Ready Your Garage Door for the Winter

garage-door-winter-First United Door 2The garage door is the main access point to the home for more than 70 percent of homeowners, and as the Winter weather approaches, it’s important for homeowners to ensure the operation and safety of your household’s main point of entry. First United Door provides some helpful tips to ensure your garage doors are ready for Winter.

Weather Stripping

Check the weather stripping around the garage door to ensure it is keeping out the cold air, and replace any damaged or missing seals.Clean the weather stripping with a good all-purpose cleaner. Lubricate it every 2 or 3 months with a SILICONE-based lubricant. Never use a petroleum-based lubricant on weather stripping as it will dry up and crack. Don’t forget the weather strip between your door panels. It is important to let your weather strip hang 1/2″ below the door base when you readjust your perimeter weather stripping. If the weather stripping is too tight, the door will not function properly. So if your weather stripping has lost its flexibility, it is best to replace it.

Maintaining the Hardware

Older garage doors can malfunction in the cold weather, so garage door maintenance and inspections are even more important during the Winter months. Metal parts of a garage door can contract during cold weather, which can lead to broken springs and other issues.

Homeowners should use a garage door lubricant on any moving parts. Lubricate the rollers, tracks and hinges and all moving hardware parts with a little motor oil (e.g.: 10W30) every three months. Wipe off excess oil with a cloth. As for the springs, use the same oil applied with a cloth. You are not only prolonging the spring’s life, but also reducing the noise the springs make when the door is operated.

Keeping it Clean

Clean your garage door regularly with mild soap, such as car detergent, and a soft bristle brush. Avoid using abrasive cleaners and very strong liquid cleaners which could damage the paint or cause delaminating. If you have a steel garage door, you can revive its luster by applying a car wax as it will protect against acid rain and dust. It is best to avoid waxing in direct sunlight to achieve better results.

Open Sesame: The Garage Door Opener

Depending on the model you own, consult the manufacturer’s guide. If you want to add some white grease on the operator track, again you must first clean the track. By oiling all the mobile parts you will reduce the noise initiated by the motor. If it is still too noisy for your liking, then nylon rollers would help reduce the noise.

Pull on the trolley release cord and operate the door manually. Is it difficult to open and close? The electric operator only replaces manual operation, therefore it must move freely. If you have trouble operating it, contact your local l qualified and licensed garage door installer. For your safety as well as your child’s, check the automatic safety reverse system of the door opener every month.

Get Your Annual Exam

Consider your garage door as an important part of your home. With appropriate annual maintenance, it will operate beautifully.

Ask a qualified and licensed garage door installer to lubricate and adjust your garage door at least yearly. In a 10 step check-up, they will check the following:

– the sturdiness and adjustment of the hinges;
– the rollers for worn-out ball bearings, flattened rollers, and crooked rods;
– the tracks for premature wear and tear, loose bolts, and loose supports;
– the cables for wear and tear; especially near the pulleys and the lower support (corner bracket).

With these helpful tips, homeowners can ensure their garage door is safe, functional and secure well through the winter. 

Leave a comment

Filed under garage door

Unfortunately, Advertised Garage Door R-Values are Meaningless

First United Door - R Value

Published on by Martin Holladay

Is R-8.6 per inch even possible? The advertised R-value for Clopay’s model 9200 garage door strains credulity.

If you’re shopping for a garage door, the door’s energy performance may not matter — especially if you don’t heat your garage. However, there are a few reasons why you might be looking for a well-insulated, draft-free garage door:

  • A good overhead door on an attached garage can keep the garage — and therefore the house — a little warmer than a leaky door.
  • Since cars can be hard to start in sub-zero weather, homeowners in very cold climates — even those with unheated garages — may want a garage door that limits heat loss.
  • If the garage is used for vehicle maintenance or woodworking projects, it may occasionally be heated.

So, how do you tell a high-performance garage door from a lemon?

“We sell high R-value doors!”

Many garage-door manufacturers advertise the R-values of their doors:

  • Clopay [8] advertises that some of its doors are R-17.2.
  • Overhead Door [9] advertises that “a 17.5 R-value makes the 490 Series among the most thermally efficient doors you can buy.”
  • Raynor [10] advertises “R-values from 12.0 – 18.0.”
  • Wayne-Dalton [11] advertises garage doors with R-15 insulation.

