Do-it-yourself projects are great if you’re knowledgeable and handy with a hammer. I like to think I can hold my own on most projects, but I’ve made a good deal of mistakes, some bigger than others. You don’t have to make the same mistakes as I did; the beauty of it is that you can learn from my stupidity.
Just to be clear: if you don’t know how to do something, sometimes, it’s better just ask for help.
Case in point: Replacing the garage door
Did you know the tension in the spring on a garage door can rip off your arm? I heard a story (after I replaced my garage door) about a guy who had broken his arm in a dozen places when the spring on his garage door snapped and hit him in the forearm. I learned other important lessons when I attempted to replace an overhead door on garage using little more than intuition and never once stopping to read the instructions… Yet, fortunately, my arms are still intact!
Lesson 1: There are special tools used to tighten down the spring. I read that using a come-along is not the right method. To this day, I don’t even know exactly which special tools are best, but if you’re going to mount a new garage door, I suggest you look them up.
In my project, the initial door assembly portion went pretty smooth with the hinges and panels. I put the whole door together on my work table and then set about trying to mount it. Which brings me to my first big mistake…
You must put each panel into the track before assembling the garage door. I assembled the whole door in the garage, and after an hour, it was complete. Properly installed, the door assembles in the track one piece at a time. Contrary to my belief, the fully assembled door will not fit into the tracks and was nearly impossible to maneuver.
Lesson 2: Placing the door in the track requires fine tuning adjustments with each section. Once each section is in, you should fine tune the tightness for just enough friction on the rollers to hold them in place, while avoiding touching the metal rollers to the edge of the track.
I kept the friction pretty loose. It rolled very nicely in my hands before I attached the spring. After installing the springs, I gave it a try. The garage door sprang up at light speed; faster than a lion leaping on a wounded gazelle. Then it promptly fell off the track and fell on me, nearly crushing me – had it not been for my sturdy work table, I have no doubt it would have caused serious injuries.
Installing the spring or “the muscle” that lifts the door is simple (if you follow precise instructions). Secure the door in the track in the upward position using vice grips. The cable will attach to the lower-most brackets with a small loop. Next, take the other end of the cable and go over the pulley and thread the other end through the pulley on the end of the spring. There is a bracket that you can use to secure the loose end of the cable. Using an S-hook, attach one end to the bracket and the other to the track. The final step is to attach a safety cable around the spring. The safety cable step is important and shouldn’t be skipped. In the instructions, a second length of cable goes around the spring so if the cable breaks when you’re in the garage, the spring won’t cause major life-threatening injuries.
Mistake 3: Thinking it was an extra cable put in the box by mistake, I threw the safety cable away. Only after looking at a friend’s garage door did I realize what the second length of cable was for. To this day, I do not have any safety devices protecting me from the deadly springs, which seem precariously tight lately.
Learn from my mistakes and do it right. Here’s a great how to video by “This Old House” for those would- be do-it-yourselfers. (Man, I wish I had seen this beforehand.) Happy hanging!