Is that Indy garage door upgrade really necessary?
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.
Ed Kikendall Jr. of E & E Garage Doors, for example, recently recommended a whole-system replacement to a customer for $1,000 instead of a $200 spring repair.
“In a case like that, where there is a big price difference, we say that there is no problem with just a spring repair, and that we can do it,” says Kikendall, who owns the highly rated Northside Indianapolis company. “We just tell them what problems to look out for and let them know they will probably need to have us back out in three or four years.”
Angie’s List members Mary and Bob Keleher of Carmel, Indiana, faced a similar situation when they hired highly rated Hamilton Garage Door. The Carmel company came out to fix a broken wall brace on one garage door, but the Kelehers asked the technician to look at a second door while he was there.
The Hamilton Garage Door tech wanted to adjust the tension on that door, but he told the Kelehers the old spring might break since it had gone beyond the typical 7- to 10-year life span of a spring.
“The doors have been in for about 20 years,” Mary says. “We thought adjusting the tension would work, but we’re going to stay in the house. They gave us two options: replace the spring or adjust the tension. The best option was replace the spring. Instead of fixing it for short-term, we fixed for long-term.”.
Educate yourself before hiring a contractor for garage door service. Do your research by gathering several expert opinions and estimates, and check out any dubious claims.
Before you hire
Here are some of the most common garage door services rendered, and some unforeseen issues or upgrades that experts say might increase the overall cost:
Companies sometimes suggest insulated garage doors, which Kikendall says can cost about $300 more than non-insulated doors. However, an insulated door may benefit homeowners with attached garages, as its weather-defying capabilities lowers energy use.
A typical spring lasts 10,000 cycles. Nathan Martin, owner of highly rated Perfection Garage Doors on Indianapolis’ Southside, says companies may try to sell you springs that last up to 100,000 cycles, which can cost about $40 to $50 more per spring.
The basic motor for a garage door operates on a chain drive. Martin says two possible upsells include a belt garage door and a DC motor belt drive.
Both belt door upgrades make less noise than the chain drive opener. The DC motor belt drive also comes with Internet capabilities, so you can open or close the door with your smartphone, he says.
The belt garage door costs about $100 more than the basic chain drive door, while the DC motor belt drive costs $200 more than the standard model.
If a product comes with a lifetime guarantee, make sure you understand what that means.
Duane Keller, owner of Hamilton Garage Door, says sometimes a lifetime guarantee on a spring actually means it’s only valid for the lifetime of the door.
Kikendall says extended warranties for items like springs aren’t worth the money. These cost about $300 and usually last at least 20 years. However, most springs don’t need to be replaced for at least 10 years or longer, and a spring replacement typically costs half the cost of a warranty.
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.
Martin says companies often 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.