If you have automatic garage doors in your home, you rarely think about them and the convenience they provide until they become noisy, damaged or stop working altogether. Knowing when to replace garage door openers can be tricky, as sometimes a simple repair might just fix the issue. However, some garage door problems require a replacement opener, door or both. Which is why we’ve outlined what issues are repairable and which will require replacement, to take the guesswork out of replacing versus repairing garage doors.
When to Replace Garage Doors and Openers
While there may be times that a simple repair is all that’s needed to fix an issue with your garage door, issues that are more serious can require that the door and opener be replaced. Often, if you’re replacing your garage door, your whole garage door system will need to go along with it. Garage doors are meant to work with a specific garage door opener and track, so unless your whole garage system is new, it’s best to replace the entire thing at once, to ensure your door will work properly. In addition, by replacing the entire system, you guarantee that your warranty will still apply if another issue should arise. Here are some scenarios where it’s better to replace your garage door system rather than repairing:
- Scratches — If your garage door becomes severely scratched, it might be time to replace the door. If the scratches are deep, the door can start to rust. Once a door rusts, it will definitely need replacing, as rust will make the door flimsy and prone to breakage. If it’s just a small surface scratch, you’ll likely be able to continue to use the door without issue for some time, as long as the scratches aren’t that noticeable and don’t affect the aesthetics of the door.
- Dents — If the door is majorly dented, it’s time to replace it. While the door may open and close fine, it could be doing irreversible damage to other parts of your garage door system. These dents could throw off the balance of the door and place extra pressure on the tracks, causing them to eventually break as well. If a car caused large dents by hitting your garage door, we recommend not opening the door until a professional has been out to inspect and track for damage. This type of damage will probably require replacement.
- Warping — A wooden garage door can become warped or cracked over time. Once this happens, it’s irreparable and needs replacing. In order to avoid warping, make sure your wooden door is stained or treated on all sides before installation. You may have to re-stain every few years to keep the wood protected from water and humidity,
- Physical Damage — If the door is physically damaged due to high winds or extreme weather, you’ll likely need to replace the door. Extreme weather can dent a door or even knock it off its tracks. These issues can lead to further problems like breaking springs, tracks or the actual opener.
- Curb Appeal — Eventually, your garage door will begin to look old, outdated, faded or saggy. In order to update the exterior of your home and add curb appeal to your house, replacing that old garage door is a must. A new garage door will add excellent value to your home and has good ROI, especially if you’re looking to sell in the near future.
- Age — If your opener was installed before 1993, it should be replaced. After 1993, it was mandated that all garage doors have an additional safety measure added to ensure that the door will not close on someone or something that may be in its path. The garage door opener works in conjunction with two photo eye sensors at the bottom of the garage entrance to sense if anything is blocking the garage door path. If the sensors detect anything, the garage door will automatically go back up, so it doesn’t crush whatever is below. Moreover, if your garage door was installed before 1993, chances are it’s looking pretty worn out by now anyway!
When to Make Repairs to a Garage Door System
Sometimes, the issues you’re experiencing with your garage door may just require a visit from a technician to make a few repairs. The following garage door issues require a repairman, rather than a complete garage door replacement:
- There’s an issue with your transmitters. Transmitters are an integral part of your garage door system, and when they’re not working properly, you’ll definitely notice! Sometimes issues arise with your transmitters that prevent the signal from reaching the opener. Be sure to check and replace the batteries if needed, as this is usually the number one reason why a transmitter stops working. In addition, check the frequency your garage door opener is running on. Sometimes, a neighbor may be using the same frequency for their garage doors as you are for yours, and when they drive by and attempt to open their garage door, it opens yours as well. You may think your garage door is acting up by opening and closing randomly, but really, it’s just opening when prompted by someone else’s signal. If all else fails for your transmitters, you can reset them by pressing and holding the ‘learn’ button on each transmitter. You may need to consult your garage door owner’s manual for additional instructions on how to reset.
- Damage has occurred to a single panel. If only one panel on your garage door is scratched or damaged, it can often be repaired by simply replacing that panel. However, if the damage is extensive and covers more surface area, it might make more financial sense to go ahead and replace the whole garage door, as replacing multiple panels can get pricey.
