Longtime followers of our blog and new visitors alike will probably be surprised to learn that I am not, in fact, a garage door technician! I am a member of the A Plus Garage Doors office team, so I work closely with the technicians on everything that I write and share – you don’t need to doubt its accuracy! But in my day-to-day job with the company, I only rarely visit job sites in-progress.
But here at A Plus, we believe in going above and beyond the call of what is required. That’s what led us to have 40+ 5-star reviews on Google, and a reputation for reliable, timely service in Charlotte. We’re family owned and family operated, and Jimmy Perneszi – the owner – has been working on garage doors for over thirty years. Suffice to say, we only do quality work, and we bring our “A-Plus game” to every job.
So as part of the ongoing education that we sponsor for our employees, all technician will spend days in the office training and learning about the office side of the business. Unlike some larger companies, we don’t stage photoshoots or use the manufacturer’s images as if they were our own work. Instead, we train our tech’s to take all the pictures and videos you see around this site or on our social media on actual job sites. The homeowners in our videos aren’t actors – they’re satisfied customers – and the doors are actual jobs that we actually did.
In addition to bringing techs into the office, of course, we send the office staff into the field. Doing my job well – writing about garage doors and providing authoritative, timely, and accurate answers to our visitor’s needs – requires that I understand garage doors and openers deeply. And there is no substitute for learning that knowledge in the field, from Jimmy himself.
To that end, I recently hopped into one of the A Plus Garage Doors trucks and visited a few job sites with Jimmy and his son Tim (family owned and operated, remember!). Jimmy and Tim have worked together for years of course, and the father-son duo can handle any job we might encounter.
The morning we rolled out of the shop was rainy, which is not ideal conditions for working outside. Fortunately, of course all garage doors are suited for outdoor conditions, so our trucks run regardless of the day’s weather. Jimmy met and spoke with the customer, a homeowner who wanted to a new door installed to replace his crumbling old door. The original door was a poor quality door installed by the home’s builder and it had seen better days a decade ago, so it was past time for an update.
Like many homes, this garage presented one slight problem – it was full of stuff! It is increasingly common for homeowners to use their garage as a storage room or extension to their home’s interior instead of an actual garage, like was the case at this house. The homeowner was able to move enough of the items out of the way such that we were able to work, but we have been to job sites that weren’t able to make space, and so we were unable to do our job. Maneuvering the 16-foot-long panels into the garage so we can place them on the tracks isn’t possible if we can barely step into the garage!
If you want to call a garage door company, make an effort to clean up the garage before they arrive – at the very least, they’ll need to be able to access the track on both sides (all the way to its end), the opener, and a large enough triangular space to pivot a panel into position (that’s a mouthful!)
Of course, before we could install the new door, we had to remove the old. A Plus doesn’t charge a disposal fee, so we tore out the old door and loaded it into the truck. This is NOT a job for an amateur. First, we took the tension out of the door’s system by loosening the spring until it unwound. This means that the opener assembly was no longer holding the door, and the door could no longer be opened by that mechanism. Then, we removed the cables that attach the door’s bottom brackets to the spring assembly. Each panel could then be separated by removing the metal hinges, then bending the track open so that the rollers would fit out.
I got my hands dirty helping with this process, but Jimmy’s expertise was on full display – he’s performed this procedure thousands of times, and it shows in his skill. We also removed the old rails on either side of the door. The rails serve to guide the door’s panels up and down – when working with low-headroom or otherwise cramped garages, the rail are always the limiting factor. Knocking this door out was no problem, and once we had the old removed, it was time to bring in the new.
Installing the door follows the same steps but in reverse – first, we partially install the track so we can use it to guide the first panel. Once that panel is in place, we can fully attach the bottom section of track in the proper location so that the door fits flush with the existing frame. We then build in the other panels, moving upwards, until we get to the top track. Securing the top section of track in the correct spot is critically important – the track is what guides the door opening, so fastening it in the wrong spot or putting one out of alignment with the other will introduce stress on the door, potentially wearing it out faster or popping rollers out of the track.
After the top section of guide rails are in place, we can attach the spring assembly. This consists of the long metal pole at the top of your door (which passes through the spring, a safety measure), the cables and cable drums that wind when the door opens, and of course the spring itself. The spring is securely fastened to the metal bar and also the mounting bracket in the middle above the door. You can imagine that the spring is holding onto the wall, and also to the metal bar – as the door opens, what’s actually happening is that the spring’s tension is winding the cables around the bar (technically around the drums, but they rotate with the bar!) and pulling the bottom brackets upwards – this lifts the entire door from the bottom.
Once this assembly is in place, we place in the last panel. This panel is normally the one containing glass, although some doors have the glass in the third panel instead. Once the top panel is in place, it gets attached by the same hinges used for the other panels and the door is installed!
On most jobs, we also clean up the installation of the door – we don’t want to leave an ugly jobsite, unless the home or business owner has other plans for polishing up the area. In this case, we added in weatherstripping around the outside of the door, securing it into place with nails and caulking. This provides a more efficient insulation seal around the door, as well as a more pleasing appearance!
Of course, the last step is the grand reveal to the homeowner! Once we’ve cleaned everything up and set up any new electrics they request – like installing new keypads or programming remotes – Jimmy always gives the homeowner a demo of the door and points out all the new features. He also makes sure to point out anything we didn’t replace that might be a problem in the future. Less reputable companies with technicians working on commission might try to sell a customer a product or upgrade that they don’t need, but A Plus treats our customers like family and gives you the straight facts every time. Sometimes, Jimmy will see a component that is nearing the end of its life and point that out to the home or business owner, but if you don’t need to replace it, we’re not going to replace it.
With our first full job of the day done and the rain clearing off, we loaded back into the truck to make our way to the next job. But to hear the rest, you’ll need to come back soon and read more about my Days in the Field in part 2!