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Brown wooden double garage doors

Top Tech Gadgets for the Garage

Innovative technology has given homeowners new ways to manage their appliances, thermostats and lighting systems. There’s even a smart oven on the market that knows what food it’s preparing and cooks it to perfection.

Some of the latest technological gadgets can simplify the operation of garage doors, as well as make garages more comfortable. Take a look at some of these trendsetting products:

Smart opener

Garage door opener manufacturer Chamberlain has developed an app for Android and Apple wireless devices, MyQ Home Control. With the app and a compatible opener, users can open and close their garage door from anywhere and control individual lights throughout the home.

MyQ can communicate with other wireless devices in a home, too, such as Nest thermostats. And eventually, Chamberlain plans to introduce MyQ technology that will open the garage door automatically, when it detects a homeowner’s car approaching.

Intuitive fan

A powerful new air circulator from Vornado is designed to ensure maximum airflow – it doesn’t just blow air in a straight line, it twists and twirls to move up to 655 cubit feet of air per minute.

Most fans have settings of low, medium and high, whereas the Vornado Energy Smart Circulator has an output control just like the volume knob on a stereo and can be adjusted incrementally. At only 17 inches tall, this powerful air circulator may be the perfect solution for stuffy garages.

Light and sound

A new product from Canadian manufacturer Sengled lets homeowners enjoy adjustable lighting and music in the garage. The combination light and speaker screws into a standard outlet, and using the Sengled app, homeowners can adjust the brightness of the lights and listen to their favorite music or podcast.

Amazon recently released Echo Dot, a smaller version of its Echo, a wireless Bluetooth speaker. With the accompanying Tap, which is about the size of a hockey puck, users can play music on the speaker or ask it to find answers to questions, similar to iPhone’s Siri interface.

Warmth on demand

The QMark programmable digital wall heater can warm up a chilly garage without taking up valuable floor space. Designed for spaces up to 200 square feet, the heater also includes a nightlight and a fan-only function for air circulation. For larger garages, the Berko Architectural Wall Heater heats up to 480 square feet and features a stylish powder-coated steel finish.


Storage Solutions for the Crowded Garage

It’s tough to keep a garage tidy without adequate storage, but even the tiniest garage can be orderly, with creative use of vertical space.

Check out these storage tips – from simple solutions to major overhauls:

Up, up and away!

Many garages have a lot of unused space above vehicles, but there are devices that can turn that dead space into storage.

Hoist-based storage units are flat surfaces suspended by wires from two or more ceiling anchors. They may have manual pulley operation, or remote-control motor operation, but the principal is the same for both – load the platform with items, and lift the platform into place near the ceiling. It’s an easy solution for storing a power washer, holiday decorations and other items that are seldom used.

Versatile pegboard

Pegboard is one of the most affordable storage solutions for garages – a 4-by-8 panel is about $20 or less, and the accompanying hooks are relatively inexpensive, especially when you buy them in bulk.

Hooks aren’t permanent, so you can reconfigure them to accommodate new items. Get a sheet of pegboard larger than what you currently need, so you have room to expand.

Put cylinders to work

A concrete form – the large, cardboard tubes used to make support pillars – can be affixed to rafters with metal edge banding to create a storage space for fishing rods, and other long, narrow objects.

With a little creativity and a hacksaw, you can transform PVC pipe into a variety of storage solutions – affix bands of PVC to the wall to store long-handled tools, or glue a cluster of short pipes together to make a tall, shallow shelf for everyday items like tape measures and light bulbs.

Stack your vehicles

If you’re an aspiring classic car collector who has no room in the garage for another vehicle, a hydraulic lift might be a solution. The lift elevates one car, allowing you to park another car beneath it, so you’ll need a garage with high ceilings (and a few thousand dollars). Another perk of installing a lift is that it makes underbody maintenance a lot easier.

When you’re ready to get organized, focus on making the most of your vertical space.

A locking mechanism on a weather beaten door

Is Your Garage Secure?

In April 2015, police in Hanford, Calif., responded to reports of several burglaries, in which thieves had gained access to homes via the garage. The criminals had broken into cars, stolen garage door remote openers then looked at vehicle registrations in the glove box to determine the location of victims’ homes.

Those crimes are a reminder that homeowners should never leave a garage door opener in their car in plain sight. Ideally, remote openers should be small enough to carry with you on a key ring or in your pocket. Following are a few more tips that can help you improve garage security.

Use strong keypad codes

If you have a keypad entry system for your garage, make sure the code isn’t easy to guess. Your birth date, your child’s birth date or the date of your wedding should never be used as a password, because thieves can easily find that information in public records, or even on your Facebook profile.

