Garage door repair and safety is a subject we cannot take for granted today. The constant movement of the garage door, with its many components, eventually succumbs to wear-and-tear fatigue. It may continue opening and closing, but it doesn’t happen in a way that is safe. Then there are the security concerns to consider with your garage door as well. When experts discuss home security, they talk about equipping deadbolts to front doors. Video doorbells, smart locks and similar safety improvement become part of the conversation.
If you don’t have a safe garage door operated and adequately installed for your home, then several risk factors are present; someone might come through the garage door to enter your home. The garage door could come down on fingers or toes. It may trap you outside or trap your vehicles inside. Therefore, the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the United States passed several rules for garage door repair and safety requirements that when into effect May of 2016. Does your garage door meet these new rules?
Current Requirements for Garage Door Safety
Several new and revised garage door safety regulations and requirements went into effect in 2016 to improve residential installations, service and repairs of garage doors and automatic garage door openers. Although older doors may have been installed under different rules, all new garage doors in the U.S. must follow these standards, as published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
- Entrapment Protection: Garage doors open vertically or horizontally now, so the new safety standards apply for both sets of movement. Garage door companies and installers must now focus on “closing” or “opening” movements for their products instead of “upward” or “downward.”
- Sectional Garage Door Openers: New standards were added that govern combination sectional overhead garage door openers where the device and its hardware are an integral part of the operator. That ensures the garage door closes safely when you’re not exerting a “driving force” to close it.
- Unattended Operation: Under the 2016 standards, unattended automatic operation is allowable only when markings are offered with proper installation instructions. One or more intentional actions are necessary for the product to function, including an audio/visual alarm which signals for five seconds before the garage door operates by the automatic garage door opener.
- Rigid One-Piece Garage Doors: The standards were updated to include operator/door combination movements for one-piece overhead garage door openers. The speed of movement at the door edge must now no longer exceed six inches per second. There must be two independent secondary devices to protect against entrapment.
In all other cases, there must also be an emergency release feature which to detach the automatic garage door opener from the door mechanically. The interlock must be installed with a way to de-energize the operator when separated.
Additional safety requirements were added for photoelectric sensors as well, creating minimum wattage and maximum color temperature requirements (500W and 3600K respectively) to prevent unintended movement of the garage door.
Why Garage Door Safety Requirements to Be Taken Seriously
According to “The Sun”, Social worker Heidi Chalkley asked her friend a surprising question one day outside of a home in Cambridge, England. “Have you ever held on?” Then she grabbed onto the shutters of the garage door as it began opening. In just seconds, her hand caught on the barrier. It took less than a minute for the equipment to fatally crush her.
One of the witnesses to the event described what he saw like this: “She was not moving at all. I stood behind her and took hold of her legs. I tried my best to do anything I could”. Chalkley had suffered fractures to her arms, ribs, and spine all because she held onto the garage door as it lifted. Garage doors can’t prevent an intentional decision to do something that is dangerous. What they should do is stop an accidental injury from occurring.
Even with new garage door repair and automatic openers standards, requirements and technologies in place, people are injured every year by their garage doors. The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) offers stunning statistics about how many accidents occur in U.S. homes with a garage door involved.
- More than 7,500 people suffer a pinching type of injury from their garage door, often because fingers were in the tracks or panels of the product.
- Over 2,200 people are injured each year because their garage door falls on them.
- Another 800 people suffer scraps, cuts, or lacerations from their garage door because the windows included in the design break, creating a sharp edge.
Although accidents are difficult to predict, the design of the garage door, along with enhanced awareness of proper safety techniques, can prevent many needless tragedies from occurring.
Children and Garage Doors: A Dangerous Combination
Any parent will tell you that supervising children is challenging, even when you’re paying full attention to the situation. According to the “news.com”, In another 2018 incident involving a garage door, Erica Dilley is at home taking care of her two young children. It looks like they’ve just returned from a walk.
Dilley secures the toddler to the stroller, then opens the garage door to step inside their home. As the automatic opener does the job it’s instructed to do, the mother returns to the stroller to grab her younger child. When she does this, her daughter grabs the inside lower handle for the garage door as it begins rising. Dilley realizes what is happening when her daughter starts yelling for help. She rushes over to grab the little girl after its cycle completes. From start to finish, the entire incident lasts 15 seconds. Thankfully, the little girl who rode the garage door up in this situation was not injured and is safe.
This garage door incident is a reminder to us all that something dangerous can happen in just seconds. Lives can be changed forever in under a minute. By focusing on accident prevent with garage doors, both in design and individual awareness, the injuries associated with this technology can hopefully start dropping.
