Our 1/2-horsepower garage-door opener recently began failing. Sometimes when opening and sometimes when closing, it would begin whining and the garage door would stop moving.
After unplugging the garage-door opener and popping the case, we found that the drive belt was worn and needed replacing. A quick replacement with a new belt would see the garage door going up and down in no time.
The quick fix was stymied when we found that the seller of our particular model of garage-door opener no longer sells that model. The company doesn’t even sell replacement parts for our model.
Did I mention that the garage-door opener is at least twenty years old? It was already installed when we bought our house.
No problem. Rubbing our collective hands together, we sought a replacement belt at our favourite replacement-part website.
The brand wasn’t listed.
Beginning to sweat, we looked for a different website. We checked both the seller’s website and another replacement-part website.
No drive belt.
Okay, then. Maybe our garage-door opener had earned an honourable retirement. How much for a new one?
Ouch: anywhere from £130 to £250 for a new opener.
Surely a determined DIYer could do better?
What else uses drive belts?
We used a length of cotton rope to measure the worn drive belt, then off we drove to the auto supply store, where we found a V belt almost the right length. A little long, but maybe that could be engineered.
Back in the garage, we pulled off the old belt and tried the new belt. Definitely a little long. It flopped and flapped. How to increase the tension?
The tension is controlled by a tensioner pulley that connects to the drive belt through a piece of spring steel. The spring steel pivots, pushing a roller against the drive belt to increase tension. We needed to push harder on the spring steel so that the roller would push the drive belt further, increasing the tension.
But the tensioner pulley was already at its highest setting.
So we added a stack of old game tokens along the length of the tensioner pulley, effectively moving the axle of the tensioner pulley and pushing the spring steel harder. Result: an increase in tension. The V belt no longer flopped and flapped.
Tension improved, belt replaced, problem resolved.
Total cost: £5.99 for the V belt plus 46¢ sales tax for a total cost of £6.45.
Tools needed: a flat-bladed screwdriver, some way to measure the size of the worn belt and a work light to brighten the work area.
Materials needed: a replacement belt and makeshift enhancements for the tensioner pulley, decades-old game tokens inherited from Grandpa!
Plus a bit of DIY ingenuity.