Dan's Garage Door Blog

Gaps on High Lift Doors with Windows

Monday, February 8th, 2016 at 9:35 am by Dan Musick

On a garage door with standard lift tracks the top of the door rises immediately into the radius at about a 45 degree angle. If the door has windows in the top section, the pitch of the tracks allows the window frame to clear the top PVC stop molding.

On high lift doors, however, the pitch of the upper vertical tracks is closer to 30 degrees. If the door has windows in the top section, the pitch of the tracks causes the window frame to scrape or catch the top PVC stop molding.

On new high lift doors with windows on the top section we normally install the top PVC stop molding with minimum compression so that, as the door rises, the contact between the window frames and stop molding is minimized.

On a high lift conversion the remedy is to adjust the roller carriers of the top fixtures so the window frames clear the trim when opening. When you do this, however, you will likely lose your seal at the top of the door.

gaps-on-high-lift with-windows

The solution for this is to pitch the tracks further into the garage with longer high lift brackets. When filling out the custom high lift inquiry just indicate that you have an outside lock you want to keep and this will provide the added pitch you need.

Another option for sealing the top of the door is to tighten the tops of the vertical stops and install a top weather seal on the door. These normally work only on the doors that are two inches thick.

Depending on door thickness and the distance from the tops of the window frames to the to the top PVC stop, both solutions may be required to get an adequate seal.

How to Install Omron E3JM Photo Eyes on Powermaster Operators

Friday, January 29th, 2016 at 2:12 pm by Dan Musick

Later this year we hope to complete a video on how to install Omron E3JM Photo Eyes on older PowerMaster operators. In the interim this image should help.


It simplifies the most difficult part of installing the eyes – determining where to connect the wires.

In 1992 the federal government passed laws requiring all manufactures of residential openers to include eyes with their openers. In order to close the door with radio controls or by momentarily pressing the wall button, the opener must have functioning safety eyes. If the eyes fail, or if they are disconnected, the door can be closed only by pressing and holding down the wall button.

In 2010 similar laws were passed for manufacturers of commercial and industrial operators. These have to be designed in such a way that, in order to close the door with momentary contact or with radio controls, safety eyes must be installed on the operator. If functioning eyes are not installed, the door can be closed only by pressing and holding the close button. For added safety, many establishments prefer to close doors in this manner. If they want to use radio controls, or if they want to press the close button and walk away, however, safety eyes must be wired to the operator.

Operators installed prior to 2010 have caused numerous door accidents and injuries because they were installed without safety eyes. The owners, managers and supervisors of factories, distribution centers, car dealerships, and other facilities are now having their maintenance personnel and contractors install photo eyes to protect their doors, equipment, and most importantly, their people.

In the upcoming video you will see how to connect the wires to the eyes, how to install the eyes, how to run the wires and how to connect the wires to the operator.

High Lift – How High Can I Go?

Monday, January 11th, 2016 at 1:09 pm by Dan Musick

High lift is defined as the dimension from the top of the garage door to the center line of the horizontal tracks. Most residential doors with 12″ radius tracks have 4 3/4″ of high lift, and doors with 15″ radius tracks have 7 1/2″ of high lift.


When engineering tracks to increase this high lift dimension, we add the existing high lift dimension to the track extension to determine the total high lift. For example, if we add 24″ vertical tracks the total high lift dimension for the door would would be 24″ + 7 1/2″ or 31 1/2.”

Our Garage Door High Lift Inquiry carefully calculates for maximum lift without risking customers having to spend the better part of a day reinstalling their high lift system. Customers still often ask if their door can be raised even higher. My short answer is that usually the tracks can extend another inch or two without any problem, but we can’t guarantee the results.

Here’s why.

Our program designs each high lift assembly with the shaft located four inches from the ceiling.


The outer diameter of our standard high lift cable drum is almost 5 3/4 inches. The radius is about 2 7/8,” which leaves about 1 1/8″ clearance between the drums and the ceiling.