What is Garage Door RPM Sensor/Tachometer and How it’s Related to Your Safety?
Most vehicles are equipped with a tachometer today. This gauge, which is often placed next to the speedometer, measures the rotations per minute (RPM) of your engine. That information allows you to know if you’re idling at an appropriate range or reaching the peak levels of the engine in specific gears. When it comes to the garage door industry, automatic garage door openers come equipped with an RPM sensor as well and this technology helps reduce the risks of inherent primary entrapment with this technology.
The garage door RPM sensor is a small board, surrounded by an interrupter cup, which sits next to the motor shaft of the garage door opener. The purpose of this device is to detect resistance against the door movement. If the device senses resistance, then it stops the motor from working. That prevents injuries from occurring while reducing damage to the garage door as well.
There are specific limit and force controls set on this device which allow it to correctly diagnose when resistance is present with the garage door.
In both incidents described above, it is clear that neither garage door had an RPM sensor which was operating correctly. With the incident in Cambridge, the health and safety inspector told a court inquest that the garage, installed in 2004, had been subjected to multiple repairs. Although hindsight always seems to be more explicit, in these two situations, a correctly installed and operating product may have saved a life – and stopped a mother from experiencing the scare of her life.
Here’s the Issue with RPM Sensors and Garage Doors
The primary symptom of a bad RPM sensor is a lack of movement. When the tachometer doesn’t work correctly, your garage door will move upward about 8 to 12 inches, then return to its starting position. One of the most common questions you’ll find when researching garage door repair options is this: “Can I bypass the RPM sensor?”
If you attempt to bypass the opener’s inherent primary entrapment protection system, the motor will no longer have resistance detection built into its framework. That means a mother, or a little girl, could hold onto the door as it rises, with all the risks such an activity involves.
To troubleshoot an issue with your garage door that move upward about 8 to 12 inches, then return to its starting position, look to see if there is an object blocking the safety eyes or sensors installed along the floor line of your garage. Those edge sensors can get bumped sometimes, which may cause the garage door to stop opening. Realign the photo eyes as required. Remove any objects that interrupt the signals of the sensors. Then try opening the garage door once again. If the behavior continues, then garage door services are necessary. Although you could purchase a garage door RPM sensor online or at a local store, your homeowner’s insurance policy may require a professional garage door repair for any future claims on the product to be valid.
There are no shortcuts with garage door repair. You either have the work completed correctly, or you raise the risks of an unfortunate accident occurring.
How to Test The Safety of Your Garage Door
You must inspect and test your garage door automatic reverse feature periodically to ensure they work as intended. When this technology doesn’t work as it should, the risk of injury rises dramatically. Every garage door should be tested at least once per month to ensure it works correctly. Even if you use it every day, formal tests help to guarantee the working condition of your make and model.
The first test should involve the motor for your automatic garage door opener. With the RPM sensor equipped, it will sense resistance and reverse direction when the triggering weight, impact, or blockage is present in the environment. Depending on the age of your garage door, it may not have the automatic reversal function. Garage door openers installed before 1982 are likely not meeting the current Consumer Product Safety Commission standards, so a replacement is probably warranted.
To test your RPM sensor and its sensitivity, place a 1.5-inch block of wood on the floor under the door. If your garage door doesn’t reverse within two seconds after impact, then it requires too much force to initiate the reversal. A garage door service appointment should be scheduled.
According to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University and the CPSC, non-reversing automatic garage door openers are a hazard and you should disconnect the automatic door opener until the RPM sensor (or another maintenance issue) repair occurs.
Testing the Infrared Sensors of Your Garage Door
The other common line of defense for garage door safety is the infrared sensors (the photo eyes) that are mounted somewhere between 4 inches to 6 inches above the garage floor. When something blocks the path of these sensors, then the garage door opener will not close. If the path blockage occurs while the door is closing, then the reverse mechanism engages, lifting the door back into the fully open position.
Have someone carefully place a blockage in front of the sensors as the garage door travels downward. If the door continues to move downward despite the obstruction, then your garage door is unsafe. Contact a professional garage door repair company to ensure that your garage door opener performs as it should.
Additional Testing and Troubleshooting Ideas for Your Garage Door
With your garage door closed, try pulling the emergency release cord. Then lift the door to see if it will open and close smoothly. If you encounter issues with the garage door opening or closing smoothly, then you may have a problem with the rollers, springs, or tracks instead of with the automatic opener itself.
