How to Check and Maintain Your Garage’s Child Safety Features

This is a guest post courtesy of Neb Aleksic, a Sales Manager at Doorcare.

The safety of children is always a main concern for parents, and that holds true for garage doors. Most garage doors have a motorized opening mechanism, where at the push of a button the door will open and close without needing any human effort. For the sake of child safety, these motorized garage door openers also come with a number of features to prevent injury to children who are running around the door while it opens or closes. However, these features are prone to wearing, tearing, age and damage and require proper checks and maintenance so that they will work properly.

Auto-Reverse

By law, all motorized garage door openers must come with an auto-reverse feature. This feature is designed to prevent anyone or anything underneath the garage door from getting pinned or crushed as it closes. If your child runs or falls underneath the garage door, a laser or pressure mechanism will sense the obstruction before it is fully closed and it will automatically reverse and fully open again.

First, to test whether the auto-reverse feature is working properly, place an object underneath your garage door when it is open. It can be a piece of wood, an empty garbage can, or anything else that is durable and you won't mind potentially taking a few hundred pounds of steady force. Hit the button for the garage door to close, and watch it carefully. When the door makes contact with the object, it should quickly and automatically reverse until the door is fully open again. If you think it takes too long to kick in to the point where it might cause injury to your child if they were underneath it, you'll need to adjust the opener.

Check the manual for the opener to find the knob or dial to adjust the auto-reverse sensor. There might either be one that adjusts both the speed at which the door opens and closes, or one for each setting. You will need to adjust the knob or dial that controls the reverse settings with either a screwdriver or cordless drill. Do it in very small increments, as turning it too much can mess with the motor so it won't close fully or closes too fast. This can stress the motor and cause a breakdown. Test it after every adjustment until it is working properly, and if it won't work properly, call a repair company.

Safety Sensor

Newer safety sensors involve lasers beamed across the bottom of your garage, close to where the door would close. If something or someone is in the way and breaks the laser's connection to the sensor on the other side, the garage door is prevented from closing. If the garage door is already in the process of closing, it will automatically stop and re-open again.

There are two ways you should test it. First, have your garage door fully opened and place an object (it can be the same piece of wood or bin from above) on the floor so that it is blocking the sensor. Then, hit the button to close the garage door — it should automatically stay put no matter how many times you press the button. After that, remove the object from in front of the sensor and hit the button to start closing the door. While it is closing, throw the object so it blocks the laser even for a second and see if the door stops and reopens.

If the sensor is not working properly, there could be a few reasons. First, that something hit the sensor and knocked it out of alignment, so try adjusting it until it is re-aligned. Second, it could be because the lens on the sensor is dirty or blocked, so try cleaning it with a clean rag. Lastly, it might be because the wiring and connection to the opener is not working properly, so you will have to carefully check the wiring to see if anything has been frayed or disconnected. Reconnect, re-solder, or replace the bad part.

Manual Release

Next is the manual release, that disconnects the motorized garage door opener from the garage door itself so it can be opened and closed by hand. It is a valuable feature that allows you to operate the door if it isn't working properly. It is important for openers to have this feature, and important for your children to know about it in case they need to use it during an emergency, like a power outage, a storm, or flooding.

Most garage door openers will have a rope connected to the manual release so you can easily reach up and pull it to disconnect the motor. When your children are old enough to understand the importance of the release, show them where it is and how to use it. If they aren’t tall enough to reach it, tell them where your step ladder is so they can. Take them with you when you test the release every month or so to make sure it still works and won't get stuck.

If it doesn't work, or it gets stuck, you should check to make sure the mechanism is not blocked by a buildup of debris or material preventing the release from operating. It might also be due to corrosion and rust or the rope being caught on another component of the opener that makes it feel stuck, which are both also fairly easy fixes. If it won’t open because part of the mechanism has been broken, that might be more complicated to fix or replace.  

Pinch-Resistant Panels

Any parent knows how much kids like touching things that catch their attention. That makes the panels of an overhead garage door a concern if they might want to try putting their fingers in the gaps as the door opens and closes. That's why you can now get garage doors with panels designed to prevent fingers from being pinched and caught while the door moves, called pinch-resistant doors. They work by closing in a way that pushes obstacles out from the gap as they close, which at the very least will prevent a more serious injury from occurring.

You can test that the pinch-resistant panels still work by taking a thin piece of wood, stick, or other object that can mimic a finger. Close the door and lightly press the object into a panel as they are closing. You should feel some pressure from the panels pushing it back and away from the gap as it closes.

If it still gets firmly caught in the gap to the point you think it would cause a more serious injury to your children's fingers if they got caught, there is something wrong with the door. The panels might have become too loose to properly push away any objects from getting caught, in which case you will need to tighten the hinges for each panel. If the problem persists, it might be due to age or wear and tear where you will need to get it replaced soon.

All Other Moving Parts

Aside from all of the above safety features, it is also important to regularly check and maintain your garage door and its opening mechanisms to make sure they are working properly and safely. Any defect and dysfunction can cause an accident and injury to anyone who is in close proximity to the door when it happens, including your children. In general, you should make the basic and quick checks once a month, and a more exhaustive check of the entire system once a year.

Author Bio:

Neb-Aleksic-Doorcare.jpg

This is a guest post from Neb Aleksic. Neb is the Sales Manager at Doorcare, a company specializing in home and property improvement projects. He is an expert when it comes to residential garage doors and commercial overhead doors, dock levelers, automatic gates and accessories. Connect with Neb on Twitter.