Unfortunately, these advertised R-values are almost meaningless.

Advertised R-values are inaccurate, irrelevant — or both

To determine the thermal performance of a garage door, you need to know two things:

  • The door’s leakiness, and
  • The R-value or U-factor of the entire door assembly.

The R-values that are trumpeted by garage-door manufacturers are measured at the center of one of the door panels. No manufacturer, as far as I can determine, reports the R-value of the entire door assembly (including the panel edges, the seams between panels, and the perimeter of the door) in their promotional materials. Moreover, manufacturers’ reported R-values tell us nothing about air leakage.

Most garage-door manufacturers are reluctant to share actual laboratory reports showing the results of R-value testing. When I asked Mike Willstead, a technical representative for Raynor, if I could see a copy of Raynor’s test results, he suggested I send him an e-mail. He later e-mailed his response: “I apologize if I misled you. I was informed that this is proprietary information that will not be disclosed.”

The window industry does a much better job
More than a decade ago, responsible window manufacturers realized that the reputation of their industry was being damaged by misleading R-value and U-factor claims. (U-factor is the inverse of R-value; in other words, U=1/R and R=1/U). To address these problems, industry leaders developed a method for testing and reporting whole-window U-factors. The U-factor reported on an NFRC label accurately describes the U-factor of the entire window, including the sash frame and the window frame — not just the center-of-glass U-factor.

When it comes to accurate reporting of U-factors or R-values, however, the garage door industry is years behind the window industry.

There’s nothing to prevent garage-door manufacturers from using the NFRC testing and labeling protocol — a protocol that yields a more honest and useful result than the center-of-panel numbers trumpeted by garage-door marketers. Alternatively, garage-door manufacturers could use the voluntary consensus standard (ANSI/DASMA 105) for reporting whole-door U-factors adopted by the Door and Access System Manufacturers Association (DASMA). A technical data sheet (DASMA TDS #163) describes this testing protocol, dubbed the “tested installed door” protocol by DASMA.

“For marketing purposes, the garage door people get a measurement on the center of panel,” said David Yarbrough, a research engineer and insulation expert at R&D Services in Cookeville, Tennessee. “The overall R-value of the entire door might be quite a bit less — in extreme cases, it may be half — of the R-value of the center of the panel. Not everyone approves of this kind of marketing. It’s been a hot debate in recent years.”

In fact, the percentage turns out to be much less than half.

Actual R-values are one-third the advertised values

Although it’s hard to obtain actual test results that report the whole-door U-factors of “tested installed doors,” I managed to obtain one report on a garage door from Clopay, and another on a garage door from Overhead Door.

Clopay provided test results for their model 3720 five-panel garage door. According to Mischel Schonberg, Clopay’s public relations manager, the door is insulated with 2 inches of polyurethane foam. Schonberg wrote, “This model is the commercial version of our residential model 9200 and has the same construction.”

While Clopay advertises that the 9200 door is R-17.2 — presumably, a claim based on a center-of-panel measurement — the test report for the installed door shows R-6.14.

While Overhead Door advertises that their model 494/495 Thermacore door has an R-value of 17.5 — a claim that, like competitors’ claims, is presumably based on a center-of-panel measurement — the test report for the installed door shows a U-factor of 0.16, equivalent to R-6.25.

Based on the only two test reports that I was able to track down, it seems logical to conclude that the R-value of a garage door is about one-third of the R-value claimed in a manufacturer’s brochure.

All over the map
Mike Thoman, the director of thermal testing and simulation at Architectural Testing Incorporated, a Pennsylvania laboratory, has tested many garage doors.

“The assembly R-values are not going to be nearly as good as the R-value of the material would indicate,” Thoman told me recently. “When you compare the assembly R-value to the material R-value, the percentages are all over the map. The percentage is a function of how the joints in the panels are made, and whether any attempt was made to provide for thermal breaks at panel edges — a lot of different things. Some products have a lot of insulation in the panel but have everything else wrong. We’ve also seen doors that do everything right. There’s really a wide, wide range.”

