Learn about new safety features in garage door openers, such as reversing mechanisms and battery backups. Find out why Wayne-Dalton's pinch-free overhead garage door is a good choice for a replacement door.
LESLIE: Next up, we have a call from Nicolas in Florida who has a garage door  situation.
What’s going on, Nicolas?
NICOLAS: My garage door opener just went kaput. The gear mechanism on top – it’s chain driven – it broke off.
TOM: How old is the garage door opener ?
NICOLAS: I’m assuming it’s original with the home and my home is approximately 17 years old.
TOM: Nicolas, time for a new door opener, my friend.
LESLIE: They’ve made modern advancements in garage door mechanisms.
TOM: Yeah. For example, they’re much safer today. They have pinch-free doors  so that nobody can get their finger stuck in them. There are multiple mechanisms to help reverse the door if someone gets stuck under it; a child, for example, or …
LESLIE: Or even just scrambles under it as it’s closing.
TOM: Yeah, or even if it comes down on your car or something. (Leslie chuckles) You know, they have electric eyes and they also have sensors in the tracks. You know, the garage door openers have changed dramatically over the last 10 to 20 years. Originally, they had no reversing mechanisms; they only went down and crushed whatever it came into contact with. And then they had mechanisms in the track and now they have to have at least two reversing mechanisms. So usually they have electric eyes and reversing mechanisms in the track.
So it’s probably not worth repairing a 17-year-old garage door opener; in fact, it’s definitely not worth repairing it unless it’s something very simple that you can do yourself. So I would encourage you to look for a new one.
And another feature that I recently saw which I thought was very cool, is now they have garage door openers with battery backups. Because if your electricity goes out …
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. You’ll be stuck with the door down.
TOM: Exactly. So you could look for one with a battery backup and there’s just enough juice in there to open the door a few times so you won’t get stuck. And so for all of those reasons, it’s a good idea to get a new one.
NICOLAS: Well, here’s my question. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Yeah, now that we’ve pulled out our soapbox and lectured to you for the last 60 seconds, we’ll let you ask your question because that’s the kind of folks we are.
NICOLAS: Right. Well, I tell you what. I just found your show last weekend and I was real excited about it. And I said, “Well heck, I’m in a purchase mode. Well, I’ll just call them and get their opinion.” My question is this. It’s on a chain-driven mechanism. I’ve been on the internet looking at the various products that are available out there and they’ve got one that doesn’t use a chain – it’s not the same setup as a chain-driven or a belt-driven-type unit. It goes from side to side above the garage door and it has like a cable that goes through the bottom of the garage door and it lifts it that way.
TOM: Right. Is that the Wayne-Dalton one?
NICOLAS: That is correct.
TOM: Yeah. That’s an excellent one. Wayne-Dalton won the Consumer Product Safety Commission safety award – I think they call it the Chairman’s Award or something like that – some years ago. That’s a really, really good door so that’s a good choice.
NICOLAS: OK, now how difficult, on a scale of one to ten, would that be for me to do a conversion from the chain-driven setup?
TOM: I’m not so sure that you can put that in without changing the door, if that’s what your question is. Because I know that the way those doors are designed that they are extremely sensitive to changes in the door design. For example, if you were to try to put that on an old door, I’m not so sure it would work. You may have to buy the door and the door opener together. So you might want to check that out. Because I know that Wayne-Dalton is also the patent holder of the pinch-free overhead garage door. The joint where the panels come together is designed so that if you fingers are in it, it actually pushes your hand out of the way.
NICOLAS: And then I’m just trying to make a wise consumer choice here because if it’s a requirement that I have to buy a door, I think I’ve got probably one of the better doors that’s out on the market already. Lo and behold, the home that I purchased, the previous homeowners, that was a theatrical room or home theatre room.
TOM: Well, I would suggest that you check with a distributor to find out if it will fit the door that you have; but if not, get a new door. But a Wayne-Dalton door is an excellent door. I’m real familiar with that.
NICOLAS: But if I don’t go that route, now do you recommend maybe to hang with the chain system that I’ve got?
TOM: I think the chain system is fine. I don’t really have a particular preference one way or the other, as long as it has all of the safety mechanisms. OK?
NICOLAS: Well, you’ve been very helpful and I look forward to listening to you in the future.
TOM: Thank you very much, Nicolas. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.