6 Signs You Need a New Garage Door

As a homeowner, spending money on costly repairs and upgrades to your home with little to no return on your investment is anything but satisfying. One repair that can be made to your home that won’t break the bank, while offering an immediate return on your investment, replacing an overhead door Pittsburgh PA. Not only are garage doors one of the first things that people see when they come to your home, they are also a feature that you use multiple times a day. Because it is such a vital part of your home, it is important that it is in good working condition.

Because garage doors can be a huge investment, you’ll want to make sure that your door can’t be repaired and needs to be replaced. There are a few factors that will indicate that it is time to invest in a new door, some of which include:

  1. Speed: When you push your garage door button, you should start to notice some sort of movement right away. If your door isn’t responding to your remote as fast as it used to, you might need to look into getting it replaced.
  2. Noise: Noise is a good indication that either a part needs to be repaired or replaced on your garage door. Don’t just ignore the noise, thinking that it is just part of the garage door. It could potentially be an indication of something serious that needs to be addressed. If your garage door starts to make a lot of noise in the form of grinding, crunching, grating, squeaking, or banging, you’ll want to look into a replacement door.
  3. Safety and Security: Due to the excessive weight, garage doors can pose a huge safety risk if they come slamming down too fast or unexpectedly. As soon as you notice a potential safety risk, such as your door not shutting all the way, or your sensors not working properly, it is time to get your door replaced. These are all issues that can harm you, your family, or your pets.
  4. Appearance: The way your garage door looks will have a tremendous impact on the overall curb appeal and value of your home. Over time, doors will go out of style, leaving your home looking older and less stylish. Investing in a new garage door not only improves your home’s curb appeal but can also make your home look more modern and attractive. It is an investment that is money well spent.
  5. Functionality: Over time, wear and tear will accumulate on your garage door. Dings and dents are inevitable, while debris can build up over time. Garage door springs generally only last around 10,000 cycles before they need to be replaced. Most issues with an older garage door can be repaired, but if you are worried about your garage door not working properly or failing, it might be time to consider investing in a replacement.
  6. Price: Because garage doors are made up of several parts, you will generally be making a huge investment up front or over time as you continually pay for repairs on an older door. If you find that you are continually forking out money for repairs or breakdowns, you might want to consider investing your money in a new door and not repairs. Maintenance costs for your overhead door Pittsburgh PA should not be a constant expense.

At Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors, we have experienced technicians that can diagnose garage door problems and provide you with cost-effective solutions. Whether it is a simple repair job or a complete, new door install, Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors is your Pittsburgh garage door expert!

5 Benefits of Installing Aluminum Awnings on Your Home

For homeowners looking for an affordable way to add some curb appeal or a cut down on direct sunlight, an aluminum awning Pittsburgh may be the way to go. Not only do aluminum awnings provide shade, they also protect siding and windows from rain and debris. While homeowners do have the option of installing aluminum or canvas awnings, aluminum has a few benefits that just can’t be beat!

1. Durable

Because they are made out of aluminum, these awnings are better equipped to withstand the environment. When living in an area prone to high winds, extreme winds, rain, snow, or excessive heat,  year after year aluminum awnings will withstand the elements without bowing, warping or stretching. With regular maintenance, aluminum awnings can last 50 years or more.

2. Affordable

Cheaper than metal awnings, aluminum awnings provide homeowners with a cost-effective solution for protecting their home. Awnings that are smaller sizes and traditional shapes are even more cost-effective than other options available.

3. Flexible

Aluminum awnings are available in a wide range of colors, allowing homeowners the flexibility to choose a color that will match or complement their home’s exterior. Additionally, aluminum awnings come in both traditional and modern styles, allowing homeowners to find a style that complements their home.

4. Low Maintenance

One of the nice features offered by aluminum awnings is that they require little to no maintenance. The only regular maintenance that is required is spraying them off with a hose to remove any dirt buildup from the surface. This will help to keep the awnings looking their best for years to come.

5. Energy Efficient

Aluminum awnings do more than just add curb appeal to a home, they work to cut down on energy consumption. Awnings around a home absorb some of the heat from the sun, which ultimately keeps a home’s interior cooler, and gives the air conditioner a break. Areas of the home that are covered by aluminum awnings can be up to 20% cooler than others.

There are many benefits that aluminum awnings Pittsburgh can offer homeowners. If you interested in adding aluminum awnings to your home, contact the professionals at Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors today!

Retractable vs. Fixed Awnings: Which is Right For Your Home?

