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Posted: March 12, 2010 12:30 a.m.

How not to repair a garage door

It’s a fact: I don’t like to pay someone else to do something that I can do better. Well, at least that’s the theory. The reality is that I’m cheap, and I hate to let my money go on long trips without me. So, I often repair things that I should never mess with, just to save a few bucks. A classic example of my penny-pinching foolishness dates from about 1986, when I tried to repair my own garage door.

I didn’t have a fancy automatic garage door back then. I just had a manual unit: drive up, get out, lift the door, get back in, drive in, get out, close the door. Everything was fine with my little garage door, but I felt that it could be a tad easier to lift. So, I decided to adjust the spring tensioning mechanism myself. Who needs a professional, right? Mull on that last line for a few minutes…

Garage doors are heavy, and without the springs, all you’ve got is dead weight — too heavy to lift. To adjust the door, I had to tinker with the spring coiling components — it’s the coiling process that makes the door easier to maneuver. When I reached what I thought was the ideal balance of tension and torque, I lifted the door. It went up nicely. So far, so good, I thought. I made a few more tweaks and then lowered the door. That was a mistake.

As I lowered the door, all the spring support went completely slack. Suddenly, I had 300 pounds of wood crashing down on me. I slowed the door’s descent a bit, but it wasn’t enough. The door fell with a crash, and my left hand was mashed to the ground — pinned between the door and the concrete floor. I couldn’t budge the door an inch, and since it was well into the nighttime — and I was in pain — I had to holler and yell to be "rescued." No man ever likes to be rescued. It’s just not dignified.

To this day, I still like to repair things, but I’ve learned my lesson about messing with spring-loaded slabs of wood at nighttime. My hand healed nicely, and I eventually got over the indignity of being rescued. But, no matter how much I might be tempted, I’ll never take a wrench to a coiled-up spring again. Words to live by… with an emphatic emphasis on "live."

David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers, can be reached at davmccoy@bellsouth.net.

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