- The photo eye sensors are dirty or misaligned. Two photo eye sensors are located at the bottom of the garage door entrance on either side of the door. They’re pointed directly at each other and shoot an invisible laser across the door entrance to identify if something is in the path of the closing garage door. Sometimes, one or both of these eyes become dirty or blocked by something like mud from your car or a spider web that’s growing over it. If this is the case, gently wipe away any dirt or debris with a soft, damp towel. If the garage door still won’t close, they photo eyes are probably out of alignment, and will need to be readjusted so they’re pointing directly at each other again.
- The track is out of alignment. Over time, the track that your garage door runs on can move slightly, causing the track to become misaligned. You may hear a rubbing noise at a particular spot in the opening and closing cycle, or you could notice the door slowing down slightly once it moves past a certain point. This issue isn’t detrimental to the functioning of your garage door, but you certainly don’t want to be running it like that for a prolonged period. If left unfixed, this misalignment could worsen and cause more serious issues that end up ruining your entire system. So, if you think your track is having an alignment issue, fix it or call your garage door technician for help right away. If you’re in need of repair in Phoenix, AZ, call Stapley Action Garage Door to handle garage door issues for all makes and models.
- The cables or springs are broken. While this is a serious and potentially dangerous issue, it likely won’t require you to replace your entire garage door system. However, this is not a DIY project. If there is an issue with the springs or cables, you should definitely hand the project over to a professional. You’ll know your springs or cables are broken because you’ll hear a loud bang coming from your garage if you’re inside your house. Alternatively, if you’re closing your garage door, it will shut really fast and slam down onto the pavement. At this point, don’t attempt to open or close your garage door again until you’ve had a technician come out and repair it. The cables and springs will definitely need replaced, but you should be able to avoid replacing the entire system unless damage also occurred to the door, track or opener.
- The disconnect switch is enabled. All automatic garage door openers come with a disconnect switch that allows you to safely open your garage door in the event of a power outage. Once this switch or rope is pulled, the garage door is disconnected from the mechanical opener and can be opened manually. Sometimes this switch can accidentally be pulled or become unhooked by a large object that you’re carrying in through the garage. In order for the garage door opener to open the door again, you’ll need to reattach the hook on the opener to the garage door.
Types of Garage Door Materials
If the time has come for you to replace your garage door, there are many options and materials available to choose from on the market today. Here are five material types frequently used for garage doors and why they may be a good choice for you:
- Steel — Steel is a good heavy-duty garage door material. It requires less maintenance than a wood door, but it dents more easily than a composite or vinyl door. If something dents the door, this could expose it to rusting. And once the door rusts, it will need to be replaced. We recommend that you clean steel doors at least once per year with a household detergent and warm water, to remove any build up that may damage the surface area. Steel garage doors are relatively inexpensive, low maintenance and come in a variety of cosmetic options. They can even imitate the look of a wooden garage door, making them an all-around good choice.
- Wood — If you’re looking for curb appeal, then wood may be the material for you. Wooden garage doors are highly customizable, and come in different designs and decorative styles, including the popular carriage house style. Wooden doors will need to be stained on all 6 sides before installation, in order to prevent warping and discoloration of the wood. It may be necessary to reapply the finish periodically to ensure the wood stays sealed and no water damage occurs. Wood tends to be higher priced than other materials, as it requires individual customization and manufacturing for each door.
- Composite — Composite garage doors typically have a wood frame covered with pieces of composite. The composite is molded to look like real wood, but it’s made of sturdy fiberboard that won’t warp or crack. Composite is an excellent substitute for a wood door, giving it a similar look at a less expensive cost.
- Aluminum — Aluminum garage doors usually consist of an aluminum frame with fiberglass inserts. Both are lightweight materials and have a good resistance to corrosion from salt water, making them an excellent choice for someone who lives near the ocean. However, they don’t have great insulating properties, so these materials aren’t typically used inland. Also, since these are both such lightweight materials, aluminum can easily become dented, and fiberglass can break upon impact by a car or even a baseball.
