Men’s Den: Open Sesame!

J here and welcome to another installation of the Men’s Den!  This installation is all about opening doors, specifically the garage door!  It might be hard to believe, but when we moved into our house nearly six months ago, there was *never* a garage door installed.  What gives?  It wasn’t just that the garage door opener had been removed.  No, no, no.  It had never been installed, though all of the wires were there.  Why, you ask?  I have no idea, but I have a theory that this house was a bit of a stretch financially for the previous owners, so cutting out a hundred bucks here and there ultimately proved too enticing for a potential buyer, hence, no garage door opener (and no A/C unit, etc, etc):

My, this ceiling is naked with no garage door opener!

So when Santa (aka L’s very generous parents) delivered a brand new opener to our front door for Christmas, we put the house full to work in the form of my two younger brothers who were in town for the holidays.  Hey, we fed them a lot, so we didn’t feel too badly about pulling out the worker whips.  This posting is not meant to be a detailed step-by-step instruction on how to install a new garage door opener: each manufacturer will have slightly (or completely) different instructions.  You should follow the included instructions on how to install the opener instead of what’s written here, but it’s just another example of the types of things we have to do here at Tell’er All About It to keep our house functional.

What we used or bought to install the garage door opener

  • Garage door opener (duh!) and all its included hardware
  • Various wrenches needed to tighten the bolts included with the garage door opener.  This whole list was actually listed on the outside of the box, but we did need a few more things not listed in the instructions …
  • 48 inches total of metal L bracket to attach the motor to the ceiling
  • Several feet of 2×4
  • Four inch wood screws (to attach said 2×4 to studs in the walls and ceiling)
  • Drill and various drill bits
  • Step ladder (Hey, I’m not tall enough to touch the ceiling, and neither are my brothers)
  • Bubble level to make sure everything is straight
  • Electronic stud finder

As with any job, prep work is key to having everything go off without a hitch.  Before you get started, make sure you have everything you need, laid out and organized.  It also helps to clean up the area around the install.  Or….you could just do what my brothers and I did and just dive in and figure it out as you go!

We should have cleaned the area before we started ... but we're guys!

Just after unpacking the box, we realized the instructions left out one important part that we needed: hardware to mount the garage door opener (i.e. the actual motor) to the ceiling!  The instructions assumed that the opener was a replacement for an existing opener — meaning it thought that stuff wouldn’t be needed.  So off to Home Depot we go to get the appropriate mounting hardware.  I bought a 48 inch metal L bracket (found in the garage door and garage door opener section) that I could cut to size.  When I got back, I cut it into three pieces — one piece that would attach to the ceiling, and two pieces to run from the ceiling to the opener motor.

In order to get the two ends anchored to the garage, you need to find your studs and attach directly to them.  For both ends of the garage door opener, we attached a a 2×4 (or several) to the studs in the wall to give us a nice large surface to attach the opener hardware to.  You definitely do not want to miss the stud and have any part of the garage door or opener fall on your car (or your head!).  We used a stud finder (cheap and easy to use) to make sure we knew where the studs were, and we double checked by yanking on each each piece of wood after we drove the screw through to the stud.  If we missed the stud, it’s easy to pull a screw out of drywall, and it’s better to know you made a mistake before the screw is holding up anything important.  And remember, even if you know where the stud is, it’s surprisingly easy to miss it, especially if you’re trying to do something over your head while standing on the ladder.

Attaching one end to the wall ...

After I got back from the store, it was my turn to climb the ladder and attach the motor end to the ceiling …

Again, using 2x4's attached to the ceiling ...

... and an L bracket to the 2x4's to give a place to hang the opener from

This is probably a good time to mention that you need to measure twice (or in my case, 12 times) before making any cut or any attachment.  Before we attached that L bracket to the ceiling, my brothers and I measured at least twice with a tape measure and had one of us hold the motor up in the air as a mockup twice as well to make sure everything looked alright.  After using two more L brackets to attach the motor to the L bracket mounted to the ceiling, we used a level one more time to make sure all of our measurements were right.  And very surprisingly, they were!

After the opener was all attached to the ceiling, we followed the directions to attach the chain to the door using the included instructions.  Then, the last step is to make all the electrical connections.  One thing that helped this install go relatively quickly for us was that the garage was mostly pre-wired.  There was already an outlet in the ceiling, and a wire was run from the ceiling to next to the door leading from the garage to inside the house (for the button).  We only had to run wires for the electric “eye” safety feature.  To make this easy, we ran the wires outside the wall using staples to attach the wires to the walls.

It works!

Success!  After we connected all the wires, everything worked like it was supposed to on the first try (I know, we were as surprised as you must be)!   It’s funny, but in the couple of days since the door was installed, it feels like our lives have changed for the better.  It’s not a *big* change, but when you’ve lived without a garage door opener for 6 months, it’s amazing what little things you become accustomed to just to leave the house.  Now we don’t go out the front door anymore, we go out the garage, and when we enter through the garage, we can leave our shoes out there instead of by the front door (that makes my wife happy!).

So what do you think?!  Stay tuned later this month as we show you some of our other Christmas loot and what we ended up doing with it!!!

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5 thoughts on “Men’s Den: Open Sesame!

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