Adventures in Garage Door opening

Our 25 year old garage door opener remotes suddenly stopped working when trying to close the door.  They still work with garage door opening, which is good, but not closing.  Every once and a while it will allow a close, but mostly not at all.  Otherwise it works fine, and the base garage door button works to open and close all the time.

So we looked online and Google (or in DH’s case, Duck Duck Go) was like, you can do this yourself, but do you really want to?  Google said, expect to pay something like $250 for parts for a top of the line opener and $250 for labor.  More if you want to change out the springs and rollers.

So we brought someone out for an estimate.  He said $1K.  Less for a cheaper opener (so, $850 for a $150 opener).  More if we want to replace the entire system.  (He also said probably the reason we’re having the problem we’re having is someone in our neighborhood got a fancy new electronic gadget that interferes with our signals, which isn’t really fixable– you just have to replace the entire thing).

$1K is definitely over-charging.  There is another place in town with no reviews but DH decided rather than call them out, he’d just make this a fun labor day weekend bonding experience with DC1.

So he ordered a new garage door opener from Home Depot (not sponsored) and picked it up curbside.  After some contemplation he decided he wanted an opener that is quieter and opens faster even if it requires annual maintenance (I would not have made this choice– I would have gone with doesn’t require me to do anything even if it’s slow and loud).  Apparently he got a screw drive, which is the quickest of three types and quieter than the chain (the belt drive is quietist):  chain, belt drive, and screw drive.  He also says he likes screw drives because they’re used in his 3d printer and in robots and although he is not technically a mechanical engineer, he sometimes has played one professionally and in graduate school and he appreciates the technology.  Appreciating the technology drives a lot of our big purchases in Casa Grumpy.  (I would have picked the chain because we’ve got a chain and it seems pretty durable.)  Total cost:  $235.

When he started taking the old opener down, he realized that the builder made a mistake in terms of reinforcement in the middle of the garage door– they misjudged where the middle was, so the studs/joint were too far to the left.  The previous garage door installer just bolted it into the left side and left the right side completely unbolted.  So DH added another piece of wood with wood glue and a bracket (there are physics involved).  He plans to reinforce later.

There were a number of other problems.  Bolts that were put in super tight.  Wires that were too short that he had to extend (he soldered one and capped the rest).  The new opener is a different size so the brackets had to be swapped out and moved. He forgot a screw after putting it in and had to take it out and put it back in again.

All told it took about 7 hours.  DC1 helped off and on, which should be a good learning experience(?)  And now we have a working garage door opener!

DH is thinking about changing out the rollers but not the springs later.  Rollers would be like $25.  We’ll see if it happens.

The new opener is definitely faster than the old one.  DH says it isn’t as loud, but it seems plenty loud to me.

Have you ever had to replace a garage door opener?  Did you pay someone or do it yourself?

20 Responses to “Adventures in Garage Door opening”

  1. Michael Nitabach Says:

    I got exhausted just reading that! 😹😹😹

  2. Katherine Says:

    We need to do something about our garage door opener … it opens fine, but if the weather is not perfect it sticks on the way down when we shut it. It gets about halfway down, then stops and reverses back up. We are both mathematicians, not engineers and we do not have the bandwidth right now to try to figure out what the problem is or fix it ourselves. I’m not even sure either of us has the bandwidth to figure out who to call to outsource it, but I think I am getting to the point where my annoyance/rage at having to push the button four or five times when I need the garage door to close outweighs the mental load of finding and calling a repair person.

    Good for your DH (and DC1) for fixing this themselves!

  3. Foscavista Says:

    “He also said probably the reason we’re having the problem we’re having is someone in our neighborhood got a fancy new electronic gadget that interferes with our signals, which isn’t really fixable– you just have to replace the entire thing.”

    That seems shady AF.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Who knows! That is also not my mental model of this kind of interference worked (if our garage door were opening and closing on its own, I would believe it was someone else). I’d be more likely to guess some receiver thing needed to be replaced.

      In any case, DH replaced it instead of him.