On some doors the top of the door rises higher than the drums and the extra inch is needed. Sometimes it is not, if the top of the door is lower than the tops of the drums.

drum-with-level-to door-top

If you don’t have a level you can measure the distance from the ceiling to the tops of both cable drums. Bear in mind that the larger diameter high lift drums require about 3/4″ of additional ceiling room.


Measure also to the top of your door when it is at its highest point of travel. The bottom line is that whatever distance you raise the the tracks and torsion system, the drums and the top of the door as it travels through the tracks must fit under the ceiling.

top-of-door-to-ceiling (2)

There are two options for possibly adding another inch or two of high lift. One is to lower the end bearing plates on the horizontal track angles. You can do this if the drums are higher than the top of the door at its highest point. One thing you have to watch for is that lowering the drums could cause the top of the door to hit the drums as the door rises.

A second solution for lifting the door higher is to raise the rear ends of the horizontal tracks so the top of the door actually meets the ceiling when fully open. A car backed onto a lift and raised to a tight clearance may be able to fit just under the raised door. Note: Pitching up the ends of the horizontal tracks may require shortening the horizontal track angles.






High Lift Assembly Modifications

Monday, December 21st, 2015 at 9:41 am by Dan Musick

Since we first posted our custom High Lift Garage Door Conversion instructions several years ago, we have noticed a few things that need to be improved.

One was the alignment of the horizontal and vertical angles in step 7.11.


This created a problem with the fitting of the end bearing plate in step 7.21. In our instructions we show cutting the angle to get the plate to fit.


A second problem that plagued me for several years were our assembly instructions. We originally showed the extra work of sliding the brackets along the vertical high lift angle at the end. These instructions also lacked detail, and the step-by-step procedure needed to be honed.

The solution for both problems was to redo the instructions. In the new tutorial we show how to assemble the components starting from from the top – assembling the vertical and horizontal angle first – and then working your way down to the track extension. This change is included in the new high lift track assembly instructions we posted this fall.


An added advantage to this is that it reduces the possibility of the junction bolt coming loose and the door losing its level. It probably also cut the assembly time in half for our customers.

On some tracks the horizontal track angles are rotated 90 degrees. The assembly for these is slightly different.


A third change we expect to make in the coming months is the angle for cutting the ends of the vertical tracks extensions. In our tutorial we specify four degrees, which works for most doors. In our Garage Door High Lift and Vertical Lift Inquiry the information you now enter allows our new program to specify the angle for cutting the ends of the tracks. If you see a note in your high lift kit or in your correspondence regarding the angle to cut your tracks, use this angle and not the four inches specified in our program.

A fourth change is to show pictures of double spring installations as we show on our garage door torsion spring replacement page. Our original program shows how to install a high lift with only one spring. We also want to show what a four spring setup looks like for the heavier doors.

A fifth change we want to show is how to install hardware with a shaft coupler. When converting to high lift, if  you don’t have a shaft, and if one is not available locally, we can send two shorter shafts with an extra spring anchor bracket and coupler.


This has also worked with 18′ wide doors where we sent, by FedEx, two 8’9″ shafts, one 2′ shaft for the middle, two couplers, and two spring anchor bracket kits.

The sixth change has to do with heavier springs on high lift doors. Our program is designed to spec idler support brackets for torsion springs that weigh over 20 pounds. These are normally installed just beyond the winding cone of each spring after it is wound. The formula for determining placement is (#turns on spring X wire size) + 2.” In most cases the bracket can be moved a foot or so to align with a stud.


A last change has to do with special applications where a customer needs to convert from double low headroom tracks to high lift. This may occur when a loft above the door is removed, or when a low headroom door is moved from one location to another.


In the coming months we hope to incorporate these changes into the revised high lift tutorial. Your patience is appreciated.

Crawford Garage Door Spring Conversions

Friday, December 18th, 2015 at 6:25 pm by Dan Musick

When converting the older Crawford doors with outside lift cable drums and bottom fixtures to standard torsion spring systems, or when replacing springs on low headroom doors with outside lift hardware, you will need to make the following changes that differ from replacing standard garage door torsion springs.

