Monthly Archives: March 2010
Thieves Use Garage Door Openers to Enter Homes
Police agencies throughout the country are saying that there is an increase in burglaries where a thief or thieves broke into cars, found garage door openers, and used those openers to steal items from inside homes.
Recently a suspect broke into a car outside a residence and stole the garage door opener out of the car. When the victim left for work, the suspect or suspects entered her house and stole several thousand dollars worth of jewelry.
The crimes sometimes begin as car burglaries. The thieves find the remote controls and then enter the victims’ homes while they are asleep.
Police say that homeowners should remember to lock the doors to their homes and not leave valuables in plain view. Also, they recommend that people either lock their garage door openers in their glove boxes or take them inside with them when they leave. They also recommend that garage doors be secured at night so that they cannot be opened from the outside.
The Evolution: Housing and the Garage Door
Post-World War II housing was designed for the young parents who were giving birth to the baby boom generation.
Throughout the country, houses were built in accordance with the principles of pre-fabricated housing constructed for servicemen, but they incorporated the “must-haves” of post-war life: big yards, modern appliances, a television antenna, and other conveniences.
The earliest house plans from the 1940s show boxy, homes with a living room, dining room, bath, and two bedrooms. There were no driveways: the single car owned by most families was parked on the street. By 1950, houses included a driveway leading to a single attached carport. And in mid to late 50’s, developers presented a variety of homes that incorporated the latest essential in home design – an enclosed garage.
Today, if you drive through even the most moderate suburban neighborhood, you’re likely to see a gaping, two- or three-car garage opening directly onto the street, with living quarters sprawling behind and above. The garage has become the façade of the modern American home.
The growth in the importance of the garage has coincided with the presence of more and more cars in the typical American family. When Henry Ford lowered the price of his Model T so that “the workers who build them can afford to buy them,” the option of owning an automobile became a reality for families of modest means, and through the decades from 1910 to 1930 car ownership grew steadily.
Auto sales fell as World War II limited both income and the availability of raw materials, but millions more women learned to drive as they filled jobs previously held by servicemen. By the time the subdivision building boom began shortly after the war, nearly any young couple could afford a house for $8,000 and an $800-dollar station wagon. Typically, after driving her husband to the commuter train station, the housewife used the car to shop and run errands. (African American and other minority families, including Jews in many suburbs, were shut out of housing opportunities by restrictive covenants in the North and Jim Crow laws in the South. But that’s another story.)
Soon, though, a single car wasn’t enough: Dad wanted the family car, and Mom needed her own. By the 1960s, it was not uncommon for a teen to get a vehicle – often a grandparent’s old car – for his 16th birthday. Instead of parking on the street or under a single carport, a family now needed at least a double garage plus room to park a third or even fourth vehicle. Today, in addition to a garage for two cars (or, more likely, one car plus an attic’s worth of clutter), many suburban and rural homes include an additional, oversized garage for the RV.
Garage doors have changed, too. The earliest ones in the late 19th century were simply barn doors that allowed a farmer to bring a horse-drawn buggy into the garage for loading and unloading or storage out of the weather. They hinged outward or rolled sideways on steel tracks like a sliding closet door and were used for mechanized vehicles – tractors, cars, and trucks – as they came into wider use. Carriage houses, originally built by the wealthy for horses and carriages, also began to hold automobiles.
By the early 1920s, as more and more middle-class families could afford Model Ts, a modified version of the garage appeared. Usually a small shed (often only eight or ten feet wide), the garage wasn’t wide enough for a sliding door. A single hinged door would be too heavy and ungainly to move, so a split, hinged door, each half three or four feet wide and seven to eight feet tall, was used instead. These old wooden doors can still be seen in rural areas; they often look homemade, with small windowpanes and one-by-six-inch diagonal cross-braces across the front. But their weight put great stress on hinges, screws, and the frame, and, when there was snow on the ground, it had to be shoveled out of the way before the doors could swing open.
The invention of the articulated (folding) door was the first real innovation in garage doors. A door split into hinged vertical sections could slide or roll back into the garage itself. In 1921, Mr. C. G. Johnson designed an overhead garage door with horizontal articulation. Lifted from the bottom, the door rolled up and out of the way, each section leveling out as it followed the curve of parallel steel tracks. Five years later Johnson invented the electric opener, to assist people without the strength to raise the heavy door. Johnson’s company became the Overhead Door Corporation, still a leading manufacturer of garage doors.
Later developments included the slab door raised on a strong track, and doors using lightweight materials, like Styrofoam-insulated steel, and steel alloys and fiberglass that roll into a compact space – the roll-down security doors seen at many businesses today.
