If you recently purchased a house and aren’t sure how long your current garage door opener has been installed, you may be wondering … how long does a garage door opener last anyway?
We hear this question from customers interested in buying a new garage door as well because it usually makes sense to purchase a new garage door opener alongside your garage door if it’s on the older side.
In this article, we’ll break down a few factors that play a role in the question … how long does a garage door opener last.
How Long Does A Garage Door Opener Last?
If you didn’t personally purchase the garage door opener in your home, you may find yourself giving it a suspicious glance, and wondering how long you have until a replacement is required. It’s a good idea to ask the question – there’s nothing like having your opener fail just as you’re heading out to an important meeting, or when you’re arriving home in a torrential rainstorm.
Sure, you can always lift your door manually, in an emergency, but that’s not something that you want to resort to when the time is short and the weather is bad. It’s better to know about how much longevity you can expect out of your opener.
Not surprisingly, there are a number of factors that affect how much life you can expect out of your unit.
The Type of Garage Door Opener
Garage door openers come in 4 types, each operating a bit differently.
Chain-drive openers use a chain – similar to a bicycle chain – to move the garage door opener’s carriage. This, in turn, is connected to the garage door. While the motor is contained within the stationary unit, the chain runs the carriage back and forth along the track – and the door goes up and down. Chain drives are the least expensive option in the group – and also the loudest. What can go wrong with a chain drive? The chain can stretch or break, and the motor can fail.
Operating on the same principle are belt-driven openers. In this case, the carriage is driven along the track by a belt, which is made of rubber, polyurethane or fiberglass. They’re quieter and a little more expensive than their chain-driver counterparts. Problems with belt-driven openers involve the belt getting dirty or greasy, breaking, and the motor failing.
Completely different is the screw-drive opener. Instead of a chain or belt, it uses one long screw. The motor rotates the rod – and the carriage moves along it. These have fewer moving parts, are a little noisier, but are also faster than the other types. Screw-drive openers are sensitive to big temperature fluctuations and may malfunction in areas where the temps vary wildly.
Direct drive openers operate by running the motor itself along the track on a chain. They are quiet, have fewer parts to break and cost about the same as belt driven units. Similar to the others, chain breakage and motor failure is the main risk.
ARe the Garage Door and Springs New?
Garage door torsion springs literally do the heavy lifting in the operation. While the garage door opener kicks off the process, it’s the springs that are supporting the weight of the door, and making the move up and down as easy as possible. Located horizontally above your garage door, these apply the twisting force to the torsion tube (the long metal shaft in the illustration) that helps lift the garage door. Simply put, if your springs go out – the door is not moving.
Springs last about 10,000 cycles. Yes, they’re actually measured in the number of ups and downs they go through over the years. If you don’t want to try and figure out this number on your own – especially if you aren’t the person who installed the garage door – you can estimate that the torsion springs should be replaced every 5-7 years.
Has the System Had Regular Maintenance?
Depending on the type of unit, there are parts of the whole system that should be cared for. Not only does it keep your door operating smoothly and evenly, but it also takes less strain off the motor, chain, belt or screw drive. If you’ve never even thought about regular garage door maintenance, here are some of the items that can be serviced and checked regularly.
- Springs: As we mentioned above, springs are a key component of the door, and should be adjusted so that they have the proper tension. Signs that the tension is set incorrectly are doors that open unevenly from one side to the other. This is not a job for home handymen – have a certified repairman take care of anything that involves the torsion springs.
- Rollers: These are the wheels that guide the door up and down along the track. They benefit from cleaning and relubrication periodically. Otherwise, they can become “sticky” due to dirt and grease build-up.
- Track: Tracks are prone to becoming bent or uneven – especially if the tension is incorrect on the torsion springs. They need to remain level and aligned. In addition, if debris gets caught in the tracks, it can impair the movement of the door. Tracks should be kept clean, lubricated properly, and allow for free movement of the rollers.
- Rail: No matter what type of opener, the rail that holds the chain, belt, or screw should be properly lubricated where it contacts the carriage. Just remember – the less work any of the garage door opener parts have to do, the longer the unit will last.
Taking all the factors into consideration, you’ll have a better idea of how long your existing garage door opener will last. If the springs are old, the maintenance has been non-existent, and the door is out of balance, your 10-year-old opener may be near the end of its lifespan, and starting to experience problems. On the other hand, if your set-up has brand-new springs and has been lubricated regularly, the tracks and rollers kept clean of debris, and just hasn’t been used a lot, you may be able to sail past its 15th birthday without a glitch.
The final question: How long do you need your garage door opener to last? If you’re the owner of an older chain drive unit, you may want to consider a quieter upgrade – especially if the garage is under a bedroom. Or, you may be interested in a unit that has upgraded remote capacities – the newest technology allows your opener to be tied into your Homelink system, or even operated via your smartphone. These types of applications can add more security and convenience to your garage door operation. Evaluate your existing system, and you’ll be able to decide when you’re ready for the upgrade.