- Vinyl — Vinyl is a popular material choice for garage doors. It’s difficult to dent or break vinyl, and it doesn’t require much maintenance. Vinyl is typically built onto a steel frame, making it a durable choice. There aren’t as many decorative options for vinyl doors as there are for other materials, but the cost is typically less than other types of garage doors.
Extra Accents for Garage Doors
Whether you’re looking to stand out from the other houses on your block, or you simply want to love the look and function of your new garage door, there are plenty of extra accents that make your garage door attractive and functional.
- Carriage house doors replicate the look of doors found on barns and carriage houses in the 1800’s. These doors were much more elaborate and decorative than the functional garage doors we’re used to seeing today. Back then, these doors were made mostly from wood, but now they can also be made from steel and composite. This style is more expensive than a basic garage door because of the customization and extra paneling required, but that extra cost will go miles when you’re looking to add beautiful curb appeal to your home.
- You can also customize your door by adding some choice hardware. Adding a handle or hinge set to the door can give it extra visual appeal. You can even attach decorative studs to the perimeter of a few panels to make it feel like you’re entering a medieval castle. Obviously, this hardware won’t serve any functional purpose, but it will add unique details to your garage door. Adding just a few ornamental elements can take your garage door from plain to stunning!
- You could put windows in garage doors to give extra visual appeal on the outside, and let natural light shine in on the inside. They can be placed in any section of the door, but typically they’re placed at the top or second row of panels to allow the most natural light into the garage. If you’re concerned about safety for your garage doors but still like the look of the windows, rest assured. Garage door windows made from tempered glass are stronger than traditional glass windows, and resists breaking. You can also add beautiful etched designs into the window panels to add extra décor, or add frosted glass to the entire panel so no one can see directly into your garage.
- Custom sizes are available for garage doors if you want something other than the standard door. Standard single garage doors measure between 8 and 10 feet wide by 7 feet high. Standard double garage doors measure between 12 and 16 feet wide and 7 feet high. Having a garage door made to fit one of these sizes will be the cheapest option as there will be many readily available doors to choose from. However, other sizes can be made to accommodate your needs, whether they be a taller or wider. Just plan on spending a bit more for a custom size garage door than you would for a standard size.
- Energy efficient garage doors are insulated to add a layer of protection from the outside weather from entering your home through your garage. Most garages are uninsulated, since the garage isn’t a place where you typically spend a lot of time. An insulated garage and garage door will help reduce the amount of heat or cold that enters into your garage, and ultimately your home. If your garage is attached to your home or if there is living space above your garage, this may be something to consider in order to reduce your heating and cooling bills. If you use your garage as a workspace and generally spend a lot of time in there, adding insulated doors will make your time in the garage more enjoyable. An insulated garage door is also quieter than a regular garage door as the insulation will act as a buffer to reduce the frequency of noise from the outside.
Are Garage Door Locks Necessary?
It may seem like a no-brainer that you want to add a lock to your garage door. However, if you have a motorized garage door opener, it may not be necessary at all. These electronic doors and motors function as the lock, and the door is virtually impossible to open and close manually. The only time someone will be able to open the door without the motor is when the disconnect cord is pulled to release the garage door from the opener. Many garage door technicians advise against installing locks on motorized garage doors, because it can be easy for a child or friend to accidentally engage the lock. Once engaged, they may try to open the door with the opener, causing irreversible damage to your door. The lock prevents the door from opening, while the motorized opener is trying as hard as it can to pull the door up. This could end up severely damaging the doors or breaking the tracks.
If you don’t have a motorized opener installed on your garage doors, then it’s very necessary to install a locking mechanism on the door. Otherwise, the doors could be an easy entryway for an outside intruder.
Call Stapley Action for Your Garage Door Needs!
At Stapley Action Garage Door we know the ins and outs of everything garage related. Since 1986, we’ve been performing superior garage door service in Phoenix, AZ and beyond, so you can trust us to handle all of your garage door repair and replacement needs. Not sure if your garage door or torsion spring needs to be fixed? Call us today to schedule your garage door replacement or contact us or call us at 480-655-1255 with any questions or concerns about your current garage door situation.