Beware of garage door upsells


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – You needed to leave five minutes ago. You hurry into your garage and hit the button to open the door. A hum, a squeal, a thud — and a garage door that refuses to go up. You try the button again, and this time, the door doesn't even pretend to work.

Now, you need to hire a pro to repair it, and with the fix comes the possibility that the contractor might try to sell you something you may not want. But don't shut the door on these upgrades just yet. Sometimes, contractors suggest fixes that can save you money down the road.

Common Garage Door Repairs & Potential Upsells

  • Springs: If a company sells lifetime springs, ask what that means. Springs have a designated life-cycle rating, such as 15,000, 25,000 and 50,000. How long it takes to deplete that cycle depends on how often the door is used. Choose the spring cycle based on your door use. For instance, a 15,000-cycle spring on a rarely used garage door could potentially last longer than 50,000-cycle spring on a door that's opened several times a day.
  • Rollers: A standard door has 10 rollers that cost about $7 each, but only the broken ones need to be replaced. To avoid an unnecessary charge, ask to see the damage if a garage door technician suggests replacing all rollers without inspecting them.
  • Doors: Insulated doors cost about $400 more than non-insulated doors, but provide little energy savings unless the garage is a living space or attached to your home.
  • Motor: If the motor runs, but the chain isn't working, it could indicate a stripped gear. Instead of replacing the motor, a simple repair, which costs about $150, should do the trick.
  • Extended warranties: If a product comes with a lifetime guarantee, make sure you understand what that means. Experts say sometimes a lifetime guarantee on a spring actually means it's only valid for the lifetime of the door.
  • Maintenance programs: Some companies sell preventive maintenance programs that include an annual visit and door tune-up. These programs typically run $65 to $100 per year. These can provide value – just remember to make your appointments each year.
  • Cheap service calls: If a company charges a service-call fee, find out what that includes. Companies sometimes charge a lower fee of $30 to $40, but add a labor charge for anything they do. This unexpected fee can add as much as $100 to the initial service call, and ends up costing more than a regular service call fee of $75 to $100.

Garage Door Maintenance

  • Metal doors are far more resistant to dings and the elements than wood doors, but any door will deteriorate if not properly cared for.
  • Inspect your garage door at least once a year for damage that might affect the finish or lead to rust.
  • Wood doors should be refinished/resealed at least every two years.
  • Protect any type of garage door from water, especially runoff and splash back from the roof eaves. Direct water away from the door, including proper drainage in front of the lower section of the door.
  • Keep kids from using the door as a backstop.
  • Wash your garage door regularly, with water and a mild detergent. Use car wax on metal doors to protect the finish.
  • Check that the weather stripping along the bottom is in good condition. If it is cracked, it can easily be slid off and replaced.
  • Lubricate tracks, hinges, rollers and springs with light household oil – don't use petroleum-based lubricants. Apply and wipe away the extra. Openers do not require extra lubricant.
  • Test the safety-reversing sensor once a month.
  • Always refer to the owner's manual for your door and opener.