I just bought a garage door opener, now what?

Posted 11/2/2013

So you got a DIY opener online or picked it up at Home Depot, Lowes or Costco and now it need to be installed.  You are the handy person in the house, then this will be a good Saturday project for you, but if you don’t know what end to use on a Phillips screw driver, I strongly recommend calling some to do the job.

This is how I install openers, but it is only general guide lines, but will apply to most opener install. Before you start get a handful 5/16 bolts and nuts ¾ long, angle iron to mount the motor head and extra lags 5/16 X 1 5/8. Some has all you need in the box, but others don’t or it’s crappy mounting stuff for the motor. Get the tools out and dig in. If you replacing the opener, when you pull out the old opener it will be a good idea to mark the wires at the motor head for the wall button/control and the safety sensor. That will be a big help later.

1. See what you got, open the box and make sure you not missing any parts. If this is your first opener to install laid all the parts out on the floor. (Have seen people buy an open box that some brought back to the store with missing and/or damaged parts)


2. First I assemble the rail system and then install the trolley assembly. Then mount the rail to the motor 
head. Whatever you have chain, belt or screw drive; this is the part that has most small parts you don’t want to lose. Some rails slide together others are bolted together, then lay it flat on the floor when tighten the bolts.

3. Then I wire up and mount the wall button/control either using the prewiring or the bell wire with the opener. Remember what color wire you are using where, this can be important later.

4. Some safety sensor has the wires already mounted, if not I’ll mount the wires to the safety sensor now and then I wrap the wire 10-15 times around my Phillips screw driver to make a small “pigtail” so I can stretch the wire later if needed. Mount the sensor bracket about 4-6 inches above the floor, some click onto the door track and some mount with screws into the wall. Make sure they are solid mounted into the wood and it will give you less problems down the road. Connect the wires to the prewiring and remember what colors you are using and where, because it’s not all sensor wires you can cross wire. I will come back later and tape up the wires, just in case. When you don’t have enough or no prewiring to splice into, staple the wires to the wall. Most times I run the wires straight up to the celling and then across the header to about center and then a cross the celling to where the motor head will be.

5. Install the opener. Close the door and mount the bracket on the door. It does not need to be on center of the door, but mount it on the style closes to the center. If you can’t mount it on center check and see what style will be best for the wall bracket and for power. Most times I mount the door bracket right under the top strut maybe an inch or so down if any holes in the style match up.
Now I place the wall bracket on top of the door as I will mount it to the wall and center it with the door bracket. Put a lever on the side of it straight up, hold the lever in place or make some reference marks and move up the wall bracket up about 1-2 inch above the center spring bracket. Drill your holes for the bracket top/bottom and then the lags make sure they are solid anchored into the wall. If you can’t find any wood in behind the sheet rock where you want to mount the wall bracket, don’t panic. Find where there is up above the bracket, probably close to the celling. Then find where there is wood below the wall bracket, around where the springs are or just above the door. Measure from top to bottom on the header for where you found the wood, cut two pieces of angle iron to fit. Mount the two pieces of angle iron with a space as the original wall bracket.Now take your ladder (I use my 6’ ladder) and place it about where the motor head will be when installed. This part is a little tricky so be care full and have a steady hand will be easy with an extra person. Lift up the opener and place the part that go to the wall bracket in or close to the wall bracket and then rest the motor head on your ladder. Get a step stool or a second ladder place it at the door so you can reach to get the pin in the wall bracket or the angle iron to secure the opener. If you used the angle iron you might need to use a long bolt with a nylock nut. Connect the door arm to the trolley/carriage and the door arm bracket, no need to tighten the bolts yet.
If you have a second person, get on you ladder and lift up the motor head while the other person raise open the door by hand. You can do it by yourself with a piece of rope, tie it to the door arm where it connect to the trolley/carriage, then pull the door open with one hand as you lift the opener with the other. Then rest the rail on top of the door, might put a rage to rest it on.

6. The back hang celling mount. CAUTION!!! Be extremely careful with where you are drilling in the celling. Here I talk by experience; I have drilled into electrical wire, drain pipe and main water line. Yes I do use my stud finder, and then yet I drill into unexpected objects. If your garage is built to code and you not bottom out your drill bit, in most cases you should be ok.
Locate the studs in the celling to get a solid mount for the motor head. Dry wall anchor or whatever you can come up with to mount it into the sheet rock, will not work. Most new homes have the studs in the area where you need to mount the motor head. Otherwise most are spaced 24 inch apart. Look at the power outlet mostly the stud’s runs parallel with the power outlet on one or the other side then measure out from there. To get a solid mount into the studs can be a hunt to get it in the right spot. With the celling mount in, lift the opener so you have 2-3 inch gap between the rail and the door or per LiftMaster manual put a 2x4 for measure. Choose the holes in the celling bracket that will make the opener most center of door arm bracket and the mounting holes in the opener that give you the least angle to the celling bracket. Then measure from the center of hole in the celling bracket and down to the center of the mounting holes on the opener. Cut two pieces of angle iron as your measurement from hole to hole. Note: not the total length, but hole to hole as you have measured from center hole on celling bracket to center hole on the opener. Mount the angle iron onto the opener, but don’t tighten the bolts. Put the bolts in the top holes of the angle iron and hold the bolts in place and lift the opener in the angle iron and eyeball where the opener is center to the door arm bracket and thread the bolts into the celling bracket. Check it’s on or close to center, readjust and tighten all bolts. If your angle iron is more than 6inch you will need a “kicker” of angle iron that goes in an angle form one to the other of the angle iron the opener hanging in, cut a piece of angle iron and bolt in place. You are done hanging the opener.

7. Almost done, you only need to wire the motor head. Now it’s time to remember what color wires you used at the safety sensor and the wall button/control. Again some opener can be cross wired, but most not and will not work probably. If you used the wires that come with the opener, you are pretty much set with the colors and you know what wire is for the safety sensor and what for the wall button/control. When using the prewiring and a first time opener install it’s a guessing game of what wire is for what. Strip the wires you need to use, pull the emergency release and plug in the opener. Now with the power on take one set wires at the time and connect to the wall button/control connecting points to the light in the wall button/control come on and then the other two set are for the safety sensor, connect and make sure everything is right before you tape up the wires and make things look nice . If you did pull out an old opener and marked the wires for wall button/control and the safety sensor you already know where the wires goes. Remember to tape up the wires at the safety sensor.

8. Set the open/close limits and force settings as according to you manual and then do the safety reverse test.