Is Your Garage Door Opener Safe?

Safety of your garage door

For most of us, the garage door has become the main entry point to our homes and not just when we arrive in our cars. With the introduction of exterior keypad, homeowners and their children have become more accustomed to simply opening their garage and entering the house that way.

While this is definitely convenient, it’s important to remember that garage doors can potentially be very dangerous. Remember, this is the largest moving part in a house. If something were to go wrong while it was opening or closing, serious injuries could result.

Yet, the majority of homeowners haven’t taken a few minutes to check that their garage door is working safely in years, maybe ever! Therefore, we’ve put together the following four-step guide to give you a clear route to keeping your loved ones safe. We recommend you conduct this protocol twice a year – once at the end of fall and again at the beginning of spring.

Step 1: Inspect the Garage Door

First, we’re going to begin with a visual inspection. You’ll need to be inside your garage at the back. Look at your door and see if the horizontal tracks are parallel to each other and not slanted in either direction. You should also be able to see if the bolts that hold these tracks in place are firmly attached.

Now move to the door and take a look at its hinges. The screws also need to be firmly attached. The rollers should be in good shape and, when you open or shut the garage door, they should move down the tracks by actually rolling, not just sliding.

Step 2: Deactivate the Garage Door Opener

Next, you need to deactivate the door. This is easy enough – just pull the emergency release cord back toward the opposite side of the garage. In most cases, this cord is red. Once the door is disengaged, it will be disconnected from the garage door opener.

On the bottom of the door, you should see a lift handle. Sometimes it’s located on the second section. Either way, you’ll grab this handle (make sure to bend at the knees if it’s located on the door’s bottom section). When you pull on the handle, the garage door should move without much effort. The ideal weight for the typical door is between 8 and 10 pounds. This is known as its dead weight. Its spring system works as a counterweight which – when functioning correctly – should make that large door move easily.

Therefore, if the garage door seems heavier than 8 to 10 pounds or otherwise resists movement, there’s a good chance something is wrong with the spring system and you’ll need to have it replaced. Do not try to do this kind of work yourself. Even though the door may feel light, it can easily weight up to 250 pounds, meaning inexperience with this kind of machinery could end with an injury or worse.

Step 3: Conduct a Reversal Test

Next, you’re going to reconnect your garage door to the opener. Make sure that it clicks into place properly. Once it’s reconnected, go ahead and use it. If it was made after 1986, your garage door opener has two safety systems: a mechanical one and a photoelectric one. If your door opener was made after 1986, it will only have a mechanical reversal component. We’ll cover how to conduct a reversal test for both of them.

For the mechanical system, you’re going to need a piece of wood (2×4) in the path of the door after it’s been opened. Then press the button to shut your garage door. When it runs into the piece of wood, it should immediately reverse its movement. If this doesn’t happen, then find the button on the housing of the garage door’s motor that has a downward-pointing arrow on it. This button will allow you to modify how the door’s descent works.

To conduct a reversal test for the photoelectric system, you’ll need to find two small units that are located on either side of the door opening. They’re about four or five inches off the ground. These units are responsible for sensing something getting in the path of the garage door and reversing it if this happens. Once you’ve found these, stand by one of them and shut the door. Then run a foot in front of the sensor to trip it. When you do this, the door should briefly stop and then turn around.

Step 4: Lubricate the Opener

Proper lubrication is important to maintaining your garage door. If your door works with a chain, then you’ll use petroleum‑based oil. Apply a healthy amount, but be sure to wipe away all the excess. Then apply just a bit of oil or white grease to the motor’s sprocket and gear assembly. Use some on the sprocket located at the other side of the trolley.

If your garage door opener works with a belt drive opener, you actually won’t need any lubrication. The technician who installed your door should have applied enough to make sure it would work for the foreseeable future.

Important Warning Before Beginning

Before we end this guide, it’s important to address the dangers of working with a garage door one more time. Make sure there aren’t any children around while you’re working with the actual door. Kids should never use the garage door opener unless you’re around. Whenever you shut it, make sure that children stand clear.

The control panel of the garage door can also be dangerous if children play with it, which is why it should be installed at least five feet off the ground. Never push it and then try to run out of the garage door before it closes. This is how the majority of accidents involving a garage door occur and they can be quite serious.

Finally, though it doesn’t have to do with the garage door’s functioning, it’s a good idea to remind your children never to tell their friends what the code is. The fewer people who know, the better. We invite you to watch this video explaining the basic garage door opener safety rules to respect. You can also visit the garage door industry web site:

When garage doors work as intended, they are a huge convenience every homeowner can appreciate. However, they will only work properly if you take good care of them. Fortunately, all it takes is following the above steps twice a year. If you have any questions or would like to speak with a skilled technician, just call 607-687-5126. You can click here to get a free quote, or click here to start by building your perfect garage door!


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