Do you have a high garage ceiling — but a garage door that’s much lower? Does this limit how many or what type of vehicles you can park in your garage?
If you’ve answered, “Yes!” to either of these questions, then you might be frustrated by your inability to use all of that extra clearance in your garage. The good news is that using a high lift garage door conversion, you can start taking advantage of that extra head clearance!
Let’s say you have a medium or high-clearance van, and you want to park it inside your garage — but your regular seven-foot door doesn’t give you enough clearance. Or perhaps you have a one-car garage with a high ceiling, and you want to install a four-post car lift so that you can add an extra layer of parking space — but your garage door doesn’t give you sufficient clearance for the top car. Or maybe you’ve bought a property for commercial purposes and need more clearance so that you can park large, commercial vehicles inside the garage.
In instances like these, a high lift garage door conversion can remove the limitations of a low garage door, leaving you free to use your garage to its full capacity.
A high lift garage door conversion is a modification of your existing garage door system to allow it to operate from a higher position. This change gives you more clearance, allowing you to park taller vehicles in the garage or make use of a car lift. While the modification doesn’t involve replacing your garage door, it does require the replacement of the lifting equipment, which needs to be secured at a higher level inside the garage.
To recognize the ideal situation for installing high lift garage doors, you need to first understand how they work. Most residential garages have an eight-foot ceiling and a seven-foot garage door that opens and closes along tracks that have a gentle curve between the horizontal and vertical planes.
The tracks of a high-lift garage door, however, first extend up vertically past the door opening to provide more space. Then, they curve back into the garage. Because of this process, they can only be installed in garages that will allow an additional foot of clearance between the tracks and the garage ceiling. This extra foot of clearance also allows for the installation of the spring bar, springs, end bearing plates and drums.
In other words, if you want a high lift garage door installation, you need to make sure that you have at least a foot of clearance on top of your desired clearance height. Anything less than 12 inches will make it impossible to accommodate the necessary equipment.
For example, let’s say you have a one-stall garage with a 10-foot ceiling and a regular, seven-foot garage door. You want to install a car lift in order to park your two classic sports cars on top of each other. Due to the height of the vehicles, you’ll need nine feet of vertical space for the lift. For your high lift garage door installation, you’ll need an additional foot of clearance — and that fits perfectly with your 10-foot ceiling.
When you’re thinking of converting your existing garage door to a high lift one or having a high lift garage door installed, then you’re best advised to call a garage door pro. While there are DIY kits available, neither a conversion nor an installation is a simple job.
Moreover, since garage door mechanisms contain either extension springs or torque springs, the risk of injury is relatively high if you’re not an experienced garage door mechanic. That’s why it’s always best to call a pro to ensure that your high lift garage door is properly and safely installed.
A garage door pro will first ask questions to determine whether there’s sufficient clearance to install a high lift garage door, so make sure that you have the dimensions of your garage and the measurements of your current garage door on hand. Next, the pro will ask how high you need the high lift door to be in order to check whether a conversion or installation is feasible.
If it’s feasible, then the pro will go on to explain what parts will need to be replaced. In the event of a high lift garage door conversion, you can usually keep the same garage door. For a new installation, you’ll need to purchase both the door and the lift mechanism. Note that your garage door pro should not only give you an estimate for all materials, parts and labor but also explain what type of warranty you’ll receive.
When you convert a regular garage door to a high lift one, a lot of the hardware that comprises the lift mechanism will need to be changed. The reason for this is that the entire trajectory of the door is altered — plus, the mechanism needs additional power to lift the door higher.
You’ll need new tracks so that the door can be lifted up along the additional height. You’ll also need new drums, cables, spring bar, springs and end bearing plates. In addition, you’ll need a jack-shaft opener that relocates the motor to one side of the door and eliminates the need for the opener rail.
You won’t need a new garage door, as the actual dimensions of the door opening won’t change.
If you have a high lift garage door, you should know how crucial it is to maintain it properly. After all, the mechanism consists of many moving parts, and if any one of them fails, you’re stuck with a garage door that won’t open or close. Moreover, if a garage door spring wears down, it could create a dangerous situation if it gives out.
The most responsible way to ensure your high lift garage door is always in good working order is to schedule regular maintenance from your garage door pro. By having your garage door serviced once a year, you’ll be notified promptly if any parts are wearing out or if any additional work needs to be done. This process will keep your garage door in good working order for years to come.
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