How to Install a Garage Door Opener

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Installing an automatic garage door opener isn't a job for an inexperienced DIY'er, but it's certainly a job that an experienced homeowner can accomplish in a day. If you can use a drill, fasten screws, don't mind working on a ladder and understand some basic wiring, you can install a garage door opener. Remember that garage door openers are very manufacturer specific, so read and follow the instructions that come with your garage door opener.

Things You'll Need

  • Garage door opener
  • Power drill and drill bits
  • Hammer, wrenches, screwdrivers and pliers
  • Reinforcing steel (for lightweight garage doors)
  • Solid stepladder
  • Possibly some 1" or 2" lumber for mounting boards
  • Gather all the materials to complete the project.

  • Decide what type of garage door opener you want to install. Automatic openers are available that use chain drives, belt drives or screw drives. This article will discuss chain drive mechanisms.

  • Look at your garage door, the surrounding construction and the garage ceiling itself. You need to be able to firmly fasten the header bracket above the door and the power unit to the ceiling. If you have a lightweight door, you will need to install garage door stiffeners on the door itself. T-brackets are usually available at a home store or where you bought your garage door opener.

  • Open the box the opener came in and take out all the parts. Check to make sure the box has all the parts you will need.

  • Assemble the rail and insert it into the power unit.

  • Position the slider/traveler unit onto the rail, and then fix the idler pulley on the opposite end of the rail.

  • Attach the chain to the traveler, run it around the drive wheels on the power unit and then loop it around the idler pulley and back to the traveler. Attach the chain ends together with the retaining clip (provided).

  • Find the center point of your garage door and determine if you need to install a mounting board for the header bracket on the garage wall above that point. The header bracket needs to have solid support, like a piece of 2x6 bolted across the garage framing.

  • Mount the header at the height specified by the manufacturer, then attach the idler assembly.

  • Lift the power unit above the garage door rails and hold it in place (a piece of 2 x 4 across the top of the door tracks will do).

  • Fasten the power unit to the garage ceiling joists or ceiling with the mounting straps provided in your kit. You may need to fasten a piece of 1" x 6" across the joists to attach the power unit to the framing lumber.

  • Raise the door manually to ensure the door clears the power unit. If it hits, raise the header bracket and the power unit. Most manufacturers want the mounting bracket to be approximately 1" higher than the power unit.

  • Fasten the linkage assembly (provided) to the traveler. This will attach the opener to the door bracket.

  • Center and attach the door bracket at the manufacturer's specified location (usually 3" to 6" from the top of the door).

  • Mount the control panel on the garage wall and run the wires from the control panel to the power unit (usually up the walls and across the ceiling). Staple the wires (being careful not to put a staple through a wire), so they are out of the way.

  • Attach the power unit to the power supply. Llocal codes vary, this can be a grounded outlet or a permanently wired connection.

  • Install the sensors as per manufacturers instructions

  • Connect the door bracket to the linkage assembly on the traveler.

  • Test the travel limits of the opener and adjust if necessary (follow manufacturer's instructions).

  • Test the protection systems as per manufacturer instructions.

Tips & Warnings

  • A garage door is opened and closed by springs, cables and pulleys, not the garage door opener. If your door is difficult to open manually, a garage door opener won't fix it. Be sure your garage door operates smoothly before installing an automatic opener.
  • Test your protection systems on a regular basis.
  • Keep your garage doors clean and lubricate the tracks (use a lubricant made specifically for garage doors that doesn't trap dust and dirt) for trouble free operation.
  • Some garage door openers have battery backup units available. If you have power supply problems in your area, you might want to consider a unit that has this feature.
  • Garage door springs are under a lot of tension. Adjusting springs (particularly torsion springs above the door), is a job best left to professionals who can work on springs safely.
  • If you are going to be working on the wiring for you door opener, always shut off the power at the main breaker.
  • If you're not comfortable working with wiring, have an electrician install the outlet or wire the power supply for your opener.

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