Along with changes in technology came changes in style. As garages were gradually incorporated into houses – that is, going from a separate building to an attached one to part of the structure itself – the look and palette of garage doors evolved. No longer limited to the red-stained barn-door model or the white paint of early 20th-century design, they began to echo French Provincial, English Manor, Colonial, and California Ranch houses, among other popular architectural styles.
The modern garage, far from being an outbuilding or an afterthought, is as much a part of the typical American home as a family room and kitchen. And, in accordance with that status, garage doors today come in all the materials and styles favored by homeowners: traditional wood – with or without glass inserts and with or without resin impregnation – articulated steel and alloys, fiberglass, vinyl coatings, and aluminum.
With the wide range of sizes, styles, and finishes offered, every homeowner can choose the garage door that compliments and enhances the curb appeal of their home.
Old Garage Doors: What About Recycling?
These days, recycling is understood to be vital for the survival of the planet.
Old garage doors pose a disposal problem in that they are large and heavy and are made of materials that do not decompose. Even wooden garage doors are treated and sealed to maintain strength and beauty over many years of use. Because they take up a significant amount of space in a landfill, individuals who attempt to dispose of old garage doors may face hefty disposal fees. Many installation companies that offer garage door service now include complimentary removal and recycling of old doors, often free of charge with garage door replacement. However, a creative homeowner may choose to keep the used doors and get creative with recycling options.
A great way to recycle used garage doors that are no longer wanted is to take them to builder supply re-use stores, such as the Habitat for Humanity Restores. A donation to a Habitat Restore counts as a charitable donation for tax purposes, keeps the doors out of landfills, helps Habitat for Humanity raise funds with which to build homes, and offers the doors up for a minimal price to persons seeking inexpensive, used garage doors.
Used garage doors can easily be cleaned, painted, and even dressed up with decorative hardware and used on outbuildings like sheds and greenhouses. The doors can be hung and used just like on a vehicle storage garage, complete with electronic door openers. They can also be used as walls for building small tool sheds. Keep in mind that the neighbors may not like the look of a shed made out of mismatched, used garage doors. A clever paint job should help pretty things up.
Using paint to give an old door an all new look opens up a whole new list of uses for the recycled material. The doors can also be used whole or in pieces as roofing for out buildings. A couple sections of an old door can be decorated and used as a roof for a child’s playhouse. Or, use prettily painted metal door sections to build creative planters for flowers and vegetables. Using recycled metal garage doors as planters set around the garage entry and to beautify the driveway is a creative use that will impress friends and neighbors.
Many old wooden garage doors have carved sections and decorations. An attractive old wooden door makes an original and lovely headboard for a bed. Wooden doors can also be used in sections as unique wainscoting for interior decorating. Treated and sealed wooden doors can also be cut or separated into sections and used as landscaping materials, or put hinges on them and use them as fence gates.
Before throwing a replaced garage door away or having it hauled off for recycling by the garage door service, consider the many uses around the home and yard that recycled metal and wood can come in handy for. If nothing else, securing a used door to the back of a garden shed creates a wonderful outdoor canvas for children to paint murals on. If nothing comes to mind, donating them to charitable resellers of building supplies benefits many people.
Your Garage Door Only Opens a Foot?
When you attempt to open your electric garage door, does the door go up about a foot or two then stop?
This could be one of two things. If you apply pressure upwards when the door is lifting, will it go up all the way? This problem is more than likely due to a problem with a torsion spring. For most doors, torsion springs can be replaced at an affordable cost.
Otherwise, you could be looking at a problem with the motor and/or garage door. As garage doors age, they require maintenance to keep them evenly balanced. An opening garage door can find itself getting stuck in a stationery position because an usually large amount of force has been detected required to open the door.
Usually, a garage door service will mend any problems seen. Call a licensed, bonded and insured garage door professional.
Garage Door Openers and Your Carbon Footprint
Notable amounts of electricity are only consumed while the garage door is in motion – a period which consists of around 10 to 15 seconds. The majority of motors take in a 24 DC current and output as little energy as 100 Watts. Just how much energy are we talking? 100 Watts is less than or equal to your modern home computer.
The rest of the time, the garage door operator remains in a standby state where no significant power is utilized. It should be noted that most modern openers are equipped with efficient energy-saving transformers ensuring that your carbon footprint is minimal.
Guarantying Garage Door Opener Security
The original “self opened-and-closed” garage door revolutionized garages and car storage in 1918.
It was a fully mechanical system with no electronic parts, as electronics were not yet in common household goods. A U-shaped bar was set into the driveway, which turned other mechanical parts to make the door open. The original automatic garage door opener had no particular security safeguards, save from manually locking the door.
