The Great Growing Garage

© 2000 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Spring 2000
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Pages 38-40

Garage Doors and Openers in the Media

This new section features brief synopses of news articles that have recently appeared in the consumer media. We report them here so we can all see how our products and our industry are being viewed in the minds of consumers and the media.

The Great Growing Garage

Source: Garages outgrow houses in bigger-is-better ‘burbs
Article: Stuart Leavenworth of The Sacramento Bee
Author: Scripps Howard News Service, 1/23/2000

In this feature story, distributed nationwide through Scripps Howard News Service, Leavenworth reports of the increasing popularity of four-car garages.

"Now, in a superheated economy, the garage is undergoing a new era of expansion," says Leavenworth. "In subdivisions around Sacramento and elsewhere, home buyers are increasingly demanding four-car garages, and many are finding them."

Noting that half of the 1,082 home models being sold around Sacramento now include three-car or larger garages, Leavenworth cites several reasons for the growth of the garage.

  1. Garages now house the cars of children who are staying at home longer.
  2. Some zoning laws don’t allow homeowners to park cars on the street.
  3. "The testosterone factor," i.e., men love big garages in which to store their growing collection of "toys."
  4. Keeping up with the Gateses.

Bigger garages are attracting some opponents, such as architects and urbanists who dislike the dominance of garages and garage doors. Others say big garages eat up real estate, contributing to sprawl.

Nonetheless, "the two-car garage is a dinosaur," he concludes.

Dulley: New GDOs are Quieter

Source: Security is Top Priority When Selecting an Electric Garage Door Opener
Article: James Dulley, Home Improvement Columnist
Author: Chicago Sun-Times, 10/03/1999; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/01/1999; Tulsa World, 11/06/1999; others

Dulley, a syndicated home improvement columnist, answers a question from a homeowner who complains about the noisy garage door opener (GDO) when his teen-age some comes home late. Dulley notes that he attended the Hardware Show in Chicago in October, when he operated and compared the features and noise levels of several models.

For security, he encourages consumers to seek openers (actually, remote controls) with rolling security codes.

For quietness, he says, "the most quiet designs use a belt drive," mentioning that a Kevlar belt is "five times stronger than steel." A flexible belt drive "dampens vibrations and eliminates the noisy metal-to- metal contact of chain or screw drives," he adds.
Dulley mentions one new screw-drive model that is about as quiet as the belt-drive models, and he says it opens twice as fast.

He closes the article listing advantages of a direct current (DC) motor: (1) Uses less electricity, (2) Easy speed control, (3) Reliability, (4) Less noise, (5) Soft start and stop cycle. "Look for a model with magnetic stop sensors for precise opening and closing," he adds.

Dulley sells a buyer’s guide "of the best, quiet garage door openers" for $3. Go to and look for Update Bulletin No. 882.

Aliens, NORAD, and Phantom Garage Door Operation

Source: Aliens might be meddling with garage doors
Article: Rich Tosches, Columnist
Author: The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 12/12/1999

In this light-hearted editorial, columnist Rich Tosches investigates the source of phantom operation of garage door openers in the upscale Broadmoor Bluffs area of Colorado Springs.

The first suspected source was NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) in nearby Cheyenne Mountain. But officials there said they were not doing anything out of the ordinary.

Some neighbors, reports Tosches, say the problem is being caused by aliens from other planets. Another resident said, "I think there's just something in the air."

Officials from the utilities discovered that the real source of the phantom operation was caused by fire and police antennas and an FM radio station antenna on Cheyenne Mountain. Experts said the antennas’ signals are blocking other signals and popping open garage doors.

Tosches jokes: "On Wednesday the station played country and western music. Soon, all the garage doors opened, the cars rolled into their front yards and jumped onto cement blocks."

Safely Installing Your Garage Door

Source: Install a new, safer steel garage door
Article: Sam Satterwhite
Author: The Family Handyman, Nov. 1999

This is one of those how-to-install-your-garage-door articles published occasionally in do-it-yourselfer publications. Published in The Family Handyman in November 1999, it encompasses some of the latest trends in our industry.

The writer, Sam Satterwhite, identifies the garage door as the largest moving object in your house, and in many cases, a more popular entryway than the formal entry door.

Self-installation, he says, "will save you about $250 to $300 and should take eight to 12 hours if you're fairly handy."

Satterwhite prefers torsion springs over extension springs because "they're quieter, safer, and easier to fine-tune." He calls attention to do-it-yourself tensioning systems, adding, "If you don't use one of the easy tensioning systems …, you should hire a professional to release and set the tension on a torsion spring."

The writer’s installation instructions are rather routine, but the story adds a section on the "Seven Keys to a Safe Door System." His safety keys are also rather routine, such as extension spring containment cables, photoelectric eyes, and annual maintenance and lubrication.

In one of the first installation articles to mention pinch resistance, Satterwhite says, "To help prevent these accidents, look for a door that offers pinch-resistant section designs."