1. Reverse the end bearing plates, if you are replacing these, so the race of the bearing is against the side of the drum opposite the setscrews.


2. Secure center support bracket with two screws on top and one on the bottom.


3. Install the right wind spring with red paint on the winding cone on the right side of the bracket, and install the left wind spring with black paint on the winding cone on the left side of the bracket.


4. Vise grip the shaft from the bottom and rest it against the top of the door instead of on top of the shaft and against the header or drywall.


5. Install the cable drum with the black paint to the right of the end bearing plate on the right side of the right end bearing plate, and install the drum with red paint on the left side of the left end bearing plate.


6. Wrap both cables around the fronts of the drums instead of the backs of the drums, as pictured above.

7. Wind both springs down instead of up.


For more information on Crawford conversions visit our  Crawford Torsion Spring Conversion page.

For more information about low headroom visit our blog page on Low Headroom Garage Doors with Double Tracks.

How Many Turns do You Wind a Torsion Spring?

Friday, December 11th, 2015 at 9:58 am by Dan Musick

Most residential, commercial and industrial sectional garage doors use standard lift tracking and standard torsion hardware.


The door rises vertically a short distance and then moves horizontally in the tracks.


These doors use flat cable drums.


On standard lift doors the formula is (DH/DC)+1, or the door height in inches divided by the drum circumference in inches, plus one. After winding the spring you may need to add or subtract a quarter turn or more.

Vertical lift doors are normally found in commercial and industrial applications, such as on loading docks. These doors rise vertically the entire travel of the door.


The cable drums for these are fully tapered.


The formula for determining the number of turns on these springs is based on door height and drum number.

High lift doors rise vertically – some times a distance as short as a foot or more, sometimes more than half the door height – and then the door rides in the horizontal tracks. When the door is fully open, the lower part of the door hangs vertically in the vertical track extension.


High lift drums are partially tapered and partially flat.



The formulas for determining the number of turns to wind the springs is based on the drum number, door height and high lift dimension, which is the distance from the top of the door to the center of the horizontal track.


As with the vertical lift doors, the formula for the number of turns on the springs is complex. Here, we rely on software or drum charts to calculate the number of turns to wind the springs. If you contact us we can help you with this.

Rough Edges on High Lift Drums

Monday, November 16th, 2015 at 12:24 pm by Dan Musick

In recent months we have received emails from customers who installed high lift kits, and now one of their cables is fraying or unraveling.


This appears to be a problem with the foundry where the OMI 4-54 HL LD cable drums are made. The joints of the molds leave rough edges on the drums. These rough edges need to be smoothed, but the foundry is not consistent in grinding the edges.

Rough Drum Edges

In recent months we started grinding all these drums in our shop.

If you purchased one of our kits in the last two years, and if you have a high lift cable that is beginning to fray or to unravel, we will provide new cables. You can file the rough edges on the drums, which would be less work, or, if you prefer, we will provide new drums as well. There will be no charge for the parts or for shipping. Please provide your order number, if available. Otherwise, we can search our invoices by your name.

I apologize for any inconvenience resulting from this quality issue.

Common High Lift Problems

Thursday, November 12th, 2015 at 12:22 pm by Dan Musick

Without first seeking professional help, the most common problem do-it-yourselfers encounter when adding vertical track and raising their garage doors a foot or more is that the door doesn’t balance.

In order to get the door to work at all, longer cables need to be installed. The installer will usually know to do that.

This is typically what happens, for example, after a do-it-yourselfer raises the horizontal tracks and torsion assembly on a seven foot high 200 pound door by two feet.

The springs on most seven foot high doors are wound 7 1/2 turns. If you wind your springs the same number of turns after raising the horizontal tracks two feet, the door will stay on the floor by itself when closed. However, as you raise the door, the higher you go the heavier the door gets. Except for the first foot or so the door will not stay open by itself.

