The most potentially dangerous object in a home is usually the garage door. While accidents involving garage doors have gone down tremendously since manufacturing safety laws were passed in 1993, keeping up on garage door maintenance is one of the best ways of keeping your family safe in your home.
If you are not familiar with your garage door and how it works, the manual is a good place to start. If you don’t have one, you may be able to find it online by searching for the manufacturer and model number shown on your garage door opener. Another option is to have a professional garage door specialist come and show you everything you need to know for safely operating and maintaining your garage door.
The main two points of safety involve the spring mechanism and hinges that attach the door to the house and the electric opening device that activates the door. The opener device has sensors for stopping the door while it is closing, if it touches something, and then reopening it. This is the single most important safety feature on a garage door.
To find out if this sensor is working properly, open the door and then place an object on the ground under the edge of the door. Be sure pets and children are out of the way. Activate the closer and see if the door reopens immediately when it touches the object. If it does not, call a service professional and have it fixed.
This mechanism operates by detecting the pressure under the door. Most closers also have a light beam sensor located on each side of the door about 12 to 16 inches from the floor. To test this sensor, wave a broom into the path of the light as the door is closing, and make sure the door retracts when you do.
One more safety test is recommended on a monthly basis. For this test, unplug the opener devise and then disengage the door from the opener by pulling the string located near the ceiling. It is a good safety idea to make sure this mechanism is always working, in case you need to open the garage door during a power failure.
After you have disengaged the manual release, raise the door by hand until it is about half way open. When you let go, it should stay where it is. If it doesn’t, call for a professional inspection.
A door that fails this test has spring tensioners that need adjusting. This is not a do-it-yourself repair. Call for professional service help if your garage door is out of balance and the springs need adjusting. Taking this on yourself, unless you have training, can be a safety hazard itself.
Garage door springs do need occasional lubrication with a non-silicone lubricant, and that is a task homeowners can do for themselves. Tracks and rollers, however, should not be oiled. If they are dirty, wipe them down with a clean cloth for better operation.
Bolts attaching the door to the framing need to be checked for tightness from time to time, but if you do it yourself, be sure not to move any bolts that are painted red or have safety tags next to them. These are adjustment screws that control critical tension in the door springs.
Some other important garage door safety tips are:
- Never let children play on or near the door or use the opener.
- Always keep your eye on the door when it is opening and closing.
- Test all safety features once a month, or sign up for monthly servicing by a professional company.
- Keep your garage door closed so thieves can’t see in.
- Unplug the opener when you go away, and consider installing an additional lock on the inside of the door.
- Keep your opener in your pocket or purse and not in your car.
- Make sure your opener uses rolling code technology, making it impervious to drive-by break-ins.
Garage door safety is at the top of the list in home safety. A well-constructed and properly installed garage door, opener devise and monthly maintenance are the keys to keeping the heaviest moving part of your home safe, sound and reliable.
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