Garage doors are the homes largest entry point. They are moving walls and they move by using a counter balance.
Originally this counterbalance started simply as a bag of rocks and cable. The rocks were weighted to lift a door off the ground as the rocks lowered.
Over time this evolved as we twisted metal wire into a spring.
Springs are all different sizes – different wire size, coiled into different sized diameters, and cut at different lengths – all engineered with long math equations to counterbalance a door based on weight, height, and drum sizing.
There are Extension Spring and torsion spring Counterbalance Doors.
Torsion springs can fit into tight areas and were very popular in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. The extension springs simply ‘extend’ which creates a pull back counterbalance to the weight of the door. Extension springs are sized to the door’s weight and they are attached to the door with pulleys and cables. A limit to extension springs is that there is not a way to evenly distribute the counterbalance across a door – so that a door may not be pulled evenly which can create non symmetry in the door’s movement. This is because the doors always needed two springs and they remained independent of each other – one on each side.
To connect the spring system together – no matter how many springs – the Torsion System was created. This eliminated any non symmetrical movement. The Torsion Spring is twisted wire that is assembled along a torsion tube which holds the drums and cables. This allows for an even distribution of counter balance potential across the system and can be more exact in balancing the doors weight. The torsion counterbalance system has the parts of the spring, the spring bearing, the torsion tube, drums, end bearings, and cables. Cables attach to the bottom bracket on the bottom panel of the garage door. This system can run with one spring – which many doors need only one. It can also run multiple springs as needed.
There are other forms of counterbalance and some are more effective than others. This is an area prime for real innovation as springs wear out, break, and cause incredible inconveniences.
Industry standards for a spring lifetime are 10,000 cycles. This means one open and close (cycle) over roughly 6-9 years for average residential use. We can sell up to 50,000 cycle or even 100,000 cycle springs during replacements and we have packages that offer these. We do not know when a spring will break – there are tiny cracks on the outside of a spring wire that are so small we’d need an electron microscope to see. When adding a turn, springs can lose cycle life as this adds tension to those micro cracks.
The springs and counterbalance are why the Garage Door Trade is a trade – they are incredibly dangerous as they store massive potential energy and utilize leverage points to move large amounts of weight efficiently. Without care and professionalism, garage doors can kill people.
All tension pieces on garage doors are generally colored in RED to let people know there is potential danger.
The counterbalance moves panels. And garage doors have various panel designs and offerings.
There are pan doors, sometimes called steel pan doors or single layer doors. These are single sheets of metal pressed and formed into a panel design. The inside of these panels are open and hollow which can be stuffed with insulation and have ‘backers’ protecting the foam. The pan doors are economic work horses and the cheapest door model.
Sandwich steel doors are insulated doors – they can be insulated with polystyrene (foam like cooler foam) or polyurethane – blown in insulation. True insulated doors will also have a true thermal break which insulates between the two sheets of metal that form the front and back side of the panels. This thermal break keeps heat and cold from conducting between the metal – thus allowing the insulation to truly work. Insulated panels can be various thicknesses and up to 3” (maybe more) which gains an R26 value rating.
R-value ratings are units of measure which measures the insulation’s ability to prevent heat from traveling through it. In Colorado, the R-value for walls recommended is r-22 & r49 in the attic. Our most popular 2” thick door is r18 with a true thermal break.
Most new doors these days are steel or aluminum. In the past there have been wood made panels and fiberglass made panels among other random materials.
Kooler will overlay steel insulated panels. We adhere woods and metals to the outsides of panels for aesthetic value add which gains a true custom look. Our custom overlays truly lead in the industry and we can offer a lifetime guarantee to our craftsmanship. Other companies overlay doors and a few build them from scratch. Kooler doors are unique as we:
- Always use an insulated, steel door panel base
- Use specific adhesives that we’ve r&d’d (https://youtu.be/oEzjkTsFmJ8)
- Mill barnwoods (or any needed) to always have a back filler at the seams – woods shrink overtime and the metal door will not be seen.
- Use brown metal doors should knots expose any of the base panel then glues or door will look like a natural shadow and not stand out
- Tape seams to prevent glues from gumming up
- Gain a full glue seal along top and bottom of panel – woods look ‘chinked’
- Engineer window boxes when setting custom sized window glass
- Always have the tightest finish carpentry designs
We may call our overlay doors the Black Archer Door.
The panels travel up and down along the track. Tracks can be 2” or 3” and are spec’d to carry specific weights of the doors. Tracks are galvanized steel and they can be powder coated. Powder Coating gains a lifetime warranty from Raynor and provides a quiet and aesthetic that customers appreciate.