Secure the emergency release mechanism

Several videos online demonstrate how easy it is for burglars to break into a garage with a wire coat hanger. They straighten the hanger, leaving the hook on the end, and slip it through the gap between the top of a garage door and the doorframe to pull down on the emergency release lever. Securing that lever with an inexpensive zip tie protects your home against this threat.

Fortify the service door

Once a thief is inside a garage, getting into a home is usually easy – especially if the thief has access to tools inside the garage. Fortify the door leading from your garage to your home by using at least one 3-inch screw in each hinge, securing it firmly to the framing. Add a heavy-duty strike plate and a lock re-enforcer that prevents the door from splitting.

Replace the garage door

A new steel garage door is unlikely to draw the attention of thieves, because they need to be able to break in quickly. An older door that looks rusted, dented or weakened in some other way would be a more likely target.

Use precaution when traveling

If you’re going to be away from home, don’t announce your travel plans publicly. Ask a trusted friend or family member to stop by your home periodically to collect mail and rotate which interior lights are turned on. And if your garage door has a slide-lock, make sure to engage that before you leave town.

Rain on old town

How to Reduce Garage Humidity

A damp and humid garage can cause problems for homeowners, such as mold and mildew growth, rusted tools and corrosion of automotive parts. To keep moisture under control, start with the simplest solutions first, and progress to more costly and labor-intensive remedies if humidity continues to be a problem.

Step 1: Protect your tools

Until you get humidity under control, throw a few packets of silica gel in your toolbox; they’ll absorb moisture and help protect your tools from rust.

Step 2: Keep water out

If your car is wet from the rain, and you park in your garage, that moisture is going to evaporate inside and raise humidity levels. Towel-dry your wet car before closing the garage door. In the winter, don’t allow wheel-well icebergs to melt in your garage. (Usually, these can be removed with a swift kick).

Step 3: Get rid of cardboard

Mold needs a food source in order to grow, and many species of mold thrive on cellulose, a primary component of paper and cardboard. If, like most people, you have cardboard storage boxes in your garage, replace those with airtight plastic tubs.

Step 4: Improve ventilation

If your garage doesn’t have windows that open, consider installing a ceiling fan to keep air circulating. An exhaust fan – which can be installed either in an external wall or the ceiling – can help pull moist air out of your garage, as can a portable dehumidifier.

Step 5: Improve exterior drainage

Check the ground around your home to make sure it slopes away from your foundation at least six inches for the first 10 linear feet. A lesser slope – or a non-existent one – can cause excess groundwater to accumulate beneath a garage’s concrete slab. Add topsoil and adjust the grading, if necessary.

Detached garages may lack gutters and downspouts. Adding those can be expensive, but they will draw moisture away from the structure and help prevent serious water-related problems, like rotting wood beams.

Step 6: Add windows

Sunshine can help dry-up a damp garage, so you might consider adding a new garage door with windows. A skylight that opens brings sunlight into the garage and improves air circulation. Some newer skylights collect solar energy to power their battery-operated opening and closing functions, and windows close automatically when their sensors detect rain.

Old Garage Door

Repair vs. Replacement: Options for Old Garage Doors

Many newly constructed homes have attached garages that can house at least two cars. But older homes – those built when a family usually had one car instead of two or three – may have only detached single-car garages (if they have garages at all).

Sometimes, old garages are so small that they have rarely been used as intended – they became storage sheds, and all the moving parts of the garage door were ignored for years. So if new owners move in and intend to park in the garage, they may need to make some repairs before that can happen.

It’s rare to find an old detached garage that’s wired for electricity, which means garage doors must be manually opened and closed, and rusted parts may make doors extremely difficult to open. Repairing or replacing the garage door can alleviate a lot of aggravation, but deciding which option is best takes some careful consideration.

Overall Costs

Replacing a garage door will be costlier than repairing a broken spring. But the components in old garage doors may deteriorate gradually, requiring repeat emergency repair costs that can really add up over time.

A garage door repair technician can tell you which repairs are necessary and urgent, and which parts will likely need to be replaced in the near future. If you don’t want to worry about parts going bad or potentially being unable to get in or out of your garage, a new door may be the best choice. With a new door installation, the entire track system is replaced, so the door operates smoothly.

Vehicle Size

A garage built in the 1920s wasn’t designed to house an SUV and a riding lawnmower, so the doors tend to be quite narrow. Provided the garage is wide enough, you may be able to reconfigure the entrance to accommodate a wider door. That project can be expensive, but it can also reduce the risk of dents and scratches on your car from bumping into a narrow door frame.


Old wooden garage doors may show signs of rot or maybe warped to the extent they always look a little off-kilter. Replace decaying doors to increase your home’s curb appeal and market value.

If wooden doors seem to be in good shape but just need minor repairs, you might want to keep them, especially if their architectural style complements your home’s exterior. A new coat of paint or stain can freshen-up faded doors.

Handheld garage door opener opening a residential garage door.

