• What You Need to Know Before You Purchase a Retractable Awning

    pittsburgh awnings

    A retractable awning is a huge investment for many homeowners. When you do your research before making a large purchase, you’re more likely to save money and avoid headaches down the road. Prior to investing in Pittsburgh awnings for your home, there are a few important things you should know regarding retractable awnings.

    Who Are You Purchasing From?

    When making a large purchase, research is the key to success. Start by asking for recommendations from friends and family, and reading reviews online to make sure the company you work with is reputable.

    Who Does the Installation?

    Does the prospective dealer do their own installations or do they contract out to a third-party? Do they offer a warranty on the installation? Does their warranty include any service work or future adjustments that you might need? Finding a dealer who stands behind their installation is an important aspect of the buying process to consider.

    What Kind of Fasteners are Used for Installation?

    Retractable awnings can weigh anywhere from 200 to 400 pounds. Because they are so heavy, it is imperative that when they are installed, the installers use a minimum of a 3/8-inch wide shaft lag screw. Depending on the material the installer is mounting to, the length of the lag screws is going to be an important factor as well. When retractable awnings are installed, the goal is to reach the center of the house’s framework after removing all exterior materials that can be compressed—i.e., foam board under vinyl siding.

    Is the Fabric 100% Acrylic?

    Because retractable awnings are made using a fabric material, it is important to have a material that will last. Most acrylic fabrics will not rot, mildew, or quickly fade due to sun exposure. Typically, most acrylic material is also the same color/pattern on both sides. An acrylic fabric that is sewn with UV stable thread should last anywhere from 8 to 12 years with maintenance and cleaning.

    Is it a Full or Prorated Warranty?

    It is important to know if the warranty is prorated or full. This will prove to be useful information if you ever need to file a warranty claim. Awnings that come with a full warranty will save you a lot of money in out-of-pocket expenses.

    How Does the Awning Operate?

    With retractable awnings, there are different ways the awning can be operated—manually, by hand crank, or motorized. The motorized option is more expensive when compared to manual options. But although they may have a higher price tag, research has found those with a motorized unit are ten times more likely to use their awning than those without. A motorized awning can easily be operated using either a handheld remote or a switch located on the wall of your home.

    Does the Location of Awning Assembly Matter?

    The majority of quality awnings are assembled in the United States. Because most awnings are custom made, they generally take a week or two to produce. Be aware that some companies will try to save money on production by importing lower quality units and components from other countries. When this happens, the components aren’t capable of withstanding the diverse climates found across the United States, causing peeling paint, faded fabrics, and rusted fasteners.

    What Applies the Spring Force in the Retractable Arms?

    All models of retractable awnings rely on a spring-loaded folding arm that exerts outward pressure in order to keep the fabric tight. The real work comes when you retract your awning. It is a lot harder to retract an awning than it is to extend one. This is true for both manually operated styles and motorized units. This is harder to do because you are not stretching the internal arm springs. In most units, the springs apply tension using one of three methods—cables, chains, or belts. Regardless of the tension method, most claim to have a lifespan between 20,000 and 100,000 arm cycle durability.

    Knowing the facts about retractable awnings can help you to make an informed decision, ultimately aiding you in purchasing an awning that you will be happy with for years to come. At Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors, we offer quality Pittsburgh awnings that are not only beautiful, but durable as well. You can rest assured that when you make your awning purchase from Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors, you are getting a high-quality awning that will enhance the appearance of your home.

  • What’s the Difference Between Torsion and Extension Springs?

    garage door installation pittsburgh pa

    A garage door is made up of many parts that all work together so the garage door can work properly. Torsion and extension springs are responsible for managing your garage door’s counterbalance system. It is the counterbalance system that uses force to offset the weight of the door, enabling it to safely and reliably open and close. There are several types of springs that can be used, but torsion and extension springs are the most common. Because both torsion and extension springs perform the same function, you might be wondering what the difference is. Garage door installation Pittsburgh PA guarantees that springs be professionally installed to help keep the door in working order for years to come.

    Torsion Springs

    The most common type of spring found in modern garage doors is the torsion spring. Torsion springs are available in several sizes and lengths. They are calculated based on the weight of your garage door and the height and track radius. Torsion springs are installed on the top of the garage door. When the door is operated, the spring slides into a channel where lifting cables are attached, allowing the springs to wind and unwind in a controlled motion. Some of the benefits of torsion springs include:

    • Sturdy and Long Lasting: Although torsion springs are more expensive upfront, they are more durable and can last upwards of 15,000 to 20,000 cycles.
    • Less Wear: When a garage door is opening or closing, the torsion springs provide steadier movement that keeps the door balanced, creating less strain on other parts. Torsion springs make it so your garage door doesn’t have to work as hard to open and close.
    • Safer: If your torsion springs break, they will make a loud sound but remain encased in the shaft. But if extension springs break off, the result can include property damage or injury.

    Extension Springs

    Extension springs are an older technology, but they are still common because they are more affordable and ideal for smaller garages. Instead of being installed overhead, extension springs are installed on the side of the door and extend when the door is operated.

