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Buying the Right Garage Door

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: So your garage door takes up a large chunk of your home’s front façade. And if you replace that garage door, the annual Cost Versus Value Report from Buying the Right Garage DoorRemodeling Magazine shows that you’re going to get back more than 80 percent of your investment, proving that garage doors deliver and they’re an excellent return on investment.

    TOM: Yep. But that makes it all the more important to really consider your new garage door carefully. Here to discuss some options is This Old House host Kevin O’Connor.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.

    TOM: So, today, it’s all about the ROI and the improvement it will deliver. And it’s encouraging to see such positive results from garage doors, because they’re one of the hardest working components of the house.

    KEVIN: They certainly are. Obviously, any time you do an upgrade, you’re thinking about what sort of return you’re going to get on your investment and the garage door is a pretty good one.

    When thinking about the garage door, I would suggest that there are two things that you need to consider. First of all, it should look good.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: But it also should work right. And if you think about this, a lot of us actually come through the garage as the main entryway into our house, because we drive the car up into the garage and then go right from the garage to the house. So it’s something that we are going to use very frequently.

    LESLIE: And I think you have to really think about how you’re going to utilize this garage door. How will it function? What kind of opener do you need? Is this the primary entrance? You know, what should you sort of start to look at, other than the aesthetics of it, when you’re considering a new garage door?

    KEVIN: Well, don’t discount the aesthetics, right? Because sometimes the garage door is the focal point of what you see, right?

    LESLIE: Well, that’s, of course, top of the list, the aesthetics.

    KEVIN: I mean many houses – right. It’s got to look good right there. But you’re right. You want to make sure that this thing works properly.

    An automatic garage-door opener, in my mind, is almost essential. You want to be able to have it push a button and have that heavy garage door open by itself. In that case, there are three types of openers to consider. There is a chain-drive opener, a screw drive or a belt drive. And they’ve got different characteristics.

    The chain drives, they’re very powerful. They’re great for heavy doors but they can be somewhat noisy; they’re sort of older technology and we hear them.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: And that affects people, especially if there’s living space above the garage.

    TOM: It kind of vibrates the whole house.

    KEVIN: The whole house, exactly.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: A screw drive is great if you have a one-piece door and it is actually on a tilt that actually opens, as opposed to a door that sort of has brakes and kind of rolls up into the ceiling.

    And then a belt drive, it’s probably the quietest option out there. You’re going to pay a little bit of a premium for that but if you’re concerned about the noise and the vibration, belt drive is a way to go.

    TOM: We just switched to a belt drive and it was amazing how silent it is compared to our old garage-door opener.

    KEVIN: Do you have any living space above the garage?

    TOM: No. But just – I can just appreciate it, though.

    KEVIN: Sure.

    TOM: Yeah, you really have to pay attention when it’s going up and down because you don’t hear it.

    KEVIN: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: And I think it’s also important when you’re considering the type of mechanism for your garage door. You want to think about what type of family are you? Do you need modern luxuries? Do you want to remotely monitor it? Which is all a possibility.

    KEVIN: Yeah, nowadays you can actually have these systems hooked up so that – obviously, you’ve got the controller in the car to operate it, open and close it. But there are systems that will allow you to do that as you drive away from the house or you’re very far away from the house.

    You know, you’re 20 miles down the highway, you realize you didn’t close the garage door, there are now apps from your smartphone that can say, “Oh, I’d like to close my garage door now” or even alert you. You can set it up so that if you do drive away and you get a certain distance and haven’t closed the garage door, you get a little ping to your smartphone that says, “Garage door is not closed. Would you like to do that remotely?”

    LESLIE: And it won’t even yell at you for doing that.

    KEVIN: It will not even yell at you.

    TOM: Hey, let’s talk about garage-door safety because once you have the garage door’s openers set up, they do have to be properly maintained. So what’s important to do in terms of that?

    KEVIN: Well, garage-door safety has come a long way over the years and that’s a good thing. Because, obviously, when these things are working by themselves, you don’t want anything to get crushed, you don’t want your children or your pets to get hurt in this process.

    And there are two basic safety checks. There is, along the sides of the door, an optical eye. And it basically sends a beam of light across the opening of the doorway, so that if anything is in the way, it’ll send the garage door back up. So check that on a monthly basis. Actually put something in front of that optical eye and make sure that the door does stop going up or down when that beam is broken.

    TOM: OK.

    KEVIN: And then secondly, you want to make sure that there is a sensor so that when the door comes down, if it feels any resistance before it’s closed, it will go back up again. So lay something, like a 2×4, about an inch-and-a-half off the ground so that the door can come down onto it. And make sure that when it hits that object, the door goes back up. That will prevent anyone from getting hurt or crushed by the door.

    LESLIE: And do not attempt that with your foot.

    KEVIN: You have something you want to confess, Leslie?

    TOM: Really bad idea. I do feel like there’s a story behind that.

    Kevin O’Connor, the host of This Old House, great advice on how to make sure we have a garage door that’s working well, safely and lasts us for a long time.

    KEVIN: Always great to be here, guys. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

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