17 Mar 2006

Garage Door Openers

One of the less commentated about but nevertheless interesting aspects of living in a house you built yourself is that you can monitor and muse on just how long it takes to start falling apart. We have been living in this house in Cambridgeshire for over 13 years and its long since passed the point where it can be thought of as a new house. The superstructure has lasted pretty well but internally all manner of things have started to fail or drop off and have had to be replaced.

On Monday, the garage door-opening device went kaput. Having operated flawlessly since installation back in 1992, it jammed halfway through an opening manoeuvre and suddenly started making a high-pitched wailing noise. Oh dear. It didn’t sound like the sort of fault that could be cured with WD40 or a tap with a hammer.

I called up Chris Brown of Cambridge Garage Doors. He appeared on Thursday and took one look at it and told me it had done well. “It’s a Stanley Slave Door. American. Very good too, but they have long since given up on the UK market. Too small for them, I’m afraid. They normally last around ten years so you’ve had good value out of it. It’s time you had a German one.” There are, of course, no UK manufacturers. Silly question.

Today I have his quotation to hand for fitting a Hörmann Supramatic E that is quiet and powerful with automatic lighting and a soft stop, cushioning the door during the last closing few inches. Our price to supply and install this new system is £395 plus VAT. This includes a two year warranty.

I have accepted. Back in 1992, the Stanley Slave Door cost £290 fitted, so that’s not too bad a price hoik, especially as I believe the Hörmann is superior in most respects. Gone is Stanley’s noisy old chain mechanism, to be replaced by a silent Kevlar belt. The Hörmann also comes with not one but two remote operators. Wow. Not that we ever use them. We haven’t parked a car in the double garage for ten years. But the boys always loved playing with them and doubtless this love is about to be rekindled.

Should the Hörmann Supramatic last as long as the Stanley Slave Door, it will be costing around £1 a week in depreciation. That’s a lot to open and close a garage door automatically. On the other hand, they are heavy beasts, these up-and-over double doors, so it’s hard to see just why you would want to do it manually.

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