Installing an awning at your home or business makes a lot of sense. Do you own a deck right outside your home or a dining patio at your restaurant? Don’t let the rain or sun force anyone inside. With the right awning in place, mildly inclement weather doesn’t automatically turn the exterior off limits. An awning provides decent shade while also contributing to the beautification of a home or business. But which awning should you install?

Fixed vs. Retractable Awnings

You can choose between two major types of awnings: fixed and retractable. Fixed awnings, also known as stationary awnings, remain in place once installed. That’s why they get the name permanent awnings. Calling them permanent wouldn’t be entirely correct though. After all, the awnings can be disassembled and removed.

Retractable awnings require a little less effort. The retractable versions use a roller system to pull an awning back into a folded “out of sight” position. Thanks to the roller, the awning can be locked out in place or pulled back anytime you wish. Depending on the setup, rollers can be cranked by hand or turned by an automatic motor. Both fixed and retractable awnings maintain their pros and cons. Just look at the benefits and drawbacks of both prior to an installation decision.

Fixed Awnings: Pros and Cons

Fixed awnings generally come with sturdy construction. The awning needs to remain in place 24/7 during all kinds of weather. Steel parts help ensure the sturdiness of the awning. Another added benefit is customization. Fixed awnings can be built to order, allowing the buyer to choose a custom job from companies offering Pittsburgh awnings .

Unfortunately, the 24/7 nature of these awnings means they remain exposed to the elements. Steel can rust, and awning fabric may fade with exposure to the sun after a few years. And custom jobs can be a bit more costly initially.

Retractable Awnings: Pros and Cons

Retractable Pittsburgh awnings such as the ones sold by the Thomas V. Giel Corporation can be pulled back during bad weather. This extends the life of the awning and preserves the buyer’s investment. Automatic motors can drive the price of these awnings up, but the less costly manual option still exists. Overall, retractable awnings can be a good choice.

Choosing the Right Installation Company: Part 2

In part one of this two-part series, we talked about how experience, security, and insurance are important things to consider which choosing a company to install your garage door, entry/storm door, awning, or screen. Choosing the right company is just as big of a decision as picking which type of door and color you want on the outside of your home. In part two we will be looking at workmanship, warranties, and code compliance.


Workmanship is a measure of the quality of a company’s work. It relates to experience in a way. This is where a visit to a past job is helpful. As mentioned in the last post, call references! Ask them about the quality of the work and what they thought of the installers. Ask specific questions about whether the installers arrived in a timely manner, if they were courteous and focused, and if they cleaned up after themselves.

Look at the company’s trucks. Do the name and phone number appear on the vehicle? Company vehicles are one of the first outward signs of how the company is run and how your job will be treated. The trucks don’t have to be brand new, just well maintained, clean, and neat. This is often a reflection of the kind of treatment you will receive when the installers arrive at your home.

Ask about the average length of time employees have been with the company. This speaks volumes about the way the employees are treated. They generally don’t stay with a company that doesn’t treat their customers well. It takes more than a year or two to become a competent technician and installer, therefore, it is a good idea to ask about the training programs utilized for new employees and how veterans are kept up to date on their skills and industry changes. Companies with long term employees have an environment to allow for skills to be passed down from generation to generation.


The real test of how much faith a contractor has in his own ability is reflected in the warranty he offers. A reputable contractor will generally offer some form of a “Written Labor Warranty.” Not one that is handwritten in the comment section of the bid, but one that is printed on the contractor’s estimate or proposal form as well as their literature.

In addition, the paperwork should list the manufacturers of the products they install along with the manufacturer’s warranty. Reputable manufacturers will have a printed warranty to accompany the product. Demand a copy of it before you pay for the work and read it! Don’t wait until you have a problem before you read it. Lastly, make sure you understand what you get and what you don’t get. Your contractor should be able to explain it clearly and give references of customers who used their warranty and will share their experiences.

Code and Regulatory Compliance

Building codes and safety regulations have been legislated to protect the installers and the homeowners. Find out how knowledgeable your contractor is about local building codes, industry safety practices, and government regulations. The best way to do this is by asking people you know who know about these matters. You are not trying to be an expert, but just be aware of some of the major concepts. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask them about the content of their training programs, it should be documented.

Choosing the Right Installation Company: Part 1

When selecting an installation company for your garage door, entry/storm door, awning, or screen, it is important that you examine the company itself and not just the product you are buying. The six areas you should consider are experience, workmanship, code compliance, security, warranties, and insurance. This post will cover experience, security, and insurance.


Experience means that the company and its employees can tackle your job efficiently and do it correctly. If something is novel about your job, they will have the knowledge to solve it quickly. Look at the company with longevity.

