Garage Door Installation Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Stephanie Shaykin
Updated September 3, 2021
Suburban house with garage
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A new garage door will give your home a facelift—and possibly even boost its curb appeal. So if you’re considering installing a new garage door, there are some important things to know. From crucial pre-installation tips to maintenance advice, check out the helpful information below.

3 Tips Before You Install a New Garage Door

Since new garage door installation is a big job that requires heavy lifting and electrical work, you should look into hiring a professional and not attempt to DIY. However, if you have that experience and are confident in your abilities, installation should take around 12 hours to do on your own. Either way, check out the new garage door installation tips below to help this process go as smoothly as possible.

1. Hire a Professional Garage Installer

Installing a new garage door is best left to garage installation professionals for safety reasons. The cost of garage door installation is worth it when you consider the risks. Installed incorrectly, the garage door could malfunction and become unsafe or cause injury while in use. A poorly installed garage door can also make you more vulnerable to break-ins.

2. Avoid Using Old Garage Parts

All garage doors come with their own offsets, the distance a door is set from the garage wall before it closes. Most come pre-set by the manufacturer. You can buy some models with adjustable rails. You’ll also find your garage comes with gussets, which keep the garage door rails at a certain distance away from the garage door jambs (the wood trim around your door opening). 

If your garage does not have the appropriate amount of space for these parts, your new garage door could get stuck. Potentially harmful consequences could occur from improper alignment, like collision with the opening door or jamming.

If this happens, don’t use your electric garage door opener, as it may continue to try and open or close while broken. The movement can put the cables under a lot of pressure and cause them to fail. If they snap, those cables could cause severe injury or even death. The door could then fall and cause harm to a person nearby or someone's property.

To ensure everything will work in harmony together (and you won’t encounter installation errors), don’t use old garage parts with a new installation. Always have a local garage door company install garage doors with new tracks at the same time. Most garage door kits will include a new garage door rail and installation instructions for that particular model.

3. Make Sure Your Safety Sensors Are Working Correctly

You should not try to remove the built-in eye beam safety sensor. You may have the urge to move it or take it off a cluttered floor. Strong sunlight can also interrupt the electric eye and prevent the system from opening or closing the garage door. 

The safety mechanism is for a purpose. If it can't detect someone's presence, they might get hurt if the door closes while underneath it by accident.

Tips for New Garage Door Installation

If you have the DIY skills, you can begin installing your garage door replacement. Follow the installation instructions provided by the garage door manufacturer. 

Gather the following items before you start installing your new garage door:

  • Hammer

  • Level

  • Safety glasses

  • Adjustable-locking pliers

  • Drill

  • Drill bits

  • Socket bit

  • Phillips driver bit

  • 1/2-inch diameter rods

  • Open-ended wrench

Residential garage doors usually come as sectional panels. These doors have three to eight panels that slide up and down along the garage door rail (also known as a "track"). You then insert the panels one at a time, starting from the bottom and working your way up.

Replace Your Garage Door Opener If Needed

Replace your pre-1993 garage door opener, if you have one, with a newer one that has non-contact infrared safety sensors and is UL listed. Ensure that your garage door opener comes with infrared safety sensors (known as eye beams). Double-check that they are mounted 4 to 6 inches from the floor and are working correctly.

4 Tips to Keep Your New Garage Door in Good Condition

A well-maintained garage door is a safe garage door. Regularly maintaining and inspecting your garage door means it will also be in good working condition. 

Follow these garage door maintenance tips to keep your investment in great condition for years to come:

1. Inspect High-Tension Springs and Cables Regularly

Interior garage
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Every garage door requires a spring system (often referred to as counterbalance). It operates with the weight of each door. Doing so makes it possible for light and heavy doors to open without feeling heavier than a small appliance.

Inspect your overhead garage door's high-tension springs and pay for the cost of garage door spring repairs when necessary. A protective cable running down the center that attaches to the door frame or ceiling joist is also important to keep working properly. If these cables break or go missing, contact a qualified professional for help. Don't attempt repairs yourself without experience.

2. Install a Double-Lock on the Outside Door

Install a double lock on any door leading to the outside of your house. They are attractive points of entry for thieves and can be used to break into your home. If there is already a window near the doorframe, keep it protected with security bars over the glass.

Pretty green garage and garage door
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3. Test Your Garage's Auto-Reverse

Test the door opener's reverse mechanism every month by placing a 2 by 4 flat on the floor under your garage door. Operate the opener and check that when the garage door hits the 2 by 4, it reverses immediately (within two seconds). If not, refer to your manual to fix or adjust the garage door opener’s auto-reverse or call a professional for assistance.

4. Perform Regular Maintenance

You don't have to be an expert to extend the lifespan of your garage door. Learning how to inspect your garage door and handle your own garage door maintenance can help it last for years.

Here’s a look at garage maintenance tasks you’ll want to perform:

  • Check tracks, rollers, and hinges

  • Ensure bolts and screws are tight

  • Keep your garage free from clutter

  • Check all moving parts for lubrication

  • Wash, wax, or paint the garage door

  • Remodel for better usage

While new garage door installation isn’t a recommended DIY project for the average homeowner, hiring a pro will help ensure safe and proper installation.

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