For homeowners across the United States, garages are a wonderful convenience. When a winter storm hits, you don’t have to worry about digging out your car. When you have a heavy load to carry inside, you don’t have carry it across the street or across the lawn.
No wonder so many American’s have garages. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Development, 66% of American homes include a garage.
As Americans increase the number of cars that they own, the popularity of garages is only set to increase.
However, for all of their benefits, the truth is garages can be dangerous. In fact, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are around 30,000 injuries a year caused by garage doors. To make matters worse, an alarming number of these injuries were sustained by children. Unfortunately, because kids are often less aware of their surroundings, a descending garage door poses extra risk for little ones.
While no one can argue that the convenience of automatic garage doors make them a worthwhile investment, no benefit can outweigh the pain that comes from an injury sustained by a loved one. For families across the country, keeping loved ones safe is the number one priority.
Therefore, as garage door specialists, we want to be just as proactive about garage door safety as we are about garage door installation and design.
That’s why we’re putting together some of our best advice on garage door safety. From keeping dangerous components out of reach of children, getting your door regularly inspected, organizing your garage and installing a garage door safety sensor, we know that by doing a few small things, you can increase the safety of your garage exponentially.
Control the Remote
There is something oddly satisfying about moving a large garage door with the push of a button. Whether you’re in your car or working out in the yard, being able to click your garage door open is one of the heights of home convenience.
Considering how satisfying this is for adults, imagine how children must feel when harnessing such power. No wonder it’s so tempting to hand the door opener to a young kid in their car seat, giving them the chance to help Mom or Dad out as they park the car.
Unfortunately, turning control of the remote over to young children, even under supervision, isn’t a good idea. Kids get so much joy out of pressing the button when you’re around that they’re likely to be tempted to play with the remote even when you’re not around. That is something you definitely want to avoid.
Imagine a number of kids playing hide and seek. Suddenly, one kid realizes that by using the garage door opener, they could get quite an advantage. Unfortunately, while they may have only wanted to open the door to see if anyone was hiding behind it, they may accidentally press it twice, causing the door to close once again. At their age, the surprise of this unintended action might fluster them, making them drop the remote. Sadly, another younger, less aware kid might be playing directly under the door, and as it closes, may suffer a catastrophic injury.
While this is obviously a worst-case scenario, you never want to give children the opportunity to play with the remote while no one is around, nor do you want to give them the temptation to seek out the remote by allowing them to play with it while being supervised.
So keep your remote either locked in the car or stored out of reach of kids. Though your kid may be begging you to press the magic button from the back seat, resist the urge to pass it on, at least until they’re old enough to understand when to use the remote.
Get Familiar With Safety Features
Garage doors come installed with a number of safety features designed to make sure that neither kids nor adults are hurt by a garage door. However, many of these safety features may not be self-evident.
That’s why you want to make sure to spend some time getting yourself familiar with the safety features by studying the manual provided at the time of installation.
Most importantly, you want to make sure you’re confident with the door’s emergency release feature. This feature usually comes in the form of a ripcord, often with a red handle, which you can quickly pull to manually disengage the motor for the door. Not only is this important if something malfunctions, but it also allows you to open the door manually in the event that you lose power.
But don’t limit yourself to only knowing where the rip cord is. Make sure you know how your door is going to react when you pull it. In fact, many doors are easy to reengage once you’ve pulled to cord, so don’t be afraid to go through some dry runs in order to familiarize yourself with the way it works.
Never Walk Under a Door in Motion
Let’s say you have pulled your car out of the garage and you realize that you have left something inside. You run in, get what you need, and as you run back out, you press the door switch on the wall, planning to quickly duck under the door as it closes.
While many people do this regularly without experiencing any negative consequences, it is a very bad habit and should be avoided at all costs.
First of all, it only takes one mistake to end in tragedy. Perhaps there is a small puddle of oil on the garage floor. Maybe your shoe is untied. Even though 9 times out of 10, you easily make it out of the garage without mishap, one trip at an inopportune time could have terrible consequences.