3 Reasons Your Garage Door Won’t Close

Here’s a scenario that can ruin your morning: You’re running late for work, you hop in your car, pull out of your garage, hit the button on the remote control for your garage door opener, but the door doesn’t close. You can’t leave the house with the garage door open. At the very least, you’re going to be late to work, as you try to troubleshoot the problem.

Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in this situation. But if you do, following are some of the reasons your door might be jammed.

  1. Safety Sensor Malfunction

If the door begins to close but stops short of the ground, the problem may be your safety sensors – those gadgets at the bottom of your garage door that keep it from closing on your foot. When sensors are knocked out of alignment, or if one of the sensor eyes is dirty, the door won’t close all the way. Usually, the tiny lights on sensors are solid; if they’re blinking, you can try realigning them.

  1. Faulty Remote

If you can close the door using the wall switch, you might just have a faulty remote control. Remotes may also experience radio frequency interference that disrupts communication with the unit that opens your garage door. Even LED light bulbs near the opener can disrupt the radio signal. Try turning off lights and wireless devices in or near the garage, to test for radio frequency interference. Ultimately, you may need a new opener, or you may need to change the frequency band at which the remote and opener communicate.

  1. Limit Switch Adjustment

Garage door openers have a limit switch that controls how far the door moves when it opens or closes. If, when the door is open, you continue to hear the opener motor running and can’t close the door, that’s probably due to a limit switch problem. Essentially, the motor is running because the opener is still trying to open the door

A garage with a lot of open space

Organizing Your Garage to Maximize Space

For many households, a garage is far more than a place to park the family minivan. In fact, a significant percentage of Americans park their cars in the driveway while using the garage for storage. Holiday decorations, photo albums, high school yearbooks, and other treasured memorabilia that often dates back twenty or thirty years can be found in the garage, stacked in boxes and labeled with magic markers.

Making Room for Cars       

However, parking a car in the garage can be a great theft deterrent. This is especially important for Columbus, Indiana residents, since crime rates are slightly higher than the national average. Most recent data shows a rate of 207 auto thefts per 100,000 people in 2011, which was significantly higher than the previous year’s rates.

One way to safeguard the family vehicle while still maintaining storage space is to maximize the amount of space available. Whether your home has a one-car, two-car, or three-car garage, builders often leave enough space either in front of the cars or around them to store at least one level of marked boxes.

Using Shelving

But boxes can be bulky and inefficient. In the search for Halloween decorations or a cherished photo album, a family can often waste hours sorting through stacks of boxes. By finding a more effective way to organize items, families can not only make the most of every square inch of garage space but create a more transparent storage solution that helps them find things quickly when they need them.

For items that can be stored in open air without suffering damage, shelving is the perfect solution. Built against the wall, shelving offers an area to store tools, lawn care items, cables, and even bicycles and ladders using hooks built into the wall. Several Columbus companies specialize in creating custom solutions for customers that will not only make the most of space but provide visual appeal.

Do-it-yourselfers can create the same shelving system using only a few common tools, saving money while improving the space. For those items that must be stored safely in containers, clear storage boxes are available that will stack together. Because they are clear, homeowners won’t be required to open every box to find the one item they’re seeking.

Storage space is at a premium in many households. By making the most of the space available in the garage area of a home, homeowners can store items while also leaving room to keep their cars safe from crime, as well as the elements.

Picking the Ideal Garage Door

How to Pick the Garage Door That’s Ideal for Your Home

Whether you’re building or remodeling your home, more than likely you’re faced with numerous decisions based on practicality, cost, function, and aesthetics. You also may be contemplating which areas require the most attention. If a new garage door is on that list, it’s important to take the time to consider which material will work best.

While appearance and budget are the driving factors behind many garage door selections, it’s important to review the materials currently used in the manufacturing of doors. Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages depending on environmental factors, frequency of use and potential for damage or distress.

A look at the top 4 types of garage doors:

Aluminum door

The popularity of an aluminum garage door is due primarily to its inexpensive cost. However, corrosion resistance and its light weight are other distinct advantages worth considering.

Aluminum doors require little maintenance and, if manufactured with a layer of insulation, they can be almost as energy efficient as steel. The major downside is that aluminum can easily dent and repairs are costly. If you know there is a risk of damage due to high winds, hail storms or even active kids, you probably should consider other options or plan for a replacement much sooner than you would with other options.

Fiberglass door

Like aluminum, fiberglass doors are less expensive and lighter than steel or wood. They resist corrosion and tend to perform better in the sea-air of coastal environments. They also will experience very little shrinkage and expansion with changes in temperature. Because fiberglass is translucent, these doors typically allow more light into the garage space. Fiberglass is not a good insulator, however, and doesn’t do much for energy efficiency in a climate-controlled garage. Over time, fiberglass doors tend to yellow with age and, in extremely cold climates, often become brittle.

