Don’t Let Your Automatic Garage Door System Get Hacked!

We live in an age where technology is advancing at a pace that most people can’t keep up with. This phenomenon has led to a knowledge gap between those in the know and those who aren’t that is absolutely MASSIVE. Hackers who have managed to stay on the technological cutting edge are able to access an ever increasing number of personal devices and information and they are finding more and more creative ways to exploit that information for their benefit. From computers to cell phones, almost all of your personal information is available to those who know how to get it and are willing to do so, but that is common knowledge. What isn’t commonly known is how much access hackers now have to your home with the advent of ‘smart’ homes and appliances that are wireless or remote controlled, which could grant them free entry to your home as well as access to your most precious valuables.

Your garage door is one of the appliances that you have that is at risk of being hacked and leaving your home exposed for vandalism and intrusion. This is especially true with older automatic garage door opener models which are easier to access with modified signals because they haven’t been equipped to combat modern technology and techniques.  Newer models of automatic garage door openers have safe guards against pirated signals and will be much harder to hack than their older counterparts. One example of the modern countermeasures in place is signal scramblers that constantly change the frequency that the garage door opener will respond to. The nature of these changes is random, which all but eliminates a hacking thief’s ability to manipulate your garage door in your absence.   It doesn’t take much for the older models to be hacked as you can see in this video in which a hacker hacks into an automatic garage door system with a child’s toy. If all it takes is a Mattel toy designed for children to be able to hack into your garage, most of us are at risk and should be majorly concerned about how easy it can be to have our homes breached. While upgrading your automatic garage door system may seem like a daunting investment, it pales in comparison to what will happen if your home is burglarized. That takes away not only your belongings and valuables, but also robs you of priceless piece of mind and feelings of safety and security.

Protecting your home and keeping your family safe requires knowledge of your home’s weaknesses as well as knowledge of what potential offenders are practicing.  They are always looking for ways around security measures in order to capitalize, stay ahead of them. Your garage is the most at risk part of your home when it comes to break-ins; protect it by arming your automatic garage door system with a modern opener that is resistant to pirated signals and frequencies. Keeping you and your family safe cannot possibly have a price and if your own an old garage door opener you are almost asking for someone to test it’s security capabilities.

DDIY (Don’t Do It Yourself!) Save Your Garage Door!

Garage doors are important access points for both homes and businesses and if an automatic opener system starts malfunctioning or sustains damage, the routine and flow that has been established in your environment can be greatly interrupted. That fact makes it tempting to try to fix any garage door maladies yourself so you don’t have to wait or pay for a professional to come out and do it. While there are some things that are entirely within the DIY realm, there are certain issues you should leave to the professionals because the damage you can do operating in ignorance is much greater than the cost you’ll pay for a trained professional to provide the services. The following are a few of these issues and brief descriptions.

Replacing Springs
Spring replacement can be very dangerous to someone who is untrained and not properly equipped for the task. The tension that the springs hold lends them to being prone to snapping back when being detached from their set position. The tips of springs are sharp and if someone gets caught by one as it quickly snaps they could suffer a laceration or serious cut. Eye injuries are also a concern when dealing with replacing springs. It can be tempting to fix a spring issue yourself because they are so critical for your garage door system to function correctly. You may be fully confident in your skills as a handy man, but it is best to call in a pro to handle this issue.

Replacing Panels
Having to replace one or more panels isn’t really a matter of functionality as much as it is a matter of cosmetics. Hiring a professional for panel replacement is important for many reasons including reducing danger and assessing why the panels actually sustained damage to the point they needed replacing. If you have panels replaced without understanding why your old panels warped in the first place will leave you prone to experiencing the exact same problem. Replacing your panels is not cheap to do and enduring that expense is not something you want to go through multiple times, especially when the potential to repeat the issue is so easily remedied.

Busted Cables
Cables are integral to the successful operation of your garage door. The fact that these cables are under constant tension makes them very dangerous to fix, especially if you are not properly trained for the task. It takes knowledge and experience to accurately place and attach the cables. The danger presented by cables is similar to that of replacing springs. Lacerations, cuts and eye injuries are all concerns associated with cable work.

Replacing Rollers
If you have bent or broken rollers you may want to take care of them yourself because they are extremely important to the functionality of your garage. You should definitely hire a professional because it is a risky procedure to carry out. Getting your fingers or or clothing caught in between the rollers and tracks is very possible, which could result in serious injury.

 

Ensuring Garage Security Before A Vacation

It’s the holiday season which means many of us are going to be traveling and staying away from home for extended periods of time. If you are one of those people packing up to go visit family you should make preparations to secure your home while you are away. Like it or not, the holidays are not all fun and cheer, they are also a very active time for robberies and home invasions. This entry is going to go over some ways that you can secure your garage door before jet-setting to turkey and gifts.

Make sure you have efficient locks- Garage doors are a preferred point of entry for many home invaders because they are usually easy to access. Disable your automatic garage door opener and lock the latch overhead with a sturdy pad lock. Making sure that you have a quality lock is important. Don’t skimp on a few dollars when it could mean the difference between keeping your belongings and losing them to a burglary.

