The garage door is the largest moving object in your home, and if it is under insulated it could be the single largest drain of energy in your home. If you have an attached garage or an insulated garage or living space above the garage, your door should be well insulated.
Insulation is expressed by R-value and is as a measurement of thermal efficiency. The higher the expressed R-value, the more thermally efficient or better insulated the door. For example, the typical R-value for the walls of your house would be R-19 while the typical R-value for your ceiling would be R-32. R-values for insulated residential doors can range anywhere from R-4 to R-17.
A replacement door should come with all-weatherseal, the same color as the door, to fit around the perimeter of the garage door opening. The all-weatherseal will form a tight seal between the garage door and the door jambs. Bottom weatherstrip (to seal between the door and the floor) should also be standard. Some doors also come with a gasket that fits in between or is built in between the sections to better seal the door.
All wood doors need to be painted to protect them form the weather. They come in unfinished Masonite panels and rough sawn (flat) panels. These panels can be covered to create custom carriage house designs. Wood flush doors have an R value of R-4.6 before they are covered.
A steel front, steel back sandwich insulated door is a superior constructed door with 25-gauge steel and high R-value. It will be sturdier, quieter, and it will allow for the greatest R-value with the lowest maintenance. Steel doors come in several different colors pre-painted by the factory, and if one of those colors works for your application, you will not have to paint it. They can be insulated anywhere from R-4 to R-17 depending on the insulation, either polystyrene or polyurethane, with polyurethane offering the highest R-value. A standard steel door is made from 25-gauge steel and should come with a warranty to protect against rust through.
Make sure you ask your sales representative the steel gauge and the R-value.
Many manufacturers have a limited LIFETIME warranty, where they focus on the Lifetime and down play Limited. Usually, warranties will state as long as you own your home, and they wont transfer to the next homeowner.
For garage doors, a good standard warranty offers one year on materials/workmanship and labor. With a steel door you want a lifetime warranty against rust through. Some door warranties will specify that you must use their opener on the door or the door warranty will be void. So make sure you understand all the terms and conditions of the warranty before you make the purchase.
For openers, the warranty is a little more important because they are more complex. A standard opener warranty would include a year on labor and materials/workmanship with a five (5) year motor warranty. A good warranty will give you three to five (3-5) years on materials/workmanship and a lifetime motor warranty.
With any warranty, you can't collect on it if the company goes out of business. A company with a proven track record and a standard warranty is worth more than a fly-by-night company promising the best warranty in the world. Make sure they can provide the service down the road.
Wood doors can be covered with wood material to create a Carriage House Design. Carriage doors consist of a regular flush panel wood door covered in cedar, alder, oak, etc to meet your needs and desires.
Steel doors come with a wood grain texture in either flush (flat) panel, the popular classic raised panel (squares), or ranch panel (long rectangles). White, brown, almond and sandstone are standard factory applied colors. If none of these colors work for you, the doors can be painted with an exterior latex paint.
Windows and designs can be added for even greater curb appeal. Plain glass, vinyl designs or etched glass can be placed in any panel or section (usually one of the top two sections) to fit your needs. Mail slots, pet doors and even a pet window built into the bottom of the door can be added for your convenience.
It is well worth the price to have a professional install your new door and take down and haul your old door away. Torsion springs require special tools and training to adjust, and if they are not handled properly they can cause severe injury or even death. Professional installers know what they are doing and already have the tools at their disposal to do the job right saving you time, money and headaches. The labor warranty will be voided if you install the door yourself, and warranties dont cover damage done to the door as a result of improper installation if you install the door yourself. This is one instance where do-it-yourselfers should let a professional do it.
An unusual application can range from low headroom to an odd sized door to an uneven concrete floor.
Low Headroom Doors- Doors can be installed with as little as 4-1/2 of headroom between the top of the jamb to the ceiling with extension springs, 6-1/2 with torsion springs, and 9 to include enough room for an opener. Standard headroom is 12 and 15 required for a door and opener.
Odd sized doordoors- Doors come in a variety of standard sizes, many of which can be adapted to fit your application. Door sections are 17, 19, 21, and 24 tall (depending on the door series) and can be used to create an even greater number of heights. For widths, wood doors can be cut down to fit almost any size opening, and steel doors can even be special ordered to fit an odd width. Standard widths are 8,9 and 16. Standard heights are 7 and 8.
Uneven concrete floors- Sometimes a house may settle or a contractor may make a mistake leaving you with an uneven concrete floor. If the imperfection in the floor is minor, the bottom weatherseal on the door may seal it. If the imperfection is major, a wood door can be scribed to fit the uneven floor or a sweep can be applied to help seal a metal door.
If you have an unusual application you should have a professional sales representative visit the job and tell you what can be done. Chances are, he or she has worked with your type of application before and can offer valuable suggestions.
Springs counterbalance the weight of a door and actually lift the door.
