How to Install a Garage Door Opener

Installing a new garage door opener is a great way to update a part of your house that gets used everyday — the garage. Today’s units are equipped with sensors that will make your garage more child-safe by stopping the door in its tracks should something get in the way. By purchasing a garage door opener kit, installation should only take an afternoon. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions since there are different types of garage openers available.

  • Step 1: Prepare the Door

    Before you begin, it’s important to make sure your garage door operates smoothly. Undue strain can ruin or shorten the life of your new opener. Start by cleaning the tracks and rollers. Lubricate the roller bearings with silicone spray but avoid getting any on the tracks, as it will cause dirt buildup.

    Test door balance by raising the door to midpoint and releasing it. It should stay put. Raise or lower the door another foot or so, and it should open or close slowly. If the door goes up or down past the midpoint, the torsion spring (the spring directly above the door opening) may need to be adjusted or replaced.

    Safety Alert!

    Never self-service a torsion spring system. These can be very dangerous and are best handled by a professional.

    Don’t adjust or replace extension springs (one above each track) without the instructions supplied in the owner’s manual or without the proper replacement parts.

    If you’re replacing an old garage door opener, disassemble it and set it aside. Remove any ropes, locks and other parts and hardware from the garage door.

  • Step 2: Assemble the Opener

    Start by assembling the head tube or rail sections. Some snap together while others require fasteners. This is a general how-to for installing a garage door opener. Note: Remember to always follow your particular model’s instructions closely, since there are different types of garage openers available.

    Make sure the trolley is installed on one of the sections and that the stop bolts and tabs are in place. Then secure the other end to the power unit.

    Safety Alerts!

    You’ll need a GFCI-protected receptacle in the ceiling adjacent to the power unit. If you’re comfortable with basic wiring, you can extend power from an existing unswitched outlet or junction box. If not, hire a licensed electrician.

    Before doing any type of electrical work, turn off power for the circuit you’re using to avoid the risk of electric shock.

  • Step 3: Adjust the Chain/Cable or Belt Tension

    Tighten the chain until approximately ¼” of the chain is above the base of the rail. For belt drives, hand tighten the spring nut and once released it will apply the correct amount of tension to the belt.

  • Step 4: Install Power Unit

    Locate the center point of the garage door, and mount the header bracket at that point, at the manufacturer-specified distance above the door. With the power unit on the floor, raise the attached rail/rod and attach it to the header bracket with a clevis pin and split ring. Raise the power unit high enough to clear the door when it is open and set it on a ladder or another structure to prop it up.

    Helpful Tip

    Use packing materials under the power head to avoid scratching it on the floor.

    Once the rail is attached to the header bracket, open the door and use a 2X4 laid flat on the top section of the door and under the rail. This puts the rail at the proper downward slope and holds the power head at the correct height to be mounted to the ceiling. You won’t have to hold up the power head and fasten it at the same time.

    Attach the supplied mounting straps to the power unit. If your garage has an open ceiling, attach the mounting straps/bracket to joists. With a closed ceiling, attach a 2×4 mounting board across the ceiling by screwing it into joists above the ceiling with an electric screwdriver or drill. Then attach the mounting straps to it. Check to make sure that the rail is at the proper downward slope, per the manufacturer’s specifications, and adjust straps if required. Lower the door back to the down position.

  • Step 5: Attach Opener to Door

    Attach the door bracket to the door and the L bar to it. Attach the straight bar to the trolley with a clevis pin and split ring. Then pull the emergency release on the trolley and slide the trolley to the door. Next, attach the straight bar to the L bar with the fasteners provided with your garage door opener kit. Re-engage the trolley.

  • Step 6: Install Wall Control

    Attach the wall control at a convenient location near an entry door at least 5’ off the floor and out of reach of young children. Run the low-voltage wires up the wall and across the ceiling using insulated staples. Be careful not to damage the wire insulation. Connect the wire to the power unit.

  • Step 7: Install Safety Sensors, Set Travel Limits and Test

    Install the safety sensors, one on each side of the door, at the same height and no more than 6” above the floor. Run the wires — stapled next to trim or wherever they are best protected — to the power unit into which they plug. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, set the travel limits or how far the door opens and closes. Test the safety systems by first placing a 2×4 flat on the floor under the door. Operate the door in the down direction. The door should reverse off of the 2×4. If not, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and set the force until it works properly. Open the door again. Place the empty carton on the floor under the door and in the path of the safety sensor beam. Operate the door. It should start to move but quickly stop and reverse. If not, adjust the sensors.

    Helpful Tip

    Mount the receiving sensor on the side least likely to have direct sunlight on it.

    The remote control is set up from the factory so only it can activate the opener. With today’s more sophisticated units, adding an additional remote is done using the programing or smart button on the back of the power head. For security, a different code is randomly activated every time you use the remote.

    No door opener installation is complete without final adjustments to the open/close force controls and obstruction sensors, so be sure to test the door’s operation according to installation instructions.

    Voilà! Your garage door will now open and close with the mere touch of a button.

Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.