Install motion detection lights- Lights are the biggest deterrent to would be thieves as they utilize shadows and stealth to get away with their crimes. Having motion activated lights will catch thieves by surprise and discourage them from taking the risk of breaking into your home. They may not even need to reach the point of being suprised. If the presence of motion activated lights is known (which could very well be the case as they are pretty obvious) then an potential thief will realize that the inherent risk of breaking into your home is greater than most. others in your area

Bar your garage windows if you have them- Barring your windows in your garage will eliminate one of the easiest entry points to access in your entire home. Keeping the windows covered will keep burglars from being able to look into your garage and being able to take inventory. Taking this step further, keeping your windows covered so it is not possible to see into your garage will prevent would-be burglars from taking inventory of what’s in your garage and finding an alternative entry point to get to your stuff. There may be thermal benefits to covering your windows with blinds or curtains, depending to they type of covering that is being used. Some coverings can keep heat or cool air from escaping your garage, keeping it nice and comfortable for anyone who may be spending time out there.

Install a security camera – Security cameras are majorly beneficial in guarding your home from invasion. If the camera is plainly visible it is obvious that your home is under surveillance that is being documented and saved. Even if the camera isn’t activated (which it definitely should be) it will serve as a major boost to the overall security of you and your family’s home. In the event that a criminal is brave or stupid enough to make an attempt at burglarizing your home, you can rest easy knowing that you will have video evidence from several angles.

These are just a handful of steps that you can take in order to fortify your garage while you are gone on your much deserved vacation. Having piece of mind will free up mental space that you can fill with anything you desire while you are enjoying your getaway. Who wants to stress about work while they’re on vacation!?

Common Winter Time Garage Door Problems

The drop in temperature that accompanies the winter months can adversely affect the functionality of your automatic garage door system. Depending on where you live and how extreme the winter months are, the severity of these effects on your automatic garage door system will vary. We are going to briefly outline some of the common issues that you may run into will old man winter is in town.

An Excess of Grease

It is possible to experience this during any time of the year, but it will be a bigger problem during the winter time. Having too much grease on the tracks of your automatic garage door system can cause your door to move out of proper alignment which can do damage to your entire system if it remains off track for an extended period of time.  Finding the right lubrication level for the winter months is key to avoiding complications from excess grease.

Metal Can Possibly Contract

When the temperature passes a certain threshold on the cold side, metal begins to contract, which cause its shape to change to varying degrees. Most of the moving components of your automatic garage door system are metal and are created according to the specifications of your system. When the components begin to change shape, even slightly, the system’s functionality loses efficiency. There is no way to completely prevent the contracting of metal from occurring, but you can lessen the effect by liberally applying oil to your springs, screw-drive and ball bearings. Make sure to keep this oil away from the tracks to avoid them developing excess grease.

Thickening of grease

The root of this problem is the fact that most lubricating grease is designed to function in extremely high levels of heat. When they heat up they thin somewhat which enhances their lubricating properties. The problem with this is that extremely cold temperatures have the opposite effect, causing the grease to thicken and lose lubricating efficiency.

Rollers Getting Off Track

During the winter you’re at greater risk of experiencing your rollers getting off track. This can potentially be caused by a combination of the above issues coming to pass. If your rollers do become off track, your garage door can become a hazardous and the issue should be attended to as soon as possible.

Slow Automatic Garage Door Operation

If it gets cold enough, the motor for your automatic garage door system can be adversely effected and run noticeably slower than usual. Some automatic garage openers are not designed for temperatures below the freezing level, which could damage them if too extreme. Many garage door openers have a torque setting on them that you can adjust. If you notice that your garage door is opening slowly, adjust the torque setting in small increments until you notice the door opening at or near its usual pace.

Broken Springs

Springs are very important components to any automatic garage door system. During the winter, the cold temperatures can weaken the springs to the point that they actually break.  If you suffer one or more broken springs your garage door system will not function properly.

Sensor Damage

Cold temperatures can also damage the sensors that prevent your garage door from opening or closing properly. The sensors are a safety measure to prevent the garage door from closing on any object or person who may be in the path of the closing door. Damaged sensors can lead to injury and damaged property, including your automatic garage door system itself.

Torsion Springs 101

Torsion springs are a central component to the successful operation automatic garage door systems. While many of us utilize automatic garage door systems, few of us understand the ins and outs of how they work. This blog entry is going to go over the basics of torsion springs and how they work.

Torsion springs store the tension created by the opening and closing of your garage door. This stored tension helps lift the door and reduce the pressure put on your system by its everyday operation. These springs are normally mounted horizontally above the garage door and are made of material that is more dense than average springs in order to adequately store a large amount of mechanical energy.