Rollers carry the panels along the track. We will use nylon ball bearing rollers and we have options of 4” stems or 7” stems. The longer the stem the more weight the roller is designed to carry. Ball bearings support door weight and offer quiet operations versus some bushing style rollers in the market. You may see plastic rollers on some models of already installed doors too. And occasionally, older doors will have off sized rollers and use more of a truck door roller – it’s always important to look closely.
Rollers can be colored and we just brought in red nylon rollers with a 62000ZZ bearing. This is performance all the way and should be offered as package options with services.
Rollers fit into hinges which bolt panels together and allow the door to move through the trajectory of the track. Hinges come in different gauges of steel with thicker hinges carrying more weight. We’ll use thicker hinges on our custom doors for this reason. Commercial doors use a thicker 11 gauge hinge versus the 18 gauge residential hinge. Hinges can be powder coated – otherwise they’re galvanized steel. There are different forms of hinges – various doors will have different styles and while our stocked inventory hinge works for 80% of doors there really is no standard amongst all door designs. So we may special order or just be out of luck as models and parts are becoming obsolete. In our service packages we have hinge packages and the premium is a ‘stealth’ hinge – its design has plastic inserts which prevents metal and metal from touching at any friction points. Even the roller has a plastic sleeve to quiet the friction points. (side note: most noise from garage doors comes from hinge friction, roller friction or the motor system)
Hinges bolt into doors with self drilling screws. These penetrate the top sheet metal of the panel and a back plate of thicker steel which reinforces the hinge area – this is called a hinge plate which is not seen as it’s under the skin sheet metal. Some commercial door models have a hinge plate that runs continuously along the panel – thus it’s not a plate but a reinforced panel. We can place hinges anywhere along these panels – like the ThermaSeal models from Raynor.
Track is mounted to framing in the walls of the garage using track brackets. There are various sized brackets to accommodate different panel thicknesses. We encourage owners to wrap the garage door framing in ‘goal posting’ (see video https://youtu.be/oCiE6OuAtPk) so that our brackets are mounted on a solid and level surface. While we do mount directly to drywall occasionally, drywall can compromise and collapse overtime which can create play in the door system.
It is important for garage doors to be mounted onto an even plane – and the doors generally sit behind the garage wall – inset into the garage. There are ways to mount the doors in a ‘flush mount’ system so that the garage door is flush with the exterior walls and siding.
Once all parts and pieces are installed the door can operate along the track.
Symmetry is beauty in doors. And the tracks run parallel where the door tracks evenly along the rails. The door is level and the counterbalance is level and even. Doors can run out of tune when anything is out of symmetry – even if by a ½”.
The door’s trajectory is determined by the track design. And most people don’t know they want to know how the door trajects as this establishes the need for clearance – space above the door opening. Most doors are normal headroom where the door raises slightly before it begins to turn through a track radius. Track radius refers to the horizontal track bend which tracks a circle with a radius of 12”, 15”, 10” or 32” – other radius can be available and seen.
The radius will determine the amount of clearance and room above the door that is needed. With a normal headroom door – the top panel will traject above the rails a bit and thus the trajectory looks like a wave a bit with a peak near the door’s front and then lower as the door moves back. Normal headroom doors need 12” and more, above the doors opening to utilize. Operator rails add about 2” to the clearance space needs. So if a homeowner wants an 8’ tall door – we need the ceilings (and nothing else like lights) to be at least 9’ – and likely 9’ 4” if a trolley operator is being installed – otherwise, we will need to modify track set ups.
If there is not this room we can modify it with low headroom set ups. There is front mount and for residential front mount designs needs 8.25” of room to work. There is rear mount – where counterbalance is mounted in the back of the door – and this requires 5” of clearance to function.
If less room is available there are some potential solutions and modifications – however it does get to a diminishing return zone as times of heavy modifications will limit the ability of the door to open completely.
In other scenarios where there is more room above we may use lift clearance track or even vertical lift track. Lift clearance track will send the door’s trajectory straight up the wall for a bit before making a turn onto horizontal track. A vertical lift is simply straight up and no turn.
All door designs and trajectories take into consideration a door’s weight, height, and track design in configuring the counterbalance system – drums, springs, & cables.
The garage door has the following systems – the panel system, the track system, the counterbalance system, and the hardware system.
All these work together to move the doors manually. And they must be fully functional and complete prior to adding any operator system.
Our 30 point inspection reviews the components of each system and their integration – in addition this assessment reviews operator systems.
Openers come in many different forms. In general there are trolley operators and side mount (or Jackshaft) openers. The trolley operator moves the door by pulling and pushing from a point on the top panel – then pulls along a rail. The side mount utilizes the leverage points of the counterbalance and turns the torsion tube – opening and closing the door. This is a low profile unit that allows the ceiling space to be clear from an operator rail.