Raising the tracks two feet requires about two extra turns of spring tension to hold the door open when raised. If you wind the springs 9 1/2 turns, the door will stay open, but as you close the door, the lower you go, the harder it gets to pull the door down. If you release the door in the closed position it will shoot up like a rocket.

If the springs are wound 8 1/2 turns, the door will balance about midway. The door won’t stay up and it won’t stay down, but it will stay half way.

In addition to not balancing the door, the extra turn or two on the springs reduces the cycle life by as much as two thirds.

One solution is to spring the door for nine feet of door height. The longer a spring is the less it pulls. The springs need to be longer so they lift 200 pounds with 9 1/2 turns when the door is closed, and yet, when the door is open nine feet, or less, there must be enough turns on the springs to support the door weight.

This solution will work with lighter doors and with doors where the tracks are raised only a foot. The door will not balance correctly, but it may work reasonably well. The springs can be wound to hold the door open and to allow the door to stay closed by itself.

The main problem arises as the door is lifted. Because the door does not immediately transfer weight to the horizontal tracks, the lifting weight of the door will increase for the first two feet or so of rise. On heavier doors this could trigger the sensors and shut off the openers.

The best solution, however, is do a complete high lift conversion. This will require new cables, drums and springs.


High lift counterbalance is complex. A detailed explanation appears on our page titled “How Vertical-Lift and High-Lift Garage Doors Work.



How to Counterbalance a Bi-fold Hangar Door

Thursday, November 5th, 2015 at 6:39 pm by Dan Musick

Large bi-fold hangar doors are usually found at airports or specialty production shops. From time to time we get requests for torsion spring hardware to counterbalance smaller bi-fold doors.


On bi-fold doors the top of the door is hinged and secured to the outside top of the opening. The two sections are hinged in the middle. The bottom of the door is pulled up, forcing the hinged middle of the door outward.

The larger bi-fold hangar doors typically are not counterbalanced. Rather, they are usually winched up with multi-horsepower motors and gearing or chain reduction which turn multiple straps.

To determine the counterbalance requirements for smaller doors we hinged two pieces of angle weighing five pounds each. The top was hinged with a bolt and nut, as were the connecting points for the two angles. A pulley at the bottom of the “door” minimized friction.


We then marked the “opening” every foot and we weighed the “door” at each foot to determine the engineering requirements. Here is what we found at each foot mark, beginning one foot from the bottom.

  1. 6.0 pounds, or 60% at 1 foot
  2. 6.0 pounds, or 60% at 2 feet
  3. 5.4 pounds, or 54% at 3 feet
  4. 5.5 pounds, or 55% at 4 feet
  5. 5.7 pounds, or 57% at 5 feet
  6. 5.0 pounds, or 50% at 6 feet
  7. 4.3 pounds, or 43% at 7 feet
  8. 5.0 pounds, or 50% at 8 feet


Since the weight varies only slightly throughout its travel, we use vertical lift drums and torsion springs to balance the door.

The goal in springing a door is to minimize the weight variations and the work of opening and closing the door. This would be to split the weight difference of 60% when closed and 50% when opened. This would be 55% of the door weight.

For a 200 pound door that is eight feet high, we would spring the door for 55% of 200 pounds, or 110 pounds.

Bi-fold doors do not open the full opening height. On this same door we would open the door to 80% of the height, or about six and one half feet. Raising the door to 90% of the opening height will bring the door to about seven feet three inches.


A serious concern as the door rises is the horizontal force on the rollers pressing against the track or jamb. For example, when the door is at 80% of the opening height, the horizontal force measured 13.4 pounds, or 34% more  than the door weight. At 90% open, the force pressing against the jamb was 28.1 pounds, or 2.81 times the door weight. Special attention needs to be given to hinge, roller and track strengths when the door is to be opened to 80% of the opening height or higher.

When properly wound lifting the 200 pound door will require 5% of 200 pounds, or 10 pounds at the floor, and pulling the door down from the open position will require about 10 pounds.

