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How to get a Jaw Dropping Garage Door

shutterstock_89979706Garage doors come in many different materials and styles. You can have a plain and mundane garage door, a smart and stylish steel door, faux or real wood carriage style. For a garage door that will really turn heads though, how about having one that doesn’t even look like a garage door? Did you know you can buy garage door artwork which will fool passersby and visitors into seeing something completely different?

Garage Door Stick-on Murals

There is a growing trend in garage door decoration, which started in Europe and is beginning to take off here in the United States. Weatherproof 3D murals, made especially for garage doors can transform even the ugliest door into an amazing work of art. In fact the images are so realistic, they might not be a good idea for anyone living at the side of a busy road, for fear of causing accidents.

Costing anything from $200 to $500, the murals attach to the door of your garage using magnets or Velcro. Made from durable material used for commercial outdoor advertising, these amazing prints are easy to attach and remove. If you have the budget and a penchant for collecting, you could even have a range of murals to interchange whenever you fancy a change.

Eye-Popping Motif Designs

Many of the murals make your garage look as if the door is open, with an exotic car, motorcycle, boat or even a jet fighter parked inside a stunningly realistic garage interior. Far from being limited to transportation themes though, you can fool onlookers into believing you have a giant crocodile or an elephant captive in your garage. How about a garage full of gold bullion? Just make sure you secure your garage well though as this might attract thieves, so realistic are the images.

Other murals use images such as a fully-stocked wine cellar, music studio, and platform of an underground metro station complete with train. There are also beautiful cityscape and landscape images to choose from. If you have a double or even a triple garage, you can have an image in two or three parts. When each part is fitted onto a respective door, the result is an image which extends across the front of your garage to make it look as if you have a ship or jumbo jet stored in there.

Check Local Regulations

If you do have a mind to purchase any of these murals, be sure to check with your city first. Otherwise you may be forced to take it down, which would spoil all the fun. If your garage is in plain sight of your neighbors, it’s a good idea to canvas their opinions too. Some people just don’t want to see anything which stands out too much.

The beauty of garage-door murals is their impermanency as well as their visual impact. If you are putting your home on the market, for example, you can easily take the mural down: potential buyers may not have your taste in artwork, after all. These images might not be for everyone, but if you really fancy doing something different with your garage door’s presentation, they make an unusual and fascinating focal point in the approach to your home.


How to Maintain a Chain Drive Garage Door Opener

downloadWide availability and inexpensive purchase cost is what makes chain drive garage door openers among the most widely used in the United States. They also have the benefit of being quite easy to maintain yourself. With a bit of regular attention, you chain drive opener should give you many years of trouble-free service. Here are a few tips to keep your opener in top condition.

Check for Loose Nuts, Bolts and Screws

Even the best chain drive opener is subject to some vibration in use, due to the way it’s engineered. This can result in hardware working loose over a period of time. Therefore it pays to inspect all the associated nuts, bolts and screws every few months. Tighten up any that have started to loosen. Neglecting this simple task can result in a broken or binding chain eventually, or perhaps even parts falling free and getting damaged.

Lubricate the Chain

The vibration generated by a chain drive opener can be greatly reduced if you lubricate the chain occasionally. You just need to use light machine oil or WD-40 for this. Apart from helping the door opener mechanism to run smoothly, keeping your chain oiled will also reduce noise from the opener and help the door to open and close smoothly, reducing the load on the motor.

Remove any Slack from the Chain

Check the chain on your door opener for slack once a year. If there is slack in the chain, you can get rid of it by turning the limit screw on the power unit until the chain is taught. Be careful not to over-tighten the chain though. Slack is sure to develop in the chain from time to time as it stretches. However, it’s important to reduce this slack; otherwise the door will close heavily and/or will not open all the way.