Residential operators can be ½ hp and up. All residential operators have photo eyes – a safety component that conforms with UL325. This was set as a requirement for safety in the early 1990’s. Machines installed prior to this may not have photo eyes. We can work on them and we don’t recommend doing so. We encourage replacements to update the units to this safety code.
Operators communicate with transmitters – clickers – with a receiver that is onboard the machine unit. These communicate with frequencies that manufacturers have changed over the years. Frequencies change and update due to ‘noise’ in the channels – meaning, more frequencies closer together can erode one another and make them less effective. Also, technologies have improved to reduce the potential for people outside the home from hacking into the code of transmitter and receiver. Thus, some clickers do not work with some operators due to frequency matches. Old school frequencies were set with dip switches. Today’s frequencies are set digitally. And they use rolling codes – the rolling code is very unlikely to be hacked due to the fact the frequency literally rolls and the transmitter and receiver keep this aligned together.
Our openers are Liftmaster and Sommer brands. Our Lift Master openers are branded by Raynor. Lift Master is a Chamberlain Company and it is a massive company. They use the MyQ Technology to offer remote access through an app. This app is ‘free’ and in the acceptance agreements users give them access to data from their phones. The current LM machines use a frequency in the 433MHz range. LM has a side mount and trolly models as options.
Sommer is based in Germany and uses different tech all together. They have a private wifi access which offers remote access from phone apps – this does not collect marketing data. Their frequency runs 922MHz or so which is less likely to erode out as it’s higher – less crowded and more powerful. Sommer has a fixed chain trolley – this is unique and the operation is really quiet. The Sommer can also add many accessories and they offer unique lighting add ons. There is a lot we can combine with Sommer and a massive opportunity is to partner with smart home service to tie the operator into the system fully.
Many things in our homes send frequency waves into the world – our wifi, led lights, electronics, etc. Sometimes people experience problems with remotes when they update led lighting in or around the garage – as an example of erosion.
Residential openers must conform to safety tests – this includes a pressure/force test, safety eyes, and limits. An opener must reverse its direction if it closes on an obstruction. Some older models have external dials to turn this force limit up or down. As techs, our aim is to adjust this so it’s enough force to close and open – and not enough to damage anything in its path. We cannot just dial this up to alleviate another potential problem. Safety eyes, when triggered, stop and reverse the closing door to open fully. And the limits are set to make sure the door closes fully, but not beyond, and also opens fully but not over extended.
Homeowners generally do not know how these machines work and educating them on the use adds value.
There is always an emergency release cord which when pulled, can allow the manual operation of the door to move. It’s critical homeowners know how to engage and disengage this.
Recently in California, and soon to be industry standard, is the requirement of battery back ups. Battery backups allow operation of the garage door even when power is out. This came from a home owner trying to evacuate his home during a wildfire experience and without power, they were not able to exit. This will soon be a standard across the industry and it’s a nice feature many homeowners want.
Colorado recently passed a law requiring homes to be more wildfire resistant. This focuses on exterior materials and will likely push a trend to metal doors and metal door overlays – perhaps less wood overlays in the future.
The garage door is a home’s largest entry point. Not all doors are the same and most homeowners don’t know much about their doors. Insulated doors can make home heating and cooling more efficient and save money. And doors can add value to homes which grow equity. The garage door is the best ROI (103%) for home improvements consistently year over year. This means a homeowner investing $10k into a garage door will realize approximately $10,300 or more in ROI on home resale value/equity.
We keep homes and homeowners beautifully secure. This is a state of being we can provide to people and it comes not from the door materials – but in how we present ourselves and how we communicate.
We utilize GRACE in our interactions and as a sales process – Gratitude, rapport, assess, choices, experience.
Our customers appreciate clear and consistent communication from confident professionals. We’re the leaders in this space and for most homes – the garage door is the most neglected appliance which has been hugely undervalued. With technologies and new awareness post pandemic – the garage door industry is adopting the HVAC model of customer service – branded stocked trucks with digital pricebooks and service packaging that focuses more on the humans than the door problems themselves.
Behind the garage door are people’s homes and belongings. I can walk into a garage and tell you who I’m about to meet based on what I see. I can tell you what they value, where they recreate, a bit about what they believe, and who they live with and what those people enjoy.
Garages are spaces that people under utilize and they are the next space in homes to be resurrected and transformed.
When people let us into their garage – they may be opening up their storage room, gym, recreation room, man cave, or living room. It’s personal – and it’s an honor to be invited in.