Monthly Archives: May 2011

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Garage Door Safety Tips

While working in the garage the other day, my next door neighbor was outside playing with his toddler son, in front of my driveway. Just as I was wrapping up my project and on my way into the house, I made sure the coast was clear, hit the button for the garage door and it began to close. The last beams of daylight were just beginning to disappear when I suddenly noticed out of my peripheral vision, a pair of legs, belonging to that toddler, standing about a foot from my closing garage door. I quickly hit the door button and fortunately  for myself, the little toddler and his father, the door came to an abrupt stop. Talk about close calls!

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, garage door related accidents account for an astonishing 20,000 emergency room visits every year. The types of injuries range from crush injuries to fractures and worse. And those are just the incidents that were reported. If those numbers don’t impress you, then check these numbers out:

  • 77.6% of garage door injuries happen at a person’s own home.
  • 37.7% of injuries occur in the summer months. (June-Aug)
  • 59% of injuries involve caught or cut fingers and hands.
  • 23.5% of injuries involve doors coming down on a person.

Many families don’t realize the potential dangers that garage doors pose, and that they’re often the largest and heaviest pieces of moving equipment in a home, many weighing around 600 pounds, not to mention those deceptively dangerous torsion springs. So now that you’re aware those dangers exist, here are 6 rules to help prevent garage door injuries and keep your family safe:

  1. Educate your children about the dangers of garage doors. And don’t just talk the talk…walk the walk!
  2. Never go near a door until it has stopped moving.

     3. Don’t turn your back, walk away or drive away until your garage door had stopped moving. (Like my situation, you never know who’s going to allow their child to walk around, near your closing garage door). 

    4. Test your garage door monthly. Your door should reverse when coming down on a roll of paper towels. Do not use anything hard like wood or blocks. If the door fails to reverse, disconnect it and have it serviced.

    5. Move the wall switch/button high enough so kids can’t reach it or play with it.

    6. Keep the remote controls out of children’s reach.

For these tips on garage safety and information about other product safety, go to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (

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How to choose and match exterior colours on your home, including the garage door

The challenge in choosing exterior colour is to find the right balance between standing out and fitting in.

Often the biggest colour decisions have been made by the time you get to choosing exterior paint colours: the brick, the stone elements, and your roof. To help you see these materials as colours, match each of them to a paint chip. This is a quick and effective aid to developing your home’s exterior palette. Add a paint chip for the roof and you are ready to go.

Next, choose your main trim colour , and when you do, be extremely wary of white. There is very little White in nature so stark white can look artificial and inelegant. Be sure that any whites you use are what designers call “toned” whites. These look off–white or warm grey as paint chips but will still look very white against brick and stone. They’re softer and more pleasing to the eye.

Make the laws of colour perception work for you when assigning colours to the architectural features of your home. Light things grab our attention and they also tend to look big (which is why some of us favour black workout clothing). Take stock of your facade, your garage door and assign the brightest trim colour to its most attractive trim features. 

If you want to calm your façade then the rule of thumb is to reduce contrast. Tone down your trim with natural–looking neutrals in a deeper range of colours, both the colour of stone. Make the details you want to be less visible recede with a warm off–black. These shadow colours help create harmony in your palette.

Sometimes, toning down unattractive features won’t be enough. To make utility doors, down–pipes and truly unsightly things disappear, you need outright camouflage. Use the colour that you matched to your main building material (brick, siding), as the colour for all ugly things.

Dramatic or eye–catching accent colours should always be used sparingly. Generally, there are three rules for garage doors : always avoid bright colours. Always avoid high contrast with the dominant colour in your palette. Never match them to your front door. If you think you want to use a stand–out colour on your front door, camouflage your garage door so it doesn’t compete.

Invest in the highest–quality exterior paint you can afford. Painting the exterior is expensive, or time–consuming – usually, both. Look for an exterior paint that’s backed by the strongest warranty you can find, which is backed by a lifetime warranty against cracking, peeling and flaking.