Beware of national franchise operations because franchises will normally have short ownership cycles. When you need to call for service (three to five years from installation) they are no longer in business and the next franchise owner is not responsible for helping you. Companies that have been around a long time usually have satisfied customers because they would not stay in business without them.

Find out how long the company has been installing its products and the range of models within each product. Is the job standard or will it require special work? Don’t be afraid to ask for references and call them.

Don’t forget; no contractor will give you a bad reference. However, after you have talked to a few, you should get a good sense of this contractor’s habits. Ask if they belong to the Better Business Bureau. If they do, you can contact the BBB to see if there have been any recent complaints and how they were handled. A company that asks you questions to understand your wants and needs and takes the time to give a full presentation has usually taken the time to relate their experience through the presentation they give.

Finally, do they offer educational information on their website? Take advantage of it so you are informed on the major issues prior to speaking to a representative.


Having strange men in your home can make you apprehensive or uncomfortable. You can reduce this feeling by finding a contractor who screens his employees. Ask about the screening process and how often follow-up screens are done. You’re about to have strangers come into your homes and they may be there for a day or two. Don’t be shy about your family’s safety! Demand that your contractor performs semi-annual background checks and that all new employees or hires are checked before their first day.


A contractor who is not properly insured can put you at substantial financial risk! For example, if a worker gets hurt on your property and the contractor does not carry workman’s compensation insurance, that injured worker can look to you to pay all of his medical bills related to that injury. Make sure the company has workman’s compensation and liability insurance through a well-known and Best’s rated firm. Insist on seeing a copy of the insurance policy binder. Don’t be impressed by someone who says he is self-insured. Often this means NOT insured. Maybe even not insurable!

Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors serves a 50-mile radius around Pittsburgh with all things garage doors, entry doors, awnings, and screens. We are the local experts with over 65 years of industry experience.

Garage Door Openers 101

The opener is the electric appliance that opens and closes the garage door . They can be activated by push button, key switch or by a radio remote control. The radio frequencies have been refined to prevent the doors from automatically opening. Remember, the spring is actually the “motor” of the door. The electric opener or your arm is the “cruise control” of the door.

The weight of the door is supposed to be handled by the spring. If your door is becoming harder to open, it does not always mean you need new springs or an opener. Assuming there are no other impediments, you may only need a spring adjustment.

There are three types of drive mechanisms on openers: Belt, Chain, and Screw.

Openers having either a belt drive or chain drive move the belt/chain along a path between a gear on top of the motor of the opener and another gear located where the opener attaches to the door frame. You may not be able to see this on an installed opener, but it is there.

The garage door is attached by a “trolley” that moves along a track and is attached to the door by a bar called an arm. As the motor turns the gear, the belt or chain is moved by this rotating gear thus moving the trolley and opening or closing the door.

However, the screw drive has a steel screw inside aluminum housing. As the motor turns the screw in the housing, the trolley is drawn toward or pushed away from the motor, opening or closing the door. All three, when new, have the same strength in lifting ability. Therefore, the major determinant is quietness of operation over time.

The screw drive is very quiet for the first year or so but as the aluminum housing is worn by the friction against the steel, the housing becomes loose. What starts as a gentle whirring sound, soon becomes a deafening grinding sound, loud enough that a conversation is impossible while the opener is running. Lubrication will dampen the sound but it will return eventually.

The chain drive parts work with other metal parts and in time will wear. Metal gears driving a metal chain will get noisy quickly. Keeping the chain lubricated with petroleum jelly, or something similar, will increase its life but will not maintain quiet.

The belt drive is better than either. It is much quieter because there is no metal rubbing metal. The belt is the same material as the timing belt in your car but doesn’t experience the same RPMs. It is the only one of the three where a life time warranty is given by manufacturers.

One-third Horsepower openers will work on 95% of the doors out there, even ones 16 feet wide. Despite this, manufacturers put all of the bells and whistles on the one-half HP and higher doors such as timed lights and vacation switches. Most of the popular openers are three-fourths horsepower because they are not much more than the lower power openers, provide you with better features, and life time warranties.

There are also DC power motors on the market which allows for battery back-up systems that will open and close your door during power outages. Always makes sure that the locking mechanism on the door is disabled when your opener is operable. If it is not and someone accidentally locks the door, serious damage will be done to the opener and possibly to the door itself. Always makes sure the lift handle is on the bottom of the door inside and out in case the door needs to be worked by hand.

Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors serves a 50-mile radius around Pittsburgh. We handle all your needs when it comes to garage doors and openers! We also provide entry doors and storm doors that are installed in front of the entry door to protect it.