Second, it sets a very bad example for kids, who may emulate you in the future. While you may be confident with making your escape, a young child, less able on their feet, may think it looks easy and then find out that it isn’t and suffer an injury in the process. Furthermore, while you may be able to exit the garage quickly, young kids are likely going to be slower making their exit, meaning the door will have descended further by the time they reach it.
Finally, you shouldn’t try to enter a door that is actively opening either. While this may seem safer, there are many features, such as safety motion sensors, that may become confused as you cross the threshold. While it is most likely that the door with simply stop half way up, if something more serious were to go wrong with the safety feature, you might find the door descending again, with the potential for serious injury.
Watch the Door While it is in Motion
When you’re opening or closing a door, make sure to keep an eye on it until it has completed its motion.
This has a number of benefits. First of all, it helps you make sure that children or pets aren’t running towards the door unnoticed. Second, it ensures that everything has worked properly, and that your door isn’t stuck in a half way position.
Give Your Door a Monthly Visual Inspection
You also want to make sure to give your entire garage door and lift mechanism a monthly inspection.
First, check the springs. Garage door springs are incredibly important, as they’re load-bearing, and need to be strong enough to lift the door and hold it so that it doesn’t fall down again. You’ll want to ask, are the springs rusted or do they look otherwise to be in poor condition?
Next, look at the door itself. Are there rusted or sharp edges that could pose a hazard to people or pets?
Finally, look at the rest of the pulley system and make sure that things are in good shape. If you have a lubricant, feel free to lubricate the moving parts. However, DO NOT attempt to adjust any of the parts on your own, especially the main springs. The main springs are under incredible tension, and should only be adjusted by a trained and licensed professional. A snapping garage door spring could cause a fatal injury, so leave it to those with experience.
Test the Reversing Mechanism
While you’re doing the monthly visual inspection, you should also do a monthly test of the reversing mechanism. Garage doors often have safety features that automatically cause the door to open if the closing process encounters an obstruction.
One of the best ways to test this mechanism is with a paper towel roll. Because a roll of paper towels is soft and isn’t strong enough to hold up a door, it is a great way to see if the door can detect an obstruction that doesn’t offer much resistance. Simply lay the roll in the threshold of the door and then close it. As it touches the roll, if the mechanism is functioning properly, it will begin to open again. The paper towel roll should not be overly damaged by the process.
Don’t Use Factory Standard Garage Door Opener Codes
Today, most garage door openers come with rolling-code technology, which changes the code regularly. This ensures that no one can steal your code and program another garage door opener to open your door.
However, if you do not have a garage door with this technology, you want to make sure that you don’t leave your garage door opener set with the factory installed codes.
Not only does using the factory codes open you up to thieves, but it can also cause an unsuspecting neighbor to be able to open and close you door unknowingly. This is especially likely if your home was built by the same contractor at the same time as your neighbor’s, meaning it’s equally likely that you both have the same garage door installed.
Use a Trained Professional to Perform Regular Maintenance
While you can accomplish a lot with a good visual inspection, at least once a year you want to turn the inspection over to a professional. This ensures that small things that may go unnoticed are addressed immediately.
Many garage door contractors offer regular maintenance programs, allowing you to receive regular professional inspections without needing to call every year. They also come with discounts designed to ensure that you’re saving money in the long run by making the important small repairs before they become something more serious and potentially dangerous.
By performing regular maintenance, you can rest assured that your door is in like-new condition, with any specific safety concerns addressed.
Install Garage Door Safety Sensors
While garage doors have reversing mechanisms, there are also safety sensors that automatically stop a door anytime anything crosses the threshold.
This is accomplished by installing laser eye sensors. On either side of the door, lenses search for a laser sent from the opposite side. If anything interrupts this laser, the sensors stop the door movement.
This is perfect if you have little kids who might chase a ball unsuspectingly into a garage while the door is in motion. As soon as that ball crosses the sensor, the door will stop.
While many doors come with these types of sensors standard, you can also buy them individually and have them installed. Just make sure to have a professional install them because they’re very sensitive, and if they’re installed improperly, you may find that your door regularly malfunctions.