Sometimes the remote for your garage door opener works, but it won’t open or close with the wall switch. In this situation, either the switch or its wiring may require a replacement. In some models, you can test the switch by unscrewing it from the wall, then touching its two wires together. If the garage door opener begins operating, then you’ve got a bad switch. If the opener didn’t run, then you may have a short in the wiring or a problem with the unit itself. At this point, you may need a garage door service professional to look at the issue for you.
When the wall switch works, but the remote does not, then the issue is usually the battery in the remote. Replace the remote batteries or purchase a new receiver to fix the problem. If you’re not sure what remote you need for your garage door opener, try using a universal one. You could also speak with your local garage door repair company about installing a new receiver on your automatic opener.
My Garage Door Goes Up but Doesn’t Come Down
If your garage door only comes down when you press and hold the wall switch, then your garage door safety eyes are likely out of alignment or damaged. There should be a small LED light on each sensor which illuminates when nothing blocks them. When there is no light, then the sensor may have gone bad and it isn’t an issue with the RPM sensor. Your garage door service professionals can help you inspect the wiring or troubleshoot interference issues, such as direct sunlight.
Advanced repair issues may involve the trolley carriage moving, but the door not opening when it does. A professional garage door supplier should perform this work unless you have specific experience doing so.
Your garage door opener might require a new main gear drive if you hear grinding sounds without the door opening. If the door opens and closes with hesitation, then the lubrication of your rail may have been comprised. Silicone spray is an excellent option. Most garage doors require greasing at least once or twice per year.
Whenever something happens with your garage door that seems concerning, talk to your local garage door company to see what your options may be. The chances are good that with a few quick tests, a correct diagnosis and repair can occur.
Why Choose a Professional Garage Door Repair Provider?
Your garage door requires ongoing maintenance to perform at its best. Most homeowners think they can take the DIY approach or hire a handyman to these needs to save money. There’s nothing wrong with you doing home repairs on your own. If you have the knowledge, skill, and tools to do the work, then it makes sense for you to do it.
Outside of the insurance policy requirements you may face, hiring a professional garage door supplier does provide you with specific benefits that a DIY repair doesn’t offer. Make sure that you hire someone who is licensed, insured, and preferably bonded. Here are some additional reasons to hire g a garage door repair professional to work on your home instead of trying to do the work on your own:
- You receive specialized experience: Although every home is unique, the skills required to install and repair a garage door properly are always applicable. Each garage door system has its own safety enhancements and all follow the same standards and regulations. Experienced garage door repairman will make sure that your garage door and its related equipment work well together while getting the job done correctly on the first attempt.
- You connect with local garage door suppliers: If you try to source supplies for a DIY garage door repair project, then you’re stuck paying retail prices for most of the items. You’ll be paying wholesale rates at best. When you hire a professional garage door contractor to do the work for you, then you’ll gain access to their vendor accounts. Whatever savings they’re able to generate with this relationship gets passed along to you – or at least it should.
- Your garage door project is completed to code: Local, national, and international building codes all apply in some geographic regions. When you work with a professional garage door repair company, you’re working with someone familiar with the expectations involved. The work completed in your home will pass inspection. They’ll also know if permits are required for the work. Most contractors will help you obtain them as part of the process.
- Your property is always respected: Most homeowners avoid contractors because they’ve had poor experiences in the past. Several common complaints, like those listed below, leave a sour taste in your mouth when something similar happens to you.
- The project took longer than anticipated to complete.
- The garage, house, and/or yard was left a mess.
- There were hidden costs associated with the contract not discussed before finishing the work.
- Schedules for the necessary work were not provided.
Always hire professional garage door repair service providers based on references and reviews of their work. Try to see their actual work whenever possible to know what you can expect in your home.
You will save money in the long run
Outside of the savings possibilities with supplies and materials, a garage door installation and repair completed correctly reduces ongoing inspection and maintenance costs. Therefore, your long-term costs may be double that of a professionally installed project when the work isn’t performed to code.
When a contractor doesn’t get it right, you have options to be made whole as well. In regions where surety bonds are a requirement of the contracting license, you could potentially hire a different contractor using bond funds if the work doesn’t meet expectations.
The Next Steps to Take with Your Garage Door
Reputable garage door repair companies always follow current safety standards, regulations, and guidelines. They install various makes and models in ways that meet or exceed current expectations. These companies work with you to secure whatever permits are necessary for the project. Then they bring their expertise into your home to ensure your garage door operates safely and provides the security you require.
The Bottom Line
Ongoing inspection and garage door maintenance may prevent accidental injuries or damage occurring. Although no professional service provider or manufactured product can anticipate all interactions, an adequately installed and regularly maintained garage door will proactively stop several potential injury or damage occurrences.