When working with a garage door, you often need specialized tools. It might not seem like a big deal at the time, but failing to use the right gear or using the wrong garage door parts can be extremely dangerous.
Since 1974, at least 85 kids have been killed or permanently disabled by a garage door. Many of those injuries resulted from improper garage door installation or a lack of functional safety components.
This article is geared towards garage door pros or people looking to get into the business. Garage door repair can be very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re a homeowner, call a professional garage door company rather than trying to repair your own garage door.
Putting together a basic tool kit for servicing garage doors shouldn’t be too expensive. To get started, look for
Springs are part of most garage doors. They help move the heavy door along its track, making it easier for the door opener. When you have to service or replace a garage door spring, the tension can create a dangerous situation.
So, you’ll need sturdy pliers to grab the springs, locking pliers or vice grips to hold springs in place, and clamps to keep the door in place against the frame or the rail.
These tools are necessary for getting the job done, but they’re also essential for doing things safely.
Garage doors are tall and wide. Older doors can be hefty, and even newer, lighter doors often require two or more people to lift or move.
So, having at least two ladders is a requirement for working on garage doors. Each member of your work crew may need to work at height, maneuvering the door into place along its track.
It’s also practical to have a platform ladder or bench that lets you move around without repositioning a ladder. For example, you may need to work on a few spots along the track or on the front and back of the operator. Instead of having to go up and down the ladder, dragging it along with you, a raised platform lets you move around much more efficiently.
Torsion springs need winding to either tighten or loosen them. To make that job as safe as possible, you need to use a winding bar. Since there are different size springs and each brand might have its own size winding cone for servicing them, having a full set of winding bars is essential.
There are three standard-size winding bars. 18” bars are usually adequate for residential doors. But you may need a longer 24” or 36” bar for heavier-duty and commercial doors. The longer the bar is, the easier it is to get the leverage you need to loosen or tighten a spring.
The end of a winding bar also needs to fit into the door’s winding cone. There are a few different gauges, so make sure to have a variety if you’re headed to a job with an unfamiliar door. Many winding bars have different-sized tips on each end, making them more versatile than one with only one size.
The alternative to winding bars might be the handles on a set of pliers, a screwdriver, or some other ad hoc solution. These shortcuts are extremely dangerous, as the torque can turn a broken handle or a pointed screwdriver into a dangerous projectile.
By equipping yourself or your team with a proper set of winding bars and requiring their use, you can get the job done faster and safer. And it just might save a costly trip to the hospital.
Many garage doors use a metal cable to fasten things in place and act as a safety. Therefore, you’ll need a complete cable kit that features a length of wire, a crimper to attach various stops, and a puller to wind it in place tightly.
Thankfully, these kits are readily available, and you can tailor your purchase to your needs.
Every job requires a decent set of simple hand tools. A basic kit might include a few Philips-head screwdrivers and a set of crescent wrenches. A bigger kit might be a bit more expensive, but it will also prepare you for garage door services and repairs.
A comprehensive set of hand tools would include
A cordless hammer drill might seem like a luxury, but it’s necessary for mounting hardware. You’ll need the power of an impact driver to install long mounting screws into wood or concrete. And, since cordless models are almost as strong as their corded counterparts and only a little more expensive, it’s worth the investment to untether yourself from outlets.
There is no alternative to the power and convenience of a cordless impact driver.
Garage doors are heavy, have moving parts, and springs under tension, and there are a variety of dangers when working on them.
So, at a minimum, you’ll need a set of safety glasses to protect your eyes. You should also have a set of heavy gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges or the snap of a spring. Consider leather gloves for added protection compared to thin cotton work gloves.
Sometimes, you have to spend money to make money. Even though this will cost you money, some optional tools can speed up your jobs and make your life easier.
A ratchet driver or a light-duty impact driver can make fast work of a variety of fasteners. With a cordless driver, a set of sockets, adapters, and bits, you can fly through the installation and removal of bolts, screws, and more.
If you have room in your budget, a cordless reciprocating saw can save you lots of time. Instead of struggling with a seized bolt, a demolition blade and your saw can slice through it quickly, making it easier to remove.
