the remote button down.
- They saw what doors activated and noted their addresses.
- Later, these criminals returned when the occupants were away.
- With the flick of a switch, the garage door went up, and the thieves quickly stole inside and out of sight.
If you have one of these old, outdated and mass-produced garage door openers, you should seriously consider replacing it, even if it’s otherwise operating without trouble. Simply exchanging the remote for a more secure device isn’t an option. Remote controls connect to integral receivers built into the opener’s circuit board. You cannot find replacement boards for most old openers, so changing the entire garage door opener is your best insurance.
Rolling Codes and Smart Technology in New Garage Door Openers
Most new garage door openers come equipped with remote control devices that have rolling codes. That means the frequency codes are constantly changing or rolling to a different pattern after each use. This makes hijacking your remote control impossible.
No matter how hard burglars try, they can’t bypass your new garage door opener. Those days of fixed entrance codes are gone. You used to be able to manually set your entrance code into your remote or your opener’s electronics. That’s no longer necessary as technology now does it for you. It’s simpler and far more secure.
Garage door opener technology has also grown smarter. Now you can have a new garage door opener installed that’s compatible with your smartphone, tablet or other hand-held device. That’s another reason to change openers. It’s a sign of the times.
The Many Advantages of Garage Door Smart Technology
Smart technology isn’t just safer. It’s also much more efficient and convenient. From anywhere you can get a Wi-Fi signal, you can operate your garage door. You can check on security when that moment nags and leaves you wondering if you forgot to close the garage door when you left home. You can open your door for a delivery without leaving work and rushing home. You can let in friends or neighbors at your convenience. And you can permanently lock the door for extended vacations.
Smart technology extends to multiple users. Older garage door openers had a single remote control. Second remotes were optional as an added expense and needed to be programmed individually. That was always a hassle. With today’s internet or web-based controls, every member of your family or whoever you like can use their smart device to enter and exit through your garage door.
That’s an exceptional convenience for guests who need temporary access. You no longer have to cut them a key or hide a spare one under the doormat. Now, all you need is to text them a code or have one sent to their device. There’s no way you can do that with an old opener. It’s just one more sign it’s time to install a new one.
Power outages are no longer a concern with today’s smart garage door openers:
- Advanced technology allows for dependable battery backup when the electric grid fails.
- Now when you arrive home in a storm and the power has gone out, you can still remotely activate your new opener.
- It will still respond despite lacking power from your house current.
That smart convenience extends to door opener lights. Once your door is powered by its high-tech battery and headed up, your opener lights will be on and running off the same battery power.
Advancements in battery technology and light developments like LED bulbs allow full brightness as if your power was back on. That’s not just convenient. It’s far safer.
Safety Features in New Garage Door Openers
Some older garage door openers were downright dangerous. The first automated openers closed the garage door regardless of conditions. It didn’t matter if your car was half in or half out. Once the button activated, that door headed down. The only thing stopping it was another manual signal, and that had to trip in the nick of time.
There were many injuries and even fatalities caused by faulty garage door openers when they first became popular. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in the ten years between 1982 and 1992, 54 children between the ages of 2 and 14 were killed after getting entrapped by falling garage doors. That number of fatalities was intolerable.
The CPSC took action to prevent these terrible tragedies. In 1992, it received Congressional approval to mandate all garage doors must have an electronic eye safety device that “sees” if there’s any blockage under a closing garage door. This allows a safety signal to interrupt and reverse the garage door’s travel. This legislation saved countless lives that otherwise would have destroyed a family.
The CPSC guidelines:
- Allow for light- or laser-activated sensors installed on each side of the garage door and placed slightly above the floor level. Any interruption in the light beam would automatically trip the motor drive and stop or lift the door. That included any misalignment of the beam path.
- Have allowed external entrapment prevention devices to evolve with technology. Now they let owners know of any interruption through their smartphone.
There is another smart safety device recommended by the CPSC, a constant contact control button recommended for households where small children live. Here, the remote deactivates from a one-touch push. The only way a door completely lowers is by the operator keeping constant pressure on the button throughout the down cycle.
Serious Accidents with Garage Doors and Automated Openers
Despite the advancements in smart technology and safety features found in modern garage door openers, accidents still happen far too often with garage doors and their automated openers. This is especially true with older openers you should change for safety’s sake.
The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System collects data on injuries from emergency room statistics. Health Grove tracks yearly household injuries across the United States. They report garage door accidents rank 47th on a list of 77 household injury categories. Their statistics report that on average, 10,580 injuries occur each year caused by garage doors. Here’s a year-to-year rundown on garage door injuries:
- 2005 — 10,171
- 2006 — 8,329
- 2007 — 10,220
- 2008 — 10,119
- 2009 — 10,258
- 2010 — 12,201
- 2011 — 11,200
- 2012 — 9,349
- 2013 — 9,656
- 2014 — 9,094
- 2015 — 17,282
No, that’s not a misquote or typo error. In 2015, the number of garage door accidents rose an astonishing 90% over the previous year. It’s also a 63% increase over the entire ten-year injury average. What was going on?
Behind the Spike in Garage Door Injuries
Speculation points the blame at a sudden increase in faulty garage door openers. With the rebound in the American economy and rise in home building and renovations, many track builders and homeowner do-it-yourselfers installed inexpensive garage door openers from big-box suppliers. These cheap knock-offs were not certified for safety by the Underwriter Laboratories (UL) Standard for Safety.
This attempt at cutting a few dollars off a building, renovation or home garage door opener replacement caused a serious spike in household injuries. It certainly makes you think twice about what appears to be a good deal and not having your new garage door opener professionally installed.
Many of these injuries were avoidable. Fortunately, very few garage door accidents resulted in death. Most of the injured received treatment in the emergency department before release. Unfortunately, a significant number were hospitalized and left with permanent disabilities. And, sadly, many of these unfortunate mishaps were preventable.
Installing a safe and dependable new garage door opener offers the best way of preventing a garage door injury. It also provides the best form of security against burglary, theft and vandalism. Perhaps now is time to change your garage door opener for a new one.
Turn to Custom Door & Gate for Professional Garage Door Opener Installation
If you want to protect yourself, your family and your belongings, Custom Door & Gate can help. We’ve served the Raleigh, Greenville, Greensboro and Fayetteville areas of North Carolina since 1989. Our expert staff has over 100 combined years professionally installing garage door openers and other products.
We’re accredited by the Institute of Door Dealer Education and Accreditation (IDEA). We’ve received Clopay’s Top Presidential award for garage door installation as well as LiftMaster’s Provantage dealer recognition. Our technicians are proud to be trained and qualified to install products from these top manufacturers.
Custom Door & Gate installs all types of garage door openers. Choose from our economical but safe and reliable chain drive models. Have a whisper-quiet belt drive garage door opener installed to keep noise from interfering with an adjacent bedroom or home office. You can also purchase an advance screw-type opener that’ll give you years of trouble-free operation.
At Custom Door & Gate, we also offer exceptional value in high technology.
You’ll know when it’s time to change your garage door opener. Now you know your best value comes from calling Custom Door & Gate to get your garage door dependably up and down. Contact us today for assistance choosing the right residential garage door system for you.