Garage door opener advice sought

I live in an old house- built in 1936. I want to get a garage door opener installed in the two-car garage. There is a metal garage door that I suspect was installed in the 50s or 60s. It runs on tracks at the sides. It works fine; it’s just heavy, and I’m lazy. This is a rental house, but my landlord is okay with me having it installed. I intend to pay for it myself.

This morning a guy came out to give me an estimate. The problem, as he explained it, is that the openers they sell require a depth of 10 feet from the front of the garage to the middle of the ceiling where the unit gets installed.

In this garage there is a crossbeam (not sure if that is precisely the correct term) at nine feet. This is a beam that runs across the width of the garage from side to side, parallel to the door. He said about an 18-inch section would have to be cut out of the middle of the beam so the opener motor could be installed there. They would not do the work; someone else would have to. Then there would be these two sections of beam just hanging there, unless they were attached to the beams above that they intersect with using some kind of angle brace or something. It just seems in inelegant and yukky solution.

Even if the crossbeam in question doesn’t support anything and could have a section removed, it just seems like there ought to be another way or another product. He quoted the opener itself plus installation at about $600, and with the construction added (by someone else), it could run upwards of $1,000. I’m not sure I’d even do this in my own house, but in a rental house… even less. My landlord would probably be okay with it, but I can’t believe there’s no product that will fit my garage. Surely people with quirky garages get openers installed?

So my question: does anyone know of a garage door opener out there that can be put in a space with a depth of nine feet? This is a hard thing to google. I guess I can call a few more places and explain my sitch before someone even comes out. But I’m turning to the wellspring of all knowledge regarding all known informaton: the SDMB.

Don’t know of a solution, but do NOT cut the beam. Big beams are there to support structural loads.

I’m having a hard time picturing all this. Assuming the roof structure really is in the way, it’s good that he told you he’d rather you hire out someone else to deal with it rather than just cut into it himself (like plumbers are notorious for doing).

I have no idea if they’re any good or not, they do make openers that attach directly to the torsion bar.

That might be an option worth exploring.

If you can’t get an opener, can you get a foam & aluminum door? I have a foam door on my suburban 2-car garage and it takes 2 fingers to open it.

Of course, I’m lazy too and I understand the issue of having to get out of the car, open the door, and get back in the car. But if you’re gonna have to lift might as well make it easy on yourself.

The guy who proposed cutting a beam is a dangerous idiot and does not deserve to be in business.

Liftmaster makes several track- or rail-less designs variously called “wall mount” or “jackshaft” openers. They work only with torsion-spring doors - if you have a tilt-up door or one with extension springs, you’re out of luck.

This looks promising. I can read the name “Liftmaster,” but what else can you tell me about it so I can look it up. Is this installed at the side of the garage door?

When I get home, I’ll take a picture of the inside of the garage ceiling.
ETA: I guess the Liftmaster is this.

I don’t know much about them, but if you close your garage door, right about it you’ll see a bar with either one or two springs on it. It connects to that bar and spins it.
That’s the extent of my knowledge. I don’t know what brands are out there, I don’t know how reliable they are, I don’t know if they’re good for the door or not. You should probably do some research on them if you’re considering them.

ETA (because I just saw yours). Liftmaster is just a brand like Genie or Sears or Chamberlain. For all I know they all make one like this (they might not, I don’t know).

They’re excellent. This house had two conventional openers when we bought it, original with the construction around 2002. They were VERY badly mounted, dropped down from an 11-foot ceiling on enough angle iron to build a replica of the Eiffel Tower, so that the doors pointlessly opened at standard height. I really, really can’t imagine what the installers were thinking.

I had them removed and replaced with LiftMaster 3800’s and high-lift tracks that take the doors up and around the ceiling line. They’ve operated flawlessly for over three years now, and besides making room for two vehicle lifts, keep the garage from looking like a badly-maintained 19th century steamship engine room.

Looking at the Liftmaster site, I found this.

When the guy came out this morning and determined that a regular opener would not work without cutting that beam (which I have no intention of doing), he also said another solution might be an opener mounted at the side of the door. Then he went over there and looked and said there wasn’t enough room because the door had not been installed properly. Maybe it was this Liftmaster Elite.

I might get a couple more estimates to see if anyone else thinks they can install something.

This is a thought. Who did you buy yours from?

Before you put any money into this, have a garage door co. come and give you an estimate on adjusting the springs.
If the door is heavy, it’s because the springs are either worn or broken.
If the door is heavy, a garage door opener may not work.
But you need a garage door specialist to do this!

With properly adjusted, working springs, it will be easy to open (and close) and you may not need an opener.


Also, do your homework and get several quotes as garage door companies are notorious for sticking it to the customer. I have often thought about opening such a business; but there might a be a Hell and I’d hate to be condemned to it for ripping off so many people.

Only slightly.

After this discussion, I’m thinking that the guy who came this morning just didn’t have any imagination. Just to say, “To install an opener, we have to cut this beam,” period, wasn’t helpful. If he had asked what problem I was trying to solve (as I ask people in my job to find out what they REALLY need/want, not what they THINK they need/want), I would have mentioned the heaviness of the door. Then he might have suggested either a lighter weight door or doing something with the springs.

I got the impression he really didn’t want the job. Which is fine, because he’s not going to get it.

I will talk to some more garage door companies.

Re the heaviness of the door: when I first lift it, it’s very heavy. Once I get the handle about up to my waist level, it goes easily the rest of the way. But that first part where I have to lean way down and lift–THAT is a pain.

Spring tension needs to be increased. Once you get the door halfway up, you’re lifting a lot less and the weak spring is enough to provide a balanced assist.

Try getting a qualified door guy to tighten up the spring and balance the load. That may be the optimum point between cost and laziness, and will have to be done for any kind of opener to work anyway.

(Don’t do it yourself and don’t let any jackleg handyman do it. The process can be VERY dangerous, even fatal if done incorrectly.)

Came with the house. But any garage door company can install.