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Residential Garage Door Openers: The New Trends

When examining the latest developments in the residential opener market, one characteristic is clearly paramount among the others.

Consumers are exhibiting a preference for openers that are quiet. Historically, the need for near silent operation hasn’t made the list of consumer demands. In fact, when major manufacturers polled consumers in an effort to uncover their desires, quiet operation didn’t even make the list of top 10 features on their wish list until recently.

So what’s driving this need for quieter residential garage door openers? There have been major changes to new housing structures over the past 15 to 20 years. For example, the detached garage has been replaced by an attached garage in an effort to give homeowners even greater comfort and protection from the elements. Common floor plan designs have the garage adjacent to living areas such as the family room or kitchen, which results in the noise generated from garage door openers being a concern.

As urban sprawl set in and space became more of a scarcity in many communities, home builders began to build two-story homes in an effort to increase the available square footage without using more land. This upward footprint usually takes advantage of the space above a garage by adding an extra bedroom, game room or the ever-popular man cave. With the number of garages increasing over time, this has lead to multiple rooms adjacent to and above garage areas, creating a demand for quieter openers.

The DC Motor Advantage

Many associate belt drives with the quietest of garage door openers due to their smooth operation. While belt drives are indeed quiet, the development of DC motors really is the foundation upon which a quiet garage door opener system can be built. There’s no audible hum like that experienced with an AC motor.

Similarly, DC motors have significantly less vibration than their AC-motor counterparts. DC motors also have the additional advantage of soft start and stop, which results in less wear and tear on the door. These smart systems that allow the garage door to open and close smoothly without jerking minimizes the noise created during operation.

Upgrading Doors

Now that the garage door opener has been designed and engineered to provide quieter action, it becomes immediately apparent that the accompanying door should be designed for quiet operation as well. Upgrading the entire door system presents an opportunity to sell service, replacement parts or upgraded doors. A recent study by Remodeling magazine showed consumers can reap a return on investment of 84 percent when upgrading their garage doors from opening price point to mid-range doors while dramatically improving their curb appeal.

In addition to noise control, consumer’s busy lifestyles composed of dual-career households, children and their activities, and community commitments dictate that speed be a priority feature as well. We all have a full plate, and the last thing we want is to wait for the garage door to open or close so we can go to the next activity. The newest lines of residential openers available operate at speeds up to 12 inches per second with a DC motor.

Better Access Control

This busy lifestyle is also creating a need for more convenience features and accessories to supplement door systems. Wireless keypads are now almost a mainstay for every garage door opener. Convenience is king. Consumers want unique features that will enhance their lifestyles. How many times have you watched someone back out of their driveway, hit the remote, and then wait until the garage door opener has closed the garage door before driving off? How many times have you driven off in the morning, down the street and wondered, “Did I close my garage door?” The remote that answers this question is just another example of understanding the consumers need for convenience, safety, security and peace of mind.

The consumer has always recognized power as important for garage door openers. It must be spillover from the power desired in cars, lawn mowers, and other household appliances. The consumer has stated he clearly wants a garage door opener with plenty of power to open and close any residential door safely. Gone are the worries that garage door openers will fail to lift doors such as custom wood, carriage house doors or sectional doors with the added weight of moisture after a seasonal shower.

Other Desired Features

To protect their investment, consumers also want a strong warranty and are willing to spend the money for it. Consumers have lived through the era of openers with gear failures, the broken chains and belts, and the jerking of the top section. With the advancements in opener technology, customers have an expectation that the garage door opener will work every time they activate it. Garage door openers must deliver on the promise of the warranty stated.

Safety and security are also key features that are extremely important to consumers. Added safety features such as repair alert can help prevent accidents due to broken springs or an improperly balanced door. Save the door, save the opener, and win a customer for life.

More consumers are using the vacation lock on a daily basis as a value-added security feature—and it isn’t just for vacation anymore. Burglars have learned that they can easily gain entry into a home by breaking into an automobile and using the garage door remote, typically left clipped to the visor. By using the vacation lock, homeowners have added a layer of security to their door system.