Door Rails and Rollers

As well as the chain drive itself, certain parts of your garage door assembly also require maintenance to extend the life of your door opener. You just need to occasionally address the following points:

  • check the door rail fastenings occasionally and tighten them if required
  • Lubricate the door rails lightly
  • Check the rollers to make sure they are all turning freely

If any of the door rollers are sticking, you might need to replace them. However, do NOT attempt to replace the bottom rollers yourself. This is a task for a professional garage door technician.

Don’t Forget the Light

Most garage door openers come with a light fitted. This is used to light up the garage when the door is opened. Every six months or so you should remove the transparent light cover and give it a clean. Also give the inside of the light area a wipe out. To make sure you never have to deal with a failed bulb plunging you into darkness, it’s worth replacing the bulb every 18 months.

All of these maintenance tasks are easy to perform yourself and will make a big difference to the life expectancy of your chain drive door opener. While a chain driver opener is relatively inexpensive to purchase, a little preventative care will save you having to replace yours before its time.


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Some Old and New Tips for Garage Door Security

dog_garageSometimes, good advice bears occasional reiteration. When it comes to keeping your home safe from intruders, you can never have enough tips and tricks up your sleeve. Your garage door is the largest portal into your home so it’s vital to secure it in every way possible against those who would use it as a way to gain unlawful entry.

Here are a few hints and tips to maximize the protection offered by your garage door. Some of them you will have seen before and some of them will hopefully be new to you. Feel free to take away the ones you think are most useful and be proactive in keeping would be intruders at bay.

Automatic Door Opener Security Tips

#1 Don’t let a car break-in become a home intrusion. Always remove your garage door opener remote from your car and take it with you, either into your home or wherever else you are going. If thieves break into your car and find the remote, they may well use it to gain access to your garage and take away whatever you have stored in there. Worse yet, from your garage they may try to get inside the rest of your home.

#2 Keep your door opener remote on your key fob or chain. This is the best way to avoid leaving the remote in your car inadvertently. If the remote control for your door opener is attached to your car keys, you be highly unlikely to leave it in your car by accident.

#3 Invest in a door opener which uses rolling code technology. With rolling code protection, your door opener remote transmits a brand new code every time you press the open or close button. With more than 100 billion codes, it’s highly unlikely that even hi-tech thieves with code grabbing devices will be able to get your garage door open.

Tips for Physically Securing Your Garage Door

#1 In case you are ever unfortunate enough to have someone break into your garage, a wide-angle peephole, installed in the internal door of your garage will let you investigate without opening the door. If you hear unusual noises coming from your garage, you can just use the peephole to see if you have any unwanted visitors.

#2 If your garage door is one with windows installed, it can pay to replace clear glass with a frosted design. This prevents would be burglars from seeing what’s inside your garage. Most housebreakers are opportunists and if they can see items worth stealing, are more likely to try and force your garage door.

#3 If you have an automatic door opener, the emergency manual release can be a weak point for security. This emergency release is often situated fairly close to the garage door. A cunning intruder may be able to trip the manual release by using a coat hanger, or something similar, inserted through the small gap between door and frame. To stop this from happening, secure the emergency release with a couple of cable ties. This will make it impossible for anyone to trip the mechanism from outside.

Many homes are broken into daily via the garage door. If you follow the tips described here, you can greatly reduce your chances of joining the list of people whose homes have been violated.

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7 Steps to Fixing Your Peeling Garage Door

weather stripIf you have a painted steel garage door you may, at some point find the paint starts to peel from the surface. Unlike wooden surfaces, steel doesn’t accept paint readily and if the wrong type of paint was used, or the garage door surface wasn’t prepared sufficiently, the paint can eventually lose adherence. However, although unsightly, it’s not the end of the world and you can easily patch up your paintwork and have the door looking attractive again.

7 Simple Steps to Fix That Peeling Paintwork

Before getting under way with the steps to fix your steel door paintwork, here are the items you’ll need:

  • Paint roller and tray
  • Paint brush
  • A pair of rubber gloves
  • Putty knife
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Medium grade sandpaper
  • A sponge and a cloth
  • A garden hose
  • Acrylic-latex exterior garage door paint
  • Steel primer

Step 1: Use your metal putty knife to scrape all peeling, bubbling or chipped paint from the surface of the door.

