Garage doors are a great convenience, giving you access to space for off-street parking and an auxiliary entrance into your house. Having use of your garage through the garage door also makes it easier to use this space for auto repair and craft projects, home recycling, and as storage space.
But garage doors can be a big inconvenience, and even a danger, if they are not working properly. The mechanisms used for lifting and lowering the heavy weight of garage doors are made up of multiple moving parts, some of which are under high tension. These parts need regular inspection and maintenance for reliable functioning and repair or replacement if they are broken.
Here are 10 tips for keeping a garage door operating flawlessly and preventing garage door accidents.
- Test the Garage Door
Even if you don’t use your garage door often, it is a good idea to open and close it a few times every so often to check its operation. Get children and pets out of the way and clear the area near the door. Make sure the door is unlocked, the opener is plugged in, and that the batteries in the remote are working.
While the door is opening and closing, listen for any unusual sounds and watch the operation of the door closely. It should rise smoothly and evenly. Many openers are noisy, so listen for sounds that are not normal for your opener.
If the door is making unusual sounds, or if it closes or opens with a bang, the springs, tensioners, or cables may be broken or need adjusting. Look closely at these components while the door is open and closed. Make sure nothing is stuck in the tracks and that the rollers are in good repair.
If anything seems amiss, contact a repair person. Garage door springs and tensioners are under enormous tension and can be dangerous. Only experienced technicians should work on them.
- Test the Emergency Reopening Mechanism
Unless your garage door opener was manufactured before 1994, it has a built-in mechanism for reversing the door if it touches an object while closing. Before laws requiring this safety feature were enacted, thousands of people died in garage door accidents, many of them children.
Garage door accidents still happen but many more are prevented by the two reverse reopening mechanisms now required on all garage door openers. Making sure these safety features are working is probably the most important preventative action you can take with your garage door.
To check the automatic reverse opener, open the door and place an object under the door where it closes. A piece of 2×4, a brick, or even a roll of paper towels will do. Activate the door and see if it automatically retracts as soon as it touches the object.
If your garage door does not do as it should, the problem can probably be solved by a simple adjustment of the limit setting on the opener. Check the owner’s manual for information about making this adjustment yourself or contact a repair person
- Test the Photo Eyes
There is also a secondary reverse opening mechanism located in photo eyes mounted on each side of the door on the inside of the garage about six to eight inches above the ground. These two eyes need to be aligned so that the laser beam from one is caught by the other. When this beam of light is broken, say, by a pet running under the door, the door will automatically reopen.
First, gently wipe each photo eye clean with a soft cloth to remove any dirt. To test the photo eye operation, open the door and then close it again. As it closes, take a broom or similar object and wave it in the path of the photo beam. This should also cause the door to automatically retract.
If either of these tests does not cause the door to immediately reopen, a serious safety hazard exists. If you do not know how to repair these problems yourself, contact a garage door repair specialist and have it adjusted as soon as possible.
- Test the Emergency Release Mechanism
The emergency release mechanism is another important safety feature on your garage door opener. This devise allows you to manually open the door if there is a total power failure. If your system includes a battery back-up, the emergency release leaver gives you extra protection in case the battery fails.
To test the emergency release mechanism, unplug the opener from the wall outlet. Be sure the door is not locked. Look for a rope or cable hanging from the ceiling near the opener. Pull this cable down until the door is unlatched from the opener. Now, you should be able to open the door, lifting it by hand.
This feature can be crucial in the event of a fire or other disaster in the home if you need to exit through the garage. All adults and older children in the home should know how to operate this emergency release mechanism.
- Keep Spare Batteries on Hand
Garage door remotes are powered with a battery. Most openers signal when the battery is low by flashing or beeping. Change the battery when this happens and keeps spare batteries on hand.
Many garage door openers also have a large battery inside the garage which opens the door in the event of a power failure. You can easily check if this battery is keeping a charge by unplugging the opener from AC power and trying to open the door on battery power. If it doesn’t open or opens slowly, the battery may need replacement.
- Remove Debris Near Door
Debris and stored items near the garage door are a hazard. Brooms, shovels, bikes, and pretty much everything else should be kept away from the door, springs, and tracks. If there is an overhead track, do not store anything on or above the tracks that could bend them or interfere with the door’s operation.
Keeping the garage clear of debris is also a good way of preventing fires. Many house fires start in the garage, and fires starting there can be especially severe, spreading quickly to other parts of the house. Storing flammables liquids like gas and paint thinner outside the garage and house in a separate storage shed.
- Keep Children Away from Garage Doors and Openers
Garage door openers are dangerous in the hands of small children. Keep remotes away from them and train older children and teens in the proper use of the garage door and remote opener.
- Unplug the Opener When Away
When you are away for any length of time, lock the door from the inside with a padlock and unplug the opener, making it impossible for an intruder to get in through the garage.
- Install a Rolling Code Opener
Rolling code garage door remotes are the safest type of remotes. The opener is capable of randomly generating millions of radio frequencies and sets the opener to a new one each time the door is used. This makes it virtually impossible for someone with another remote to open the door.
- Control Access to Your Garage Door Remote Opener
Even if you have a rolling code remote garage door opener, if you leave it in your car it can fall into the hands of the wrong people. Use a small remote or keyring fob you can carry in your purse or briefcase instead.
Having issues with your garage door? Get in touch with New York Gates at 718-614-0616.