Given the consumers need for quiet, power, speed, safety, security and convenience in a garage door opener, one can easily see the need for a next generation of garage door openers. Many manufacturers have tried to implement a few of these features, but haven’t been able to build an opener that fulfills all of consumers’ demands until now. Consumers want a garage door opener that can meet their needs today, and be expandable to meet future needs as well. A quick look at the most recently launched openers brought to market reveals manufacturers have done a great job of meeting all of the consumer demands.

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Friday Funny

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Garage Door Innovation

A British company has an idea to make garage doors more energy-efficient and useful to a home: Make them generate heat.

Garage Door Restore, based in Blackpool, England, has created garage doors that use methods such as air-source heat pumps and solar panels to generate warmth. To create the prototype, the company partnered with a Lancaster University professor and two full-time students, who together will begin production.

The garage doors and the technology used inside them will be displayed at CUBE, the Manchester architecture and design center dedicated to developments in engineering. The firm will then take the display on the road to exhibit at different shows across Europe, where strict many government-imposed energy-efficiency requirements have spurred similar innovations.

Garage Door Restore is a branch network of contractors affiliated with manufacturer Complete Door Engineering.

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How to Prevent Garage Door Accidents

Garage door accidents, like so many accidents in the home, could be avoided if more care and attention was paid.

A garage is not essentially a play area or a work area, but a place to store your vehicle and household items. You should therefore never let children play around in an open door, especially when we are talking about traditional spring doors, as you are creating a danger zone.

Garage doors should be kept closed. They are not really designed to stay open, and if they were used correctly, then many accidents would be prevented. Although the springs in a traditional garage door are designed to hold a garage door open at half way up, springs can fail at any moment, the garage door falling abruptly down.

Keeping up to date with your garage maintenance is really important if you wish to prevent door accidents. A simple once over, periodically to make sure that none of the moving parts or hardware of the door are broken is all it takes to prevent so many accidents. If you do the simple test of leaving your door half way up, you should be able to determine if the torsion springs are in good order or not. If the door falls down, then the springs are too loose or worn.

When you check over your door and its’ working elements, if you see any corrosion around the hinges or springs, you should not delay to get them fixed straight away; this could prevent a really nasty accident. But what is also the cause of many door accidents each year is the DIY enthusiast who attempts to change door springs.

You only have to think about how much force there is behind the torsion springs of a door when closed to realize that changing the springs is a job that you should never attempt alone, or unless you are totally sure of what you are doing. These kinds of repairs really are best left to the experts, and a small charge to a door repairman could prevent a really nasty accident. In short, to prevent accidents around doors, never allow children to play in the vicinity of an open door, always keep garage doors closed when not in use, and lastly, maintain your doors to a high standard. When in doubt of the safety of your present ones, look to change the doors as soon as possible.

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How Not To Repair a Garage Door

It’s a fact: I don’t like to pay someone else to do something that I can dobetter. Well, at least that’s the theory. The reality is that I’m cheap, and I hate to let my money go on long trips without me. So, I often repair things that I should never mess with, just to save a few bucks. A classic example of my penny-pinching foolishness dates from about 1986, when I tried to repair my own garage door.

I didn’t have a fancy automatic garage door back then. I just had a manual unit: drive up, get out, lift the door, get back in, drive in, get out, close the door. Everything was fine with my little garage door, but I felt that it could be a tad easier to lift. So, I decided to adjust the spring tensioning mechanism myself. Who needs a professional, right? Mull on that last line for a few minutes…

Garage doors are heavy, and without the springs, all you’ve got is dead weight — too heavy to lift. To adjust the door, I had to tinker with the spring coiling components — it’s the coiling process that makes the door easier to maneuver. When I reached what I thought was the ideal balance of tension and torque, I lifted the door. It went up nicely. So far, so good, I thought. I made a few more tweaks and then lowered the door. That was a mistake.

