Garage doors, whether on residential or commercial property, are big, heavy and, when opened manually, awkward. It’s little wonder, then, that the invention of the electric opener followed the first overhead garage door within a few years of its introduction in 1921. Garage door safety, however, evolved more slowly. Only since the 1970s has an industry standard existed for garage door openers. In 1993 that standard became federal law.
Even so, given their size, power and potential for danger, garage door design must prioritize garage door safety. A responsible home or business owner must take seriously the idea of familiarizing family members or employees with garage door safety features.
The following garage door safety tips cover key components of and practical advice for using your overhead door openers.
Garage Door Auto-Reverse
Garage door auto-reverse has been standard on all garage door openers made since 1991. A sensor detects any resistance to the door’s downward travel and reverses direction. This feature can be tested by inserting an object — for example, a roll of paper towels — in the door’s path then attempting to close the door. If the door doesn’t reverse upon encountering the obstruction, consult a professional.
Photo Eye Sensors
“Electric eye” sensors are located at either side of the garage door opening, about six inches above the floor. If the infrared beam connecting the sensors is blocked, your door will not close. If it is interrupted by something — a pet, child, vehicle, etc. — passing through it while the door is closing, the door will reverse. Proper alignment and safe placement of photo eyes are crucial when installing garage door sensors.
Watch Your Fingers!
Relatively little-known among overhead door safety devices are pinch-resistant panels and hinges. Often, garage doors are older than the openers used with them and thus are technologically behind the curve when it comes to safety features. Pinch-resistant panels roll over each other, greatly reducing the space between panels as a door closes. Older doors leave wider gaps where fingers and hands can get trapped and injured. When it’s time for a new opener, consult with a pro about the potential safety and aesthetic enhancements of a new door, as well.
Manual & Mechanical Release
When the power goes out, so does your garage door opener. Fortunately, manual opening is fairly simple; however, if you have a particularly old or large door, the weight might be such that you’ll need the help of a friend or two.
All garage door openers include a mechanical release system. Most of the time, there is a short rope with a handle hanging from the center track. Pulling the rope disengages the chain or belt drive, allowing the door to be raised and lowered manually. Reengaging the drive is usually a simple matter of closing the door, hitting your wall button and allowing the drive to reconnect itself.
Proper maintenance and timely repair of your garage door are essential to its continued safe functioning. Familiarize yourself with the basics — springs, cables, rollers, pulleys, bolts — and give them a regular (at least twice a year) visual check. Read the owner’s manual so you’re familiar with the expected behavior of all of your garage door safety features. If you note wear and tear or performance issues, remember that the highly trained technicians at CMB Garage Doors can help with virtually any garage door issue. We also recommend regularly scheduled, professional service every other year or so to further ensure your garage door safety. Contact us today for more information.