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How To Install a Garage Door

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Photo courtesy GarageDoorsMesa via youtube.com
There are both aesthetic and functional reasons that may make you want to install a new garage door. From an aesthetic standpoint, consider that the garage door is one of the most visible features of many houses. It is often the most prominent part of the house facing the street. A worn, sagging garage door can make even the nicest house look troubled, while a new garage door can add luster to an otherwise plain-looking house.

And, from a functional standpoint, if your garage door is no longer working as it should, it may be beyond repair and in need of replacement. Before jumping to that conclusion, however, it pays to make sure that you don't have an easily fixable problem, especially if you are happy with the appearance of your garage door. Start by doing some garage door troubleshooting, which may help you diagnose the problem. Then see if performing these simple maintenance activities gets your door back in good operating condition. If noise is your primary complaint, check out How To Quiet a Noisy Garage Door for repair suggestions.

Note that if the problem is simply that your garage door won't open, the cause may well be with the garage door opener, rather than the door itself. If this is the case, replacing the door will not fix a thing. Learn how to figure out what's wrong with a garage door opener by reading Troubleshooting the Most Common Garage Door Opener Problems.

Check the Springs

If you are still convinced that you want to install a new garage door, you need to ensure that you have the type of spring system that can be safely handled by a DIYer. A thorough discussion of garage door springs can be found here. Pay particular attention to the discussion of the two types of springs in that article.

As a general rule, you are more likely to find torsion springs on double-wide doors and extension springs on doors to one-car garages. Torsion springs are stronger and safer in operation, but they are anything but safe to work on. Releasing and adding tension to torsion springs requires special tools and careful attention to detail, and as far as I'm concerned, it also requires the services of a professional. Extension springs are much easier for a DIYer to handle. Note that having torsion springs does not necessarily mean that you can't do the rest of the work yourself. You may be able to call in a pro to handle the springs, leaving you with the job of installing the door. (See How To Find the Best Garage Door Installers and Repairmen for tips.)

Shopping for a new garage door can be a bit more complicated than you expect. There are a seemingly endless supply of materials, styles, colors and features to choose from. For some basic guidance, see Shopping for a New Garage Door for further information. Once you've bought your new door, it's time to get to work with the installation. Here's what to do:

1. Gather Your Tools

Installing a garage door does not require any special tools. For most installations you will need only a socket wrench (or a drill with socket attachment) and sockets, hammer and screwdrivers, tape measure, level and C-clamps or locking pliers.

2. Remove the Springs and Door

Note that this step applies only to extensions springs, which are mounted over the horizontal tracks on each side. Torsion springs, mounted above the door opening, need to have their tension relieved by a professional. See How To Remove a Garage Door for step-by-step instructions on door removal.

3. Remove the Old Track

It is often possible to reuse the existing track, which can cut down on the time needed to install your new door. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind before making this decision. First, the warranty on your new door may be invalid if it is not installed in new track recommended by the manufacturer. Second, some garage doors work best in the specific type of track made for the door.

If you want to reuse the track, you need to make sure that the new door is exactly the same width and that the rollers included with the door fit the track properly. Otherwise, remove the screws holding the track supports in place, and them remove the track.

4. Attach Weatherstripping

Begin assembling the new door by attaching the weatherstripping. Weatherstripping really performs two functions. It seals the gap between the door and the floor, keeping the weather out (thus the name). But it also protects the bottom of the door, adding a little cushion to its landing. So take care to attach the weatherstripping as directed by the manufacturer. Most products slip into place easily.

5. Assemble the Bottom Panel

With the weatherstripping in place, attach the bottom bracket on each side of the door. This bracket holds the cable that attaches to the springs, and with most new doors it needs to be installed on top of the weatherstripping. You should have the necessary fasteners in the hardware packet that came with the new door. Next, attach the hinges to the door. Set the door in the opening, driving nails in the jamb on each side to hold it in place.

6. Assemble and Attach Remaining Panels

Fasten hinges to the tops of the remaining panels. Then, one by one, set the panels on top of each other, again using nails to temporarily hold them in place. Finish attaching hinges to both doors as you stack them. When finished, slide rollers into each side of each panel.

7. Install Tracks

Slide the horizontal track over the rollers on each side, and then fasten the track to the frame. Next, attach the vertical track to the horizontal track, and then attach the track to the angle iron fastened to the ceiling.

8. Attach the Springs

Reattach the old springs. If you are installing new springs, assemble them as directed by the manufacturer.

With the door assembled and mounted, and the springs back in place, test the door manually, opening and closing several times. Once you are satisfied that it is operating smoothly, plug the garage door opener back in.

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