Extension springs run parallel to the track to help the door raise and lower. When the door is down, the springs extend. When the door is up they contract. Over time these springs stretch out offering the opener less help with opening the door. Extension springs work independently of each other and wobble back and forth causing more uneven wear on your door parts.
Torsion springs are located above the door opening and generally work together as a pair providing smooth and even operation. They are the superior spring as they are more precisely gauged for the size and weight of your door. Torsion springs offer more control over the door when raising and lowering and are safer than extension springs when they break as they are contained on the torsion bar.
When looking at openers you need to consider three things: strength, safety and security. Openers come in two strengths: 1/3 horse power or 1/2 horse power. If you have a double car door or a heavy covered door you definitely want a 1/2 horse power opener. Single car doors usually require 1/3 horse power. Typically 1/2 horse power openers offer longer warranties and more options.
Safety is very important on openers to protect people and pets from being injured. Any opener should come with at least these three safety features.
Safe-T-Beamphotocells at the bottom of the door shoot an invisible Safe-T-Beam across the opening. If this invisible Safe-T-Beam is broken, while the door is closing, the door will reverse.
Contact Reversethe opener should reverse when the door comes in contact with an object, even if the Safe-T-Beam is not broken. The industry standard is to have the door reverse off of a 2x4 laying flat on the floor.
Timed Reversethe opener should automatically stop and reverse when the door is closing if it fails to close completely within 30 seconds.
For security, openers should have a locking feature that prevents thieves from opening the door by hand while the opener is attached. Another security feature is rolling code technology. This allows the code sent to your opener to roll and change every time you use your handheld transmitter, utilizing billions of different code combinations. High-tech thieves will be unable to duplicate your code to break into your home.
Residential openers come in four different types: Chain Glide, screw drive, belt drive and side mount. A Chain Glide opener is the most popular type. It uses an alternating current (AC) motor and a chain to operate the door. A screw drive opener is quieter using either an AC motor or a direct current (DC) motor and a screw system to operate the door. A DC Motor keeps a constant electrical current running through the motor producing softer stops and starts. The belt drive opener is the quietest using a DC motor and a Kevlar belt to operate the door. Kevlar, ounce per ounce, is five times stronger than steel. The side mount opener is used in special cases where there is not enough room for a regular opener. It uses an AC motor and a direct drive chain system to open and close the door from the side. The Kevlar belt drive is the quietest and requires the least maintenance as both the Chain Glide and screw drive will require lubrication.
Many home improvement stores sell openers in a box that you assemble and install yourself. These box openers come with a boom that must be assembled and metal flat strap to attach the opener head to the ceiling. Professional openers come with a solid full length, one piece boom for greater strength and sturdy, solid 1-1/4 angle iron to attach the opener head to the ceiling. The manufacturers of box openers usually abandon the production of replacement parts in favor of churning out more openers, while the manufacturers of professional openers produce replacement parts for those openers for many more years down the road. Professional opener installers offer a Service Department to go to if you have problems and trained technicians to answer your technical questions.
Openers have a safety release cord that can be pulled to disconnect your door from your opener and operate the door by hand if you have a power outage. Openers are a great convenience, but you should never use them as your sole means of getting into your home. If you have a power outage you wont be able to get into your home through the garage unless you have an emergency key disconnect that allows you to use a key to disconnect the door from the opener from outside of the garage.
SERVICE!!! Even if youre interested in buying a door and/or opener not fixing your old one, but service should be a major consideration on your new door and opener too. Your new door and opener should last a very long time, probably as long as you own your home. You want to select a company that provides excellent service on their products and carries an extensive selection of replacement parts in their service department. This will be important if you ever have to call that company back for warranty work, and also if you need something adjusted ten years down the road. Look for a company that has been providing good service in your area for a long time. Call the Better Business Bureau. Ask your friends who they use. Look for a company involved in your community. These are all indicators that the company has been in business for a long time, plans on being around for a long time and can help you now and years from now.
Companies with no track record promising too good to be true warranties. These are companies who plan on making their money now and skipping town before you call them on that lifetime warranty.
Companies who use more than one name. No, this practice is not illegal, but it is a strategy often used to deceive customers and avoid warranty follow-up.
Companies who will only warranty their door if you use their opener. It is possible for an opener that has been poorly installed to damage a door, but that wouldnt be covered under their warranty anyway.
Companies who are not members of the Better Business Bureau or local Chamber of Commerce.
Companies who subcontract their labor. Who are you going to call for your warranty work? Is the subcontractor insured? If you dont know who is going to your home it is hard to do a background check.
Companies who are not insured. Make sure the company has proper Liability Insurance and Workmans Compensation insurance.
Companies who dont have clearly marked vehicles and uniformed employees. If they arent proud enough of their name to identify themselves how can you expect a professional outcome?
Companies who dont offer a FREE written estimate. A sales representative should be experienced enough to know exactly what they need to complete the job to your specifications before any work begins and be willing to put it in writing.