Monday, October 26, 2015

Signs of an Unbalanced Garage Door

An unbalanced garage door can be an issue many homeowners are completely unaware of until one of two things happen: (1) you need to manually open or close the door and can't or (2) your garage door opener motor burns out prematurely, causing substantial expense to replace it. The average metal residential garage door weighs more than 150 pounds. Most of the time you’d never know it, even if you open or close it manually without the aid of an automatic opener. Powerful springs serve to counterbalance that weight, making the opening and closing action amazingly effortless—as long, that is, as the door remains properly balanced.

How Can You Tell?

When manually operated, a properly balanced door should feel easy to lift and safe to close. When raised to the half-open position, you should be able to release your grip and the door will remain in that position. When operated by an automatic garage door opener, action should be smooth and the opener motor and chain drive should not be straining or faltering. When a garage door is becoming unbalanced, however, certain telltale signs may give you advance warning:

Observing the door, you may notice that one side closes flush with the ground while the other side doesn’t contact the ground and a gap becomes visible.
While the door is opening or closing, one side may move upward or downward noticeably faster than the other side.
The garage door opener motor makes loud, straining sounds due to the excess weight of an unbalanced door. Opening and closing may take longer than normal and you may hear other odd noises like gears stripping or popping and cracking as the door tracks absorb abnormal stress.
The panels of a metal door may flex, buckle or bind as the door is ascending or descending.
The door may not open at all as the motor is eventually unable to lift the weight.
When attempting to open the door manually, it may be too heavy to lift. Closing an unbalanced door manually may be dangerous as the heavy door may abruptly slam to the ground with great force.

What Goes Wrong?

Professionally-installed garage doors are carefully balanced at the time of installation. However, a couple of changes may take place later to throw the door out of balance.

Often, the most frequent cause of an unbalanced door is weakening of the large springs that provide counterweight force against the weight of the door. Over time and many opening and closing repetitions, these springs may begin to stretch and lose their force. The door will gradually become harder to lift and will also close with greater force. If an automatic door opener is utilized, the motor, gears and chain drive will be subject to increasingly greater stress and shortened service life. An overstretched spring may eventually break entirely, usually making the door impossible to lift.

Adding any weight to the inside of the door after it was installed can also disrupt proper balance. Some residents choose to mount a long fluorescent light fixture to the inside of the door, for example. Even that modest amount of weight can tip the careful balance of the door. Another common addition to garage doors is insulation to reduce heat loss through the door in winter and heat gain in summer. DIY kits are available to insulate the inside of the door. Insulation typically adds up to 20 pounds to a door, more than enough to unbalance the door and affect easy operation.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Protect Your Garage Door Opener From Being Hacked

A garage door opener is an incredibly convenient feature to have. Not having to get out of your car and manually open the door every time you arrive or leave saves a lot of time and frustration. However, some garage door openers can actually pose a security issue. Believe it or not, your garage door opener can be hacked. This may seem hard to fathom; after all, don't hackers only go after computers and smartphones? Think about this, though - if a hacker can hack into someone's computer, why would they not be able to hack into your garage door opener? Your garage door can't be more complicated than a computer, right?

How can  garage door be hacked?

A garage door opener that makes use of a fixed code can be hacked using nothing more than a kid's toy. To understand how this is possible, you need to understand how your electric garage door opener works. Basically, the garage door opener's motor has a receiving module that responds to the waves transmitted by your garage door remote transmitter. A remote that sends a fixed code to the Garage door when a button is pressed can be easily figured out using an old texting-type toy that be used to pick up simple frequencies.

How can you prevent your garage door from being hacked?

You need to make sure that your garage door opener uses a rolling code and not a fixed code. A rolling code makes use of an algorithm that changes the code every time it's used, making it much more difficult for hackers to figure out. Check your garage door opener manual to see what kind of system it uses. If your system uses a rolling code or is indicated as a security plus or a security 2.0 system, then you should be relatively safe. If not, you'll want to have your garage door opener upgraded. If the manual doesn't say or you no longer have the manual, unscrew the casing of your remote to check and see if there is a DIP switch. If there is, it generally means that it uses a fixed code.

Additional security measures

In addition to making sure that your garage door opener makes use of a rolling code instead of a fixed code, consider using additional safety measures. Using a manual lock on your garage door may not seem very convenient on a daily basis, but you should use one if you are going out of town for more than a few days. This way, if a hacker manages to break through your code, they will still have to break through your physical lock. You should also make sure the garage is well lit - most thieves won't want to take the risk of trying to break in through your garage if it exposes them at night. Not to mention that a motion-sensing light can be very effective at scaring them away.

Don't assume that your electric garage door opener will keep thieves at bay - thieves with hacking abilities will have an easy time opening your garage door if it operates on a fixed code. So make sure that you don't have a fixed code system and upgrade it to a rolling code system if you do.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Maintaining Your Businesses Rolling Counter Door

Having an office that has a customer service counter cut into one wall can be very convenient, but it presents a security problem because there's no door to lock. Installing a rolling counter door -- like a rolling garage door but on a much smaller scale -- can eliminate those security concerns as long as you care for the door properly. Here are four tips that will help you keep that door in great shape for a long time.

Care for the Materials Properly

Dust, excessive heat, and constant sun exposure can cause rolling counter doors to deteriorate. Dust can also stick to the guides and other parts of the door, making operation difficult. In addition to following the cleaning procedures in the manual you received when you had the door installed, dust the door and guides, daily if need be. Inspect the door for rust spots or chips in the coating, if there is one, and have those repaired as soon as possible.

Use It

Letting the rolling door remain immobile often leads to the parts freezing as dust settles on them and rust forms. Using the door regularly ensures that the parts don't lock themselves in place.
Using the door to keep it working sounds like a simple thing, especially if your office closes daily and you close the rolling door each day. But if your office switches to being open 24 hours per day, for example, you could find that lots of time goes by before the door is actually lowered and raised. To prevent the door form freezing up, assign a time when the door is to be lowered and raised.

Keep the Guides Clear

Check the guides -- the tracks in which the door slides up or down -- clear of obstructions. Clean them on a regular basis and watch how the door moves in them as you open or close the door. Call for repair if you notice the door catching on something or not moving smoothly as you raise or lower it.

If the guides on the door's frame are adjustable, you might be able to make them a little wider depending on the model of door that you have. If the door moves haltingly but the guides aren't obstructed, it could be that they just need to be made a little wider.

Lower Humidity

If the rolling door is made of wood or has decorative wood parts -- you will find models like this -- watch the humidity levels. Humidity can cause wood to swell, eventually causing the door to stick in the guides. For exterior rolling doors, inspect them frequently and adjust the guides as necessary. For interior rolling doors, place a dehumidifier in the office to try to keep levels constant.