Garage door openers must be installed properly to ensure the mechanism fits to specifications and operates safely. Most garage door openers feature a carriage that runs on a rail or along a tube from a motor to the front of the garage, and an arm that connects the carriage to the garage door. Popular chain drive garage door openers connect the motor to the carriage with a chain. In a belt drive garage door opener, a belt connects the motor and carriage. In a direct drive garage opener, the carriage travels along a large, threaded rod.
This guide reviews how to install a garage door opener and offers tips for successful garage door installation.
Installing a garage door opener is a moderately challenging task that can be accomplished in an afternoon using essential tools you probably already have in your home collection.
Assemble the Carriage Tube
- Before assembly, confirm that you have all the required garage door opener parts.
- Assemble the carriage tube as directed by the manufacturer. The carriage tube will allow the carriage to travel from the power unit to the front wall of the garage to raise and lower the door.
- Make sure to seat the carriage tube pieces securely.
- Measure to verify that the assembled length matches the length required by the manufacturer.
- Make any necessary adjustments with a socket wrench or other tool as directed.
Tip: Have a helper on hand to make the installation go more quickly.
Mount the Carriage Tube
- Mount the carriage tube to the front of the power unit.
- Attach the rail clamps, which will later connect to a bracket on the wall above the door.
- Some doors will require installing switches and wiring at this point.
Slip the Carriage Over the Tube
- Mount the carriage onto the carriage tube.
- Follow the manufacturer’s directions, as different makes and models attach differently.
Mount the Header Bracket
The garage door opener mounting bracket, also called the header bracket, secures the carriage tube to the wall above the door. The exact location depends on the type of door, but it is usually installed at the door center point.
- Manually lift the garage door to find the point of highest travel. Use a level and mark the wall above the door for this height.
- Measure two inches above the first mark and make a second mark.
- Line up the bottom edge of the header bracket with this second line, then attach to the wall with the appropriate fasteners.
- Lift the free end of the carriage tube and attach it to the header bracket. Make sure the power unit is resting on a pad to prevent it from getting scratched.
- Once the carriage tube is attached to the header bracket, raise up the power unit. Set it securely on top of a stepladder so it's close to the ceiling.
Hang Power Unit from the Ceiling
- Most units hang from angle irons and metal straps that have holes drilled in them at regular intervals.
- Bolt the angle irons to a rafter (or rafters) with lag screws.
- Attach the straps to the irons with hex-head screws.
- Attach the straps to the power unit with the hardware provided.
- Raise the garage door several times to make sure it clears the opener.
- Attach the wires as directed for the opener control box, then mount it to the wall of your garage. Make sure to position it so that it is within convenient reach of all household members and is close enough to the power unit for the wires to reach.
- Run the control box wires up the wall and across the garage ceiling to reach the power unit. Attach them as indicated in the manufacturer’s instructions.
Attach the Bracket That Connects the Carriage Arm
The carriage has a metal arm that extends from it and connects to a bracket mounted on the door. This allows the carriage to raise and lower the door.
- Attach the connecting bracket for the carriage arm to the garage door. The exact location varies, depending on the door. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Attach the carriage arm to the carriage body according to the instructions. Use the supplied fasteners to secure it.
- Last, attach the elbow-shaped piece to the door bracket with the supplied fasteners. Then join the elbow to the main carriage arm.
Plug in the Safety Device
By law, all units come equipped with a safety device that can shut down the motor if something obstructs the path of a closing door. The safety device usually consists of two sensors that emit a light beam across the garage threshold. If anything breaks the beam while the garage door is in motion, the door stops and immediately raises to the up position.
- Use a laser level to align the sensor mounts.
- Make sure the sensors will be placed no more than six inches above the ground level of the garage.
- Mount one device on each side of the door as directed.
- Run the sensor wires up along the garage wall and roof. Most kits provide the appropriate fasteners to tack the wires in place along the path. Attach them as directed into the back of the power unit.
- Test the door operation and make any necessary adjustments.
Garage Door Opener Installation Tips
- Before replacing a garage door opener, remove the mechanism of the old opener.
- Confirm that the garage door is balanced and opens and closes properly. Clean the tracks and lubricate with a lithium-based grease.
- If you’re installing a garage door opener for the first time, make sure that the opener will be located near an electrical outlet, particularly if the power unit will be mounted on the ceiling. If there isn't already one in place you may need to install an outlet or have one installed by an electrician.
- Choose the type of garage door opener that best suits your home. Chain drive openers tend to be durable, cost-effective and capable of lifting heavy doors, but can be noisy. Direct drive and belt drive garage door openers tend to be less noisy but more expensive.
Tip: If your garage door is taller than standard, consider purchasing a garage door opener extension kit to make up the difference.
When you understand how to install a garage door opener, you can make getting into and out of your garage easier. You may even want to start on other garage-related projects, like updating the floor or adding a home workshop. For everything on your DIY to-do list, The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.
If installing a garage door opener isn’t a project you want to tackle, The Home Depot can help with professional garage door installation services.