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How to Maintain Your Automatic Garage-Door Opener

Your automatic garage-door opener requires periodic maintenance to ensure safe and efficient operation. In fact, because a garage door is often the heaviest and largest single piece of moving equipment around a home, frequent testing and maintenance are especially important.

Lubrication requirements and adjustment details are typically found in the owner's manual. If you don't have an owner's manual, you can usually order a replacement copy by contacting an installing dealer or the manufacturer. Some manufacturers even make owner's manuals available online. All you need is the brand and model number.

An inspection of the garage-door springs, cables, rollers, and other door hardware is a great place to begin. Look for signs of wear and for frayed or broken parts. A handy do-it-yourselfer can perform most minor repairs, such as roller replacement, but a qualified garage-door service technician should handle the more complicated tasks. The springs and related hardware are under high tension and can cause severe injury if handled improperly.

Rollers, springs, hinges, and tracks require periodic lubrication. Use spray silicone, lightweight household oil, or white lithium grease according to the instructions in your owner's manual.

Periodically test the balance of the door. Start with the door closed. Disconnect the automatic opener release mechanism so that the door can be operated by hand. The door should lift smoothly and with little resistance. It should stay open around 3 to 4 feet above the floor. If it doesn't, it's out of balance and should be adjusted by a professional.

Monthly inspection and testing of the automatic opener can prevent serious injuries and property damage. Careless operation and allowing children to play with or use garage-door opener controls are dangerous situations. A few simple precautions can protect your family and friends from potential harm.

Never stand or walk under a moving door. Don't let children play "beat the door." Keep transmitters and remote controls out of the reach of children and teach them that they aren't toys. The push-button wall control should be out of the reach of children (at least 5 feet from the floor) and away from all moving parts. The button should always be mounted where you can clearly see the door.

Test the force setting of the opener by holding up the bottom of the door as it closes. If the door doesn't reverse readily, the force is excessive and needs adjusting. The owner's manual will explain how to adjust the force sensitivity.

To avoid entrapment, perform the 1-inch reversing test after any repairs or adjustments are made to the garage door or opener. Simply place a 2-x-4 flat on the floor in the door's path before activating the door. If the door fails to stop immediately and reverse when it strikes the wood, disconnect the opener and use the door manually until the system can be repaired.

Here are some of the most common garage door opener problems and their solutions:

  • If the opener raises but won't close the door, the safety beam sensor may be faulty, misaligned, or unplugged.

  • An opener that operates by remote control but not by the wall switch is a sign of a short in the wiring or a loose connection at the switch.

  • A remote control that doesn't work may be something as simple as a weak or dead batteries, an antenna wire on the opener that isn't properly exposed, or a dead transmitter.

  • If the opener is operating but the door doesn't open, the problem may be due to a worn gear or chain-drive sprocket, a broken chain, or the door disengaging from the operator.

  • A faulty transmitter, a short in the wall switch, a faulty circuit board, or a stray signal (which is very rare) can cause an opener to operate by itself.

  • If the remote control only operates the door when it's located 25 feet or less from the opener, the battery in the remote is weak or the signal is poor.

  • A door that reverses while closing or that doesn't completely open or close is usually obstructed or binding. This condition can also be caused when the open limit or sensitivity is set wrong.

  • A straining opener usually occurs when safety reversing is activated or the close limit is set improperly.

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