Did you know that the largest moving part in your home is your garage door? A majority of families enter and exit their homes primarily through the garage door, relegating front doors as destinations for special occasions and largely used only by visitors. As June is Garage Door Safety Month, it’s an ideal time to make sure your garage door works as smoothly and safely as possible.
Garage doors are even busier in summer when children are home from school and bikes, sports equipment, and other toys are being taken out more often, home gardening activity sees a spike, and families generally come and go more for various activities and trips. Regular garage door maintenance and safety precautions are particularly important to keep in mind this time of year.
Here’s a great safety tips checklist for garage door systems offered by the Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association International (DASMA). While you should always consult the garage door manufacturer’s installation or instruction manual for safety information on your own model of garage door, these helpful tips are a perfect place to start.
Garage Door Safety Tips Checklist
- Replace Old Springs. Your garage door’s springs are arguably the most important and most dangerous part of your door. Springs wear out. When they break, injury can result. If you have an older garage door, have your springs inspected by a professional technician and replaced if needed. If your door has two springs, replace both, even if one is not broken. This will not only prevent any damage caused by the breaking of the second spring, but also keep your door working efficiently.
- Squeaky Springs? Springs can squeak and be noisy. This is caused by normal use and does not necessarily indicate a problem. Before calling a professional service technician, use a spray-on lubricant (recommended especially for garage doors). If the noise persists, call a professional garage door installer for service.
- Check Your Cables. Visually inspect the cables that attach the spring system to the bottom brackets on both sides of the door. If these cables are frayed or worn, they are in danger of breaking, which can cause injury. Due to the dangers associated with high spring tension, these cables should be replaced only by a trained technician.
- Safety Cables. If your garage door has extension springs, you need a safety cable that runs through the spring and secures to the wall or ceiling at each end. When your garage door is down, extension springs are under high tension. If the spring breaks, it may cause injury. A safety cable can keep that broken spring contained. If you have extension springs but do not have a safety cable, call your local dealer for a safety inspection.
- Struggling Door? If your door does not go up and down smoothly, you may have an unsafe condition. Even older door systems should operate smoothly. If the awkward operation continues when the door is manually operated, you may have a spring system that is out of balance. This can cause premature wear and tear on other important door components. Spring systems are dangerous and should be repaired only by trained professionals.
- Watch Your Fingers! Every year, many unsuspecting homeowners injure their fingers by placing them between the door sections to pull down on the door. According to DASMA Standard 116, if your door lacks pinch-resistant joints, you should have lift handles or suitable gripping points on the inside and outside of the door. Even if your door has an opener, the door must occasionally be operated manually. Never place your fingers between the door sections. If you manually open or close the door, use the handles or the safe gripping points! Luckily, Entrematic manufactures Amarr garage doors with patented SafeGuard pinch protection design. SafeGuard hinges and safety bottom brackets reduce the chance of hand and finger injury by pushing the fingers out of the section joints.
- Use the Old Track? When buying a replacement garage door, some homeowners are tempted to save a few dollars by putting the new door on the old track. However, your old track may not fit with your new door, depending on the thickness of your sections, the weight of the door, the headroom required, the location of the garage door opener, and other considerations. The track and sections work together as a system. For maximum performance and long life, you should use the track that is designed for your specific door.
- Tamper Resistant Brackets. Since the bottom brackets on a garage door are connected to the door’s springs, these brackets are under extreme tension. They should be adjusted or loosened only by a trained door systems technician. Many manufacturers now include tamper-resistant hardware that prevents loosening of the brackets by a novice.
- Regular Service. Your garage door is probably the largest moving part in your home and is typically used every day. Over time, parts can wear out and break, creating potential safety problems. Although you should provide monthly safety checks and maintenance to your garage door system, an annual visit from a trained door systems technician can keep your door operating safely and smoothly for a long time.
- A Do-It-Yourselfer, Eh? Installing a garage door can be very dangerous and is not recommended for a novice. DASMA recommends that trained door systems technicians install garage doors. If you attempt the installation by yourself, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions carefully.
- Safety Reverse. Since 1993, all openers manufactured for the U.S. must include a second safety reversing feature such as photoelectric eyes. These are installed near the floor. Once the invisible beam is broken, the door reverses automatically. If your opener lacks a similar safety reversing feature, it’s time to get a new opener. Check out this LiftMaster Safety Check video to see this tip in action: