Thursday, June 12, 2008

Shoring Up Your Garage Door

If your garage door is 10 years old or older, you may need a new one or an added entrapment protection system to keep your family and visitors out of harms way.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Deadline Newsroom - Even garages get their day, well, actually 30 of them.

June is Garage Door Safety Month, but that doesn't mean you should relegate one month to the topic.

The idea is to give a month of concentrated attention to fact that the garage door is likely the largest moving object in the home, it's typically used every day and can be potentially lethal, especially to small kids. It always needs attention.

Since January 1993, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has required that all garage door openers have an external entrapment protection system. This typically is some electronic eye or sensor that will trigger the door to brake and reverse itself before it hits anything detected in its path.

It prevents accidental entrapment, injury or death.

Many older garage doors are quaint fixtures providing good architectural form, but their function may allow them to reverse only after a collision -- and that can be quite a hard crash -- or they don't reverse at all. If your garage door is more than 10 years old, consider upgrading, says the CPSC, and replace pre-1982 garage door openers that do not reverse.

The mandate for the improved safety feature in current standards has significantly reduced personal injury and property damage so much so that in 2001 the standard was extended to include automated security gates that are increasingly common at the entrances of multifamily housing communities.

An optional safety feature includes a constant contact control button which requires a person to hold in or onto the control button continuously for the garage door to close completely. If the button is released before the door closes, the door reverses and opens to the highest position. The remote control transmitter will not close the door with this option. However, the hands-on option allows -- or forces the operator to see -- that the door is closed with no one in danger of collision or entrapment and that no one unwanted has ventured inside.

The mandate also calls for manufacturers to include a sticker warning consumers of the potential entrapment hazard. The sticker is to be placed near the wall-mounted control button.

As an added precaution, you should mount the keypad wall control out of children's reach -- at least five feet from the floor -- and in a location where users can clearly see the moving door.

CPSC also says you should also test your garage door each month. Your owner's manual or manufacturer can provide you with the testing procedure specific to your garage door make and model. It will also provide safe operating times, maintenance you can perform, emergency procedures and other safety tips.

During the monthly testing you should also visually inspect the garage door, its springs, cables, rollers and pulleys for signs of wear. Do not attempt to remove, adjust or repair these parts or anything attached to them, because the parts are under high tension. A trained door repairman should make adjustments or repairs.

Other safety tips from CPSC the International Door Association (IDA) and the Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA) include:

• Keep kids well clear of garage doors. Don't let them beat or bang on the door or operate it with the control panel or remote control. Teach kids to not to place their fingers between the door sections or consider a door that doesn't pinch.

• Never leave the garage partially open. When activated again, it may travel downward and come in contact with an object in its path. This is also a home-invasion security risk. To prevent security risks, don't leave the garage door unopened when the garage is unattended.

• Never leave the remote control in the car or with a parking attendant. If its stolen, the thief has easy access to your home. Consider using a key chain remote programmed to your vehicle.

• Unplug the garage door opener and use an optional system that renders the remote unusable for periods when you are away.

• If your opener does not have rolling-code technology, which changes the access codes each time the opener is used to prevent code grabbing, consider investing in a new system that does or remember to regularly change the manufacturer's standard access codes on the opener and remote control.

• Read about other home safety, security and health issues on DeadlineNews.Com.

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service, and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's new backshop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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