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Dear Jim: I have seen garage door openers that are twice as fast as mine and much quieter. I need a new opener and I want one that provides additional safety around my children and security from break-ins. What is best? - Ken H.
A: If your garage door opener is older than five years, upgrading to a new one will solve your concerns. Many newer designs are very quiet and operate up to twice as fast as your old one. When you think about it, you probably waste several hours per year just waiting for the door to open.
Some new models use direct current (DC) motors. These use much less electricity than standard motors and allow for slow start-up and stopping. This only increases the opening and closing time by a second or so, but the gradual starting and stopping greatly reduces noise levels.
The type of remote control supplied with the garage door opener has the greatest impact on security. Select one with rolling security codes instead of a fixed code. With a fixed code, common with older openers, a thief can park near your house and steal your code with a code grabber device.
Rolling code systems automatically change the code each time you operate your garage door. The code is selected from 100 billion combinations, so it is impossible for anyone to capture the security code. Some controls also automatically close the door if someone tries to force it open manually.
Another new security feature is a remote sensor/receiver, perhaps installed in a bedroom, that indicates if the garage door is open. Everyone has driven down their street at night and seen an open door that someone has forgotten to close.
Safety around children or pets is also a common concern the control systems affect. All new garage door openers have electric eye-type sensors to reverse the door if something is underneath it. Many automatically reverse the door if it contacts unusual resistance or does not close completely.
There are three basic types of garage door openers (in order of less noise, but increasing price): chain-drive, screw-drive and belt-drive. All of them are much quieter and more secure than your existing door opener.
Most have one-half HP (horsepower) motors which is adequate. There is a new three-quarter HP, chain-drive model that is very fast and can handle even the largest doors. There are also high-speed screw-drive models that use plastic-coated surfaces to avoid the noise from metal-to-metal contact.
A real convenience feature is a opener control pad in the garage with a motion sensor. It turns on the light when you walk in so you don't stumble over a bike left out in a dark garage. An outdoor remote keypad is also convenient.
Instant Download Update Bulletin No. 827 - buyer's guide of the 17 best, most quiet garage door openers showing horsepower of motor, drive-type design, standard and automatic controls, special safety features, unique design features, typical installation and regular maintenance instructions and a simple troubleshooting guide.
Dear Jim: I have been talking with window contractors about replacement windows. I had almost decided on ones with argon gas in the gap, but a contractor told me it may not really be in there. Is that true? - Pat F.
A: Installing windows with inert argon gas in the gap between the panes is better than ones with air in between them. Argon air is more dense and insulates better than air and it also reduces noise transmission.
The contractor is correct. There is no way for a homeowner to know if there really is argon gas or air in the gap. This is why it is important to select a reputable window manufacturer when purchasing replacement windows.