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Garage Door Opener Safety Tips

Tell me about garage door opener safety, oh wise one!

Garage doors can weigh over 400 pounds, and can be potentially lethal to children and small animals. Types of potential injuries include broken bones, brain damage, and even death by suffocation!!

And, if that wasn't enough, garage door springs are under tremendous tension when the door is down, and, if they break, can cause damage to anything in their flight path. Some local codes even require safety cables on garage door springs to forestall such spring-related disasters! See my comments on safety cables.

In the early 1990's, newly manufactured garage door openers were required to have the ability to automatically reverse upon contact with anything in its path... animal, vegetable, or mineral. Further, all new openers were required to have either a photoelectric eye to sense objects under the door, or a type of contact strip that would sense contact and reverse the door instantaneously.

I have installed hundreds of openers, and have yet to see any with a contact strip. They all, however, do have a photoelectric eye, which is installed across the base of the door. Call me a skeptic, but I think the reason they went with the photoelectric eye is because it is the less expensive of the two, not because it is better. For example, if your car is partially out of the garage, the eye will probably not "see" the car, because the eye is located near the floor... unless your car is a low slung Lamborghini!! So, POW!!, there goes the paint job.

All openers also have an automatic reverse built in, which is designed to sense the pressure which occurs when your head is squeezed against the garage floor. If you are lucky, the door will immediately reverse. However, this 'voluntary' system has a drawback... the pressure needed to activate this safety feature is adjustable by the homeowner. That's right... you don't have to go to Town Hall for a permit! Oh boy... I hope I didn't give any ambitious bureaucrat ideas!

What often happens is that garage door parts become worn, and the pressure needed to close the door increases. The homeowner, faced with a door that reverses every other time she tries to close it (especially when she is in a hurry), decides to increase the closing force, and, voila, the problem is solved. Unfortunately, the cat is hasn't developed greater crush-resistance!

The homeowner should be cautious about increasing the closing force of her garage door opener,
and should instead continue reading and address the cause of the problem...
in other words, sometimes it's better to use finesse than the proverbial "bigger hammer"!!

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