During World War II, new technology was invented that was used to remotely detonate bombs. Using a simple transmitter and receiver, this new remote control was adjusted to work on garage door openers. Originally, these garage door openers only worked on one unchanging radio frequency. This wasn’t a problem at first, but as more and more people owned automobiles, more and more houses were built with radio frequency- remote controlled automatic garage door openers. Suddenly, opening one garage door caused people to open their neighbors’ garage doors as well. The evening rush hour became quite interesting in cozy little neighborhoods.
In order to rectify the opening of multiple doors in range with the push of a single button, automatic openers underwent a change. Dip switches were added to the transmitters and receivers. Though they had to be set in advance, these wireless systems offered 256 code options. This meant that it was reasonably unlikely for neighbors to have the same code, and the opening of all the neighbors doors along with one’s own ceased, though they admittedly did not provide high security.
Because these codes are sent using radio frequencies, it was possible for persons with bad intentions to use frequency reading devices and capture a code to a given house simply by using the device at the same time a homeowner opened the garage door. This was particularly terrifying, as by this time, most garages were built onto the houses and offered interior access to homes. To address this security issue, automatic door openers began using rolling codes.
Openers with rolling codes automatically program a new code into the transmitter and receiver every time the remote is used to open the door. This means that it is not possible to capture the code with frequency reading devices, as the code is different every time. For a while, these openers were allowed to operate using government radio frequencies between 300 and 400 MHz. In 2005, the United States Department of Defense needed more available frequencies, and so remote openers now use 315 MHz frequency. This keeps the military’s Land Mobile Radio System (LMRS) from accidentally interfering with garage openers and resetting the codes.
Now that the codes are protected, other security concerns have arisen. External keypads are a convenient feature of many modern garage door openers, but they do present a weak point in home security. It is important to keep keypad codes secret and to change them occasionally. Many new remote openers feature vacation lockout. This feature shuts off the receiver so that it cannot be accessed when the homeowners are away for extended periods.
Many garage doors also have manual mechanical locks that can be used. Some have keyed entry, but many must be locked and unlocked from inside the garage. Of course, many home security companies offer ways to add security to garage doors, including monitoring. It is also a good idea to lock the interior entry door so that if a thief does make it into the garage, they are still denied access to the inside of the home.
The best resource for ensuring proper automatic garage door opener security is a professional door installation and service company. Ask about security before settling on a product and installation. If the representative is unable to help, find another company. If concerns still arise, talk to a home security firm about adding an extra layer of security to the garage entry.
Uniqueness of Steel Garage Doors
There are many unique types of garage doors that could be appealing to a homeowner. Depending on the architecture of the house, there are other kinds that are somewhat unique to the common eye.
The most popular is that of the various steel doors that are available. Unlike wooden garage doors, a steel type of garage door doesn’t develop cracks, it won’t warp or contract in any weather. These steel garage doors are made of galvanized steel, which prevents it from rusting even after several years. Also, this low-maintenance garage door will save you from repainting costs unlike the wooden one.
Another appealing factor of steel garage doors is that with its extensive styles and design, you can choose the one that has a wooden effect, if your house demands that you should install a wooden door. Compared to a wooden door, with its almost maintenance free and affordability features, the steel door is the winner.
You’ll find that steel garage doors have various styles, features and benefits. You just have to take into consideration what door works best for you and your budget.
Garage Door Industry Needs their Watch Dogs
Tracking down immoral and illegal companies and individuals in the garage door industry is by no means the responsibility of an individual or a few.
It should be a concerted effort by all those who participate in our industry. Manufacturers, suppliers, professional installers and industry media groups, each need to participate in the responsibility.
Just because the economy has taken a tumble should not give way to being sympathetic to companies and individuals who take advantage of the current climate and promote themselves in much fairer light. They do this through unfair practices, deceiving advertising and marketing practices, misappropriating resources on the internet and manipulating the media.
There are many in this industry who have invested their personal resources to mold it into what it is today. To have individuals and companies make such unsubstantiated claims, exemplifies little or no respect to anyone else associated with the industry. We can only hope that those who truly care continue to be the protectors and watchdogs of the industry.
We’re just saying.
If I replace my garage door, can I keep my old track?
You should replace your old track when installing a new garage door.
As you can probably imagine, each brand and model of garage door has been specifically designed to work in conjunction with a specific type of track. Additionally, keeping the old track will usually void any manufacturer’s warranty that would have otherwise applied to the garage door.
Unfortunately, there is no international standard when it comes to garage door tracks. Let’s look at the positive: you receive a new track that is free from old grime, dirt, and rust. In essence, replacing your old track is an inexpensive way to insure that your entire garage door system is as safe and reliable as possible.