Are the reported R-values even accurate?
There’s another potential problem with the R-values reported by garage-door manufacturers: even if one accepts the fact that the advertised R-values represent center-of-panel values rather than whole-door values, the numbers are still higher than most insulation experts believe are possible.

Several manufacturers report that their polyurethane-insulated door panels have R-values between R-8.6 and R-9.0 per inch — values that are highly unlikely if not technically impossible, even for the center of a door panel.

“The R-value of polyurethane decreases with age,” said Yarbrough. “When it is absolutely fresh you might get R-7.5 per inch, but a realistic aged R-value would be lower — perhaps about R-6.5 per inch would be on the high end. I’m not sure I can explain these reported test results. I have seen labs make mistakes before. I think it’s an error.”

One garage-door distributor who doubts the accuracy of manufacturer’s R-value claims is Bill Feder, the president of Door Services Incorporated of Portland, Maine. On his own initiative, Feder sent a garage-door panel (Overhead Door model 194) to Yarbrough’s lab, R&D Services. The ASTM C518 test conducted by Yarbrough came up with a value of only R-7.83 for the 1 3/8-inch-thick panel. Yet Overhead Door advertises that the door is R-12.76 — or R-9.28 per inch.

Feder’s R-value challenge
“If anyone calls me about a door, I tell them about my R-value challenge,” Feder told me. “I will give anyone a check for $250 if they can bring in a document that shows that a 1 3/8-inch-thick garage door has an R-value of 12. They can’t do it.”

Unfortunately, Feder’s admirable challenge has not yet shamed the garage-door industry into correcting the numerous exaggerations in their product specifications.

What about air leakage?
If the day ever comes when garage-door manufacturers follow the path blazed by their more honest brothers and sisters in the window industry — that is, if they ever decide to report whole-door U-factors or whole-door R-values — an important piece of the door-rating puzzle will still be missing. The reason: when it comes to the thermal performance of garage doors, air leakage matters much more than R-value.

“Garage doors are so leaky that they are difficult to test,” Thoman said. “Their leaks exceed the capabilities of the available testing apparatus.”

When he needed to buy a garage door for his own house, Thoman ignored advertised R-values. “I find it almost offensive that garage-door manufacturers even publish the R-value of the insulation material,” Thoman told me. “I hate it when I see that, because it’s not a representation of the door’s performance. Air leakage is a much more important issue than the R-value of the door.”

The bottom line
Although some garage-door manufacturers have measured the whole-door U-factor and air-leakage characteristics of their doors, most won’t release the data. Until they do, purchasers of garage doors have to select their doors based on anecdotes.

“I tell customers that the R-value of the door should be the last thing you should think about,” Bill Feder told me. “Instead, look at the seals and the hardware. On my own garage I just have a raised-panel cedar door.”

1 Comment

Filed under garage door

June is Garage Door Safety Month

Increasing Garage Door Safety AwarenessGarage Door Safety Month

The International Door Association (IDA) and the Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA) have designated June as Garage Door Safety Month. Both associations and their affiliated manufacturers and dealers will be working to increase awareness of the possible hazards of garage doors and automatic opener systems, and the need for periodic inspection and maintenance to keep them safe.

Just as you want your garage door system to operate properly every time you need it, you also want it to operate safely at all times.

The garage door is typically the largest moving object in your home. Properly maintained and operated, a garage door and its operating system allow you, your family and your vehicles convenient access to and from your home. They also provide security and protect against the elements. Newer, insulated garage doors even help save energy.

But moving garage doors can also cause serious injury, or even death. While there are some garage door system maintenance chores that you yourself can – and should – perform on a regular basis, there are other tasks (including garage door installation and garage door spring replacement) that are best left to the pros.

You and your family should know how to operate and maintain your garage door system safely at all times. You are the key to garage door safety.

Here are 10 things everyone in your household should know about garage door safety. It’s a good idea to review these with everyone in your household from time to time – especially children. The garage door and its operating system are not playthings.