  4. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    We once got a tricycle stuck on the garage door and the whole opener thing exploded off the tracks ( We had to take apart the garage door with wrenches to get it to close. And then I don’t remember what happened except it took us months to fix it and the chain (which is like a bicycle chain kinda) had popped apart and was very difficult to re-assemble. There was also something unpleasant with springs. If I’d had the money, I would totally have paid someone else. (We also had a toddler at the time, and were renovating a whole house. I’m tired just remembering it.)

  5. First Gen American Says:

    We’ve replaced 2 ourselves. I don’t care about noise but our latest one’s remotes are glitchy and a lot harder to press the buttons than our old one. I have to press them multiple times for the remote to engage for both the car and wall opener. I find I have to type in the code just righ…(slow and deliberate but not too slow….) for it to engage while our super old one works fine no matter how fast I do it. (We have two doors). I suspect it was the cheapest one that we purchased, so there is some value to buying an upgraded one because that little annoyance is enough to bug me every time I use it.

    What DH did was a lot of work! It’ sounds like you have a good balance Between doing home improvement projects that make sense and not having it take over your life. We should farm out more of our work but we live in a pricy town and everyone assumes we are rich and most contractors will quote double or triple what a thing should cost so we end up doing almost everything ourselves.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Definitely more work than he expected! But it only took a day, which was less time than I expected, so that’s good.

      There is a lot to be said for getting rid of little annoyances. Today when I leave for work (3 of my students will not be attending because one had covid and the other two are waiting test results) DH won’t have to close the garage door behind me.

  6. Alice Says:

    I had to get one repaired at one point. It developed the habit of only opening 1/3 and then locking itself in position on the coldest days. It would be back to normal when it was warmer, but wicked cold = malfunction. I did pay to have it fixed in Year 2 and would have paid to have it replaced. That sort of thing is not at all in my skill set. And while it is in my husband’s skill set in terms of ability to actually do it, he doesn’t always operate on my timeline for this sort of thing. (Hence not getting it done in Year 1. I have gotten better since then at saying, “look, I’m hiring someone,” sooner.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t know how long it would take me to get something repaired if that were my job (even calling people)… I’m probably worse than your husband!

      • Alice Says:

        I wouldn’t mind so much except he jumps to say he’ll do it and then doesn’t. I genuinely don’t mind hiring things to be done, but I feel weird about hiring someone after he’s said he’ll do it. So– work in progress for both of us!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Fortunately for me, I’m the procrastinator in the relationship! At least about house stuff.

  7. Omdg Says:

    On one hand, I’m super impressed that your husband a) took this on and b) succeeded. On the other, damn that was complicated! It sounds like this is something he enjoys though, so yay for having hobbies that help the household! Mine just likes playing guitar. Badly.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t know that he enjoyed it so much as he thought it was better than getting the other people out or being overcharged and then them sucking and him having to fix it anyway. We still get heavy stress when we pay people a lot for something we could have done ourselves and then they do a terrible job.

      My DH cycles through hobbies. The only actually useful one is baking. Maybe also the 3D printing hobby since he also uses it for work. But he generally keeps within his allowance plus gifts so…

  8. K Says:

    If I only have say, $5,$10 or $25 right now where is the best place to donate, in this present life or death election?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Great question and I do not know the answer, but maybe someone from Grumpy Nation will.

      Probably can also brainstorm about free things to do, particularly those that don’t take much time. Those will probably focus on getting your friends and acquaintances to check their voter registration and make sure they’re registered.

      Not this Friday though because this week is crazy. I hope I survive to the election… and I hope we all survive after it.

  9. Funny about Money Says:

    Probably would be a good idea to have a pro check to be sure the work was done right. Not that it wasn’t…but if yours is the type of door that’s hung on large springs to the left and the right, those are quite dangerous. If you mess up and one of them decides to break, someone could get hurt. Some things…it’s just not worth saving a few bucks to DIY.

  10. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    Eesh, I both admire DH’s fortitude and am blanching at the amount of time that took.

    I’m not looking forward to having to replace ours, but if the time comes sooner than I like, I am hoping we can get one that has a battery backup for power outages. Planning ahead just in case I get stuck home without power and am unable to heave that door open alone X_X.

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