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A Quick Maintenance Checklist for Your Garage Door

by Charlie Brown on Nov 5, 2014

You probably have never given your garage door a second thought.  It does its job day in and day out - it opens and closes.  What more is there to think about?  The most important thing you CAN think about - safety.

While an automatic garage door may seem safe, maiming injuries and some deaths (mostly to children) occur every year.  Although this is not a common occurrence, it's not something to take lightly.  The garage door is the heaviest and largest moving object in your house, and because of its automated convenience, more often than not, it is the most often used entrance.

Making Your Garage Door Safer

The first thing you must do to make sure you have the safest possible automatic garage door is to install a modern system, as it will meet the current safety standards for consumer products.

For example, since 1993, all garage door openers have sensors that detect whether there is anything in the door's path, reversing the door before it hits whatever's in its path.  Older systems often didn't reverse until after impact, if at all.  If your garage door is older than 20 years old, it's time to replace it.

The second thing you can do is to test your garage door regularly.  When problems are detected, perform repairs and regular maintenance.  Your owner's manual should give you recommendations as to what basic procedures you should follow.

The third thing you should do is teach your kids to treat the garage door as a potentially dangerous device, and not a toy.  They shouldn't run under it as it closes.  Teach caution.  To childproof your garage door, place the keypad out of children's reach.

If an accident occurs, and someone is pinned down by the garage door, it is necessary to be prepared and know how to use the emergency release.  Consult your operating manual, but in most cases there is a short rope hanging from the operator motor that you simply pull down.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8d/Garage_door_sliding_up.jpg

Testing Your Garage Door

It may be difficult to tell whether your garage door is an original or a replacement, especially if you live in an older home.  If you look up the model type listed in the owner's manual, you may be able to find the door's manufacturing date.  However, if that information is unavailable, there are some tests you can perform to figure out whether there is a reversing mechanism in place, or if it's a new model in need of repair.

1) Check the balance.  Begin this test with the garage door closed.  Trip the release mechanism and maneuver the door by hand.  A balanced door will lift smoothly without much effort.  It will stay open about four feet off the floor.  If letting go causes the door to fly up or down, the balance is in need of adjustment.  Be sure to have the tension changed by a qualified service contractor.

2) Check the force setting.  You can test the force setting of the garage door opener if you hold the bottom of the door as it closes.  Apply moderate resistance.  If the door doesn't reverse, the setting is most likely excessive.  Be sure to consult your owner's manual for help adjusting this setting.

3) Perform a reversing test.  Simply lay a 2-by-4 block on top of the flat path of the door and close the garage door.  The door should reverse upon hitting the block.  If not, you either need to repair the opener (if it's modern) or replace it (if it's older and doesn't have the reversing mechanism).

Performing Basic Maintenance

Manufacturers recommend cleaning the tracks and applying a light machine oil to everything but the plastic pieces.  Maintaining your garage door opener will keep it running smoothly for years to come.

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