Automatic-Stop Garage Door Closers – Safety First tips and tricks
Automatic garage doors are a serious safety hazard if they’re not installed
or maintained properly—especially if they were installed before 1993, when
safety standards were improved. Since then, automatic garage doors are
required to have an external entrapment protection system (an electric
eye, a door edge sensor, or any other device that senses when it comes
into contact with something, and immediately reverses the door), or a
constant contact control button, which requires you to hold the
open/close button all the time that the door is in motion.
If your older garage door does not have an automatic-reverse function,
replace it, or retrofit it with a new opener that will reverse. Garage doors
are heavy enough that they can seriously injure or even kill a child who
gets caught under them.
Even newer garage doors need monthly checks to ensure that their
safety measures are working properly. The first check is that the door is
balanced—that it will stay in place wherever it’s stopped. First, detach the
garage door opener from the closed door (there should be a quick-release
lever). Open and close the door manually. It should move smoothly,
without binding or sticking, and should stay open if you let go of it about
3 to 4 feet above the ground.
If your garage door fails any of these tests, even after being
adjusted, immediately stop operating the door in automatic mode
(detach the door opener from the closed door if you haven’t
already done so), and switch to manual operation. Call a qualified
technician to repair the door.
To check that the door will automatically reverse, place a 2” x 4” on
the ground below the open door and use the automatic controls to close
the door. The door should reverse as soon as it touches the 2” x 4”. If it
doesn’t, look for an automatic reversal knob or screw on the power unit,
and adjust it until the door reverses properly (check the instruction
manual for the exact location and operation).
To test the door’s force, hold the bottom of the door as it
automatically closes. Again, the door should immediately reverse. If it
doesn’t, there should be a force adjustment control knob or screw on the
power unit (again, check the instruction manual). You’ll probably need to
open and close the garage door again before retesting it.
Additional safety precautions include warning children to stay clear of
garage doors, keeping remote controls away from children, and locating
the garage door switch 5 feet off the ground (out of their reach). You
should also examine the door’s mechanisms, including springs and
cables, to check for signs of wear or aging (these items are under high
tension, so be careful, and call a qualified professional for repairs). Your
garage door instruction manual should also include safety measures. If
you need a copy of the manual, call the door’s manufacturer or
installation company (the model number should be on the power unit).