Garage Door Opener – Safety Manual Bottom Line

Having a Garage Door Guys opener has become so standard, that I rarely see a garage door without it. However, because it is a mechanical device, and if improperly installed, combined with a 400 pounds garage door (give or take some), it will hurt you badly! It might even kill you! There is a well known phrase – “if it works, don’t touch it” (or fix it) – but maybe there should be also another one added to it “if it was properly installed”…

Most of us hate instructions but please stay with me till the end of this article – it might be beneficial for you, especially if your garage door opener has been installed by somebody else, it is old, or you aren’t sure if what you did with it is really safe.

There are many different types of garage door openers and this is not a review of them.
This is about safety futures that MANY people (homeowners / installers) neglect to install properly.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires that all garage door openers manufactured or imported after January 1, 1993, for sale in the United States are equipped with an external entrapment protection system. It also recommends, that any garage door openers without a such safety future should replaced. External entrapment protection system refers to either:

An electric eye – two photoelectric sensors installed on both sides of the garage door track – they should never be installed higher than six inches from the garage floor (4″-6″ is the recommended location). Such installation ensures that a small child cannot crawl under the sensor’s invisible beam. When the light beam is broken during the door closing process, the door should stop and reverse. If there’s anything on the sensor light beam path or both sensors are out of alignment, you’ll still be able to close the door by holding the wall button – correct the problem instead of forcing the door to close. I’ve seen so many garages used as storage where it is impossible to see the lower section of the garage door from the area the push button has been installed, so you might not know what’s blocking the light beam. Believe it or not but I often see two sensors taped together and secured above the garage door opener … or installed very high on both sides of the garage overhead doors opening. Remember – safety sensors must be installed within 6″ from the garage floor level to prevent small children from crawling underneath the light beam – having them on the ceiling is just asking for a accident to happen.

A door edge sensor – commonly used on elevator doors, but also in some residential garage door openers – it’s a strip installed along the bottom edge of the door. When it detects pressure applied by any obstruction, it should stop and reverse the door.

The garage door opener reverse on obstruction future must be set properly. In case this is the only safety future (no door edge sensor or photoelectric eye) – it becomes critical. It is also critical in situations where an electric eye has been improperly mounted (too high or in a different location – like on the pictures above). There should be a couple of adjustment screws on the body of the garage door opener assembly, usually marked “down force” & “up force” or “open force” & “close force” (just like on the picture). Make sure, that you’re adjusting the proper set of screws, because many models of garage door openers will also have “up / down travel” adjustments – read the label. Always follow manufacturers instructions when doing adjustment, if the paperwork is gone, look it up online for that particular model. The general rule is to place a 2″x4″ block of wood underneath the door and try to close it. The garage door opener down / up force must be adjusted in such way, that when the door bottom edge touches the obstruction, it will immediately reverse. Some recommend using paper towels rolls instead of a wooden block, because it has a density similar to the human body, and especially small children. If you can get the garage door opener sensitivity adjustment that close, it would be perfect!