Q&A / 

Garage Doors & Garage Door Openers

Mechanical Monsters

Virtually everyone I know has a misconception about garage doors. They fail to realize how big and heavy these doors really are. This is due to the fact that almost every overhead door is counterbalanced by some form of springs. These springs make the door feel lighter than it actually is.

Overhead garage doors are almost always the largest mechanical device in a residential home. Two car garage doors which usually measure 16 feet wide by seven feet tall can weigh close to 400 pounds! Think of that when you walk beneath the open door as you walk across your garage on your way to get the lawn mower or as you watch your son or daughter run for their bicycle. Garage doors require a healthy respect.

Automatic Openers

A large majority of overhead garage doors are equipped with automatic garage door openers. I myself have two of these wonderful machines. I believe these machines are responsible for much of the complacency we have about garage door maintenance.

Before automatic openers were popular, you would have to lift the door yourself to open it. If the springs were out of adjustment or the door needed lubrication, you (or your back) would know about it right away. Openers have changed all of that. They have literally put us 'out of touch' with our garage doors.

For this reason, it is important to periodically disengage the automatic opener and open and close the door manually. Overhead garage doors that are functioning properly are easy to open and move along the tracks smoothly. No matter how big your door is, it should take very little effort to lift the door from the closed position. Remember, the springs are the things that should do virtually all of the work in opening the door. They simply need a little help from you to get the job started.

Safety Issues

Automatic openers are very convenient items. However this convenience comes with a very high safety price tag. When automatic openers were first developed, they rarely had any safety features. If something was in the path of a closing door, it would simply get crushed.

It didn't take too long for the manufacturers of these devices to realize that they should equip the doors with an automatic function that reverses the door should it strike an object while closing. However, this safety feature requires periodic adjustment. The sensor, which makes the door reverse, has different levels of sensitivity. Over time, the sensor can get out of adjustment. Small children and animals have been crushed to death, even though the automatic opener was equipped with this safety feature!

Within the past few years, the automatic openers have added another safety feature. Virtually every new automatic opener is now sold with an infrared beam transmitter and receiver. These devices are installed near the floor of your garage. A transmitting unit is attached to the bottom of one of the garage door tracks, while the receiving unit is attached to the bottom of the other track. An invisible infrared beam is projected across the floor between these two units. If anything breaks this beam, even for a moment, while the door is closing, the door will reverse and go back to the open position. These are wonderful devices. However, if you have an automatic opener manufactured prior to 1993, there is a good chance that you can not have these safety devices added to your existing opener. You will have to buy a new opener to get this extra level of protection.

Remember, overhead garage doors and automatic openers are great things to have around the house, but they require periodic inspections and maintenance to keep them in tip-top shape. Failure to maintain a garage door can lead to serious injury or damage to cars and property. Don't hesitate, after reading this Bulletin completely, to check your overhead garage door and automatic opener for safe and smooth operation. Good luck on your next job!



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