Summer is a great time to test your automatic garage door opener for safe operation. Automatic openers are a great convenience, but they also pose a danger. Garage doors are heavy and the automatic openers exert a lot of force to move them. Garage door opener companies started building-in safety devices into their openers in about 1984. So, what are these safety devices? You have probably observed them in action, but did not give it much thought. If the openers were made after 1984, a door will not close if something is left underneath the door. Also, a door will automatically reverse when the door closes on top of something; like a toy or broom.
There are two safety systems that work independently of each other. One is the opener motor. It can sense an increased load if it hits something while closing. The sensor will quickly cause the opener to reverse to prevent crushing an object. The other safety system is a photo-eye sees when something has been left under the door (see photo). It can also reverse the door if something moves under the door while it is closing. Older garage door openers may not have either safety system. You should consider upgrading your garage door opener if it does not have these safety systems.
You Should Test Your Openers Annually
The first step in testing your garage door opener is start with the garage door fully open. Then activate the opener to close the door. While the door is closing, carefully break the light beam with your foot or an object. The door should quickly reverse and open fully. If the door continues to close, hire a garage door company to repair/replace the door opener.
The next step is to check whether the door will also automatically reverses when it encounters an obstacle while closing. With the door fully open, place a full roll of paper towels directly under the door and centered left to right (make sure the paper towels are not breaking the light beam sensor). Now, activate the opener to close the door and observe what happens when the door contacts the paper towel roll. If the door crushes the paper towels, the door opener closing sensor needs adjustment. Some garage door openers can be adjusted easily with a screw driver. Other, are more difficult. Follow the owner's manual for adjusting the closing sensitivity. If the adjustment appears too difficult for you, hire a qualified garage door opener company to make the adjustments. Enjoy your summer!
Chuck retired from an engineering management career to start a home inspection business