If you have watched any garage door repair tutorial or read any article online giving you tips on how to fix a garage door problem, you have probably come across a warning which states, “garage doors can cause severe injury or even death.” But how true is this? Can a garage door kill you?
Not all types of garage doors are dangerous enough to kill you. However, when a hefty overhead garage door falls on you due to a broken torsion spring or wrong force adjustment, it can lead to severe injury and even death. Also, lead-based paints on older garage doors are poisonous, and at high levels, can kill.
The garage door is a piece of equipment in our homes that require regular attention to perform as it should without any issues. However, most homeowners never bother to inspect it until it breaks down. And this can lead to a catastrophe. Let’s take a look at some factors that can make a garage door lethal and ways to prevent
Factors that can make a garage door kill a person
Here are factors that can make a garage door lethal
Broken garage door spring
The garage door spring is one of the most important parts of the garage door. The torsion spring (or extension spring) is responsible for the actual heavy lifting of the door. You probably thought the garage door opener lifts the door. While that is partly true, it merely gives the door a pull or a push to open or close the door, respectively.
When the door is in the fully closed position, the garage door spring winds up, which creates stored mechanical energy in the springs. As you lift the door, the spring unwinds, and the energy is transferred to the door, making it easy to raise the door.
The problem comes, however, when the garage door spring breaks while the door is up. That is because there will be no energy to keep the door in the fully open position. When this happens, the door falls at full speed straight to the floor.
Imagine a 330 lbs heavy garage door coming down at full speed. If someone is at the doorway, say a child or even an adult, this can cause a severe injury, or worst-case scenario, kill the person.
Wrong Force Adjustment on Garage Door Opener
A force adjustment setting refers to the energy that is giving to a garage door opener to lift or drop the door without issues.
Older garage door openers have a manual force adjustment dial used to increase or decrease the force required to open or close a door fully. It is usually set when the garage door opener is installed, and then periodically adjusted to compensate for changes in the garage door’s mechanics.
When the force is set too high, it can lead to serious issues. What are they?
First of all, a high force setting means the garage door opener will have too much energy to operate the door. This will make the garage door move faster than it should, and because of the excessive force, the door will smash onto the floor. Not only can this damage the door, but if someone is in the way of the door, that person can get severely injured or even die if the impact is great.
Also, the safety reversing feature of the garage door opener will stop working when the force setting is set too high.
When the garage door halts without reaching the fully closed position, a safety feature in garage door openers reverses the garage door within 2 seconds. It assumes an obstacle is in the way of the door. This feature has prevented a lot of garage door injuries and property damage since its implementation.
However, if the force settings are set too high, this feature will fail to work. This means if your child or your pet, for some reason, is in the way of the garage door while you close it, it can lead to a sad event that could have been prevented.
Older Garage Doors and Openers are Lethal
Older garage doors were usually painted with lead-based paints. This has been proven to be a very hazardous chemical for our health. It can cause disabilities, seizures, and even in extreme cases, death.
Lead-based paints are no more in use because of this discovery. However, you will still find them on old structures such as siding windows, walls, and even garage doors.
In 1991, garage door opener manufacturers were giving a directive to include safety features in their products. All garage door openers, which have been manufactured since then, came with safety sensors that detect obstacles and prevent the door from closing.
Garage door openers, which were manufactured before then has no safety features, and this makes them very dangerous to use. It’s even more critical if you have kids or pets.
How to Prevent Garage Door Injuries and Deaths
According to a report from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), over 2000 people visit the hospital every year due to garage door injuries. Several deaths, especially among children, are reported every year, which are caused by the garage door. This is quite alarming, considering the fact that it could have been prevented.
You always want to ensure every part of your home is safe for you and your family. This is why you need to take these necessary steps to ensure any injury caused by the garage door is prevented.
So what are some of the things you can do to prevent this from happening?
Perform Routine Inspection and Maintenance on Garage Door
If you want to minimize garage door injuries and potential deaths, take time to inspect your garage door components and accessories. Make it a routine, at least twice a year, to check the safety sensor, the garage door cable, rollers, garage door tracks, the spring, and any other essential parts. Look for any signs of damage, potential wear and tear, and rust.
Once you identify a problem, get it fixed if you can, or call a garage door technician to handle it.
Here are some of the common problems that hinder the performance of the garage door
- Bent garage door tracks
- Faulty garage door rollers
- Unbalanced garage door
- Broken garage door cable
There is more, but here are the common ones.
If you have a problem with your garage door cable, I recommend you read this guide to fix it in a few simple steps.
Why is this important?
All these problems have a direct impact on the lifespan of the garage door spring. That’s because they put extra stress on the springs. So you want to make sure you fix it as soon you can
Perform Safety Reversal Test Often
I can’t stress this enough. The safety reversing feature is one thing you always need to ensure it works. It will save you and your family at a time you least expected. As a rule of thumb, perform the safety reversal test every month. So how do you perform a safety reversal test?
- Open your garage door
- Place a 2” x 4” piece of wood on the floor, under the path of the garage door
- Close the garage door
- When the door gets in contact with the obstruction, it must reverse within 2 seconds
- If the door stops and does not reverse you need to increase the down travel of the garage door opener
- Repeat the test till the garage door reverses when it gets in contact with the obstruction
Replace Old Garage Door Opener
For the safety of you and your family, I recommend investing in a new garage door if you own an opener that was manufactured before 1991.
Older garage door openers are literally traps, and, honestly, you can never be too careful.
You need a garage door opener equipped with all the latest safety and security features. An excellent option is the Liftmaster Elite Series 8550W (on Amazon). This garage door opener comes with all the safety features, including a safety reversal feature and a safety sensor to detect obstructions. It also supports a battery backup, which will keep your garage door and all safety features active during power outages. Also, if you are keen on garage door noise, then this garage door opener is excellent. That’s because it’s a belt-drive opener, so it does not make noise at all when in operation.
Repaint Older Garage Doors with Lead-Based Paint
You need to get your old garage door repainted right away if it is painted with lead-based paint.
If you love to DIY, this is not the project for you. Kindly leave this for a professional to safely remove the paint from the door and have it repainted.
Depending on the material used on your door (metal, wood, vinyl, or fiberglass), there is a different method for lead paint removal. Which is why I recommend you hire a professional.
Educate your Children on Garage Door Hazards
Children are at high risk of getting injured or potentially killed by the garage door. They are not too strong and are just not too conscious all the time.
In fact, there is a dedicated site educating people on garage door child safety, which you can check out and read more.
But in a nutshell, make them aware of the potential dangers of playing in the garage and around the garage door. Instruct them not to tamper with any of the parts of the door like the garage door keypad, remotes garage door cable, and the like. Also, keep an eye on them when you can, anytime they are playing in the garage.
The way a garage door operates is a very well-engineered process. However, it comes with some setbacks; Setbacks that can be very detrimental to your lives and that of your family. I hope you take the necessary steps outlined in this post to prevent any unwanted garage door accidents.