Archive for June, 2010

Fixing Garage Door Openers

Maintenance of garage door openers and fixing Garage Door Openers are not a big issue for most people. These units are installed by a professional usually and once installed, there is not much that needs to be done with Fixing Garage Door Openersthem. Most will last from 5 to 20 years, some even longer without ever being touched, while others will need some sort of repair or adjustment from time to time.

Maintenance of Automatic Garage Door Openers

As we said there is not much to do, however when you are doing your quarterly check of your garage door ( see previous post) , it is a good idea to check a few things with respect to the automatic garage door opener as well. A simple check can add years to the system if bolts that are loose are tightened and the chain is working properly.

  • check the batteries in the remotes that you use and replace them if required.
  • check the safety stop of the garage door and adjust if needed. The safety stop  makes sure that your door will stop and re-open if it finds that there is something blocking the closing of the door. It is very important to make sure this is working, especially if there are small children around.
  • check that the door fully closes and  fully opens, adjust if required.
  • check the chain, and lubricate if needed. There are other types of mechanisms that are used besides chains. Check in your manual to confirm what kind of lubrication should be used and how often.

Check Your Garage Door Opener First

Automatic garage door openers have become quite inexpensive and as a result you probably will not be able to find anyone who will be wiling to take them apart to repair them.  Even if you can, by the time you pay to have it repaired, you will be pretty close to the cost of a new one.

There are a few basic things you should do to confirm your door opener is really not working before you decide to replace it.

  • check that the batteries for your controllers are working
  • try opening the door with other door openers, including the manual button that most people will have in their homes.
  • check that the power is on and that a circuit breaker has not tripped for some reason, preventing power getting to the garage door opener.
  • disengage the chain from the garage door and try operating the garage door opener. If it works there may be a problem with your door.

Once you have tried all of these steps, you may want to call a repairmen, however there is a big trade off here in terms of what the cost will be to replace the door opener vs repairing it. Most people will opt for replacement since they have become so inexpensive.

Repair or Replace

Of course there are always fancy multi featured door openers that can cost a great deal of money, however the inexpensive ones will cost somewhere between $100 to $200. You can barely get repairmen to show up for $100 these days and before you know it the cost of checking and repairing the system costs more than a new one.  In addition there is no guarantee that he will be able to fix it.

Our conclusion is that if you cannot fix it yourself, then you might as well put a new one in.

There is really not much to a garage door opener. Essentially there are 4 parts. The electric motor, the gear box which connects to the chain. There is a printed circuit board which controls the motor. There is another printed circuit board which receives the transmissions from the remotes. Most units will have these functions combined on one printed circuit board.

Can You Do the Repairs Yourself

If you are not handy at all then you probably will not want to attempt these suggestions in this next section. First of all disconnect the power to prevent any possibility of electrical shock. Secondly, remove the cover on the housing of the door opener. You should be able to observe the 4 components we discussed earlier.

At this point most people will only be able to observe whether there are any loose or frayed wires. They should check that the printed circuit board is properly seated in place. If you cannot see anything obvious, then you are looking at buying a new system. Repair any wires that are frayed or disconnected and then retry opening your door.

Anyone with PCB expertise will probably enjoy the challenge of testing the board. However this is way beyond what most consumers are willing to consider and are able to do.

Replacing a Garage Door Opener

There are many styles and types available. We suggest that you replace like for like if possible to make the entire job easier. There will be less adjustment of existing supports etc. You might even be able to use the same chain if it is still in good shape.

Hire a handyman if you are not comfortable with doing the installation of the automatic garage door opener yourself. This will cost you an additional fee.

Good luck with maintaining your door and saving money. Comments are welcome.

Home Monitoring While on Vacation

Home Monitoring While on VacationThere are a number of basic things you can do and should do prior to going on vacation. This will help to ensure that your home is well looked after and no damage occurs to your home while you are away. Home monitoring while on vacation can save you money. So how does this fall under the general mandate of saving money? Well if you are going to be away, you will want to make sure that your home is looked after with the least cost. You also want to make sure so that your home insurance does not become null and void.

There is much more to it that just having your neighbor look in on your home once and a while. We will discuss a few of the requirements. Also how you can make sure that your cost is minimized, while keeping your home covered and safe.

Why Home Monitoring While on Vacation is Important

Insurance Requirements for Vacant Homes

Many people do not realize it , but their insurance companies have a number of requirements about how homes should be looked after while you are away from home. Most companies require that the water be turned off to avoid any possibility of damage from running water if water pipes are broken somehow and start leaking.

This is particularly important in cold climates were the water could freeze in the water pipes could freeze if the heat is shut off for some reason.

Most home insurance companies will specify time frames for homes to be checked to confirm that security has not been compromised, that the heat is still on and that the water pipes have not frozen. Some will request that they are checked every 48 hours if the water is left on, while others are ok with an entire week if the water is turned off.

Check with your home insurance companies requirements and get it in writing so that you fully understand what is required if you are going to be away from home for an extended period of time.

Make Your Home Look Lived In

The old cliché is that a house that is vacant is an invitation for someone to break in, or something like that. The whole point of this is to re-enforce that you need to make your home looked lived in. Keep the grass cut the weeds pulled, the leaved picked up etc. If you live in a cold climate and plan to be away during the winter, have someone keep the snow cleared, the walk shoveled and advertisements picked up.

Place timers in rooms that you typically occupy and have the lights come on at regular times. Have someone check the timers regularly in case the power has gone off to make sure that they turn on the lights at regular hours. Even having a neighbor place garbage our on garbage day is a good idea.

Who Should You Ask to Check On Your Home

This is a really tough question to answer, since it really depends on your situation. If you have good friends, neighbors or family that you can depend on. Have them check on your home on a schedule and keep a record. Then you probably want to go that direction.

If you plan to be away for many months, having friends etc check on your home can get to be a bit onerous. They may not want to make that commitment. Perhaps they will also want to go away as well during that time frame.

Another approach is to hire a company to check on your home on an agreed to schedule. They should keep a record and notify you if there are any problems. If you do go this route, there are a number of safeguards that you want to consider here as well. Make sure you have a contract. Make sure that it is clearly spelled out what this company is supposed to do for you. Check security, check the heating system, water plants, take in the mail, maintain landscaping. Also arrange for snow removal, check the lights, respond to alarm system alerts etc.


A quick summary of what you need to consider when leaving your home for an extended period of time:

  • Check with your home insurance company regarding requirements
  • Turn the water off before you leave
  • Ask your home sitter to run the water every two weeks to fill toilets and water traps
  • Establish a schedule for checks in accordance with insurance requirements
  • Ask home sitter to maintain a written record of checks
  • Make your house looked lived in e.g. snow clearing, lawn maintenance, lights
  • Have a contract with a professional home sitter
  • Make it clear exactly what you need to be done and make it part of your contract.
  • Stay in touch with your home sitter and ask the neighbors to also keep an eye on things.

Enjoy your vacation and save money. Avoid having any damage or break-ins while you are away on your extended vacation.


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