Garage Door Safety

Garage doors are one of the heaviest moving objects associated with your home.  They are supported and operated by large springs and  openers which control the opening and closing of garage doors, either through a wall-mounted switch or a radio transmitter. Due to the strain that garage door components and openers regularly endure, they may become defective over time and need to be fixed or replaced. Defective components may create safety hazards as well as functional deficiencies to the garage door assembly.

The majority of the injuries caused by garage doors are the result of pinched fingers, although severe injuries and deaths due to entrapment occur as well. Sixty children have been killed since 1982 as a result of garage doors that did not automatically reverse upon contact.

The safety components of  the garage door system which should be inspected are:

  1.  Manual emergency release handle
  2.  photoelectric sensors or photo eyes
  3.  Auto reverse system
  4. Rollers, guides and hinges

Manual Emergency Release Handle:
All garage doors should be equipped with a manual emergency release handle, which will detach the door from the door opener when activated. It is vital during emergency situations, such as when a person becomes trapped beneath the door or when a power outage cuts electricity to the door opener. Activate the handle to make sure that it works, although you will have to reset the handle if it does not reset automatically. In order for the handle to be accessible and obvious, the handle should be red in color and hang no higher than 6’ above the garage floor.

Photoelectric Sensor:
Photoelectric sensors or Photoelectric eyes are located at the base of each side of the garage door and emit and detect beams of light. If this beam is broken, it will cause the door to immediately reverse direction and open. For safety reasons, photo sensors must be installed a maximum of 6 inches above the floor surface and should be tested periodically.

Automatic Reverse System:
This safety feature can be tested by grasping the base of the garage door as it closes and applying upward resistance. Use caution while performing this test because you may accidentally damage its components if the door does not reverse course.

Rollers, Guides and Hinges:
Door parts should be checked for loose door guides,rollers & hinges, because of extreme pressures on these parts the guides and hinges can become loose or the rollers worn. Make these inspections a part of your annual maintenance inspections or have a Certified Home Inspector conduct an Annual Home Inspection.