Garage Doors: Key Indicators of Sprawl

Source: Garage doors become a key indicator in sprawl war
Article: George Cantor, Editorial Writer
Author: The Detroit News, 9/18/1999

In a candid editorial on the reality of suburban sprawl, George Cantor connects the inevitability of sprawl with the inevitability of the garage door.

He opens, "I will believe something can be done about suburban sprawl when garage doors disappear."

Cantor says, as suburbs have grown, the garage door has crept closer to the street than the front entrance to the home itself. "The clear message is that the garage is the most important part of this structure."

On the other hand, in older urban neighborhoods, the garage is usually set to the rear of the home. "That's what makes those (older) streets so visually attractive," he comments. "Instead of a big metal door fronting blankly on the street, you have windows, or even a porch."

Cantor argues that it’s too late to gripe about the upfront garage door, and it’s too late to gripe about "strip malls and gridlock, sprawl in the outer fringes and decay at the core, ungodly commutes and less time to spend at home."

"These living patterns," he notes, "were adopted by choice. No one coerced Detroiters into selecting low-density communities dependent on private transportation. They liked low density and cars. They still do.

"You aren't going to reverse the decisions of the last half century by telling people they are all wrong and they should be riding buses, instead. Sorry to have to break it to you."

Lock Your Garage Doors

Source: Suburban neighborhoods targeted for burglaries
Article: Kris Antonelli
Author: The Baltimore Sun, 1/21/2000

Police are warning residents to keep their garage doors and windows locked after a series of nighttime burglaries in the affluent Columbia and Ellicott City neighborhoods near Baltimore.

Reporter Antonelli says the burglar did not have to force his way into the homes because residents had left garage doors open and the interior doors unlocked.

The burglar doesn’t steal expensive equipment such as computers or TVs. According to the article, the thief instead has a pattern of grabbing purses or wallets, leaving the house, removing the cash, then dumping the purse or wallet a few blocks away.

Antonelli writes, "The burglar or burglars have followed a similar pattern, apparently driving through communities …, looking for easy targets: homeowners who have forgotten to close garage doors." In many cases, the burglar rides away on a bicycle stolen from the garage.

Police warn residents that keeping the inside door locked is not enough. Antonelli quotes an officer who said, "Think about what you keep in your garage. Tools. Every tool you need to get into a house, even power tools, are kept in the garage. And you have provided them the privacy to use those tools to break into the house."

A crime prevention specialist, quoted in the article, said burglars typically spend two to five minutes in the house looking for items that can be easily carried away and sold for cash.

Amateur Invents Garage Door Security Device

Source: Amateur inventor's garage-door device foils burglars
Article: Andy Nelson
Author: Kansas City Star, 1/22/2000

A rolling code transmitter is a great burglar stopper. But what if the burglar has stolen your rolling code transmitter?
This Kansas City Star news story tells the story of Norman Pattee and his invention, "a better garage door opener." Motivated by some high-profile burglaries where the thieves stole GDO transmitters from cars, Pattee went to work on an invention that would foil them.
Andy Nelson, the reporter, says Pattee studied electrical engineering and had designed lighting systems. Armed with wire mold, aluminum conduit, electrical boxes, and a radio-controlled relay system, Pattee developed a GDO system that requires two hand-held devices.

The first device, reports Nelson, turns on the power to the garage door opener. The second device activates the garage door opener.

"The garage door opener gets its juice from the first device," writes Nelson. "If the device isn't activated, the garage door won't go up. If a thief wanted to break in, he'd have to know about both devices."

Pattee is reportedly working on refinements and looking for a manufacturer for his invention.

Man Attacks Garage Doors

Source: Man Charged for Damaging Garage Doors
Article: Tracy Jordan
Author: Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call, 12/28/1999

In December, more than 50 garage doors were rammed in the Wilson and Easton areas of eastern Pennsylvania.

In connection with the rammings, a 19-year-old Wilson man was arrested on 13 counts of criminal mischief for smashing his car into 13 garage doors. As reporter Jordan reports, "He may have been part of a larger crime spree involving several cars that damaged 38 other garage doors."

The reporter quotes one homeowner who said, "I don't know what would possess some nut to do something like that. I paid $800 for that door. It looks like they drove straight through it."

The homeowner was one of several awakened in the early morning by a crashing sound. Unable to get his car out of his garage, the homeowner had to borrow a car to get to work.

According to the story, the police believe the vandalism occurred between 5:30 and 8:00 a.m. Jordan quotes a policeman who believes the acts may have not been the work of lone rammer. "We're assuming there was a group of them out at one time," said the officer. "We have descriptions of at least four cars."

Jordan reports that the 19-year-old was also charged with the purchase, consumption, and transportation of an alcoholic beverage and reckless driving.

Another homeowner summed up the incidents: "I think it's just weird."