Garage Door Safety

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The average 2 car garage door weighs between 155 and 255 pounds making it the largest moving object in your home. To make it possible for our electronic garage door opener as as well as us mere mortals to lift these cumbersome objects, its parts are placed under high tension.

You would probably be surprised at how often garage doors are found to be inoperable or in some sort of disrepair during a home inspection. It’s a good rule of thumb to give your garage door a quick look once a year to make sure it stays in good working order.

Give the Door a Quick Look

Check the door over for any dents or cracks, look especially closely at the point where the garage door opener attaches to the door to ensure its still fastened properly and is not becoming detached. Finally, with the doors closed, look up above the door and make sure the two large coil springs are not broken. Yes I mean broken, they should be in one piece, if not, you have a problem.
Garage Door Safety Red Door

Noncontact Reversal Test

After 1992, garage door openers have been equipped with photo-electric eyes or some other safety-reverse feature. First, check to see if photo-electric eyes are installed to the left and right sides of the bottom door panel 6 inches or less above the floor. Then, standing inside the garage and safely away from the path of the door, use the remote control or wall button to close the door. As the door is closing, wave an object in the path of the photo-electric eye beam. The door should immediately reverse and return to the fully-open position.

Contact Reversal Test

This test determines if the garage door opener has been properly set to reverse on contact with an object. Ideally, having the proper setting will prevent all that weight from coming down on someone with enough force to cause an injury. This is especially important for children.

Disclaimer, this test can and has damaged garage doors. If you’re concerned that a contact reversal test may cause damage to the garage door or its components, don’t do it.

Begin this test with the door fully open. Place a 2×4 piece of wood flat on the floor in the path of the door, under its center. Standing inside the garage away from the path of the door, use the wall push button to close the door. When the door contacts the wood, the door should automatically reverse direction and return to the fully-open position.

Annual Maintenance

Once you have determined everything to be in good working order, clean the tracks with carburetor or brake cleaner. It’s generally not a good idea to use a lubricant on the tracks as it can cause problems in the balance of the door. Next, check to see if any batteries or light bulbs need replaced in the opener or any remote controls. Finally, clean and dry the outside of the garage door itself.


If your garage door fails any of the tests in this article or you feel there may be a problem with the way it is operating, a trained garage door systems technician should be contacted to provide any repairs or adjustments. To find a technician, visit the International Door Association website.

Brian Botch

Brian Botch

Brian is the owner of House Fluent Inspections and is licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission as a professional real estate inspector (TX License # 22824 ). In addition, he is certified by the National Swimming Pool Foundation as a Certified Pool Inspector.

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