Garage Door Safety Month occurs every June. The initiative to raise awareness about garage door safety is spearheaded by the Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association and the International Door Association.
At some point during October, many of us are now used to taking the time to test the smoke alarms in our homes. Fire Prevention Month is a big reason for this. It’s helped make us much more aware of the importance of being proactive to prevent home fires and more prepared to handle a potential fire.
The door and access systems industry wants the same level of safety awareness for garage doors.
Unlike the many silly national commemorative months like Bird-Feeding Month, Ice Cream Month, Picnic Month, and Umbrella Month (yep, these all exist), recognizing the importance of garage door safety is actually practical.
There’s much more to a garage door system than meets the eye. Although it may appear to have a basic level of functionality that simply opens and closes the doors of a garage, this system includes many moving components.
The opener, which is essentially the engine for your doors, has to do a lot of heavy lifting – literally! A 2-car garage door can weigh anywhere from 150 to 300 pounds, depending on the construction materials and design.
Although garage doors and door openers are built to last and function for years, it’s only a matter of time before some of their parts begin to break down and make the system less safe. This will happen at an accelerated rate without doing regular maintenance and inspections.
Here are three more reasons every homeowner should care about garage door safety:
If your front door wasn’t working properly, most of us wouldn’t put off fixing it or having it repaired. The doors of your garage and its opener are much more of a safety risk if they’re not working properly.
The home’s main access point nowadays is the doors of the garage, which open and close about 1,500 times every year per household.
Garage doors serve many great functions, including keeping a home secure, providing convenient access in and out of our residences, and as a decorative element to enhance the curb appeal of our houses.
That being said, it‘s still important to acknowledge that this type of door can be dangerous without proper vigilance and care.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that approximately 30,000 garage door-related injuries occur in America every year. Here are the most common ways someone can get injured by the doors of their garage:
When it comes to your family’s safety, it’s well worth the minimal amount of time it takes to inspect your doors and opener to ensure they’re operating safely.
Garage doors that are working properly will prevent your vehicles from potentially getting damaged as well.
Here are 12 tips to help make your garage safer. And don’t just give the safety of the doors of your garage some attention during June – check back every few months with your garage door safety checklist.
By ensuring your garage’s doors are working properly, your family and vehicles will be safer.
We’ll get into specific areas of your garage door opener and doors to inspect and test, but one of the best things you can do is to generally be more vigilant around the door system.
Early warning signs of garage door system mechanical failures can reveal themselves visually and audibly.
Do you notice the doors opening or closing faster or slower than normal? Are the doors operating smoothly or is there a noticeable hitch when they’re moving? When the doors are fully closed, do you detect a gap between them and the floor that previously wasn’t there?
Audible indicators of a problem are even more noticeable. A garage door system can emit a squeaking, rattling, or knocking sound when it’s operating for a number of reasons including:
Whenever there’s a functionality issue with a door system, it’s in your best interest to address it immediately. Not only can prompt action eliminate a safety hazard, but it can also save you an expensive repair bill.
Most door problems can be repaired. If you ignore them, however, an entire door, opener, or part could eventually require a costly replacement.
The most important garage door safety feature is the opener’s safety reversal system. In 1991, the CPSC made it mandatory for all door openers sold in the U.S. to include this feature.
This function uses sensors to detect whether or not an object is in the path of a closing door. If an obstruction is detected as the door is coming down, the function automatically reverses the direction of the door to open it back up.
Because of its importance, it’s recommended that you test the door reversal function every month or two. This short video explains how to test it:
In addition to testing the reversal function, make sure the door opener’s force setting works properly. This setting works in tandem with the reversal function and determines how much sensitivity it should have. If the setting isn’t right, the function may not reverse the travel path of a closing door when there’s an obstruction.
The sensors a garage door opener communicates with are installed a few inches off the ground on both sides of a door opening (they’re also known as photoelectric eyes). An infrared beam is constantly emitted from one sensor to another. If any object interrupts the beam’s path, the door won’t close.
The sensors have to be aligned with one another for this important safety feature to work correctly. If there’s an issue with them, you’ll certainly know it because the door won’t be able to close properly.
Don’t wait until you encounter a door closing issue before giving the sensors some regular attention. Inspect your garage door sensors every month or two, ideally at the same time you test the door reversal function.
Door sensors can malfunction for several reasons:
Fixing most door sensor issues is fairly easy. If they’re dirty, use a soft cloth to gently clean them off. If the sensors need to be realigned, the door opener’s manual should explain how to make the necessary adjustments. Lighting indicators on most sensors will tell you if they’re aligned correctly.
Call a garage door repair professional if you can’t fix the problem, if the sensors need to be replaced, or if there’s an electrical problem.
A garage door system has springs that act as a counterbalance for the weight of the door and help facilitate the opening and closing process.
Springs that are rusted become weaker and a spring with a tension that’s too loose or too tight can cause functionality and safety issues.
Inspect the condition of your springs two or three times a year. Door springs are typically powder-coated, which helps them last longer in a damp environment. They can rust faster unless they’re occasionally sprayed with a lubricant.
The springs on the doors of a garage are rated for a certain number of cycles. Door springs typically have a life cycle of 10,000 cycles, meaning they can open and close a door 10,000 times. You can buy higher life cycle springs made with heavier wire that can provide up to 100,000 cycles.
