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Angie's List: What do I need to know about garage door installation?

Paul F. P. Pogue
Angie's List

Garage doors play an important role in your home. Not only are they a first line of security defense, but they’re a critical defining element in your home’s look and can save energy. The average garage door replacement costs between $600 and $2,500. Here are tips from industry experts for putting your plans in motion and successfully completing a garage door installation.

Consider curb appeal

Garage doors are one of the most visible and largest features of your house. They have one of the highest returns on investment of any home improvement. Plus, they’re a long-term investment that will define your home for many years. So, consider your choices carefully when installing.

Garage doors and openers are complex pieces of equipment with many moving parts.  It's best to let a professional handle them.

Don’t DIY

This isn’t the kind of job where you can Google “how to install a garage door” and figure it out in an afternoon. Garage door installation and repair involves a lot of moving parts, specialized tools, and carefully calibrated spring tension. You can very easily cause expensive damage to your door, or even seriously injure yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing. Leave this one to the professionals.

Pay attention to regular maintenance

Homeowners should have their garage door maintained at least once every 18 to 24 months, if not once a year, experts say. You can avoid a lot of problems with basic maintenance. Garage doors and openers involve chains, lifting weight, and many moving parts. All these elements should be lubricated to add years of life to your garage door.

Check the photo eyes if you have trouble

One exception to the DIY rule: checking alignment on photoelectric eyes. Most garage doors feature photo eyes as a safety feature, which deactivate the garage door if they sense an object coming through. They can easily get out of alignment and prevent the door from closing. Pros suggest checking on that first if the door’s not closing, but to call a professional for any other problems.

Make sure you have an electrical outlet in the ceiling for the garage door opener

You may need to hire a licensed electrician to run a line in this case. Don’t just connect it to an extension cord – that can be a fire hazard and is against building code in many locales.

Don’t forget your local rules

Whether it’s local covenants or municipal laws that call for permits for a garage door, make sure your contractor works under those regulations to avoid unpleasant surprises later. You don’t want to install an expensive door only to find out that your town or homeowner’s association covenants don’t allow it.

Give your installer room to work

Installing a garage door takes a considerable amount of space, which pros say they don’t always get. Some report that they show up at garages so packed, they can’t even get the door open! Installers should be able to get at least 10 feet into the garage.

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