What does your garage contain? Maybe you’ve tucked away a few boxes of holiday decorations, random garden tools and enough sneakers for a high-school track team. It’s not unusual for a typical garage to accumulate so much stuff that there’s no longer room for a vehicle.
But among your family’s benign belongings, there may be items that present hazards. From old landscaping chemicals to leftovers from a home remodel, garages often house dangerous items. And it’s not only what’s in your garage that can be unsafe. The door itself poses a risk.
A garage is one of the most dangerous places in a house. It often contains three types of hazards:
- The garage door.
- Flammable substances.
- Hazardous chemicals.
You can make your garage safer by purging what you no longer need and properly storing dangerous or flammable substances. Maintaining your door, testing its safety features and repairing malfunctioning components will go a long way toward preventing accidents.
Let’s start our tour of tips beginning with the garage door.
Basic Garage Door Safety Tips
The garage door is most likely the largest and heaviest moving object in your home. The garage door is most likely the largest and heaviest moving object in your home. It’s not something to which most to which of us pay much attention. But we should. Many homeowners use the garage door as the primary entrance. If you don’t maintain it, that heavy, moving, overhead object poses a safety risk.
Garage Doors Are Not Toys
Children may be fascinated with automatic garage door openers. It can seem magical to see a big door rolling up or down at the push of a button. If your child is interested in the remote control, teach them how to use it but don’t let them play with it. Show them how the remote works. Emphasize the dangers of a closing door and explain that people or pets can be hurt by the door. Set the ground rules for opening and closing the garage.
You should do a visual inspection of your door from time to time. Check your door once or twice a year or if the door is making unusual noises or no longer moves smoothly. Look for loose bolts or fasteners, a spring that appears broken or damaged or any parts that have worked themselves loose or become crooked.
Lubricate the moving parts of the door once a year. Some parts of the door, such as the photo eyes, should be cleaned a couple of times a year. Learn which parts of the door should be lubricated and which should not by reading our blog on that topic.
A garage door may become unbalanced. To check the balance, begin with the door closed. Open it manually. If the door is properly balanced, you’ll be able to move it smoothly and with relative ease. If it’s difficult to lift, call us to take a look. An off-balance door may fall.
Check the Safety Features
All modern automatic openers are required to be manufactured with certain safety features. These features prevent accidents. It’s a good idea test these features from time to time since they can malfunction.
Older doors may not have these safeguards, or they may no longer work. Ponderosa will test your door for safety and make repairs as needed. You can check a door yourself by doing the following.
Test the photo eyes: The door’s so-called photo eyes are near the floor on both sides of the door frame. The eyes are detectors that “see” anything in the path of the closing door. The sensors shoot a beam across the door frame. If a pet of child break the beam is broken, the door won’t open or close.
The eyes can become dirty or get out of line with one another. Dust the eyes as needed. Test the sensors by opening the door and placing a cardboard box between the eyes. Try to close the door with the remote or keypad. If the door closes, the eyes aren’t working. You may be able to realign the sensors yourself. The eyes should be across from one another.
Test the automatic reverse system: This system stops the door if it encounters something as it goes down. It’s meant to keep people, pets and property from getting damaged.
You should test both that the system works and that it doesn’t exert too much pressure before the door stops and reverses. Place a cardboard box under the door but not in the path of the eyes. Close the door. When it touches the box, the door should stop and go back up. If the box is crushed before the door reverses, the pressure setting should be adjusted. We can adjust the settings for you or you can read your manufacturer’s manual and make the change yourself.
Storing heaters and flammable materials in the same area is dangerous, but it’s all too common in a garage. You may have a space heater, a water heater or a furnace in your garage. You may also have leftover paint, gasoline for the lawn mower and various solvents.
Take steps to ensure that you’re following common-sense safety guidelines:
- Store combustibles such as solvent, oil-based paint or stain away from the heater or other heat sources. Be sure to close and seal containers with flammable substances.
- Oily rags can spontaneously combust. Prevent this dangerous possibility by storing oil-soaked rags in a metal bucket sealed with a lid. Don’t ever keep oily rags in open containers of in a pile.
- Stock the garage with safety equipment. Place a fire extinguisher near an exit. Be sure you have a working smoke and carbon monoxide detector in the garage.
In addition to combustible materials, garages often contain a random collection of dangerous chemicals. You may have everything from half-used containers of automotive fluid to poisonous pesticides. Sharp landscaping tools, saws, knives and other items also reside in the garage.
Store all these things out of reach of children and pets. Keep toxic substances in their original containers with labels visible. Properly discard hazardous materials if you no longer have a use for them. Contact your county’s transfer stations to learn how to dispose of hazardous waste.
Keeping your garage safe is a matter of being organized, educated and diligent. By inspecting the contents of your garage and the components of its door, you’re on the way to keeping your family out of harm’s way.
Please call Ponderosa if you suspect a problem with the garage door. The springs of a door are under high tension and may cause serious injury.