Automated garage doors are a modern convenience and are, in many ways, safer than older manual lift garage doors. That said, it is important to understand automatic garage door limitations and safety precautions. Here are some basics to keep in mind.
For older automatic garage doors (installed 15 years ago or longer):
- Reverse Test: Take 2×4 block of wood and place it in the path of the garage door. If upon touching the block the door does not immediately reverse, you should replace the opener with a newer model that includes this important safety feature.
- Balance Test: With the garage door shut, activate the release function that allows you to move the garage door manually. If the door is properly balanced, you should have no trouble lifting the door open and it should be able to remain open (without rolling shut under its own weight) at about three to four feet above the ground.
- Force Test: As the garage door is closing, apply a medium level of pressure up against the bottom of the door with your hand, as if to keep it from closing. If the door does not reverse, the force setting is too much and should be examined by a garage door repair service.
For all automatic garage doors:
- Ensure that the main opener button in the garage is out of the reach of young children and don’t allow children to play with or use handheld garage door openers.
- Familiarize yourself with the garage door user’s manual. If you don’t have one or can’t locate it, contact the manufacturer to supply you with one. In some cases, you can find these manuals online and download a PDF. Most importantly, you should know how to access the garage door’s emergency release function.
- Avoid leaving your garage partially open. Animals or intruders may enter this way, and you risk the garage coming into contact with an object or person in its path once a full close is attempted.
- Deactivate your automatic garage door opener while away on vacation.
- Do a monthly visual and auditory inspection of the automatic garage door and its opening mechanism. Does anything appear loose, cracked or broken? Do you hear any unusual sounds such as grinding or squeaking?
- Annually, review the safety tests for older garage door models even if your garage door is newer.
- Be aware that a disturbing new trend in home invasion is that perpetrators will steal a garage door opener from a vehicle to gain access to the home later. If your garage door opener is stolen, inform the police and contact the manufacturer to learn how to disable the missing opener from accessing your property.