Garage Door Safety
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Garage Door Safety

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Overhead garage doors may be the largest moving object in most homes and can weigh up to 400 pounds. For safety, homeowners should be sure that it's up to date and kept in proper working order.

Older garage doors often lack some of the safety features required in newer installations. These include spring systems designed to prevent flying metal in case of spring failure, and automatic openers that can operate in reverse if the door closes onto an obstacle. Automatic openers must also have sensors, usually a pair of electric eyes, that will stop and reverse the door if a person or pet moves across its path. It is sometimes possible to retrofit existing systems to include these sensors without replacing the entire system. Children should be taught that the garage doors are dangerous, and that toys, bikes, etc. should never be left in the way.

There is also the issue of power outages and how to get the door open. For several decades, automatic openers have featured an emergency release that will disengage the opener, allowing the door to be opened by hand. In most cases it will be a short red cord that hangs down close to the center of the door, inside the garage. Homeowners should learn in advance how to operate the release in case they need to get a car out of the garage during a power outage.

Maintaining the door is important for safety and for quiet, smooth operation. A garage door specialist can provide periodic maintenance, or homeowners can do much of this themselves including lubricating the springs and hinges. The track itself, where the wheel run, should never be lubricated for safety reasons. A professional can also check the door balance and alignment and make any needed adjustments.

When moving into a home, the new owners should change the remote control code immediately for security purposes, just as they would re-key or change the home's door locks. If the remote is not reprogrammable, chances are it's an outdated system and should be upgraded for safety reasons. A garage door and opener, with proper maintenance, will help ensure safe operation and should last for many trouble-free years.