Avoid Working on Electrical Components
Like any electrical system within your home, touching raw wires is extremely dangerous and should be left to a professional.
This is especially true of garage door openers. Because of the amount of electricity needed to operate a garage door, an accidental shock from the lifting mechanism could prove fatal.
So if you do feel there is an electrical issue, call a certified maintenance worker, and do not attempt to make repairs on your own.
Always Have a Dented Door Inspected
Those of us with teens know that occasionally cars run into things that we do not want them to run into. One of the most common fender benders that occur in home driveways is accidentally backing into the garage door.
While the dent on the door may seem small and the door may appear to be functioning properly, if you do dent the door make sure to at least have a professional come out and give it a quick inspection. While it is likely that you can continue to use your door as before — although you’ll have to deal with an eyesore — you don’t want something to break accidentally while the door is in motion.
You also want to make sure that your door is still aligned properly. While the immediate effects of a misaligned door may go unnoticed, the unusual wear that comes from misalignment can cause your door to malfunction well in the future.
Never Run Your Car With the Door Shut
While this has less to do with garage door safety, it is worth noting that you should never run your car, even for a minute, in an unopened garage. The carbon monoxide released through car exhaust is extremely toxic, odorless and can begin to poison humans quickly. This is especially true of smaller children, who would require a lower dose of carbon monoxide in order to feel its effects.
So even if it is cold out, make sure to open your garage door before you turn on your engine.
Keep Your Garage Organized
Again, this has less to do with garage door maintenance, but keeping your garage organized is an excellent way to avoid injury.
Many people keep hazardous chemicals — like those used in lawn maintenance equipment and in automobiles — in their garage. It is imperative that you keep these highly toxic chemicals out of reach of children. If you can’t keep them up on a shelf where kids cannot reach them, lock them up.
But you also want to be careful of things like sports equipment, which might cause someone to trip and fall, especially if the door is in motion. If you’re storing your roller hockey or baseball equipment in your garage, make sure that it has a designated space, so that you don’t trip on it accidentally.
Finally, make sure that you keep dangerous tools, like garden sheers or hedge trimmers, stored well away from where kids can find them. While you might assume kids have enough common sense to leave an electric hedge trimmer alone, unfortunately kids don’t always consider the consequences of playing with dangerous power tools.
One of the best ways to ensure all dangerous materials and equipment are properly stored and out of reach is to install storage furniture. Home improvement stores have a wide range of storage furniture at various price points, specially designed for garages. By giving everything its proper place, you will ensure that dangerous tools don’t become especially dangerous clutter.
Trust Your Garage Needs to Marvin’s Garage Doors
In the end, you want your garage door to be reliable, and that means finding a trustworthy contractor to partner with every step of the way. Whether you’re looking for a new door, searching for a maintenance program or simply looking to make some routine repairs, you can trust us at Marvin’s Garage Doors.
We offer a wide range of residential garage door products, each one expertly designed to coordinate with your personal tastes. Whether you’re looking for a durable painted door or a handsome wood grain look, we have the highest quality doors available. Additionally, our expert installation contractors have the experience to ensure that your door is installed properly the first time.
If you’re looking for a regular maintenance program, our industry leading preventative maintenance service is designed to make sure that your doors are always in perfect repair and operating smoothly and safely. This is the best way to ensure that your door won’t cause accidental injuries to loved ones while also extending the life of your doors.
If you find that you’re in need to emergency repairs, our 24 hour repair service will make sure that any issue is addressed quickly. Whether you have a safety emergency, a security issue or your door has been damaged by inclement weather, we will send someone out, rain or shine, to make sure that your door is working properly. Plus, as we also sell and install new doors. If your issue requires a replacement door, we can get a new one ordered and installed without delay.
So we hope that this guide has proven useful, especially as you seek to make your garage a safe place for you and your family. We know that garage doors are an important convenience, but ultimately, it’s the welfare of you and yours that matters most. Whether you’re looking to make an existing door safer or you’re looking for a new door that will improve the safety and functionality of your garage, you can trust Marvin’s Garage Doors to give you the courteous and professional service you deserve. So contact us today and discover all the ways we can transform your garage.