    Although extension springs are a popular option, many professionals don’t tend to recommend them because they only last upwards of 10,000 cycles. Not only do they not last as long as torsion springs, but they also require more maintenance, operate with jerking motions that cause more wear and tear, and can be a safety hazard if they break.

    Whether you’re looking for torsion or extension springs, Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors can provide you with reliable and reputable garage door Pittsburgh PA installation and services. If you need expert garage door advice, Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors can help you discover which garage door springs, openers, etc. are right for you.

     

  • Home and Garage Door Security Tips

    residential garage doors pittsburgh

    As a homeowner, you do everything you can to protect your home, family, and belongings. You also know that your residential garage doors Pittsburgh are one, if not the main point of entry into your home. If a garage door is left open or unsecured, it can be an open invitation for burglars to enter your home without opposition. Here are a few security tips for your garage door that you can implement to protect your home and discourage burglars from entering your home unwelcomed.

    Set Up a Home Security System

    One of the easiest and more convenient ways to secure your home is to monitor every entrance, including the garage door, by having a complete home security system installed. Homes that are equipped with a security system deter crooks from trying to enter. High-quality alarm systems are designed to not only alert you of an intrusion but also emergency personnel. Most alarms are not silent, scaring off crooks and preventing them from entering or lingering in your home. The one drawback to having a home security system is that depending on how many doors and windows you have and how comprehensive your security system is, it can be quite costly.

    Cover Garage Windows

    Windows in garage doors can be both good and bad. Windows allow natural light to flow into your garage, cutting down your need for lighting. On the other hand, these same windows can provide would-be burglars the ability to easily see what is stored in your garage and how easy it is to enter your home via your garage. One of the easiest ways to protect yourself is to cover these windows to prevent people from seeing inside. You can achieve this by placing a decorative film or tint over the glass. Both of these options allow natural light to shine in while making it more difficult for someone to see inside.

    Add Movement Detector Lights

    If you’re concerned about nighttime break-ins, having a well-lit home will make you less of a target. A good way to protect your home is to install motion-active lights around the exterior of your home. A good location for a motion detected light is above your garage door, so when someone walks or drives up the light kicks on. These lights serve a dual purpose, not only do they deter people from approaching your home unwanted, but they are also helpful for when you return late at night.

    Close and Lock Your Garage Door

    This tip might seem like an obvious one, but you would be surprised to learn how many people forget to shut and lock their garage door at the end of the day. Be sure to shut your garage door every day to prevent easy access to your home. While not every residential garage door Pittsburgh is equipped with a lock, those that are should be locked daily. If your garage door doesn’t have a lock on it, you might want to consider looking into having a locking system installed on it for added protection.

    If you have questions about your garage door or need a repair to provide your home with optimal security, contact Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors today! We can help you repair or replace your existing garage door to provide your home with added security and you with peace of mind. At Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors, we can help with all your residential and commercial garage door needs.

  • What You Need to Know Before Speaking with a Commercial Garage Door Salesman

    pittsburgh commercial garage doors

    As a business owner, you are probably looking for ways to make your business run more efficiently. The more efficient your business runs, the more your business profits. Whether you are looking to purchase your first set of Pittsburgh commercial garage doors or are looking to replace your existing ones, here are a few things you should know before you start talking to a garage door salesman.

    Application

    Before deciding on a new commercial garage door, you’ll want to think about how the doors will be used. While this might seem like a no-brainer, commercial doors can be used to fulfill a wide variety of applications. Also, commercial doors need to be able to stand up to the rigors of businesses that rely on them to open and close with no problems for an extended period of time. You’ll also want to consider how you’ll be using your door and what features are going to be important for you and your situation. Knowing how you’ll be using your door should play an important role in the type of door and system you choose.

    Material

    Once you have determined the application in which your door will be best utilized, you’ll want to consider what type of door material is going to work best for your needs. Commercial garage doors are available in different materials, the most common being steel or aluminum. Steel is a durable and low-maintenance option for business owners. Aluminum is also a low-maintenance, as well as resist to corrosion. Steel doors are ideal for businesses needing a door that can withstand high-volume cycles. On the other hand, aluminum doors work great in areas where there is high humidity.

    Size

    One of the biggest differences between commercial and residential garage doors is that commercial doors are available in nearly any size, while residential doors generally come in either one- or two-car options. When you first talk to a commercial garage door salesman, one of the first things they’ll need to know is what size of door you’re looking for. So, you’ll want to measure your openings before you start talking with them.

    Features

    There are numerous commercial garage door features available. A few of the most common features include:

    • Insulation
    • Automation
    • Safety
    • Motor
    • Cycle Speed
    • Aesthetics
    • Price
    • Maintenance
    • Security

    When you are ready to talk to someone about which Pittsburgh commercial garage doors are right for your business, contact the experts at Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors!  

  • 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

    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.

    Warranties

    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

    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.

    Security

    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.

    Insurance

    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.