Most homeowners take their garage door for granted. But the garage door is the largest moving component of your home, and when not properly maintained, it can pose a serious safety threat to family and visitors. An annual inspection and a few simple precautions are all that is necessary to keep it operating smoothly.
The International Door Association recommends consumers perform monthly safety tests of their garage door openers. Start by reviewing the owner’s manual for your door opener. If you do not have an owners manual, look for the opener model number on the back of the power unit and request a manual from the manufacturer.
Before you start the safety tests, check that the door is properly balanced with this simple method:
- Start with the door closed.
- If you have a garage door opener, use the release mechanism so you can operate the door by hand when doing this test.
- You should be able to lift the door smoothly and with little resistance. It should stay open around three or four feet above the floor. If it does not, it is out of adjustment. Have it adjusted by a qualified service person.
Once you’ve established that the door is properly balanced, check that the reverse feature is working and that the force setting is appropriate, and then perform these two simple tests:
- Reversal Test
- Make sure your opener has a reversing feature. If a reversing feature is not present, the opener is out of date and should be replaced.
- With the door fully open, place a 1-1/2″ thick piece of wood (a 2″x4″ laid flat) on the floor in the centre of the door.
- Push the transmitter or wall button to close the door. The door must reverse when it strikes the wood. (Note that the bottom part of “one piece doors” must be rigid so that the door will not close without reversing.)
- If the door does not reverse, have it repaired or replaced. Have a qualified individual adjust, repair or replace the opener or door.
- Force Setting Test
Test the force setting of your garage door opener by holding the bottom of the door as it closes. If the door does not reverse readily, the force may be excessive and need adjusting. See your owners manual for details on how to make the adjustment. Make sure to test the reversing feature after any adjustment.
Additional Safety Devices
Many garage door openers can be equipped with additional safety devices. Consider adding a photo eye or edge sensor as an extra measure of safety to prevent against entrapment. Keep in mind that adding more safety devices will not make an old opener meet current standards.
Other safety measures homeowners can take include:
- Teaching children that garage door opener remotes are not toys and discouraging them from playing under or near open garage doors.
- Instructing all members of the family in the safe use of the opener and how to activate the emergency release.
- Having the push-button wall control installed out of the reach of children (at least 5 feet from the floor) and away from all moving parts.
- Mounting and using the button where you can clearly see the moving garage door and keeping it in sight until it is fully closed.
By taking a few precautions and performing simple monthly maintenance, your garage door opener will reward you with safe, trouble-free operation.
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