If you have paired springs, you can take a shortcut here instead of using locking pliers. Simply apply a slight torsion to the bar by clamping one of the springs with an easy half-turn or so applied. This will hold the lift cables in slight tension while you wind the other spring. If you have a single spring design, you can't use this trick, and have to use the locking pliers.
“Especially on houses where the garage is front and center, the garage door absolutely has to look good,” says Casey McGrath, a real estate practitioner in Kitsap County, Wash. And it has to operate smoothly: Americans use the garage more than any other entry to the house, including the front door, according to a survey commissioned by window and door manufacturer JELD-WEN.
I obtained my parts, as described on this page, from American Garage Door Supply Inc. (http://www.americandoorsupply.com/) They may have raised their small-order prices or imposed a minimum order since I ordered from them in 2002 at the prices in my essay above. The Web site offers a free catalog by PDF download or mail. Springs in 2005 were priced at $2.25/lb.
Security Lights: Most newer garage door openers have at least two bright light bulbs, as well as lights activated by motion. On the other hand, some older or cheaper openers are limited to a single light bulb. This doesn't help much with a garage darkened by shadows, leaving you unsure if the rustling in the corner is your cat … or a skunk that snuck into the garage.
Cable fail-safe redundancy: Based on the proper setting of the drums on the torsion shaft, the two lift cables divide the lifting force equally to keep the door level as it rises. This not only levels the door, but also provides a fail-safe mechanism. If one of the cables should fail, such as from breaking or losing its end attachment, the other cable will then carry the full weight of the door. This will pull the door up on one side with twice the normal force, while the other side falls from its now unsupported weight, tending to make the door bind in its tracks and jam. Although not foolproof, this is a safety feature of the design which keeps the door from falling catastrophically if a cable were to fail while the door was traveling. The jammed condition also prevents a lowered door from opening with the hazard of a single broken cable, further minimizing the chances of both cables failing. Since if one cable fails the other must sustain the full weight of the door, the cables and attachments are rated many times the normal working load of half the door weight. A proper safety inspection of the door should include a critical look at the cables and their attachments.
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