Garage Door Safety

Garage doors are the biggest, heaviest falling object in your home. While they provide added security and ease, they must be treated with respect and the safety issues surrounding their use taken seriously. Whether you have a door that opens manually or use a garage door opener, this article will give some hints on improving garage door safety.

The Garage Door Itself

The chief dangers with garage doors in and of themselves are parts wearing out and putting one’s hands in the wrong place. But it is also not recommended for homeowners to install garage doors themselves or do the yearly maintenance checks. A monthly homeowner’s check, however, is recommended to maintain garage door safety and the smooth operation of the garage door. Parts that should be checked each month include:

  • Springs—If a spring breaks, injury may result. All springs should be replaced at the same time, by a professional.

  • Cables—If the cables are frayed or worn, they can break, leading to possible injury. They should be replaced by a professional.

  • Smooth Operation—A door that does not run easily indicates some problem. It is recommended that you have it professionally checked.

  • Bottom Brackets—These are now made to be tamper resistant, but were not always. These should only be adjusted by a professional.


  • Track—If you have a new door on an old track, it requires more than normal attention.

In addition, when lowering the door manually, do not place your fingers in between door sections: use the handles or the safe gripping points to avoid injuring yourself.

Garage Door Safety: Openers

The dangers of the garage door cannot be overstated. Particularly at risk are children and pets. This is why, since 1982, it became mandatory that garage-door openers have an auto-reverse mechanism so that if the door comes in contact with an object, it will reverse the door’s direction. If you purchase a home with an older garage door opener and it does not have an automatic reverse feature, you should repair it or have it replaced with one that does. This feature is quite possibly the most important part of garage door safety.

Since 1993, an additional feature to avoid entrapment, such as a photoelectric sensor, is required. This photo eye should be installed not higher than six inches (15.24 cm) above the garage floor. If you have a garage door opener older than this, it should be replaced.

Despite the new standards mentioned above, accidental entrapment and injuries have continued to happen. Therefore, a homeowner should regularly test the door. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends checking the auto-reverse feature by placing a 2x4 board on the floor so that it is in the door’s path. If the door does not reverse upon striking the board, it should be disengaged until it is adjusted, repaired, or replaced. CPSC recommends an inspection of the door every 30 days to make sure it is functioning properly.

If the door does not open smoothly, it may be out of alignment or have some other problem. Check with a professional.

The controls of the door should be accessible only to adults. The wall switch should be placed high (at least 5 feet (1.52 m) above the floor) and out of children’s reach, and remote controls should be kept locked in the car and where children cannot reach them.

Garage Door Safety Rules

No matter what kind of garage door you have or how it is operated, some general rules apply:

  • Nobody should ever run under the door when it is in operation.
  • The person operating the door should watch it while it is moving. This provides an additional safety check should someone or something move into harm’s way.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

Related Home Institute Articles

  • Introduction to Garage Door Openers
  • Garage Door Opener Buying Guide
  • Childproofing the Garage
  • Quick Guide to Home Safety Tools
  • Childproofing the Outside
  • Organizing a Garage