Step 2: Use the sandpaper to roughen up the bare door surface in the areas where you scraped the paint away.

Step 3: Using a solution of two gallons of warm water with 1/3 of a cup of trisodium phosphate added, wash the door down with the sponge. This is where you need to have the rubber gloves on, to protect them from the soap solution.

Step 4: Rinse the door down using the garden hose.

Step 5: Use your clean, dry cloth to wipe all moisture from the bare areas of the door.

Step 6: Coat the bare areas of the door with the steel primer. Give the primer at least a couple of hours to dry before continuing with the next step.

Step 7: Finally, paint the entire garage door with a coat of acrylic-latex exterior paint, using the roller and tray.

An Extra Tip

Before you carry out step 7, it can be a good idea to test the exterior paint on a small section of the door. Just use your paint brush to apply a small square of paint. Leave it to dry for a couple of hours and then stick a strip of masking tape to the test square and peel it off again immediately.

If the paint comes away from the door on the masking tape, you will know that is hasn’t “taken” and will peel again or bubble after you have painted the whole door. The reason for the paint failing to stick is probably one of the following:

  • Outside air temperature is too warm or cool
  • The air is too humid
  • You have tried to use the wrong kind of paint

Take a look on the paint can to find the temperature range recommended for applying the paint. If the actual air temperature is outside of the stated range, wait until the temperature is correct and test once more. If the paint comes away a second time when you apply tape to it, you should probably get some advice from the store where you bought the paint.

By following the seven steps above, you can soon have your peeling steel door looking great again and adding to the curb appeal your home deserves.



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How to Maximize the Life of Your Garage Door

garage doorHow long should you expect a garage door to last you after installation? The answer to that question depends a lot on how much care you lavish upon it. A great many homeowners with garages tend to forget about their garage door once it’s in place and only pay it any mind when it starts to get noisy, refuses to open and close smoothly or when something breaks.

With just a little care and attention though, you can maximize the life of your garage door and 20 years is certainly not an unrealistic lifespan. However some of the key hardware components will certainly need replacing in this time.

How Long Should Garage Door Hardware Last?

Most of the hardware which keeps the door to your garage working is designed to last between five and seven years. These hardware parts consist of springs, cables, rollers, bearings, drums, hinges and brackets. By paying some attention to these items once a year, you can extend their life and that of your door. The important tasks to perform annually are:

  • Inspect the cables for any signs of fraying
  • Lubricate the door hinges
  • Check the door’s balance
  • Open and close the door manually and check that it’s running smoothly up and down

Checking the balance of the door is, of course, particularly important if it’s equipped with an automatic opener. Automatic openers are only designed to guide a balanced door up and down. If your door is out of balance because of fatigued springs, the opener has to work hard to physically take the weight of the door and “pull” it open. This will seriously shorten the life of your automatic opener.

Your door springs will probably need replacing once during a ten-year period, even if no other parts require replacement. The second time you need to replace the springs, which will hopefully be after ten years have passed, you should also replace the bearings and the rollers as a matter of routine.

Checking the Bearings

Ideally, rather than waiting for the second spring change, you should check the end bearings every two to three years. A visual inspection will suffice. All you need to do is look on the outside of the door tracks where the end of the torsion tube sticks out from the end bearings. If the ends of the tube are covered with greasy black smudges, it means the bearings will have lost some of their lubrication. Another way to check is to climb up on a step ladder and check the horizontal part of the tracks just under the end bearings. If you see any metal shavings that have collected there, you know for sure that the end bearings need to be replaced.

To close this post, here are a few words of caution. If you do identify that the end bearings of your garage door need replacement, do NOT try to work on them yourself. This is definitely a job for your local garage door repair service. If you carry out the simple checks and tasks described here and get your bearings and springs replaced when necessary, your garage door should be good for 20 years, if not even longer.

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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.