Are GDOs safe?They are probably a lot safer than your car! GDOs now come with two safety features, but these were not available on older GDOs. First, the down force can be adjusted so that if the door hits something in the way, it will reverse and open all the way. This is particularly true of the screw drive models, but this adjustment can be difficult if not impossible on older chain drive models, The other safety feature now required since 1997 is a light beam sensor across the bottom of the door opening. If anything stops the light beam, the door will start down, reverse and go back up. These light beam sensors are reliable and easy to set up.
Can I add these safety features to the older GDO I have?No. The down force adjustment is inherent in the mechanical design and the cost of adding the light beam sensor would be more than the cost of a new GDO.
Do GDOs last a long time?A screw drive GDO should last 10-20 years if lubricated once in a while. A chain drive GDO will eventually experience chain stretch and will have to be adjusted; the gears inside also take a beating. No report on the newer friction drive models, but be aware that friction drive was once used a lot and was then dropped. It appears that it is being brought back just to be able to make a cheaper unit.
Are GDOs reliable?Yes, but. They do need some maintenance, mainly lubrication of the screw or chain as well as the door. Use a good quality lubricant - it doesn't need to be expensive. Look in the GDO department of the local home center. Do not use WD-40 except to wash off old lube, since you need a lubricant that has some body; the operating parts of a door or GDO are under great pressure, so you need a high-pressure or gear lubricant. Many of the problems encountered with GDOs when the weather gets cold come from lack of lubrication.
And sooner or later the battery in the transmitter will need to be replaced.
Are GDOs secure?The old ones used an analog transmitter/receiver- These are the models you used to hear about opening and shutting when airplanes flew overhead. If you move into a home that has one of these, replace it as soon as you can! Not only are they not secure but they do not have the safety features.
The newer models use digital transmitter and receiver; with these, you can set the digital code to something unique so your transmitter will not accidentally operate your neighbor's door, and they are not operated by overlying aircraft. However, sophisticated burglars developed scanners that can find your code and get in. Most recently, digital GDOs use a rolling code technique ('Intellicode') that cannot be easily scanned. They are about as secure as you can get.
No, it is difficult to add the rolling code feature to an older GDO; it is cheaper to buy a new GDO.
Can I install a GDO myself?Yes, if you are reasonably handy. With the light beam sensor, it takes 2-3 hours for an experienced person to complete the installation; figure 5 hours if you have never done one before. You will need a 6' stepladder and an assortment of tools; a cordless drill driver will be very handy. It is not necessarily a fun task, but you will save some money since home centers charge $75-100 for installation.
When you attach the GDO to a metal sectional door, it is recommended that you install a 2x2" perforated metal angle vertically from the top to the bottom of the top panel, and attach the GDO to that. While metal sectional doors are very durable, they need that bracing for the force of the GDO.
What brands do you recommend?The only thing that can be said here without offending someone is that most of the GDO problems reported on the forum are with Sears and Stanley units. Genie makes a good screw drive unit. Chamberlain makes many of the Sears models. LiftMaster is also made by Chamberlain, Be cautious about any other brands, particularly store brands; you may not be able to get parts and service later if you need it.
My garage door is very heavy; will a GDO operate it?If the door is balanced correctly, the GDO will move it. Sometimes a heavy wood door becomes a problem when it gets wet. In that case, call in a technician and ask about heavier springs.
My garage floor is uneven; will a GDO work?If you can open the door manually without a struggle, a GDO will work just fine.
There is only one door to my garage, the big one. How do I get inside if the power goes off?This is a very serious concern, and there is a solution for it. It comes in the form of a key-operated "rip cord" on the face of the door. You use a special key to pull the lock cylinder out, then pull out the cord, it is attached to the GDO release cord inside. Once you release the connection of the GDO to the track, you can open the door manually.
Fitting In a GDO In a tight spaceI have a slab door but there is a big beam running parallel to the door just a couple feet behind it. Can I fit a GFO in this space?
I have a sectional door but there is a big beam running parallel to it just a couple inches behind it, Can I fit a GDO in this space?
Same deal, except the ceiling is drywalled and I can't tell what is up there.
I have a sectional door but I can't mount a GDO in the center of the garage. Can I put it off to one side?
I have a slab door but cannot mount a GDO in the center. Can I mount it to one side?
I have a slab door but there is a big beam running parallel to the door just a couple feet behind it. Can I fit a GDO in this space?Yes, and it isn't difficult to do. Newer GDOs are made longer so they will work on both slab and sectional doors. A sectional door moves further into the garage so it needs a longer track on the GDO. Get a Genie brand screw drive model at a home center; they usually use a track and screw in three pieces. You won't need the longer track with the slab door so leave out the center section of the track and screw when you assemble it. Works great, and the Genie brand is a good one.