Torsion springs naturally weaken over time as the garage door is opened repeatedly. As this happens the spring becomes less and less effective. If the spring reaches the point of breaking then your automatic garage door will not open. It is important to keep tabs on the condition of your torsion spring as it is central to being able to continue utilizing your automatic garage door system. The average life cycle of torsion springs is between five and seven years or roughly 10,000 open/close cycles. It seems like a big number, and it definitely is, but it shows there is a limit and using your automatic garage door system should be moderated.

There are dangers associated with garage door torsion springs. If the garage door is in the open position and the spring experiences failure, the door can come crashing down in a sudden fashion which could potentially injure any person positioned underneath. The biggest danger that can come with torsion springs is associated with trying to repair or replace them using the ‘do it yourself’ approach. Special tools are needed in order to effectively and safely change or repair torsion springs. If you do not have the proper equipment you are at risk of suffering potentially severe injuries as torsion springs repair involves many dangerous components that must be properly handled.

Pros and Cons of Steel and Vinyl Garage Doors

Steel

The Good:

  • Steel has a sleek look that is easy to maintain as steel garage doors are very easy to clean and keep up.
  • There are numerous options available when it comes to the style of steel garage doors. Many sizes and aesthetic styles reside in the realm of steel garage doors.
  • Maintenance is a breeze with steel doors. Extreme temperatures don’t damage them and they don’t peel, split or splinter like organic materials can do.

The Bad:

  • Denting is possible with still garage doors and it can happen pretty easily.
  • Steel doors offer poor insulation from the outside elements. They are thin and need to have dedicated insulation installed in order to offset this trait.

 

Vinyl

The Good:

  • Vinyl is very cost effective, especially for how durable and long lasting the material is.
  • Vinyl is also very convenient when it comes to maintain your garage door. Vinyl is made from a composite of different materials and the composite is all the same color which means color touch ups will not be necessary. Vinyl also cannot rust.
  • Vinyl is a very durable material that is resistant to splitting and splintering. When it comes to weather resistance Vinyl is very durable and can withstand extreme temperatures on both the hot and cold ends of the temperature spectrum. Coats can be applied to prevent the color from fading over time.

 

The Bad:

  • Vinyl garage doors lack insulation and are not going to do a good job of keeping your garage insulated without a dedicated insulation installation.
  • Once you have chosen a color for your vinyl, you are stuck with that color for the lifetime of the garage door. Painting the doors can be tough as the old color can show through or alter the finished look of the new coat so much that the door won’t match the color of the rest of your house.

Garage Door Maintenance Tips for the Winter

We are in the middle of an uncharacteristically cold winter in the Phoenix area and it may get even colder as the season trots along.  Cold weather has a unique effect on your automatic garage door system and the way you approach maintenance during the winter should be adjusted accordingly to match the unique challenges that you will be presented with. There are ways you can prepare before winter gets into full swing and there are steps you can take throughout the winter to ensure that your automatic garage door system stays in top shape and functions efficiently.

  1. Make sure your garage door(s) are cleaned thoroughly before the winter. Any buildup and debris should be moved to discourage any rust damage that may develop as the season progresses.
  2. Weather stripping on the bottom of your garage door(s) should be cleaned as well. Make sure that it is in great condition on top of being clean. Cracks, tears, missing chunks, and parts that may be poorly attached should all be addressed immediately in order to keep your garage dry and free of the winter air entering.
  3. Clean your garage windows and check on their overall condition. If you have any damaged windows, you should replace them as soon as you possibly can. Making sure you have strong windows that are thoroughly sealed. If you have a cracked window, wind and precipitation can severely compromise the integrity of the window.
  4. Check on the condition of the moving parts associated with your automatic garage door system. Making sure there is no excess buildup of grease and making sure all components are in good working order is highly recommended. You may need to call in a professional if cables and torsions springs are in need of repairs or adjustments.
  5. Make sure the batteries in your remotes are fresh.

Get Festive With A Garage Door Holiday Display

If you are the festive type, no doubt you are excited for the holiday season that is upon us. Odds are you are creating a magnificent display to express your holiday joy to the world (or your neighborhood….). Odds are you are looking for a way to separate your display from the rest so it can stand out amongst your neighborly competition. One way to do so is to incorporate your garage door as a screen for a graphical Christmas display from a projector. Having a dynamic, animated display on the front of your house will definitely grasp the attention of passersby, scoring you those all important holiday awe points. Here are some tips to turn your garage door into a projector screen effectively.

Make sure your projector has the proper features: What you are mainly looking for is speed control and a standby timer. Speed control allows you to control the speed of the projection across your garage door surface. The standby timer is the second key feature that needs to be present. Having the ability to adjust the standby timer will ensure that your graphical projection will not be turned off unexpectedly during peak viewing hours.

You may want to do some things to smooth out the surface of your garage door, if it’s not flat. Not having a flat surface could distort the image, so it’s really a matter of preference.

You will need weather proofing in place to protect your projector. Moisture and cold temperatures can be harmful to outdoor projectors. Some companies supply weatherproof housing for the projectors they build, but you may also consider building one of your own if that is not the case for the manufacturer of your particular projector. Projectors are not cheap, so you definitely want to make sure that it is well protected while it is exposed to the winter elements.