Entry Door Maintenance Guide

Maintenance on your entry door is essential to keep it looking as beautiful as possible and making sure you don’t have to replace them more frequently than usual. Different materials require a different kind of maintenance and this is everything you need to know!

Steel Doors

Once or twice a year, wash the outside of your door with a mild detergent. It is a good idea to apply a liquid silicone wax at the same time you wash the door. A liquid car wash & wax product that does both in one step works wonders and can be found at most auto part stores. Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash and Wax is a great option!

Remember this rule: If you can use it on your car, you can use it on your door.

If your area uses salt on the roads in the in the winter and your door gets wet, you should rinse the bottom of your door clean to prevent the salty water from hurting your product.

We also recommend that you don’t use a paste wax. Paste waxes tend to dry in the wood grain texture and beveled edges of the door and are difficult to buff out. This leaves behind a dried residue in the low spots which will ruin the aesthetic appeal of your door.

Fiberglass Doors

Apply the clear coat/paint annually or every other year depending upon the amount of sunlight your door receives. The clear coat is a two-part urethane to protect from the sun’s UV rays.

Finish is usually available in pint or gallon size from the manufacturer or a paint shop. We suggest using a water based clear coat. If the clear coat is not maintained, the sun will damage your door similar to a “sun burn” causing it to peel and pull off the stain finish in the process.

The only way to repair this damage is stripping the door completely. Consistent maintenance will prevent this extreme damage from happening.

Wood Doors

Wipe away dust and dirt monthly with furniture polish. On painted wood doors periodically check for blistering, cracking or peeling, particularly around any fixtures on the door.

The painted surface keeps water from damaging the wood. If the paint is coming away or is not sealed, water can soak into the wood and damage it over time.

If your door has a stained finish, check to see if it is still water repellent. If the door is becoming discolored, and water soaks into the wood, it is time to refinish the door. There are chemical treatments on the market that will rejuvenate discolored wood, for example polyurethane clear coat.

Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors serves a 50-mile radius around Pittsburgh. We handle all your needs when it comes to entry doors! We also provide storm doors that are installed in front of the entry door to protect it.

3 Ways the Cold effects your Garage Door

winter home

Weather can have different effects on your garage door based on the temperature, precipitation, and how both fluctuate. Here are the 3 ways the cold effects your garage door and what you can do to prevent the problems associated with them.

Problem #1: Steel Contracts

Garage Doors (mostly made of steel) contract in the cold weather. Anything on your garage door that’s made of metal (springs, hinges, track, etc.) can seize up or warp if not moved regularly in the cold.

So, that is why we suggest lubricating things like springs, hinges, rollers and other metal moving parts to keep them working properly. Regular maintenance is an important part of having a functional garage in your home.

Problem #2: Water freezes

The bottom of your garage door seals to the ground in an attempt to block weather and rodents. However, during the winter months when water freezes, this can create a problem if there is any sort of puddling at the bottom of your garage door. Some garage doors can freeze to the ground and will not open if this happens.

To help prevent this, make sure your gutters and any other part of your home surrounding the door is clog free and push away water from the bottom of your garage as much as possible!

Problem #3: Operator Issues

Garage door operators are also susceptible to changes in weather. The moving parts enclosed in garage door openers work best when lubricated and are kept moving regularly (especially during the winter months). In addition, your opener’s sensitivity may also play a factor, if the level is set to “light”. In this case, your operator may interpret the garage door hitting an object, which could halt the garage door suddenly (without anything being in the way at all).

Please make sure you check your operator sporadically to make sure it’s working properly and sensing items through the photo eyes like it should.

Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors serves a 50-mile radius around Pittsburgh. We handle all your needs when it comes to garage doors! We serve residential and commercial , and our maintenance programs help make sure your garage doors work over long periods of time. Contact us today.

Polyurethane vs Polystyrene for Garage Door Insulation

Insulation in your residential or commercial garage door is essential if you want to make sure you keep the cold temperatures out of your house. There are two main types of insulation which are Polyurethane and Polystyrene.

Polyurethane and Polystyrene


Polyurethane (right) is a polymer composed or organic units joined by urethane links. They were first made by Otto Bayer and his coworkers at IG Farben in Leverkusen, Germany in 1937. It is mostly used in construction, car seating, and furniture but it is used in many other applications.

Polyurethane is sprayed into each panel and makes a very tight fit which will add to the rigidity of the panel when it is new giving it a higher R-Value .

