Garage door safety and inspection

Brought to you by MD Home Inspections

Nearly 10,000 people a year get injured by garage doors, but a simple test every six months could save you money and a trip to the emergency room.

What is the problem?

Most people know that today’s garage door openers have a photo-eye sensor that reverses the door if anything breaks the beam between the 2 sensors.

Today’s openers also have a 2nd safety feature that is often overlooked and not adjusted properly – Auto-Reverse (or “tension adjust”). The Auto-Reverse feature should reverse the door if it meets significant resistance at any point in the door’s travel.

To test: either place a 2″ (no taller) piece of wood where the door will hit the ground and it should reverse when hit. If you don’t have a piece of wood, you can hold out your palms and see if it reverses when you try to hold it back with a reasonable pressure (careful not to let your foot hit the photo-eye sensor beam and let go if it doesn’t reverse immediately).

What can you do?

To adjust: find the adjustment knobs on your opener (they may be below a removable light bulb cover) and look for a “close force” knob or adjustment. Turn it 1/8th of a turn or less counterclockwise and test again, repeating until it’s working properly. Don’t make it too sensitive or vibrations from opening could trigger it to reverse.

The door should also stop going up when meeting resistance (to prevent something from getting caught on the door or a child grabbing it for a ride). Test in a similar fashion by trying to hold the door by a cross beam. Adjust the “open force” knob for this adjustment.

Check the owner’s manual (it can be found online with a model number search) if necessary or call a garage door service contractor if you are not successful.

Manual doors

If your garage door does not have an opener, there are some safety checks for you to do.

Make sure your door opens and closes smoothly with minimal effort either way. The door should easily stop and stay at any point during the travel and not move excessively fast.

Whether you have a manual door or door opener, if the door does not operate smoothly, feels loose, or if you notice any significant rusting or damage of the springs (see photo), brackets, or other hardware, you should contact a garage door service contractor immediately for repairs.


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