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DexterII 04-19-2011 02:58 PM

Garage door really needs to be replaced
I looked at a garage door yesterday that was definitely one of the cheapest made ones that I have ever seen. It is a 7 x 16 sectional, with 5 substantial vertical ribs in each section, but the only horizontal reinforcement is a crease in the ultra light weight aluminum skin, along the top and bottom of each section. Anyway, they have an opener on it, and when the door is raised or lowered, the center of the door deflects in at least 6". I checked the door with the opener disconnected from it, and it could not operate any better. The springs are balanced good, the rollers and hinges are in good shape, the track is in perfect alignment, etc., but, in my humble opinion, it is simply a cheap door. My first suggestion was that they replace it, but, with two kids, they have enough things to spend money on, so I suggested that they operate it manually for the time being, and that we might try adding some horizontal stability to the top secion, in order to keep the door from deflecting, and ultimately rendering it inoperable, when the opener is used. My thought is to span the vertical ribs with something like 1-1/2 x 1-1/2 slotted angle, horizontal, bolted into each rib, near the top of the door. Has anyone encountered something like this, and/or does anyone have any other thoughts or suggestions? Thank you.

SPS-1 04-19-2011 06:11 PM

Sixteen feet wide and light construction are not a good combination. The slotted angle will help, but if you are going to put one on every section, you are going to be adding a lot of weight. If the springs were properly sized for that lightweight door, I am not sure if they are going to be OK for the door with all that added steel.

DexterII 04-19-2011 08:52 PM

Thank you, SP. Yes, I did mention to him that I was concerned about adding any weight, for the exact reason that you mentioned, and that he may need to have someone readjust the springs. (I do a lot of things, but door springs are one of those things for which I value my eyes and fingers too much to mess with.) I've had a chance to think about it some more, and think that I am going to go ahead and try it though. Like I told him, the vertical pieces are substantial enough that a hole or two in each one won't weaken anything, so it's worth a shot. We need to straighten the opener up a bit, as they have it about two inches out of alignment at one end of the track, and two inches out the opposite way at the other end, so that's not helping anything, and we'll do that first, but once I get that done, some time this week, I'll at least report back with the results, in case it may be of benefit to anyone down the road some time.

firehawkmph 04-19-2011 09:27 PM

Hey Dex,
Is that door a Wayne Dalton by chance? Sounds like one of there clunkers. The piece of angle on the top strut wouldn't hurt and would help to stiffen it up a little. What usually happens when the top section starts flexing like that is it develops a crack in the middle and turns into a hinge. The little bit of weight the strut adds shouldn't affect the operation of the door as far as the added weight. The opener will more than make up for it. Post a couple of pics of the backside of the door and the opener if you get a chance.
Mike Hawkins:)

DexterII 04-20-2011 05:59 AM

Thank you, Mike. I could not find any identification on it, but your description fits it perfectly, so it may very well be a Wayne Dalton. I have heard others talk about their el cheapo ones, but guesss that I have never been this close and personal with one, because I honestly don't recall having ever laid hands on one this flimsy. I've never posted any pics before, and unfortunately don't take many anyway, but will see what I can do in that regard. Monday, I decided spur of the moment to take the day off, to work on some of my own projects, so there I was working away, when the phone rang. A neighbor down the road was on the other end, saying that he happened to be off the same day, drove by, saw my pickup in the driveway, and wondered if I would "stop over for a minute, just to look at something". Well, that's how this project started. The next time that I decide to take a day off, I may over rule myself, and go to work instead!

iamrfixit 04-20-2011 09:59 AM

Does the door have ANY struts on it?

Almost every door, even the higher quality doors, requires the addition of at least one strut at the top of the top section if it is going to be used with an operator. When the door is ordered it is usually added at that time. Many times a manual door that did not require a strut is later converted by someone who fails to add them. If the door catches or freezes down once and the top panel gets bent or cracked there is virtually no strength to resist the bowing you see.

Slotted angle or regular angle are pretty heavy compared to an actual garage door strut, and probably not much if any stronger unless the angle iron is fairly large. You need to go to a garage door company or even a home center and get an actual garage door strut. They are lightweight yet very strong and spans the entire width of the door section. A couple of struts will really beef the door up.

Garage door Strut

DexterII 04-20-2011 11:40 AM

Thank you Iam. Yeah, I don't do garage doors every day, so it was taking my brain a while to catch up, but I think that I recall having installed a few that had a tag on them, saying something to the affect of "do not install opener without...", and it probably had to do with adding horizontal strut(s). I called the door company that I usually deal with a bit ago, to get a ballpark price on a new door, because the slotted angle that I looked at this morning was more $$ than I had anticipated, and it now seems to make even more sense for him to buy a complete door than to spend 10-15% or so of the cost of a new one to repair his old one. I may call them back and get a price on a strut, but my guess is that it will probably cost more than the slotted angle, which takes me right back to better off to replace than repair. Thank you again.

DexterII 04-20-2011 01:04 PM

Well, just to share this for whatever it may be worth, I called my door company again, and asked about an actual door strut, as Iam suggested. Yes, they do have them, and they are actually less expensive than slotted angle would have been. The issue, though, is that he first confirmed what Iam mentioned, that the strut should have been installed before the opener was installed, and he added that given the amount of deflection I described, it is his opinion, based on years of experience, that the damage has already been done, and that adding a strut at this time is only going to provide relatively short term relief. So, there you go... before installing an opener, make sure that the door is sufficiently built to handle it; otherwise you may end up buying a new door as well. Not that I'm unsympathetic to my neighbor, but I'm just relieved to finally learn something at someone else's expense for a change!

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