Garage door openers typically don’t get much thought until they quit working. When the garage door won’t go up or come down, things can get frustrating. The frustration grows when you discover the garage door opener is history.
Your next thought is usually, “How long does it take to install a new one?” Or “how long should your garage door opener last?”
How long does it take to install a garage door opener? If you are going the DIY route, you should allow between 4 to 6 hours. Most homeowners can replace an existing garage door opener in a half-day. A new installation may take longer because you won’t have the existing supports already in place.
Most new garage door openers make homeowner installation easy. There are differences in the installation processes for each manufacturer. However, there are a few installation steps that all garage door openers have in common.
Table of Contents
- Steps to Installing a Garage Door
- Step 1 – Find and Identify all the Parts
- Step 2 – Assemble the Rail Sections
- Step 3 – Attach the Rail to the Motor Unit
- Step 4 – Install the Drive Chain and Idler Pulley
- Step 5 – Install the Brackets and Supports to the Ceiling and Wall
- Saving Some Time
- Step 6 – Installing the Opener in the Brackets
- Step 7 – Place the controls for Your Convenience
- Wireless vs. Wired Technology
- Step 8 – Adjust the Door Travel
- Step 9 – Test the Door and the Safeties
- All Done in Less than Six Hours
Steps to Installing a Garage Door
- Make sure you have all the parts.
- Put the rail sections together.
- Attach the rail to the motor unit
- Install the chain to the rail and motor pulley
- Attach the brackets and supports to the ceiling and walls
- Hang the opener from the brackets
- Place the controls in a convenient spot near the door to the garage
- Install the safety devices
- Program the opener and the remotes
- Test the opener
Step 1 – Find and Identify all the Parts
The installation guide should have a diagram identifying the parts included in your garage door opener. Make sure you have all the parts before going any further. If parts are missing, take the entire opener back for a replacement.
Organize the parts and sort them according to size. Sorting the parts by size will make the installation process go much quicker. This process should take about 15 minutes.
Step 2 – Assemble the Rail Sections
Follow the manufacturer’s directions and assemble the rail sections. Some rails are tubular, and others are T-shaped. Pay attention to which end attaches to the motor unit. Lay the complete rail on the floor, running in the right direction.
The instructions may also require you to install the trolley that rides on the rail now. The trolley usually has a front and back. Pay attention and make sure the trolley is running the right way on the rail. This step could take as much as 30 minutes to complete.
Step 3 – Attach the Rail to the Motor Unit
The rail unit attaches to the motor unit, usually on the top. Using the right bolts and washers is crucial to keep the garage door opener operating correctly. Put a piece of the cardboard box under the motor unit to prevent scuffing or damaging the cover.
The motor unit is the heart of the garage door opener. It is also the heaviest part and contains the electronics that control the door. Putting the rails in place is easily accomplished in 15 minutes.
Step 4 – Install the Drive Chain and Idler Pulley
Follow the directions in the installation manual carefully in this step. The chain that connects the garage door to the opener is not a continuous loop. The ends connect to the trolley on the rail and loop around the drive sprocket and the idler pulley.
It is essential to install the chain precisely as the manufacturer recommends. Several factors affect how well the garage door opener works.
- The tension on the chain
- The attachments to the trolley
- The way the chain feeds through the idler pulley
Tensioning the chain can be the trickiest part. If the chain is too loose, it may jump off the drive sprocket. If the tension is too much, the extra pressure on the drive sprocket can damage the sprocket or the motor. Take your time. This step may take 45 minutes.
Step 5 – Install the Brackets and Supports to the Ceiling and Wall
Two sets of supports must be installed on the ceiling and above the garage door. These hold the motor unit and the end of the chain rail. Each garage door opener design has different requirements for where and how to mount the support brackets.
Refer to the installation manual for specific instructions. Carefully installing the support brackets will put the garage door opener in the proper alignment for smooth, trouble-free operation.
Saving Some Time
If you are replacing a garage door opener, you may be able to use parts of the existing brackets for the new garage door opener. Using the existing brackets can save you some time on this step.
If this is a new installation, allow at least one hour to install the brackets. If you are replacing a garage door opener, you may be able to accomplish this step in 30 minutes.
Step 6 – Installing the Opener in the Brackets
Typically, two lengths of angle iron or perforated metal attach the motor unit to the brackets on the ceiling. The rail attaches to the bracket installed above the garage door on the wall.
Take care during this step. The motor unit is cumbersome and unwieldy. A second set of hands is often useful at this point. An A-frame ladder is also helpful.
Follow the installation guide when mounting the motor unit and rail to the brackets. Most installations suggest that you attach the rail to the bracket above the door. Once the rail bracket is secure, pivot the motor up to the brackets on the ceiling.
You should allow about 30 minutes for this step.
Step 7 – Place the controls for Your Convenience
It may come as a surprise, but this step is usually the most time-consuming. There are several components to the control systems that require installation and fine-tuning. The opener controls may include
- A master door controller that should be mounted near the door from the house into the garage
- A remote keypad that controls the door from outside the garage
- The safety devices mounted near the floor on each side of the garage door opening
Wireless vs. Wired Technology
Many new garage door openers employ wireless technology. Wireless control is a huge timesaver. Otherwise, this step requires you to run a wire from each control to the opener motor box. Unfortunately, safety devices usually require wire and don’t operate wirelessly.
Installing safety devices at the bottom of the door needs careful attention. These safety devices operate with a beam of light. If anything interrupts the light beam, the opener will stop operating. The precise alignment of the two sensors is critical to smooth operation. For more information about aligning the sensors on your new or existing garage door, see this article.
If your opener requires running wire, this part of the installation can take as much as an hour to accomplish.
Step 8 – Adjust the Door Travel
With the opener installed and all the control in place, the next step is to adjust the up and down travel of the garage door. You do this from the opener motor unit. Follow the instructions for adjusting the up and down travel of your garage door in the installation guide.
At this time, it is also a good idea to program any remote controls included with the garage door opener. The remotes may also include programming the remote external keypad and the master control panel.
You should accomplish this part of the installation in 30 minutes or less.
Step 9 – Test the Door and the Safeties
With the installation complete and the programming done, test the garage door opener. Operate the door up and down while checking for:
- Smooth operation up and down with no binding or catching as the door moves
- Easy motor operation without any struggle to lift the door
- Check the travel. The garage door should stop with the bottom seal, just barely touching the ground and stop before the trolly hits the motor unit.
- The operation of the safeties. Break the beam between the safety sensors and see if the door stops
- Test each remote, the keypad on the exterior, and the master controller near the house door
Performing these tests should not take you more than 30 minutes. Allowing time to make any minor adjustments is wise.
All Done in Less than Six Hours
Installation complete in less than six hours. With only a few basic tools, the installation of a new garage door opener is within the capabilities of any DIY’er. Now you can enjoy the safety and security of a well-functioning garage door opener for many years to come.