How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

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Is my garage door safe?

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A garage door is the largest and heaviest moving object in the house and can be a threat to children and pets. Todays roll up doors are mandated to have several safety features and here is a short list of five items you can check yourself:

1) Measure the height off of the floor to the center of the electronic eye safety stop installed at the base of the garage door. This should be no higher than 6-inches. Now test the safety stop by breaking the beam with your foot while the door is closing. It should reverse and continue to the full open position. Try this at the center and again near the edges of the door. We recently tested a door for a customer where breaking the beam at about a third of the way across the door reversed it, but not at the center. 

2) Test the pressure activated safety stop by closing the door, and without disrupting the beam, place both of your hands palms facing up below the downward moving door. You should stand in the driveway while performing this test. The door should reverse when it comes in contact with your hands just like an elevator door. Most garage door operator motors have dials for adjusting the pressure of the door while opening or closing, and the pressure down should be set at 10 to 15 lbs.

3) Check the positioning of the operating button on the wall of the garage. It should always be in view of the garage door, but never in an adjoining room, which can occur when walls are added in a garage. The button should not be under the track of the door and should be no lower than five feet off of the floor or the step you are standing on when activating the door. The garage door opener in the photo below has two safety problems: it is in the adjacent laundry room and installed below the minimum height of five feet. 

    A safety sticker is required to be posted next to the button, but we rarely see them. Also, you should never have to hold the button down continuously to operate the door. 

4) If you have the type that has springs that stretch the length of the door on either side, check to make sure that there is a cable running through the center of each spring to contain the pieces if it breaks. Check that the connections at both end of the springs appear secure and examine the springs themselves for any areas of stress, cracks or sections that appear to be stretched. 

6) Examine the door panels for any damage such as tears or crumpled sections. These panels should be replaced. Look at the connections between the walls and ceiling and the door tracks and operator bar. All bolts should be present, tight and have nuts where required. The rollers should have no missing, loose or worn parts. The timed lighting at the operator motor should always work, so replace any burned out bulbs. 

    Your garage door should open and close smoothly without jumping, shaking or making excessive noise. If any repairs or adjustments are needed call a garage door company. We do not recommend attempting to repair or adjust the door yourself.

    Also, see our blog post Why do I have to hold down the button to close the garage door?

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  To learn more about doors and windows, see these other blog posts:

What causes sweating (condensation) on the inside of windows in the winter? 

Is every exterior door of a house required to have a landing outside? 

 What are the small slots at the bottom of the outside of my window? 

Why does condensation form on the outside of some windows and not others in the morning? 

Why is the garage door track a white tube? 

What is the raised metal plate on the floor under the garage door?

How can I tell if a window or glass door is safety glass? 

What are the code requirements for safety tempered glass for doors?

Should a front door swing in or out?

How many exit doors are required for a house?

 How many exit doors are required for a mobile/manufactured home? 

Are openable windows required to have window screens? Will windows with no screens pass a home inspection? 

   Visit our DOORS AND WINDOWS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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