  1. The garage door and garage door opener are not toys. They are dangerous if misused, and can cause serious injury or even death.
  1. Children should never be allowed to play with the garage door or its operating system. Children should never stand, run or play under or near any garage door, especially when the door is open or moving.
  1. Adults should not allow children access to the remote controls or push button wall controls for garage door opener systems; these should be kept out of reach of children. The push button wall control for a garage door operating system should be mounted at least five feet off the floor, out of the reach of children.
  1. Never stand or walk under a moving garage door. Never try to enter or exit the garage by racing under a moving garage door.
  1. When opening or closing the garage door, always keep the door in view until the door is fully opened or fully closed. Make certain that no adults, children or animals try to enter or exit while the door is closing.
  1. Keep fingers and hands away from door sections when the door is opening or closing to avoid injury.
  1. Keep your garage door properly maintained to keep it operating safely. Annual maintenance by a trained service technician is recommended. There are other tests and maintenance tasks that you can perform.
  1. Remember that your garage door opener uses electricity, which can shock or kill if mishandled. Service should be performed by a trained service technician.
  1. Never attempt to repair a garage door’s springs or cables. These are under extreme tension and can cause severe injury or even death. These are best repaired by a trained service technician.
  1. If someone has backed into the garage door (yes, it does happen – all of us are in a hurry at one time or another), it’s a good idea to have the door inspected and/or repaired by a trained service technician. Even if the door doesn’t appear to be severely damaged, the operating system may have become misaligned and wear prematurely, creating what could be a dangerous environment.

Although you should provide monthly safety checks and maintenance to your garage door system, an annual visit from a trained door systems technician can keep your door operating safely and smoothly for a long time

Leave a comment

Filed under garage door

Garage Door Check-Ups

At least once a year you should examine the garage door(s) on your property. To insure for proper operation and the longevity of your garage-door-check-up1investment, we recommend that you pay-attention to your garage during daily use. When you find time to do a relatively simple walkthrough, follow these steps:

1. Disengage your opener by means of the emergency release and manually open and close the door. During this time, the garage should operate smoothly without making loud noises. If you can open your garage door with one hand, make sure that it’s not flying up or slamming shut.

2. Check the cables and chain, torsion springs, rollers, and track. As you look at those, also go over the hinges and mounting brackets because sometimes screws come loose.

3. Perform preventative maintenance by having a good lubricant that is made for garage doors. Remember that WD-40 is not a lubricant. With your garage door closed, place a tiny amount at each point on the door where there’s a moving part. When you’re finished, manually open and close the door to work the lubricant in. Don’t forget the bearings on a torsion spring (which is located above the door when closed).

Garage door systems will last about 10-20 years. Like anything else that you use, if there’s high usage and poor maintenance, you can’t expect that your investment will last long. Appropriate care will help to increase the lifespan of your garage door and opener system. If something is wrong when you are performing a walkthrough it is important to repair it promptly. Garage door maintenance is a good way to prevent costlier future repairs. If you have a demanding schedule or cannot perform the maintenance yourself, hire professionals to do it.

Leave a comment

Filed under garage door

Troubleshooting: Remote Control for Your Garage Door Opener

Believe it or not, technologies like garage door opener remote controls are supposed to make our lives easier. Unfortunately,  there is nothing easy about having to open a garage door by hand in the middle of a freezing winter night because the remote for the opener won’t work. As technologies become more complex, there are more and more ways in which they can break down. Scan the list of problems below to find one that sounds familiar, then read the quick fix underneath it. Hopefully, it will help correct the error within the remote so that the garage will open and close without any issues.

The Garage Door Opener Remote Only Works Up Close

There are quite a few things that could cause this to happen. First, check the batteries within the remote itself to be sure they still carry a charge powerful enough to operate the remote. While replacing the batteries, be sure to clean the electrical contacts, since this may be another cause of a weak signal from the remote. If the remote is still only working up close it may be time to go talk to the neighbors. If a button is stuck on a neighbor’s remote, the signal can cause an interference that may shorten the range of other radio frequency based devices in the area. Houses within the proximity of military bases will have this same problem and it is recommended that people in this situation switch to remotes that operate below 390 megahertz to fix the problem.