Polyurethane is the more expensive material of the two but doesn’t usually add too much more money to the price of the door. It is important to make sure that the steel skins of the door are not too thin because two things could happen. One, the door will dent easily or two, small waves will appear across the sections and can generally be seen within five feet. This will obviously make the door not look so hot.


Polystyrene (left) is a synthetic aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene which is also known as Styrofoam. It is the white brittle material that is frequently used in shipping to protect the goods inside.

Polystyrene is pre-formed to the steel panels and is usually glued to both the front and back of the inside of the panel. It maintains it shape and fits better than open cell polyurethane over a long period of time and does not degrade, deform, or lose R-Value. Most manufactures use closed cell polyurethane negating many of the positives mentioned.

Polystyrene does not fit as tightly as the urethane foam in the end corners of each panel, leaving air pockets. Some manufacturers do not glue their polystyrene to the panels so it does not add to the stiffness of the panels. Generally, this foam results in a lower R-Value for the door.

Of the two materials, polyurethane is the better material. It does have a slight price increase and it’s up to you to decide if it is worth it or not. Regardless, getting insulation is a good choice no matter which material you use.

Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors serves a 50-mile radius around Pittsburgh. We handle all your needs when it comes to garage doors! We serve residential and commercial, and our maintenance programs help make sure your garage doors work over long periods of time. Contact us today!

8 Questions to ask about your Garage Door Company

A garage door is a big purchase (literally) and it’s important to choose the right company to install your door and provide service for years after you buy it. Here is a list of 8 questions to ask about your garage door company before you buy from them.

1. Does the company offer more than one manufacturer?

There are many manufacturers of garage doors across the industry and its important to have variety when deciding which door is best for you. This gives you the most options in terms of styles, material, color, and customization options. A few examples of manufacturers are: Clopay, CHI, Wayne Dalton, and Amarr. If a company only supplies one manufacturer, ask why that is. There could be a scenario of the company getting a kickback if they only offer one vendor (which is an unethical business practice).

2. Have you been advised to visit the company’s and manufacturer’s website?

It is important to do you research on the installation company and the manufacturer of the door to make sure you are being given applicable and truthful information. The door could be produced poorly or the installers could have a bad reputation for mounting the garage doors improperly in your home. This is also good practice to verify that the installers are telling you what the manufacturers intended.

3. Have they informed you about R-Values and what they mean?

R-Value is one of the numbers used to describe how energy efficient a door is. Most manufacturers will display the sectional R-Value and not the installed R-Value which are completely different. Sectional is for one piece of the door and installed is for the whole door. Another misconception is that a double R-Value does not mean it is doubly efficient.

4. Does the company comply with all regulations?

The company and employees are required to adhere to all state and federal guidelines and certifications. These include building codes, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Companies that don’t comply with all regulations could be using unsafe practices while installing doors which can lead to injury for themselves or you if the door is installed incorrectly. There may not be a problem immediately, but something could happen after a year or two

5. What kind of employees are working in your home?

The important thing to discover with this question is how well trained the employees are working in your home. Are they full-time employees of the company or they sub-contractors? Are they trained properly? Such as, have they done on-site training? hands on training? or have they attended conferences with the manufacturers to learn best install techniques? Try to find installers who have the most experience installing the doors and operators in your area to get the best possible service.

6. Are the employees trusted and have your safety in mind?

Garage door safety is important for you, your family, and anyone going inside your garage. These are large pieces of metal or wood and they weigh quite a bit. This is why it is imperative that your installers are dedicated to making sure that safety is a number one priority during the installation and after the job is done. You wouldn’t want the door to come lose, or fall, possibly smash your car or even worse a person. Look for installers that have a long track record with employees that have years of experience installing garage doors & use safe techniques.

7. What kind of mounting hardware will be used?

Quality mounting hardware is essential for a proper garage door installation to ensure safe, smooth, and quite operation. Some companies will cut corners to save money or offer lower prices but this can lead to more problems down the road and won’t be worth the small amount of money you will save when you buy the door initially. You get what you pay for in this industry and if your door is mounted with poor hardware, that can increase the safety concerns & functionality of the doors.

8. Have you received any guarantees or warranties?

A company that stands behind its products and labor goes a long way to building trust with customers. Make sure you receive a written guarantee and warranty on the parts and labor directly on the estimate sheet or work order. If a company doesn’t back up its work, how will you know the safety or manufacturer guidelines were met or not?

Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors serves a 50-mile radius around Pittsburgh. We provide residential and commercial garage doors, entry and storm doors, awnings, and screens. With over 65 years of service, we are the experts you can trust in this industry.