If you have a garage, you typically have an opener installed since you won’t find that many people these days opening/closing their garage doors by hand anymore. The price tag for a good opener fluctuates depending on the style of the opener (chain, belt, screw) or if you want your new opener to talk with your smart home. However, no matter which style you buy into, they all die eventually–but when?
A typical garage door opener should last you anywhere between 10-15 years or more. Just ask your granddad about when he bought his. Regardless of which style you buy into. You might find yourself buying a new one when that time expires, or replacing a part or two (ie, belt, motor, etc). Sometimes, you can get away with a small fix that doesn’t require any parts (which we ran into), where you can easily extend it further without touching a thing.
One of our editors ran into a scenario this year, where their garage door opener started squealing when the door was opening or closing. Sometimes the lights would flicker in the unit as if it were having power issues, and sometimes the door wouldn’t open past an inch. The noise coming from the opener was mind-numbing. The door and the track were fine, with no discrepancies when it came to balance or operation and the sound was absolutely coming from the opener.
The garage door and track were fully maintenanced with a silicone-based oil every 6 months. It would be manually opened without any issues. In this specific scenario, the opener was actually only going on 6 years old (far too young to be having these kinds of issues).
It was a Craftsman Garage Door Opener (Model 139.53918D), with a fancy Die Hard backup battery, and it was purchased from Sears (the best model they carried). So a request was sent out to both Sears and Craftsman, asking for their opinion/feedback. Sadly, Sears is in a state of chaos right now, and Craftsman is owned by Black and Decker (not well known for their support to begin with). A few months went by, and not a single response was seen from either of the two parties. We then found out that Chamberlain was the real company behind Craftsman’s openers, so the owner reached out to them.
Chamberlain’s support responded nearly immediately and worked with them to narrow things down to either the motor inside or the sprocket on top (recommending replacement of one or another). We wound up taking it down for him and taking a look at it. We removed the sides to explore inside, and the cover to the sprocket on top. The inside looked great and everything else was clean and looked nearly brand new. Since we had full access at this point to the sprocket on top, we oiled it down well with a silicone-based spray (the sprocket and the metal bolt running through it).
In the end, it was that simple act of adding that spray to the sprocket and bolt that brought the opener back to life. It was re-installed and we found it to work just as quiet as it did before the trouble took place. This saved the owner (one of our editors) the cost of a new sprocket, which wasn’t much, but knowing this could also save someone from taking the opener off the ceiling to begin with, buying new parts, or getting frustrated and simply buying a new opener (they were coming close to this). A little spray in the right place, and it was back to operation.
So what did we learn from this? You don’t always have to buy a new opener or even parts. Sometimes it is a simple act that saves the day. So next time you do the annual oiling of your garage door, take a moment to inspect your opener. If it is a belt or chain driven opener, find the sprocket or any other moving parts that have metal parts, and consider giving it some oil as well. It might just prolong the life of that unit, and you never know, help it to live past the 15-year mark even.
We also learned that it is probably best to avoid Craftsman openers (or anything Craftsman with a motor) since the brand isn’t what it used to be. Buying anything from Sears that might need support down the line is also not recommended–unless they pull themselves out of the trouble they are in (and have been in for a while) and re-build their support departments. The owner got lucky this round since the opener was actually designed by someone else (who does care about their support quality), but others might not be so lucky in other scenarios.
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