It's hard to find things that are manually operated nowadays. Few people use push lawnmowers anymore and it's even hard to find cars that aren't automatic. So if you're still pushing and pulling your garage door, it might be time to think about installing an automatic opener. Not only can it be quicker than operating it yourself, but it's also a lot less strain on your back and arms.
If you'd like to try installing your own, it's not that difficult and it shouldn't take that long. Plus, once you've got it installed, you'll wonder how you ever lived without one. Remember switching from manual to automatic car windows? If you're interested in switching to an automatic garage door opener, here's what you'll need and how you'll need to do it.
Make An Assessment Of Your Garage Door
Before you get started making any alterations, you'll first want to make sure that you can install an opener. Most modern garage doors should be fine, but if you've got an older garage door, particularly one that's just one big hunk of wood or other material, it might not work. In that case, you'd be better off replacing the garage door first. Then make sure you've got an electrical outlet you can use for the opener. If not, you'll need to hire an electrician to install one. If your garage door and garage are compatible, then next you'll definitely want to make sure that everything is in tip-top working order. First, check the springs to make sure that they're in good repair. Make sure the garage door isn't wobbling or making a lot of noise when you open and close it. That can point to brackets or rollers that need to be tightened.
If everything seems to be working well, next check your garage door's balance. When the garage door is closed, pull the emergency release cord. Then pull the garage door up about halfway. If it moves on its own after that, the torsion spring may need to be adjusted or even replaced.
Lubricate the tracks of your garage door and make sure to disengage any locks.
Choose Your New Opener
For a single garage door, you'll need a ½ or 1/3 hp opener. 1/3 hp openers can sometimes be hard to find, so don't worry if you can find only a ½ hp opener. If you're installing an opener for a double garage door, choose a ½ hp opener. For heavier garage doors—garage doors that are wooden or have wood overlays—you'll want to choose a ¾ hp opener.
Then you'll choose between chain drive, screw drive, or belt drive. If you're looking to save money, chain drives are the cheapest, but they are usually loud. Screw drives are a little quieter, but also a little more expensive. Belt drives are the most expensive and the most quiet. Whatever you choose will, of course, be dependent on your budget and your tolerance for noise.
Assemble And Mount The Opener
First, make sure you've got all the parts that are supposed to be included with your opener. Once you're sure, the next step will be assembling the opener. How exactly you'll do it will vary by manufacturer instruction. Generally, though, you will assemble the rail, then slide the carriage (or trolley) over it. This is the part that will open the garage door when it moves on the rail.
Attach the rail to the largest part of the opener, the motor compartment. Then install the pulley at the other end of the motor compartment. If you have a chain or belt drive, you will then feed the chain or belt through the rail around the pulley to the other end where the motor compartment is, where you will attach the chain or belt to the carriage.
Install Your Blocking
Again, your manufacturer's instructions will have specific details on where these should go. Take care that you're mounting them to the ceiling joists and not hanging them from the sheetrock.
This is also a good time to attach the connection bracket to the garage door frame. Your opener should have come with one, but if not, the instructions should specify what bracket you'll need.
Align The Opener
Propping the opener up on a ladder will make it easier to get it in position and will put less stress on the rail during installation. If it's still not high enough, you can boost it with some scrap pieces of lumber. Once you've got it settled, align the opener's rail with the center of the garage door.
Attach The Rail And Other Supports
Attach the rail bracket to the wall above the garage door, then attach the rail to the bracket.
Your opener might have come with straps to hold up the opener, but these are often flimsy and can break easily. If you want a more secure mount, get slotted angle iron and have it cut to size or cut it yourself with a hacksaw.
Put The Opener In Its Place
Lift up the motor compartment and move it into place. An ideal height is at least 7'. If it's more than 6” from the ceiling, brace the ceiling mount with an angled piece of the slotted angle iron.
There might be an additional bracket to attach the garage door to the opener and if that's so, then attach it now.
Test Your Garage Door
If everything's installed as it should be, the garage door should open and close fine. Make sure there are no obstructions and that everything is securely attached. Then enjoy your new garage door.
With just a little bit of preparation and work, you too can have an automatic garage door opener. In addition, that time and effort will feel like nothing once you're opening your garage door without having to get out of your car.