Is your garage door opener safe? Does your garage door opener malfunction often? In this article I'm going to go over the most common garage door opener issues that come up during home inspections.
Old Garage Door Openers Which Pre-Date Photoelectric Sensors
Garage door openers that are more than 25 years old typically won't have photoelectric sensors installed. These garage door openers should still auto-reverse if they hit an object that obstructs their path while closing, but the only way to know if that feature is functional is to do a live test. The industry standard test is to let the garage door opener close on a flat 2x4. If the opener auto-reverses when it hits the 2x4, it passes the test. If it doesn't, it fails the test and should be adjusted or replaced for safety. This test is actually supposed to be conducted on all garage door openers every month by homeowners. When a garage door opener is so old that it's not equipped with photoelectric sensors, we simply recommend replacement of the opener.
Photoelectric Eyes Installed Too High
The photoelectric eyes for garage door openers need to be installed within 6" of the ground. If they are installed higher than this, there's potential for a small animal or possibly a child to end up below the pathway of the photoelectric sensors. While these sensors should never be installed at the ceiling, it does happen often.
Plugged Into An Extension Cord
Extension cords are only supposed to be for temporary use, and every garage door opener manufacturer (that I'm aware of) prohibits this. An extension cord is simply one more place for something to potentially go wrong. The straightforward fix for this condition is to have an outlet installed.
Controls Mounted Too Low
The wall button for the garage door opener should be installed at least 5' above standing surfaces to help prevent little kids from reaching the button. When measuring the distance from the standing surface to the button, logic tells me to think like a kid and measure from where a kid would go to reach the button. That means measuring from the door threshold at the house/ garage common door, not the garage floor. While this isn't a huge deal, parents of young kids appreciate this requirement.
Missing Emergency Disconnect
For any detached garage without a service door, it's a good idea to have an emergency disconnect installed. Without one of these, there is no simple way to get into the garage if the power goes out, the GFCI device trips, or the garage door opener fails.