Can I Replace A Garage Door Opener Unit Without Changing The Rails: Problem Solved

Getting inside your garage is more than convenient parking; it can even save your life in an emergency, so worn-out garage doors are a big problem. If you find yourself asking, ‘can I replace a garage door opener without changing the rails,’ then you’re a smart DIYer. Just assuming every part is cross-compatible is a mistake. More importantly, it can be a waste of time, energy, and money. Universal parts are nice, but they’re not, well, universal. Hopefully, someday you’ll be able to get garage door openers with perfectly reusable rails, but right now, that’s not always the case. While some rails may be fine, others need replacing with every model variation. I’ve done this a dozen times myself and learned the hard way the first time. Hence, I’m happy to share everything I know about garage door openers, rails, and sensors to help you fix your door.

Can I replace a garage door opener unit without changing the rails? Typically, it would be best if you changed the rails when you replace a garage door opener unit. Unfortunately, the length and width vary slightly from one brand or model year to the next. Thus, you may have to replace more than you’d first hoped. Fortunately, this is a job you can handle easily. 

Change Garage Door Opener Rails

Rather than risking more damage, change your rails when you get a new garage door opener rail. A quick fix that only uses a partially new system is more likely to malfunction. Each garage door opener model is unique to help prevent thieves with old remotes from getting into your home.

Garage Door Rail Swapping

I’ll walk you through the basics of rail installation so you can DIY. Follow the steps below to swap those rails.

  1. Choose your style- Belt drives are the top-end option. These use a rubber belt to move the door, and they are the quietest option. Screw drives utilize a long-threaded rod to open the door. This option is mid-range and requires the least maintenance. Chain drives predictably use a chain. These are loud but inexpensive.
  2. Assemble the rail and align it with the exact center of your garage door. Using a ladder or two like tall sawhorses can help with the process.
  3. Mount the rail to the header bracket above the garage door.
  4. It’s easiest to mount rails while the door is open, so use clamp-locking pliers to keep the door in place.
  5. Attach an angle brace if your rails are more than six inches from the ceiling. You need to attach the brace to a solid ceiling joist, or it will not hold properly and may fall under its own weight. Using an angle brace helps reduce vibration and extend your garage door rails’ working life.

Pro-tips: You need to install special lightbulbs in your garage due to the vibration. Also, make sure you always check and adjust the opening and closing force. If the door can open with your foot resting on it, then it’s set too high.

Are Garage Door Opener Rails Universal

Sometimes you are lucky enough to be able to replace a garage door opener without replacing the rails. However, as a standard, you should anticipate that this will not be the case. Each company is different, and depending on when the rails were manufactured, they may not even suit last years’ model.

According to Door Power all their manufactured doors are shipped with the tracks.  Also, some companies make door rails that can be adjusted to fit different doors.  You will have to buy the complete kit in most cases.

This doesn’t literally mean the rails and openers are made together. Instead, they are expressing how the openers are all unique. Every model has its own minute differences. Some have large, notable differences as tech advances.

Sure, it sounds like a pain, but the variations are a sign of the progress garage door openers have made over time. It wasn’t that long ago that no such thing existed. After that were generic models where one remote could open a whole neighborhood up to thieves easily. Your need for new rails is a good thing.

When you’re replacing your garage door opener, I suggest the Apple HomeKit Smart Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener. Not only is this unit compatible with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant, but it can also be opened with a remote if you have no hub. Get reminders to close the door at night and notifications when the garage door is opened so you can stay safer at home. Learn all about it on Amazon by clicking here. 

How To Tell If Your Garage Door Rails Need To Be Replaced

If you have a garage door that slips for no reason, you need new rails. There are other warning signs as well. For example, a loud squealing or scraping can indicate damaged rails.

Bad spacing will cause your garage door to jam when you try to open it. It might also hit something as it closes rather than stopping. Not only is this a danger, but it’s a sign that you need better rails.

Do Garage Door Openers Always Come with Rails

Many garage door openers come with rails included, but sadly, not all do. Since you usually need to replace the rails when you install a new garage door opener, that can be a problem. Naturally, the easiest solution is to go with the same model and year you had before.

For those wishing to upgrade, you can either search out a compatible opener, choose one with rails, or do what most people do and buy them separately. Higher-end models often come without rails. Luckily, installing your own rails is very straightforward.

If you DIY regularly, then you likely have the skills, tools, and knowledge base to self-assemble and install the entire garage door opener assembly, including the rails. Best of all, a professional will charge around five hundred dollars for this service, but you can do it for free once you have your own parts.

Check out the Newoke Smart Garage Door Opener from Amazon when it’s time for a change. This smart product is the upgrade you need for a tech-savvy garage. You will love the wide compatibility that works with Smart Life, Alexa, and more. The multifunctional app even has a GPS function to open and close the door for you based on proximity. You’ll never accidentally leave the garage open again. Have yours delivered to your door by clicking here. 

Best Liftmaster Garage Door Opener That Comes With Rails

Liftmasters are outstanding garage door openers. The downside to this brand is a bit like buying an iPhone. Accessories are not included. In this case, I’m talking about the rails.

If you need rails that fit your new Liftmaster, then you’re going to need to buy them separately. I recommend checking the manufacturers’ suggestions for the model you prefer and going with that option. Although some brands come with rails standard, it’s not uncommon for new openers and new rails to be separate.

The good news is that Liftmaster square rails are reasonably priced. You can find some complete kits, but the markup usually isn’t worth it when you can get the rails from Amazon for under thirty dollars. Make sure to check that they are compatible with your Liftmaster model and garage first.

Can I Use Old Sensors With A New Garage Door Opener

Unless you have the exact same brand, make, and model year, you cannot use the old sensor with a new garage door opener. Each company has its own proprietary system. This is also why you can’t simply replace a garage door opener without new rails most of the time.

When you change a garage door opener, you need to swap all the parts. Most of the time, they won’t even work together if you use a hodgepodge. Even if you get lucky, it’s better to use intentionally compatible systems, so they last longer and operate correctly.

Try a Meross Smart Garage Door Opener from Amazon for a better garage door opening experience. Not only is this garage door opener super simple to install, but you can program it for voice activation. Better still, the Meross is compatible with quite a few makes and models. Read the outstanding Amazon reviews for yourself when you click here. 

Final Thoughts

A broken garage door can wreck your day, though hopefully, it won’t wreck your car. It’s important to do regular maintenance to prevent issues from cropping up unexpectedly. Still, you will probably find yourself replacing your rails and garage door opening unit at some point. The good news is that it doesn’t need to be a big deal.

Renovating a garage and making it well insulated is important for winter environments, should I drywall my garage for the winter season should be on your mind. Some homeowners are trying to get advice on can you vent dryer into the garage to use a dryer in the best way possible.

Swapping the rails and replacing your garage door opener can be accomplished quickly. In just a small part of your afternoon, you can get everything set up and working like new again. Of course, it helps that the parts will quite literally be new. Nevertheless, this is a straightforward DIY that most people can handle.

If you’re unsure whether you need new rails to go with your garage door opening unit, assume that you do. Unfortunately, this is most often going to be the case, so plan.

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Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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