Also, a cordless saw can cut large pieces of debris, like old panels, tracks, and springs, into smaller sizes. This might take a little more time on the job site, but you can fit the old components in trash bags rather than putting huge tracks or panels in your truck or van and needing a dumpster to dispose of them.
In addition to your tools and standard garage door parts, a competent service technician will also have standard maintenance supplies. This saves time-consuming trips to the store when you’re in the middle of a job.
For instance, garage doors often require the use of lubricants. There are plenty of options for different sprays that loosen stuck screws and keep wheels turning. You may also want to use heavier greases for chains or tracks.
A good business owner realizes that preventive maintenance represents an opportunity for a service contract.
Customers will appreciate the peace of mind provided by having a professional inspect their garage door annually. The contract will keep money flowing and allow you to detect and correct issues before they become an emergency.
The cost of a few lubricants, a good flashlight, a degreaser, a supply of rags, and a small vacuum cleaner won’t break the bank. But you’ll be able to keep things moving freely, see any cracks or loose components, and easily clean up messes.
Consider bringing a tarp, so you can protect any finished flooring from accidental spills or drops.
A garage door repair tech will need to perform a variety of fixes. To do their job right, they might need special tools and parts for certain brands.
For instance, new garage doors usually have a government-mandated entrapment prevention system. The sensors that detect an object under the door can vary by manufacturer, meaning that you might need a proprietary tool or part to complete a repair.
Another example of specialty tools might be the use of steel wool, sandpaper, and paint. Some companies, like Wayne Dalton, offer a pre-finished stainless steel garage door. If you install one, the customer may request that you paint it to match their home’s siding.
Painting can offer you an opportunity to make a bit more money, but you’ll need to ensure that the task is done right and with the proper tools.
When you service a garage door or replace a door opener, it’s quite possible the mounting points for the new equipment won’t match the ones for the old. That might result in unsightly holes left in a customer’s wall or wood studs.
Accordingly, it makes a lot of sense to have some wood filler in your tool kit. You might have a few colors to match different finishes.
Plus, since you might encounter a finished garage with sheetrock panels on the walls, you should probably have basic tools for repairing it.
You might carry a small piece of sheetrock for patching a hole, a razor knife for cutting it to shape, and some drywall screws for mounting it. If you want to go the extra mile, consider bringing some drywall compound to complete the sheetrock repair.
There are various jobs a garage door service company may have to take on. Always compare doors to understand how they work and what components need special attention. Here are some quick examples of different parts of garage doors and the tools you might need to work on them.
Many garage doors have a track system. You should have a set of tools for tightening, replacing, and adjusting the wheels that roll through the track system. You’ll also need an impact driver to mount the track to nearby wood studs or even concrete blocks.
The tracks and wheels can become sticky, either due to a lack of lubrication or accumulating dirt. You’ll need a rag to wipe things off, a vacuum or brushes to remove any heavier debris, and the proper lubricants to keep things moving easily.
You may also need your level to make sure things are straight.
Torsion springs help make it easier for the motor in your door opener. They handle a lot of the weight, but they are under high tension. You should never use anything but a properly-sized winding bar to adjust the springs.
Clopay has a line of insulated steel doors that feature molded composite materials for a sophisticated and elegant appearance. Their Canyon Ridge carriage house doors mimic the coach house designs of yesteryear. If you are working on one of these doors, take a look at the Clopay gallery. It has tons of pictures, so you know what to expect.
The gallery also features examples of various hardware, insulation, color, glass, and design options. You can also see some warnings and reminders about essential services and components.
For example, a customer might struggle with cleaning their window grilles. Checking the website reveals a video demonstration of how to remove the grilles. There are a series of screws around the window frame, but you don’t need a tool to get the grilles off. Instead, they are flexible enough to pry them out with your fingers or a plastic putty knife.
You’ll also see a description of other components that might need service, like the aluminum retainer and vinyl weather seal at the bottom of the door. You’ll need to use appropriate screwdrivers to change the bracket, weatherproof screws and bolts, and you might need a sharp knife to cut a new seal to size.
Whether you’re getting started in the industry or you have years of experience, a scheduling program can make your life easier. Rather than risking missed appointments or scrambling from one address to another, using scheduling software can help you book and keep appointments.
Some systems will also dovetail with your accounting software making it easier to collect your hard-earned payments.