Steel door

There’s a reason steel doors are among the most popular garage doors with homeowners. Without question, they offer nearly endless design options to suit most budgets; high levels of energy efficiency with optional insulation; and low maintenance. While steel doors cost more than aluminum or fiberglass, they tend to be more cost efficient in the long run due to a longer life span and improved insulation. The downside of steel doors is that they can be dented and are subject to corrosion, especially in coastal areas.

Wood door

Wooden doors are highly rated because of their aesthetic value; they’re more like pieces of furniture meant to complement your home’s exterior design. Despite their beauty, one of the biggest drawbacks to wood garage doors is the ongoing maintenance. Unlike other materials, wood doors need repainting every year or two, and weather proofing against sun and moisture. Warranty periods are typically shorter for wood doors than they are for steel. From a budget perspective, standard wood doors are available and affordable. Costs rise with the amount of customization, but the options are usually far more varied than most materials.

Garage air conditioning unit

Should You Air-Condition Your Garage?

Warm, dry days are ideal for working on projects in the garage, because you can open the door to let the breeze in or the dust out. But once temperatures reach 80 degrees, a garage can feel uncomfortably stuffy.

If you plan to spend a lot of time tinkering in your garage this summer, you may be wondering how to keep your workspace cool. Air-conditioning could be the answer, if you’re willing to insulate your garage and spend money on the right option for your space.

Insulate first

Fiberglass insulation batting is sold in widths that fit snugly between wall and ceiling studs, so adding insulation is relatively easy. But then you’ll have to cover the insulation with drywall or plywood (check your local fire codes to determine the appropriate way to cover the batting).

You might want to replace the garage door with a new high-efficiency polyurethane door containing insulation, and add weather stripping around windows and doors to seal air leaks.

Air-conditioning capacity

Air-conditioner outputs are measured in BTUs, and the larger the space to be cooled, the higher BTU number you’ll need. An air-conditioner with a 21,000-BTU capacity could cool a space of about 1,000 to 1,200 square feet. An appliance that lacks the cooling power to suit a space will overheat and stop working.

Unit types: Window, portable and mini-split

Window air-conditioners have a much higher BTU capacity than portable units, but if you don’t have a window, a portable model might be the next best choice. It still needs to be vented to the outside, which means you may need to drill a hole in the wall. If you’re going to make a hole in your wall anyway, it may be worth the extra expense to invest in a mini-split system.

Mini-splits have an exterior compressor, connected by a small hose to an interior cooling unit. These appliances offer greater cooling power and energy efficiency than portable units and double as a heater in the winter.

Easy solutions

If you decide installing air-conditioning in the garage isn’t worth the hassle, an oscillating fan or ceiling fan may be adequate for keeping you cool during your summer projects. Whatever you decide, you can expand the functional space of your home by cooling off the garage.

Garage Sale Sign

Tips for Holding a Garage Sale

If you’re preparing to move to a new home or just want to get rid of some non-essential items, a garage sale is an easy way to lighten your load and earn a few bucks at the same time. Garage sales don’t take much effort, but keep the following tips in mind as you plan your event:

  • Advertise. Today, advertising your garage sale means more than tacking a hand-drawn sign to the nearest telephone poll. Create a free craigslist ad and include a couple photos of some of the more desirable items you’ll be selling.
  • Have a helper. People are inevitably going to ask questions about items you’re selling and might ask you to demonstrate how something works. Customer service matters, even in your own garage, so make sure you have a buddy who can help you respond to shoppers’ questions or keep an eye on the cash box.
  • Be prepared to make change. Don’t be surprised when people hand you a $20 bill to pay for a $1 item. If you can’t make change, you may miss out on a sale.
  • Hide the good stuff. Put away any valuable power tools or other items that aren’t for sale.
  • Put clothing on hangers. Clothing usually isn’t the best-selling item at a garage sale, but shoppers are more likely to browse through your belongings if you make browsing convenient. Don’t pile clothes on a table – hang items from a clothing rack.
  • Be ready to compromise. Garage sale shoppers know you want to get rid of what you’re selling, so they may try to haggle for a lower price. If it’s a reasonable offer – maybe a few dollars less than what you wanted – take it. The alternative might be not selling the item at all and having to cart it off to a donation center the next day.
  • Sell bottled water. Keep a cooler full of cold bottled water on site and sell it for 50 cents or a dollar per bottle. It’s an easy way to make some extra money, and anything you don’t sell, someone in your household will drink anyway.
  • Collaborate. A multi-household garage sale will always attract more shoppers than a single garage sale, so ask neighbors if they’d like to participate. When several homes hold a garage sale together, there are more people to keep an eye on merchandise, talk to customers and help move items, if necessary.
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