A garage is a great selling feature for a home, and for those homeowners who do not use the garage for an extra room – usually storage! – it helps protect our cars. 

That protection is nice when the Triangle gets the inevitable hailstorm, or when we just got groceries and it’s raining, or so we don’t have to scrape ice off the windshield during the winter. 

In an earlier post, GFCI electrical receptacles and their importance in a garage were discussed.  In this post, two important safety features of garage doors will be covered.  Garage doors should have both an auto-reverse feature on the motor and infrared sensors near the floor.  These safety features help prevent the garage door from injuring a person or damaging an object or vehicle.  At Nest Egg, we often see at least one of these safety features not functioning correctly. 

Since 1992, federal law requires that garage doors have safety features installed.  Before that time, over 50 children were killed by garage doors.  Today, death is not as common, but garage door injuries still occur, particularly when safety features do not work correctly.  Based on database information from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance Team and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 10,000 people are injured by garage doors each year.  Of this number, over 2,000 injuries a year are caused by the garage door crushing a person (often a child).  About 100 of these accidents are caused by recklessness by the injured person – usually by trying to run out of the garage after they pressed the automatic closure for the door.  The rest of the 2,000 injuries are due to a broken door or door panel that falls on a person, or more commonly a door that has no safety features or the safety features do not work correctly.  And since a single garage door can weigh over 130 pounds and a double door over 400, it is important to have these features operate as they are intended. 

The auto-reverse safety feature is designed to stop the door from closing when it meets resistance from any person or object.  The motor has an adjustable sensor that will reverse the closure of the garage door when it meets a certain resistance or pressure.  At Nest Egg, we test this by placing an object, such as a block of wood, under the door when it is closing.  The door should auto-reverse within a second or two of meeting that object.

Infrared sensors are placed on both sides of the garage door on the track framing.  They should be mounted 4-6” above the floor.  An infrared beam shines from one sensor to the other.  While the door is closing, the door will auto-reverse if anything crosses the beam, breaking the path.  At Nest Egg, we test this by blocking the infrared beam while the door is closing.

Both of these safety features help prevent the garage door from crushing a person, object, or vehicle that is in the path of the closing door.  Adjusting either of these safety devices is something a homeowner can usually do themselves, but Nest Egg recommends hiring a qualified garage door contractor for the job.