As I lowered the door, all the spring support went completely slack. Suddenly, I had 300 pounds of wood crashing down on me. I slowed the door’s descent a bit, but it wasn’t enough. The door fell with a crash, and my left hand was mashed to the ground — pinned between the door and the concrete floor. I couldn’t budge the door an inch, and since it was well into the nighttime — and I was in pain — I had to holler and yell to be “rescued.” No man ever likes to be rescued. It’s just not dignified.

To this day, I still like to repair things, but I’ve learned my lesson about messing with spring-loaded slabs of wood at nighttime. My hand healed nicely, and I eventually got over the indignity of being rescued. But, no matter how much I might be tempted, I’ll never take a wrench to a coiled-up spring again. Words to live by… with an emphatic emphasis on “live.”

David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers, can be reached at

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Artist Takes On ‘Unattractive’ Graffiti

Gallery owner Bob Daniels figured if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

After cleaning up graffiti and battling taggers for years, he’s showing the city that there’s more to graffiti than vandalism.

Local artist Bryce Huffman is painting a mural on the garage door of Earls Court Gallery, in a back alley off Ottawa Street North, to cover unsightly “hip-hop” tags. “I always thought that alley strip that Rick Mercer passes during his rants was so cool. Some of that (art) is amazing,” Daniels said. But in this back alley, taggers have spoiled walls and doors, fences and cars. “I think what annoys me is that it’s totally unattractive, total disregard. Why does this jerk think I want to look at that?” Daniels asks, pointing to a pair of “tags” on a neighboring wall.

To help clean up, Hamilton introduced a commercial property improvement grant (CPIG) in 2001 to help small businesses improve their spaces. Business owners in any of the city’s 13 business improvement areas can apply once a year for 50/50 funding for improvements to their facades — including murals.

Legally, the onus is on property owners to remove graffiti. There are volunteer groups that help with removal, but professional chemical services can cost hundreds of dollars. This is a huge issue across the city. They all have stories of back alley ways, experimenting with new removal products. It cost Daniels more to have Huffman paint the garage than it would have to simply remove the tagging underneath. But Daniels thinks it’s worth it. He hopes taggers will have respect for the creativity.

Huffman — who was just nominated for City of Hamilton Arts Awards under the categories of established and emerging visual artis — usually works with paints and illustration, but was excited to try street art. Daniels approached him after he was recommended by other local artists. “I’ve always wanted to play with spray paint, but I’m not into doing it illegally. I’m not anti-graffiti, but I’m anti that stuff because it sucks,” Huffman said, pointing to another illegible tag. “But this is a lot of fun. I’d love to do more of it.”

Daniels is not against street art either. In fact, he hopes the mural idea will catch on. By the end of the day, neighboring business owners Chris Crush and Tony Cabral were already showing Huffman their bare walls.

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You Should Consider Maintenance Costs When Buying Your Next Garage Door

Many different things have to be considered when you have to buy garage doors.

You will have to consider the material used in garage entry door, you will have to consider the design and reliability of a particular design and finally you will have to consider the maintenance cost that can be applied to different types of garage gates. There are different types in these doors and each and every type has got a different maintenance criteria and price as well. If you will consider the maintenance charges of different types of doors then you will be in a better position to buy a best garage door.

The reason why you should consider the maintenance cost is that it can affect directly on the cost of your garage door. You will find different price labels and definitely you will try to go for those garage entry doors that come under your budget. However if you buy a garage door that is under your budget and in next 5 years you spend more than the original cost of the door on its maintenance then what do you think, did you made a right choice? Obviously not! At the same time if you buy that garage door that is quite expansive but less maintenance charges will be applied on it then after 5 years you will find that you have saved a lot of money in terms of maintenance of garage doors.

The maintenance charges are related with two things. On the material used in their manufacturing and second is their design. A good material may last for a long time and you will have to spend less money on its maintenance but if a poor material is used then definitely you will end up paying much more than its actual price for its maintenance. Designs of the garage door can also affect their maintenance price. An easy design will require less time to be repaired and if the design of garage doors is complicated then you may have to spend extra bucks on its repairing because more time will be required to bring it back in best working conditions.

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