The Garage Door Remote Won’t Work but the Wall Switch Does

Check the batteries and electrical connections in the remote to make sure they are working correctly. If they are working correctly, the problem might be because of the safety sensors. Some garage doors have infrared sensors that shoot an invisible beam across the door. If one of these beams is misaligned, blocked or the lenses are dirty, then, as a safety feature, the opener will not allow the door to close unless the wall switch is held down. Clean the beam lenses, and make sure they are aligned and unobstructed. If this fails to fix the problem, unplug the door opener and then plug it back in. This will often reset the safety systems of the unit.

Remote Only Works in Cold or Warm Weather

If there are problems with the remote that seem to occur only when the weather is either cold or warm, the problem probably has to do with the infrared safety sensors that run along the bottom of the door. Next time it happens, try going inside the garage and holding down the wall switch to override the safety. If the door works when this is done, then it is indeed the sensors that need to be realigned. What happens when the weather turns, is that the steel which houses the sensors either expands or contracts which, in turn, will distort the path of the sensor beam. If the beam was slightly misaligned in the first place, then the slight change in the temperature of the metal will force the safety to kick in. Also, in cold climates with heated garages, the lens on the sensors can be clouded by either fogging or frosting. Clean the lenses and realign the sensors to fix the problem. If that doesn’t work try rebooting the unit by unplugging the opener and then plugging it back in.

The Batteries in the Remote are Brand New and the Door Still Won’t Open

If the remote is set to the correct frequency, then this may not be a remote problem, but rather a problem with the garage opener itself. Check to make sure that the opener is plugged in and that no fuses are blown or circuit breakers tripped. If the power seems to be working properly, there may be an internal problem with the opener’s mechanisms. If this is the case, the unit will need to be serviced.

Leave a comment

Filed under garage door

The Biggest Impact on a Home

For something that has been so prominent in the design of new homes over recent years, the garage door has generally been seen as a Plain Jane. But who cared, really? It was just a

two-, three- or four-car structure to house the occupants’ vehicles. No one expected anything so utilitarian in nature to be a thing of beauty. But that has been steadily changing as an amazing trend has started to regain traction in the garage door industry.

That trend? Curb appeal.First United Door Technologies

In the garage door industry, people like to refer to the garage door as the largest moving object in the home. In today’s home, it’s become the focal point. The garage door has become more prevalent, particularly when it faces the street. The garage door makes up from 50 percent to 80 percent of a home’s front elevation. Viewed from the street, that’s a big part of the home.

Builders haven’t traditionally spent much money on the garage door, despite its prominence or its 25- to 30-year lifespan. But that, too, is changing because builders are realizing that a handsome garage door has a huge impact on a home’s salability.

Like great front-yard landscaping, a well designed garage door enriches the appearance of the home and generate tremendous value.

Leave a comment

Filed under garage door

The Original All Steel Carriage House Garage Door

Steelhouse-Carriage-House-Garage-DoorHow about a garage door that looks like a carriage house door from the past but manufactured entirely of steel?

The Original STEELHOUSE™ garage doors have two-sided steel insulated facing boards that are textured, roll formed and laminated to steel backers and then mechanically fastened and bonded to a 23 gauge steel section. Four-inch wide, two-sided steel insulated boards are bonded with epoxy cement and mechanically fastened to ensure positive attachment to the face of the door. All Original STEELHOUSE™ Doors come standard with CFC-free polystyrene insulation.

A “Reinforced Integral Truss System” (RITS™) gives the Original STEELHOUSE™ doors strength and rigidity that is unmatched by similar products. In addition to their distinctive style and curb appeal, the Original STEELHOUSE™ patented doors are half the weight and cost of wooden doors. Virtually maintenance-free, the Original STEELHOUSE doors will not warp, crack, or split. Quite simply, it doesn’t get better than that.

From a base of nine models and over 15 designer top sections, Original STEELHOUSE™ Doors offer more than 200 unique configurations to ensure diversity from one home to the next and from one subdivision to the next. Homeowners, builders, architects and municipalities alike, are using Original STEELHOUSE™ Doors to bring a fresh, handsome appearance to neighborhoods across the country.

The Original STEELHOUSE Door combines rich traditional styling with three key benefits not found in wooden doors: half the weight, half the cost, and half the maintenance. True to Carriage House style, these doors can be detailed with classically finished handles, pulls, hinge straps, and windows.

Download the Steelhouse Brochure here!

Leave a comment

Filed under garage door