Garage Door and Opener Q&A

Be sure to scroll down... there may be more than one question on this page!

Dear NH,

What is required to be done with garage door mechanical hand lock when a remote door opener is installed?


You must disable the garage door lock mechanism so that it cannot be inadvertently engaged. Accidental locking may cause severe damage to the door or the opener if the opener is activated!

Since you (or the next owner) might want to lock the door, don't do anything permanent. A bolt through the latch bar so it cannot engage in the track is fine. You may have to drill a hole through the latch to accomplish this. You may also use a small padlock instead of a bolt.

Since local building codes are so finicky, I wouldn't doubt that some areas might even require a "permanent" disabling of the locking mechanism. If you are concerned, check with your local building inspector.

Dear NH,

I want to uninstall and dispose of a 16-ft. wide by 8-ft. high paneled steel overhead garage door and opener. I want to replace it with atrium doors and make the garage into a family room. The attached garage is well insulated and finished inside, and just cries to become our family room!

What is the best way to go about taking the garage door down? I've called garage door installers, and none of them any advice, except that I advertise giving it away for free in exchange for taking it down. The pros would probably take it down for a price, but I'd rather spend the bucks on materials for my project.


First, enlist the aid of a strong friend! Offer food... whatever it takes!!

Then, disconnect and remove the garage door opener. Detach the opener body from the ceiling brackets first, and let it pivot down to the floor. Disconnect the garage door track from the bracket located above the door.

Raise the door manually. Push the door up as far as it will go... right to the stops! Put C-clamps on both tracks to hold in position. Disconnect all springs and cables. And be careful... even with the door up there may be some minimal tension in the springs.

Starting with the topmost panel, remove all hinges between the doors so that the door panels swing downward from the rollers and hang on the track. Do all panels this way.

Remove the clamps that you put on the tracks. Slide the panels one at a time to the ground. Disconnect the roller brackets to free up the panels from the track.

Good luck, and be careful!

Dear NH,

My question concerns garage doors. I checked your index and found some good information, but not what I need. My door, which is about 12 years old, same as house, believe it or not, will hit the header above as it opens. I have only been here 2 years, so I don't know if this has been an ongoing problem. It jammed some time ago, and broke the chain wheel to my garage door opener. It is a double door roughly 16' x 8'. I checked the obvious, like the rollers and hinges. It has torsion springs, which seem OK. I fixed one hinge and noticed that there is some slop between the roller and track, but I have concluded that the rollers are OK, since all are about the same. I have temporarily re-positioned the top hinge to clear the header, however, this leaves too large of a gap that wasps seem to easily find. I also lose too much heat in the winter, when I work out there on my car.

I was also unable to find any information in any of the home repair/maintenance books I have or have seen. Thanks for any thoughts.

MG from Mason, Ohio

Dear MG,

There is an accessory available from Sears, called a low clearance bracket kit. It can be used on any sectional garage door that has clearance problems due to low ceilings or obstructions, allowing the garage door opener track to be mounted much closer to the top of the garage door than is usually possible.

The top guides (which hold the uppermost garage door rollers) on your door are replaced with specially designed brackets that cause the top of the top panel of the door to move inward further as the door opens than standard top guides. The result is that the top of the panel does not rise as high as the door opens, giving the additional ceiling clearance.

Dear NH,

Do you know the operating frequency of garage door openers?


Dear P,

I tried to search the FCC database myself. I can tell you the proper frequency for a freighter sending a distress call in the Mediterranean Sea, but garage door openers... forget it!

However, a knight on a white horse has come to the rescue. After sending out a distress call, I received this response from Karl Seidel of Aleator Garage Door Transmitters (now defunct, unfortunately). Aleator was an online supplier of replacement garage door remote controls:

"The range of different types of frequencies depends on a variety of factors: geographic location, manufacturer preference, etc. We stock and sell radio sets with the following frequencies (in MHz): 288, 300, 310, 312, 318, 340, 390, 434, and more; we commonly get inquiries from Canada & other countries that use other frequencies."

 Dear NH,

I have an Automatic Doorman (Model 455) garage door opener (which was in our garage when we bought the house). Lately, it has not been working correctly. Sometimes when it raises the door up, it will not pull up quite100%. It almost gets to the end and then sits there humming until you push the door up an inch or so. This is aggravating but manageable. The main problem is that it does it on the other end too. That is, when it is putting the door down, it will get the door all of the way to the bottom and then sit there humming trying to force the door further. If you pull the plug, it shuts off. You can plug it back in immediately and it will be OK.  It is an intermittent failure. It does seem to operate correctly more often when the temperature is colder, but once it warms up, it fails almost every time.

I tried to look for the company on the web, but didn't find them, so I'm guessing they may be out of business. Do you know anything about this problem. Is there a bad limit switch in the unit, or is there something else wrong? I appreciate your help if you can provide me with any relief for this problem.


Dear BB,

Unplug the opener, open the unit up and look inside. I am not familiar with your specific opener model, but from your description, I wager that this opener uses drive belts instead of gears or chains. This would explain whyit continues to run rather than stopping or auto-reversing. The belts are slipping.

Remove the belt(s), take them to a hardware store and get replacements. Clean all the pulleys with lacquer thinner or alcohol to remove any grease or oils before replacing them.

The fact that you are having problems at the limits makes me wonder if you may have some restriction in the door itself. Troubleshoot the door for resistance, check pulleys, etc. There are some good tips in the garage door article at the web site.