Residential Sectional Garage Door and Electric Operator Checklist

The garage door systems industry recognizes the important safety role played by home inspectors. This checklist intends to help home inspectors maximize the value of their service to homeowners and home buyers. 

This checklist covers a basic inspection of a residential sectional garage door connected to an automatic garage door operator.

Serious Injury or Death May Occur

• Keep people clear of the opening while the door is moving.

• Springs and spring hardware are under high tension. If a spring is broken, do not operate the door until the spring is replaced. Do not try to remove, repair or adjust springs or any door parts or mounting surfaces, such as wood blocks, steel brackets, cables or other like items. Because of potential dangers involved, all repairs and adjustments must be performed by a trained door systems technician using proper tools and instructions.

• Proper operation of the door, operator and entrapment protection is dependent on a balanced door, an effectively working operator, and effectively working entrapment protection.

If you answered “no” to any of the checklist questions, or encounter a problematic situation with the door, you should urge the homeowner to contact a trained door systems technician for a consultation.

Items Needed

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

(1) a tape measure,

(2) a flashlight,

(3) a 1 ½” solid object such as a 2×4 piece of wood at least six inches long, and if available,

(4) a garage door remote control. Depending on the height of the door,

(5) a ladder or step stool may also be helpful.

CAUTION: The steps on the following checklist should be performed in order as listed.

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


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. 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. Warning Labels

Are the following warning labels present:

a. 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.

[NOTE:  some doors have tamper‐resistant bottom corner brackets that will not require these warning labels.]


3. 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 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 halfway open position? With the door fully closed, pull the manual release 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.

Answer the questions above.  If any of the answers is no, the door system should be inspected b y a trained door systems technician before you proceed with the inspection.  If all answers are yes, reconnect the door to the operator.


5. Wall Station Push‐Button

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

6. Photoelectric Sensors  Location

a. If present, is the beam no higher than six inches above the floor? b. 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:  If no photoelectric sensors are present, refer to the garage door operator instruction manual for entrapment protection information or recommend contact with a trained door systems technician.  The operator should be replaced if entrapment protection features are not present.


7. 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.

8. Spring and Hardware Inspection

Are all hardware parts securely and appropriately attached?    With the door in the closed position, visually inspect the springs for damage. Visually check the door hinges, brackets and fasteners. If the door has an operator, check that the method of connecting the operator to the door and to the garage walls is secure.  If the door has operator reinforcement, check that the reinforcement is securely attached to the door.


9. Spring Containment

Are counterbalance springs and their attachment components restrained by a cable or shaft?    The counterbalance system is usually comprised of torsion springs, mounted above the door header, or extension springs, which are usually found next to the horizontal tracks. When springs break, containment helps to prevent broken parts from flying dangerously in the garage. Torsion springs are already mounted on a shaft, which inherently provides containment. If the door has extension springs, verify that spring containment is present. Extension springs should be contained by a secure cable running through the center of the springs.

10. 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 door fully open. Under the center of the door, place a 1‐½” solid object such as a 2’x4’ piece of wood flat on the floor, in the path of the door. Standing inside the garage, but safely away from the path of the door, use 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.)

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

Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA):

Home Inspector – Home Builder and Building Consultant/Coach

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ YouTube Vimeo 

Click to Read Comments!


  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:

  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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Loading Facebook Comments ...

No Trackbacks.