The lift cables and pulleys that work along with the door springs are another vital part that should be inspected from time to time. Look for signs of fraying on the cables and keep them free of debris.
The rollers that are attached to a garage door are mounted on a track/rail so the door can raise and lower. They’re made with three types of materials: steel, nylon, and plastic.
Steel rollers are very durable, but aren’t as quiet as steel rollers that are encased in a nylon shell. Either is a better option than plastic rollers. They are the least expensive option, but also the least durable, too.
Like door springs, rollers typically have a cycle rating that indicates what their lifespan will be. When it’s time for the rollers to be replaced, pay attention to the number of ball bearings the rollers have. A higher number of ball bearings means the rollers will last longer.
Inspect the door rollers once or twice a year to see if they’re showing signs of rust or excess wear. If the rollers grind or squeak when the door is moving, that’s a telltale sign they could use lubricating.
Check the door tracks to ensure the rollers haven’t come off and that there is no debris along the tracks that could obstruct the rollers’ movement. Check the tracks to see if they’re bent as well.
Periodically inspect the tracks and rollers of your door system.
With so many moving parts in a garage door system, it’s important to keep some of them lubricated to prevent components from rusting and keep them operating smoothly. Using lubricant once in a while will also help extend the life of the parts and keep them quieter.
We’ve already mentioned the benefit of keeping a door’s springs and rollers lubricated. You can use a spray-on lubricant on the garage door opener chain, which looks like a bicycle chain. If you have a belt-driven opener, lubrication isn’t required on the rubber belt.
The hinges on doors with panels that “bend” when it’s being raised and lowered will benefit from an occasional spray of lubricant.
Use a lubricant or grease that is specifically made for garage doors and don’t use too much of it, otherwise it will attract more dust and dirt.
Belt-driven and chain-driven garage door openers should be inspected a couple of times a year to check for wear and to make necessary adjustments.
As another frequently moving part of a door system, an opener’s belt or chain can become either too loose or too tight. That can affect the operation of the door and shorten the life of the mechanisms that move the chain and belt.
An opener will have an adjustment bolt or nut that can be accessed to tighten or loosen a chain or belt. Consult the manual of your door opener to see if the manufacturer recommends making adjustments yourself or if the job should be best left to a professional.
Many types of garage door maintenance tasks can be done yourself, such as lubricating moving parts and tightening the hardware on the hinges of a door panel.
However, most types of door repairs should be done by a trained professional. That includes the following repairs:
Some repairs, like replacing a door weather seal, fall into more of a grey area. Most people could probably handle this specific repair themselves, but numerous types of door seals exist and it can get a little confusing for the average person. There’s side weatherstripping, door panel weatherstripping, and door bottom seals. Then there are sealing parts that are affixed to a door frame, such as a threshold seal.
Replacing any of these parts requires close attention to detail to ensure the door is effectively sealed. A good door seal has numerous benefits. It improves your home’s energy efficiency and provides a more effective seal to keep out moisture, drafts, debris, and pests.
Most garage door repairs should be left to a professional.
Testing the balance of a garage door is another smart safety practice that should be done at least once a year. The balance of a door affects how it functions.
An unbalanced garage door puts extra strain on the rest of the system and can cause damage to other parts, including the essential reverse function.
LiftMaster explains here how to do a garage door balance test. In a nutshell, this quick test involves disconnecting the door from the opener with the manual release rope to assess the door’s balance by opening and closing it by hand.
Call a pro to fix an unbalanced garage door immediately to prevent injuries and property damage.
Speaking of that manual release cord, let’s look at a few more reasons every homeowner should know how they work.
Aside from testing a door’s balance, there are two main reasons anyone might need to use the manual release feature. First, in the event of a power failure, the garage door can be manually opened if the door opener doesn’t have battery backup functionality.
Second, you might need to manually open a garage door if you can’t find the door remote, the remote has dead batteries, or if there’s an issue with the door opener.
If you lose your door remote frequently, invest in a smart garage door opener that can be operated with a smartphone app. This genius tech allows a garage door to be operated from anywhere. You can even get phone alerts when you’re out to inform you about any suspicious activity with your doors.
Let your kids know about these garage door safety hazards, especially if they’re younger. Kids don’t play basketball or hockey in the driveway as much as they used to. That’s given way to them spending much more time indoors, usually in front of a screen.
Some kids still enjoy shooting hoops or playing in the driveway, however, so parents should educate them and lead by example by exhibiting safe behavior around the doors of a garage.
If you have older doors without shatterproof glass, it’s advisable to not allow your kids to engage in any recreational activities around them. Hundreds of people are injured every year by broken garage door glass. Keep door remotes out of the reach of children, too.
Our final garage door safety tip is to reduce the potential for door-related injuries by investing in high-quality garage door system products from a trusted manufacturer.
When the safety of your family and expensive vehicles is involved, don’t settle for anything but the best door products with the highest safety standards, ideally with exemplary test ratings.
Don’t settle for anything less than the safest, highest-quality products for your garage’s door system.
We hope these safety tips help make your garage safer. Another way to make your garage safer is to get it organized.
Garage Living specializes in providing smart storage solutions like slatwall and storage cabinetry that will keep any garage meticulously organized. Remember, an organized garage is a safer garage!
We can also update the interior look of your garage with stylish, attractive décor that makes any garage much nicer to come home to.
Schedule a free design consultation to start planning your garage upgrades with a member of our design team.
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