Bi-fold hangar doors do not have horizontal tracks. On lighter doors the vertical tracks are turned backward with the curved portion of the track against the jamb. Because of the weight wedged against the tracks when the door is open we recommend limiting 2″ rollers and tracks to doors weighing less than 150 pounds and 3″ tracks to doors weighing less than 200 pounds. Heavier doors need special heavy duty wheels riding on steel angle or I-beam jambs.

The only operators that can safely drive these doors are the industrial jack shaft operators. The Liftmaster 8500 is not recommended for these doors because the cables move too much for the reversing switch arm to work properly.

A Balanced Garage Door

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015 at 11:23 am by Dan Musick


At DDM Garage Doors we go to great lengths to help our customers select the correct springs. Sometimes customers order the wrong springs, the door doesn’t balance, and they contact us for help.

On standard lift and industrial vertical lift garage doors like you find in businesses and homes, there are three common scenarios, depending on whether the springs are correct, too weak, or too strong.



If you have the correct springs, and if you wind the springs the correct number of turns, the door will stay on the floor when closed, it will stay in the center, and it will stay up when opened fully. The door will be easy to open and close throughout its travel. If the springs are not wound enough, the door will be heavy and it will not stay halfway or open without being supported. If the springs are over-wound, the door will not stay on the floor nor halfway, but it will stay open. However, the door will be hard to close. If you have the correct springs you can balance the garage door simply by adjusting the springs.

If your springs are too strong, and if you wind the springs the correct number of turns, the door will not stay on the floor when closed, it will usually not stay in the middle when opened halfway, but it will stay up when opened fully. If you remove more than 3/4 of a turn to get the door to stay on the floor when closed, the cables will probably come off when you reopen the garage door. The general solution is to replace the spring or springs. One option is to add weight to the door to balance it.

If your springs are too weak, and if you wind the springs the correct number of turns, the door will stay on the floor when closed, but it will will be heavy and hard to open. It will usually not stay in the middle when opened halfway, but it will usually stay up when opened fully. The general solution is to replace the springs.

One option is to add tension to the springs. For example, if the door is 40 pounds heavy at the floor, you can adjust the springs to reduce the weight to 20 pounds, but closing the door will require an extra 20 pounds of pull or opener force. This will also shorten the life of the springs, possibly by as much as 45% with just one turn of spring tension added, or 25% with the addition of a half turn.

Here’s how the door will work if it is 40 pounds out of balance, i.e., if the springs lift 40 pounds less than is needed. You can adjust the springs so the door is 20 pounds heavy at the floor and 20 light when open. If you stand on an analog scale or one of the better digital scales, you will find that you lose 20 pounds when pulling down on the door and you gain 20 pounds when lifting the door. Without adding extra spring tension you will gain 40 pounds when you start lifting the door.

high-lift-garage doors

High lift garage doors can be more difficult to balance because of the timing of the cable and drum. The cable must be the proper length and it must be installed properly so the cable begins wrapping on the flat portion of the drum as the top roller of the door begins rolling on the horizontal track as the door opens. If a high lift door does not balance properly, it is best to first check the cable timing.


One of our customers, who had purchased a high lift conversion kit, wrote us asking what to do because his door lifted by itself after winding the springs.

Here is what I wrote:

“You either have the wrong springs, too many turns on the springs, or the wrong cable timing.

First check to make sure the cables wrap around the outside grooves of the drums and don’t skip any grooves.

Second, raise the door and see if it is hard to pull down. If so, remove spring tension until the door is easy to close and then see if it will stay on the floor.

In the process of adjusting the springs, if the door won’t stay up by itself and also down by itself, you probably have the incorrect springs.”

Another possibility for an imbalance is if the springs are installed backward and wound the wrong direction. The garage door will open a few inches and then bind. Forcing the door up causes the cables to loosen. In our Torsion Spring Replacement Instructions and Video we recommend marking the shaft beyond the winding cones to confirm the springs are correctly installed.

I trust this helps with questions you may have.