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A garage door is the largest moving object in the home, and is often operated by electric door openers. Proper installation, operation, maintenance and testing are necessary to provide safe, trouble-free operation. An improperly adjusted garage door or automatic opener can exert deadly force when the door closes; being hit by a closing garage door or getting trapped under the door could lead to serious injury or even death.

A few simple precautions can protect your family and friends from potential harm. Please take a few minutes to read the following safety and maintenance tips. Refer to your garage door and opener’s manual for specific details to the model you own.

Important Safety Tips

  • Keep hands and fingers clear of section joints, hinges, tracks, springs, and other door parts.
  • Do not stand or walk under a moving door; do not try to the “beat the door.”
  • Always store garage door openers out of reach of children. Openers should not be played with.
  • Push button controls should be placed at least five feet from the floor and away from all moving parts.
  • Discuss garage door safety with children and explain the dangers of being trapped under a door.
  • Know how to use the emergency release.

Reversal Test

Make sure your opener has a reversing feature. If it doesn’t have a reversing feature, it should be replaced. Garage door openers manufactured after January 1, 1993 are required by federal law to have advanced safety features. To test the reversing feature every month:

  • First, check the balance of the door (see “Testing and Maintaining the Garage Door.”) If the door is properly balanced, then proceed.
  • With the door fully open, place a 1-1/2″ thick piece of wood (a 2″x4″ laid flat) on the floor in the center of the door.
  • Push the transmitter or wall button to close the door. The door must reverse when it strikes the wood. (Note that the bottom part of “one piece doors” must be rigid so that the door will not close without reversing.)
  • If the door does not reverse, have it repaired or replaced. Have a qualified individual adjust, repair, or replace the opener or door.

Force Setting Test

Test the force setting of your garage door opener by holding the bottom of the door as it closes. If the door does not reverse readily, the force may be excessive and need adjusting. See your owner’s manual for details on how to make the adjustment and test the reversing feature again.

Safety Advice

Many garage door openers can be equipped with additional safety devices. Consider adding a photo eye or edge sensor as an extra measure of safety to prevent entrapment, and make sure the additional devices are properly installed. Keep in mind, adding more safety devices will not make an old opener meet current U.L. standards.

Testing & Maintaining

Review your owner’s manual for the garage door. If you don’t have a manual, look for the model number on the back of the door or check the lock handle, hinges, or other hardware for the manufacturer’s name and request a manual from the manufacturer.

Visual Inspection

Look at the garage door springs, cables, rollers, pulleys, and other door hardware for signs of wear. If you suspect problems, have a qualified person make repairs.

A restraining cable or other device should be installed on the extension spring (the spring along the side of the door) to help contain the spring if it breaks. Never remove, adjust, or loosen the screws on the bottom brackets of the door. These brackets are connected to the spring by the lift cable and are under extreme tension.

Warning – Garage door springs, cables, brackets, and other hardware attached to the springs are under very high tension and, if handled improperly, can cause serious injury. Only a qualified professional or an experienced person carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions should adjust them. Do not attempt to repair or adjust the torsion springs (springs above the door) yourself.

Lubrication

Regularly lubricate the moving parts of the door. However, do not lubricate plastic parts such as plastic rollers and plastic idler bearings. Consult your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Door Balance

Periodically test the balance of your door.

  • Start with the door closed.
  • If you have a garage door opener, use the release mechanism so you can operate the door by hand when doing this test.
  • You should be able to lift the door smoothly and with little resistance. It should stay open around three or four feet above the floor. If it does not, it is out of adjustment. You should have it adjusted by a qualified service person.