Garage Doors – How safe are yours?

Garage Door Safety

Garage Door Safety

The purpose of this post is to highlight some hidden and maybe not so hidden safety hazards that may be lurking in your garage.

Let’s start with your garage door.  Take a look at the springs on the doors.  Are they stretched unevenly like the one in the picture to the right?  Even worse yet, is there no safety cable running through the full length of the springs?  An unevenly stretched spring is a ticking time bomb unless it is replaced.  When it breaks, it can damage the garage door track, walls, items in the garage, as well as cause serious injury especially if the safety cable is missing.  A safety cable helps contain the broken parts of the spring to prevent this danger.  Next, if your garage door is manually operated, open the door about half way and see if it will support itself.  A door that comes crashing down can lead to a serious injury and likely has springs that are fatigued or are undersized for the weight of the door.

Are there broken window panes in your garage door?  If so, broken glass should be replaced to prevent a possible injury.

Most homes today have automatic garage door openers installed and there are two routine safety checks that you can perform yourself.  If your opener is less than 10yrs old, then you will have photo-eye detectors mounted on both sides of the track near the garage floor.  They should be about 6″ from the floor such as the one in the picture to the left.  If they are mounted anywhere else such as on the ceiling or wall just facing each other, then their purpose is being defeated.  They are meant to detect a child, pet or anything else for that matter which is in the path of a closing door.  If an obstruction is detected, the opener will immediately reverse.  Test these sensors by temporarily blocking them (wave something in front of the sensor) and see if your door reverses.  Another reversing test is to lay a 2″x4″ block flat on the floor in the path of the door.  As the door hits this block while closing, it should reverse.  A word of caution before performing the 2″x4″ block test, if you have a metal or fiberglass door that is not reinforced along the top panel where the opener is attached, damage to the door may occur if it does not reverse.

If you see any of these concerns in your garage, contact a garage door company to perform the necessary corrections.

An often overlooked garage door is the one that leads into your home.  If your home is older than 30yrs then this door is likely not a fire rated door.  The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) statistics say that 20% of all fires in a residential structure start in the garage.  This is due to spontaneous combustion or chemical reaction of things that are often stored in the garage.  The purpose of putting a fire-rated door here is to slow down the progression of a fire into the home to allow occupants more time to escape.  If your door from the garage into the home is a hollow core door (sounds hollow when knocked on) and/or there is gasket seal around the perimeter, then it is not a fire-rated door.

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