a Garage Door Opener

Garage Guides: Can You Install a Garage Door Opener Yourself?

Garage door components are made to last for years, even decades. But like everything else, they will eventually wear out. This includes automatic garage door openers.

Even if your current opener is functioning, you may be ready for an upgrade. Innovations in technology have brought advances in automatic door openers that afford a myriad conveniences. Examples are compatibility with smart home systems and anti-burglary measures.

Whether you are trying to replace or install a garage door opener for the first time, you may be wondering what the process entails. DIY installation can save you money and be more straightforward than you think, but success depends on several variables, including the extent of structural modifications you have to make.

The information below will lay out the basic steps of garage door opener installation. It will help you decide if you want to tackle the project on your own or call a pro.

Select the Right Opener

You may be wondering: How does a garage door opener work? The short answer is that it uses an electric motor to run a carriage along a track mounted on the ceiling. The carriage attaches to the door with a metal arm that moves it up and down.

Most motors use radio frequency that relay to the remote opening devices; including the wall button and those you can use in your vehicle.

Be sure to buy a motor that is compatible with your door. In general, the horsepower (HP) reading should be:

  • ½ HP for single sectional or double sectional doors, or those made of lightweight material such as aluminum or vinyl, or even non-insulated steel doors
  • ¾ HP for double sectional insulated doors, or heavier doors like those made of wood
  • 1 to 1 ¼ HP for oversized doors

You also will want to decide on the drive type. Chain-driven openers are the most budget-friendly, but they tend to be noisier. Belt drives are quieter and need less maintenance (which make it worth the additional expense).

Screw drives are a mid-range option. These have a long, threaded rod that operates the door. Screw drives are also the noisiest and requires the most maintenance.

Additionally, consider what kind of remote entry components you would like. Dual-frequency controls are less likely to interfere with your neighbors’ systems. Installing a keypad allows you to open the door from the outside if you have lost your remote or forgot it at home.

Prioritize Safety

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, thousands of garage-door-related injuries happen every year in the United States. To prevent these from happening at your home, it is imperative that you properly install your garage door opener.

The law requires all automatic garage door openers in the United States to have safety reverse mechanisms. These are sensors that detect movement under the door when it is lowering and triggers the motor to lift the door back up. It is important to test this operation after installation is complete.

You will probably need more than one person to install the motor and track since it requires mounting onto the ceiling. Attempting the task alone may be more trouble than it is worth and potentially dangerous.

Basic Install Steps

Most reputable garage door openers will include instructions. Be sure to go over these carefully since installation can vary by type and manufacturer.

Assemble the rail first, including the clamps used to hang it from the ceiling and secure it to the motor, and install the bracket for mounting the rail to the wall above your door.

A good way to keep the motor in place while you mount the horizontal track and other parts is to set it on a ladder. This also allows you to measure the lengths of the angle iron that suspend the motor.

Once the motor is hung and the rail attached, attach the metal arm that runs from the rail to the door. Finally, install the auto-reverse sensors and wiring. Install the sensors so the beams are no higher than 6 inches off the ground.

If you are replacing an opener system and decide to leave some working parts, like wiring or the angle iron hanger, be sure that they are in good working shape. If not, it is worth the time and effort to switch them out with the new components that came with your opener.

Fine-Tune Operation

Besides checking the automatic reverse sensors, adjust the closing force of your door. Place a 2×4 piece of wood flat so that the door contacts it when closing. When the door hits the wood, it should stop and reverse.

If it doesn’t reverse, decrease the closing strength. If it reverses before it gets to the wood, increase its closing strength.

Call a Professional

DIY can save you money, but it can also cost you time and threaten safety. You don’t want to spend whole days trying to tackle a task that a professional could knock out in a few hours. And you don’t want to run the risk of improper installation that causes damage to your system, garage door, or home.

Besides limitations on your own experience or knowledge with installation, there are a few situations where you will want to contact a professional. For instance, running wiring is a much more complex endeavor, one that requires specific knowledge. If you are uncertain about how to mount certain components, eliminate the worry by contacting someone who is. 

A good rule-of-thumb is that you need to be comfortable with whatever modifications are necessary. If installing a garage door opener requires tasks that are far outside the instruction manual, then you may want to call a professional. A trained technician will be able to tackle any challenges that the job demands.

Professionals like those at Ohana Garage Doors not only can complete the task more quickly and more accurately, but they also are able to provide you with a professional grade opener that you otherwise would not find at the big box stores.

Have a Garage Door Opener Installed Today

Now that you have a sense of what installing a garage door opener entails, you can decide if it’s a task you can tackle. 

If you need assistance installing a garage door opener and live in Cypress or other West Houston suburbs, our team is here to help. We also do repairs on existing opener systems, so we may be able to help you avoid the cost of buying an entirely new one. Contact us today for scheduling.