Garage Door Opener Installation: A Beginner’s Guide

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Garage door openers are a very handy device to add to your garage, especially if you’re like me and don’t like the physical strain of opening the door manually every time. Luckily for you, you can read this guide on the easiest way to go about garage door opener installation.

Many people think that this job requires hiring a technician, I can assure you that it is not that complicated. As long as you’re confident in your own DIY ability, your garage door will be opening by itself in no time.

What Type of Garage Door Opener is Right for You?

If you haven’t chosen which kind of garage door opener you’re going to install, it’s worth checking which one is right for you and your garage, along with how easy it is to install each type.

There are three main types of garage door openers. Each one has its own pros and cons regarding cost and noise. They are as follows:

Chain Drive:

This is the most common kind of garage door opener for residential garages. The chain drive uses a metal chain to open the door. The chain running assembly unit is attached to tension springs that lift the garage door up and down.

Chain drives are known to be reliable while also being affordable, however, they can be noisy. This may be the best option for you if you live in a detached house.

Screw Drive:

A screw drive garage door opener uses fewer components than any other types, meaning an easier installation and maintenance process. The screw drive rotates a threaded steel rod to move the trolley that opens and closes the garage door.

While it may be less noisy and easier to maintain compared to the chain drive, they can be more expensive.

Belt Drive:

If you’re looking for a quiet garage door opener, the belt drive may be perfect for you. Belt drivers use a belt, not a chain, to open and close your garage door resulting in less noise.

This option may be better for you if you live in a more condensed environment such as an attached garage. The main downside of these being that they are more expensive.

Now you have a better idea of what type of garage door opener is best for you, let’s have a look at how to install each type.

How to Install a Chain Drive Garage Door Opener

To install this type of garage door opener, you should have the chain driver itself with all the part you need such as a rail, carriage, chain etc. I will post a product guide in the near future on the best chain drive garage door openers so you can be sure you buy one that works best for you. That being said, here are the steps in volved in the installation process.

Step 1 – Attach the Rails and Carriage

Most chain drivers come with 4-5 rails to assemble and you’ll usually want to put the piece with the slot at the front, closest to your garage door.

You’ll then want to slide the carriage over the front part of the rail and slip the cable through the middle of the same rail. Then line up the wheel and put a pin through it to make it stay in place.

Step 2 – Connect the Chain to the Carriage

Next, connect the chain to the carriage while placing the rail into the head of the chain drive itself. It should go in pretty easily but use a rubber mallet to get it in if not.

Step 3 – Put the Chain in Place

Now, you’ll want to wrap the chain around the sprocket and the drive head. Then, connect the chain link to the cable, you may need pliers for this.

Then, adjust the chain so it’s taunt, then cover the drive head and sprocket with the cover.

Step 4 – Install the Chain Drive to your Garage Door

You should choose a position that is centred on your garage door, where the bracket will line up 2 inches above the highest arching point of your garage door. I would recommend making a mark, predrilling them.

Then, install the brackets, mount the assembled chain drive unit to the wall, using the pin and cotter key through the hole of the brackets.

Set up the garage door opener so it’s level, back to where the head is going to mount. Mount the chain drive unit to the ceiling at the same height as where the brackets are.

Then, mount the brackets to the door, install the drive arms. Once they are connected to both pieces, that’s how you adjust your length. Then slide the bolts in and tighten them up. Tie up the release cord with the handle (in case of emergency). Install the light bulb and slide on the cover.

Step 5 – Mount the Safety Sensors

Mount the safety sensors on both sides of the garage door, 6 inches above the garage floor. Finally, connect the sensor wires to the head of the chain drive as well as the wires to the wall button.

How to Install a Screw Drive Garage Door Opener

Screw drive garage door opener installation is usually more straight forward than installing a chain drive.

Step 1 – Assemble the Rail

Slide one rail connector over the powerhead and rail section until it locks, then slide the middle rail section into the rail connector until that locks as well. Continue this process until each part is locked in together in the correct order.

Next, align the shuttle with the rail and engage with the carriage and connect the screws together.

Step 2 – Attach the Rail to the Powerhead

Place the powerhead bracket on top of the rail once the rail has been placed into position on the powerhead. Be sure to align the bracket holes with the holes on the powerhead, and secure with screws.

Step 3 – Install to your Garage Door

This process is the same as the chain drive, this time, use 2.5 inches above your garage door, drilling two pilot holes, install the bracket. Then attach your rail to the bracket, like in the chain drive guide.

Step 4 – Mount the Powerhead to the Ceiling

Use a stepladder to secure the powerhead to the mounting straps on your ceiling, using the provided fasteners. Use a level to ensure your rail is straight.

How to Install a Belt Drive Garage Door Opener

This process is exactly the same as the other two, install the rail, attaching the trolley. Attach the rail the motor unit.

The different step here is to install the idler pulley and belt, hooking the belt onto the trolley. The trolley should be about 2 thirds along the rail, closer to the motor unit.

Then, wrap the belt around the sprocket on the motor unit, and connect to the trolley using the spring trolley nut on the threaded shaft. Don’t forget to install the sprocket cover.

Then, install the garage door opener using the same technique as the last two types of garage door openers. Install the protector/sensor system in the same place, on each side of your garage door, 6 inches above the ground.

Now we’ve looked at how to install each common type of garage door opener, let’s look at the common issues involved with them and how to go about fixing them.

Common Garage Door Opener Problems and how to Solve them

While garage door openers are a great tool for your garage, they unfortunately are not perfect. Here are some common issues involved with them and how to fix them.

• Door opens but won’t close: Your garage door is opening too far if the door stops opening with the bottom edge above the garage opening header. In this case, you’ll want to above and reduce the upward force and/or travel, make sure your garage door opener is on the correct power setting, and it’s not on one that’s too high.

• Door doesn’t open fully: If the garage door stops before the bottom edge reaches the garage opening header, you’ll want to do the opposite of the above and increase the upward force and/or travel. Make sure your garage door opener has enough power connected to it.

• Opener reverses automatically after door closes: If your garage door opens straight after closing, you’ll want to again, decrease the downward force and/or travel as it seems your garage door opener has too much power if this is happening to you.

• When opening, garage door stops when any resistance is applied: Increase the upward force if you garage door stops too easily, you’ll of course want to get this balance right, but it shouldn’t stop with slight resistance.

• When closing, garage floor stops when any resistance is applied: You guessed it, increased the downwards force. In many cases, the door’s direction may even reverse, again, you’ll want to get this balance right as having a garage door that closes despite resistance can obviously be dangerous.

Final Thoughts

Garage door opener installation doesn’t require any specialist knowledge. More times than not, the garage door opener you’ll but will come with an instruction manual. I’d recommend using this guide alongside it if looks too technical or if it’s in the wrong language.

The installation process is similar for all 3 common types of garage door opener. I would recommend having someone with you for it to hold it up where necessary and to keep you company as it isn’t exactly fun.

That being said, I hope you learned a lot about garage door openers and how to install them. If you want to take your installation skills any further, read my article on garage door installation. Just make sure you install the door before the door opener!

Garage door opener installation

James Johnson

What started out as an intention to create my dream garage has turned into a mission to share my research, whether that's guides or product recommendations, with as many people as possible. I believe that everyone should be proud of their garage, and by reading my guides, you are in good hands to make that a reality.


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