I have a sectional door but there is a big beam running parallel to it just a couple inches behind it, Can I fit a GDO in this space?Yes, if the joists overhead run perpendicular to the door opening, you might be able to put a GDO between two joists up above the beam. Before you go to all the trouble of assembling the GDO, measure to see if it looks feasible. Then go for it!
Same deal, except the ceiling is drywalled and I can't tell what is up there.It is unlikely there is some major duct work in that space, but cut a peek hole and check to be sure there is no plumbing in the way. If there is something in the way, try again in the next joist space to see if you can find one that is clear, then proceed. If it looks like it will work, cut away the drywall between the two joists. Before you actually mount the GDO there, line the space between the two joists with 5/8" firecode drywall; use corner bead, tape and fill for a thorough job. In this way you will keep the firewall rating intact between the garage and the house above. Then install the GDO.
I have a sectional door but I can't mount a GDO in the center of the garage. Can I put it off to one side?Yes, the two sides of a sectional door are kept in line by the pulley shaft running across the top of the door. So you can attach the GDO to the door anywhere in its width; it is better to have the GDO attached as near the center as practical.
I have a slab door but cannot mount a GDO in the center. Can I mount it to one side?No; forget it. Consider replacing the door with a sectional door, but remember that a sectional door moves farther into the garage.
Mechanical & Other ProblemsThe trolley on my screw drive opener is broken. Is it difficult to Install a new one?
The chain on my opener came off the gear; can I put it back on?
The GDO went out in a thunderstorm, what do we do?
Door remote is lost; how do I buy the right one?
How do I set the code on an external keypad?
How do I get a rolling code type GDO set up?
The GDO track is torn loose from the door header; how do I repair that?
The trolley on my screw drive opener is broken. Is it difficult to Install a new one?Depends. If the motor box is mounted on straps or can be shifted around some, you can unfasten the door end of the track from the header and drop it down or to the side to slip out the old trolley and put in a new one, Disconnect the trolley from the door and the screw first, of course, and loosen any wires that go from the track to the door header. Have the new trolley at hand when you take the track loose from the header.
If you can see that it is not possible to twist the motor box around, you will have to take the whole assembly down, or at least loosen it and hang it from something, Nuisance job, but not really difficult. It would be nice to have a helper.
Some tracks are assembled in three sections, but trying to undo one of those joints with the unit in place is difficult at best; not recommended.
The chain on my opener came off the gear; can I put it back on?Yes. Get on a stepladder and watch as the motor operates to see if the drive gear turns. If not, you have a serious internal problem and may be best off to replace the unit. If the gear turns ok, then find the adjustment screw near the gear to adjust the chain tension. Unplug the unit and back off the adjustment so you can fit the chain back on the gear. The chain will be greasy so using disposable plastic gloves is a good idea. Then adjust the tension so the chain sags just so it doesn't drag on the track.
If there is no tension adjustment on your GDO motor box, you will have to adjust the chain with the turnbuckle device that ties the two ends of the chain together. This is a bit more tedious than the other method, but it works.
The GDO went out in a thunderstorm, what do we do?Call a local rep or store selling that brand and ask them if the unit is repairable and how much. It will probably require a new circuit board inside the motor box. If it is going to cost more than a new unit, get a new unit. Check your homeowners insurance first to see if repair and/or replacement is covered. And with 20-20 hindsight, plug it into a surge suppressor. A surge suppressor may or may not protect the new one from nearby lightning strikes, but it is a worth a try. In buying a surge suppressor, check the ratings carefully; cheapest is generally not best, but it need not be expensive either. After you read a couple boxes for specifications, you should be able to tell what you need.
Replacing the circuit board is not difficult if you are handy. Unplug the unit, open the motor box and see how they fastened the circuit board in place. Unplug it and replace it. Remember that you are dealing with sensitive electronics when you handle a circuit board and don't touch the components or circuit traces; handle it by the edges.
Door remote is lost; how do I buy the right one?Look at the motor box carefully and see if it has any code-setting switches; they are very small and they may be inside the plastic light cover or on back. The label on the box may give you some clue. If there are no code switches and there is no label mentioning digital codes, you probably have an old analog type GDO. Best bet is to replace it with a new one. All the new ones are digital coded.
If you find code setting switches, count the number of switches; there should be 8 or 10 or maybe 12, all on one little block. They call these Dip switches because they look like a Dual Inline Plastic integrated circuit. With that information and the brand name, you should be able to find a workable remote at a home center. If the new remote has more switches than the GDO, just ignore the extra ones. Some of the new remotes are remarkably small, even key-chain size. Do not get an "Intellicode" or rolling code remote unless the GDO is labeled such.
