gary@garynsmith.net
Mississippi
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10 STEPS – HOW TO INSPECT A GARAGE DOOR

Picture of wood garage door - gary smith - home inspector
Wood Garage Door

This 10-point inspection can be performed in about 15 minutes. To conduct this annual inspection, you should have:

  • a tape measure and a flashlight
  • a wooden 2 x 4 about six inches long and the garage door remote control
  • a ladder or step stool may be helpful.

CAUTION: You should perform this inspection in the order listed below, and if you answer no to any of the steps in #3, #4 and #5, stop and call a professional garage door company.

1. Manual Release Handle

Does the door have an acceptable means of manually detaching the door from the operator?  

Begin inside the garage, with the door fully closed. Check for a manual release handle, i.e., a means of manually detaching the door from the door operator. Look for a rope.

UL 325 requires that the handle (or gripping surface) be colored red and be easily distinguishable from the rest of the operator system. The handle should be easily accessible and no more than six feet above the garage floor.

2. Check for warning labels

Are the following warning labels present:

  • A spring warning label attached to the back of a door panel;
  • b. A general warning label attached to the back of a door panel;
  • c. A warning label attached to the wall in the vicinity of the wall control button and;
  • d. Two warning labels attached to the door in the vicinity of the bottom corner brackets.

3. Inspect the door panels

  • a. Are there handles or suitable gripping points on both the inside and outside of the door?
  • b. Are these handles clear of all pinch points?
  • c. Does the door move freely, without difficulty, and not more quickly than the force applied?
  • d. Do the rollers say in the track during operation?
  • e. Does the door stay in the fully open position?
  • f. Does the door stay in the half-open position?
    • Here’s how to check the door position(s): With the door fully closed, pull the manual release (the rope) to disconnect the door from the operator.  Without straining yourself, manually lift the door by grasping the door in a safe place where your fingers cannot be pinched or injured.  Raise the door to the fully open position, then lower to the halfway open position, then close the door. The door should stay in place without your help.

If any of the answers above is no, the door system should be inspected by a trained garage door technician before proceeding with the balance of this inspection.  If all answers are yes, reconnect the door to the operator.

4. Wall Station Push‐Button

  • Does the garage door have at least one working wall‐mounted push button?
  • Are all push‐buttons mounted in clear view of the door, safely away from all door moving parts?
  • Are all push‐buttons mounted at least five feet above any adjacent walking surfaces to keep them out of the reach of children?

5. Photoelectric Sensors  Location

  • If present, is the beam no higher than six inches above the floor?
  • If not present, can it be verified by the door operator manufacturer that photoelectric sensors are not necessary?  
    • Federal law states that residential garage door operators manufactured after 1992 must be equipped with photoelectric sensors or some other safety‐reverse feature that meets UL 325 standards.
    • Photoelectric sensors will typically be found near the floor, mounted to the left and right sides at the bottom of the door opening.  
    • Measure the vertical distance between the photo-sensor beam and the floor.  
    • NOTE: The operator (garage door opener) should be replaced if entrapment protection features are not present.

6. Photoelectric Sensors Reversal Test

Does the door immediately reverse and return to the fully open position?

Standing inside the garage, but safely away from the path of the door, use the remote control or wall button to close the door.

As the door is closing, wave an object in the path of the photoelectric sensor beam.


7. Spring and Hardware Inspection

Door Operator Reinforcement Bracket

Are all hardware parts securely and appropriately attached? You want to visually inspect the springs for signs of rust and deterioration.

With the door in the closed position, visually inspect the springs for rust, damage, and general wear. Visually check the door hinges, brackets, and fasteners for loose attachments.

If the door has an operator, check that the connection to the door and the garage walls are secure.  If the door has operator reinforcement, check that the reinforcement is securely attached to the door.

8. Spring Containment

Are counterbalance springs and their attachment components restrained by a cable or shaft?

This safety cable is the containment device, as it passes through the spring.

The counterbalance system includes torsion springs mounted above the door header or extension springs usually found next to the horizontal tracks.

When springs break, containment helps to prevent broken parts from flying dangerously in the garage. If you have torsion springs, they’re already mounted on a shaft (over your door, on the wall), which inherently provides containment.

If the door has extension springs, verify that spring containment is present. Extension springs should be contained by a secure safety cable running through the center of the springs.

9. Contact Reversal Test

When the door contacts a 2’x4’ laid flat, does the door automatically reverse direction and return to the fully open position? This check applies to doors with operators.

  • Begin this test with the door fully open.
  • In the center of the door opening, place a 2 x 4 flat on the floor, in the path of the door.
  • Standing inside the garage, but safely away from the path of the door, use the remote control or wall button to close the door.

(NOTE:  The door may need servicing, based on findings in Item #3, 4, 6, 7, 8 or 9 above, before this test is conducted.)

10. Contact A Garage Door Professional


Additional Information

Fact Sheets:

Incident Data:

  • Update of Automatic Garage Door and Garage Door Openers Entrapment Incidents. October 7, 2003

Voluntary Standard and Code Activities:

  • DASMA 166 ANSI Canvas Ballot – December 15, 2006. CPSC staff ANSI Ballot and Letter on Standard for Section Interfaces on Residential Garage Door Systems
  • Correspondence to Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.
  • August 28, 2003. CPSC staff comments regarding proposed requirements for the 5th Edition of UL 325 (Reference: UL Bulletin dated June 16, 2003)

Mandatory Standards:

Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

  • For further information concerning ANSI/UL 325 Standard for Safety for Door, Drapery, Gate, Louver, and Window Operators and Systems, please contact Joe Musso at Joseph.R.Musso@us.ul.com

Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA):

Home Inspector – Home Builder and Building Consultant/Coach

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5 thoughts on “10 STEPS – HOW TO INSPECT A GARAGE DOOR

  1. Great! Am glad it was of benefit – so dangerous (these big doors). Largest moving component in the home! Subscribe to our blog and keep up with us over on our home inspection profession support website where we cover interesting topics and news/events affecting the inspection industry. The site: http://www.todayshomeinspector.com

  2. I can see why it would be essential to inspect the photoelectric sensors on your garage door. It seems like ours have recently started to break down. It can definitely be a safety hazard, so I know that we should look into having them repaired as fast as possible.

  3. I didn’t know garage doors had to have these specific 4 warning labels. I guess that helps keep their users safe. I’ll have to make sure my dorr’s warnings are still there.

  4. Gary

    This is a great article. Being in the garage door industry it is so unusual to find others who are not that have the knowledge you do. Most people never think about the fact that the garage door is the largest moving part in your home and can weigh hundreds of pounds and in some cases even 1000 pounds. When they break and come crashing down they can do considerable damage or injury.

    Glad to know there are inspectors such as yourself who are doing a complete check

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