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I speak from (painful) experience when I say that a garage door that is not automated has the potential to really do a number on one’s back. It was not too long ago that I, in perhaps the most misguided display of machismo ever, stood facing a friend’s manual roll-up garage door and declared to it that its defiance would daunt me no longer.

Rather idiotically, I kept my legs straight and bent down to reach the handle (the correct way of lifting heavy objects is to get down on one’s haunches so that your back is straight, but your legs are bent for support, as I was soon to find out) and, uttering my best war cry and throwing my shoulders back, I endeavoured to hoist the recalcitrant thing upwards. Well, suffice it say that my war cry soon turned into one of agony as my lower back felt the full fury of an unbalanced garage door.

Now, had the door at least been automated, my back would no doubt have been spared the singeing anguish with which it was afflicted for the next three days, but the garage door operator would have had to take the flack in its stead.

An unbalanced garage door is likely to load the operator unnecessarily, resulting in a shorter service life and possibly unsafe operation. You’ll recognise those items as things you want to avoid. Of course, it is not actually the door itself that needs to be balanced but the counterbalance springs, and we’d like to point out that this should always be done by a suitably qualified professional.

So, how does one know when a garage door is properly balanced? Well, we’ll tell you…

It requires an equivalent amount of applied force to manually open or close

What do we mean by that? Well, if your garage door can be moved upward like a slice of greased lightning but getting it back down is like dragging a surly teenager out of her room, it’s probably safe to assume that it’s not balanced.

It requires no more than 150N of applied force to manually open or close

Case in point, if you throw out your back every time you have to manually open or close the garage door, the counterbalance springs are probably not too happy. It may be difficult to determine just how many newtons of applied force is required, but you should be able to judge by how much of a sweat you work up every time you have to pull the car out of the garage for a wash.

It does not rise or fall more than 100mm when stopped at any position between fully open and fully closed

This is an easy and reliable test of how well-balanced your garage door is: simply open it halfway, and see how much it moves of its own volition. If it moves more than about 10cm in either direction, it might be time to get a technician in.

It does not rub or make contact with any supporting or surrounding structures

Nothing likes to be rubbed the wrong way, least of all the hapless garage door that has to work hard enough as it is. A door that fouls against a pillar or other structure can put tremendous strain on a garage door operator and, in time, will put the same kind of strain on your wallet; so best keep it moving freely (the door, not your wallet)!

And then, once you’re happy that your door is properly balanced, head on over to your local CENTURION agent and get your hands on a whisper-quiet, easy-to-install SDO4 tip-up or sectional garage door operator or an ultra-compact and reliable RDO II roll-up garage door operator.