Most of these remotes come with setup instructions. When you set it up, you generally match the switch settings on the remote to those on the GDO. If the GDO is a rolling code type, get that type of remote and follow the directions that come with it.
How do I set the code on an external keypad?There are two types of keypads, wired and wireless. The wireless type are programmed about the same as a remote. The wired type should have code setting switches on the motor box. You might be able to find a website for the manufacturer and get more help.
How do I get a rolling code type GDO set up?There is usually a 'learn' sequence that you activate on the motor box. Look for such a switch to see if you can figure it out; sure helps to have a manual. Generally, you press the learn switch and a light comes on, then press the code on the remote by whatever means they use. Again, you might get lucky finding information from the manufacturer's website.
The GDO track is torn loose from the door header; how do I repair that?There has to be a reason it is torn loose, most likely because it was installed incorrectly. Also could be that the door is not balanced. Look at the motor mounts inside the motor box to see if they are ok; many times if the track is torn loose, the motor mounts are also damaged. If there is inside damage, it is best to get a new GDO.
If you have solved the damage problem and if you have the manual, that should tell you what to do. If you need to reinforce the header where the track was fastened, use a piece of 3/4' plywood or even a solid piece of lumber. Fasten it securely to the header and proceed from there. If the bolts or lag screws are torn out of the door, repair it somewhat the same way.
If you have a wood sectional door, fasten the reinforcing piece of wood from the top to the bottom of the top section to add some strength to it. Same deal with a metal angle on a metal door.
Opening/Closing ProblemsDoor goes to floor and bounces back up:
How do I make the down force setting? Manual is gone.
Door won't close; light beam sensors seem ok:
GDO won't open the door:
GDO seems to operate randomly:
Door closes but won't stay down:
GDO works ok but the light is erratic or off:
Door goes to floor and bounces back up:Check that the door is balanced properly; disconnect the GDO from it and operate it manually. If ok, then set the up/down force and limit switches. Try the down limit first and set it so the door almost closes, then ease into fully closed position. You may have to set the down force as well, and you want to check that for safe operation anyway. If the settings just don't work, there is probably a malfunction on the circuit board. See notes about lightning damage for replacing the circuit board.
An old chain drive GDO may be almost impossible to set correctly, Try lubricating the chain and if that doesn't help, consider replacing the unit with a screw drive model.
How do I make the down force setting? Manual is gone.The usual method is the get the GDO limit settings correct first, particularly the closed position. Then lay a 2x4 flat on the ground and set the down force so it causes the GDO to reverse direction when the door hits the 2x4, Some sources say to use a rolled up newspaper instead of a 2x4.
An old chain drive GDO may be almost impossible to set correctly. Try lubricating the chain and if that doesn't help, consider replacing the unit with a screw drive model.
Door won't close; light beam sensors seem ok:Usually the light beam sensors show a steady light when they are correctly aligned; pass your foot in front of one of them and see if the light flashes. If so, they are almost certainly ok. Then check door balance with the GDO disconnected from it, and check GDO operation with it disconnected. See previous answer.
GDO won't open the door:Disconnect the GDO from the door and check door balance; then check that the GDO works. If all seems ok, the up force adjustment probably needs to be set.
GDO seems to operate randomly:Is it an old analog type? Look for digital code switches inside the remote. If no digital coding, it is probably analog, and anything could set it off, including overlying aircraft. Replace the GDO with a new one.
No, it is a newer GDO. Then a neighbor's remote is probably operating yours because the codes are the same. It could be a neighbor's remote for some other device as well. Change the digital code switches in both the remotes and the motor box, and the neighbor will probably be relieved as well. If it is a rolling code type, get out the manual and reset the rolling code sequence.
Door closes but won't stay down:Disconnect the GDO from the door and check that the door is balanced. If so, reconnect it and set the down limit adjustment. Then set the down force adjustment. You want it to reverse if there is something in the way, but it may be set too sensitive. Getting these settings just right on an old chain drive GDO can be difficult.
GDO works ok but the light is erratic or off:Check the light bulb, of course. There is a thermal timer that holds the light on after the door operates, and that timer is probably sticking. If you are technically inclined, you might be able to fix it. Unplug the power cord, open the motor box and look for a small metal strip wrapped with fine wire; it is a bimetal strip with a heating coil. Use a fine file or piece of sandpaper to clean the contacts; black wet-or-dry paper is best. If you cannot find that bimetal strip, they may use a solid-state timer that you won't be able to fix. Replacing the circuit board is the answer in that case and it will probably be expensive. One neat solution is to use a separate motion detector light to solve the problem.
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