Car Garage Issues – CheckThisHouse https://www.checkthishouse.com Home maintenance, remodeling, repair, and improvement tips for your property Sat, 06 Mar 2021 20:54:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.16 Garage Safety | How to Really Make Your Garage Safer https://www.checkthishouse.com/6280/garage-safety-how-to-really-make-your-garage-safer.html Tue, 15 Nov 2011 00:38:04 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=6280 Garage Safety While checking the news this morning I stumbled upon this short article listing a few garage safety issues by U.S. Home Safety Council. To explore a little more their garage safety suggestions I followed a link to their website and looked at much longer list. I have to tell you that I’m disappointed after reading it. While working as a home inspector I‘ve evaluated close to 5000 properties and majority of them with car garages. In most cases there were serious, even life threatening garage safety issues involved, and yet, 3 of them have not been included in that list, part [...]]]>

While checking the news this morning I stumbled upon this short article listing a few garage safety issues by U.S. Home Safety Council. To explore a little more their garage safety suggestions I followed a link to their website and looked at much longer list. I have to tell you that I’m disappointed after reading it.

While working as a home inspector I‘ve evaluated close to 5000 properties and majority of them with car garages. In most cases there were serious, even life threatening garage safety issues involved, and yet, 3 of them have not been included in that list, part of one has been briefly mentioned.

It is not about scaring homeowners, it is about educating them. So, if the title says “Make your garage safer” and 4 major garage safety issues are almost entirely missing from the short (news article) and longer (U.S. Home Safety Council website) list… I guess it is time to fill in the blanks and complete the list.

Keep in mind, the importance of the following four garage safety categories is not based on some theory. These are the most common garage safety issues found in thousands of home garages while performing home inspections for almost 13 years.

First category covers overhead doors garage safety sensors

Garage safety - improperly installed door sensorSome of the homeowners should probably get an award for unparalleled ingenuity in finding spots for installation of those safety sensors. Despite the fact that they must be installed within 6” from the garage floor surface, across from each other on the overhead doors door jamb or side rails, homeowners put them on the ceiling beams, above the doors, tied to the garage door opener, etc. Check this article for more details: garage safety sensors

Second garage safety category is garage door opener.

Garage safety, open-close force adjustment on the garage door openerAre you aware of the fact that improperly adjusted garage door opener paired with improperly installed overhead garage door safety sensors can easily kill your child and heavily injure or kill an adult as well… Did that ever cross your mind?

Well, that convenient device hanging under the ceiling in your garage must be properly adjusted to operate safely. Without proper settings and periodical testing it might appear to be working properly, open and close the overhead doors, but without correct settings it may pose serious threat to anybody passing underneath while the door is closing. Find out more here: garage door opener safety.

The third garage safety issue is the overhead door springs

Garage safety - overhead garage door torsion spring brokenIf you have double extension or torsion springs on your door(s) and one of them cracks, the other one will not have enough power to hold the overhead door in open position without the opener. The opener will struggle while opening and closing the garage doors, eventually quitting on you. Even the garage safety has been compromised, with a stronger motor you may not even notice it for a long time.
However, if you decide to disconnect the opener (to investigate the problem) while the door is in “up” position it might come down with crushing force destroying everything in its path.

Unless you’re extremely strong (capable of lifting 400 pounds or more in some cases) there will be no way of stopping it once you pull the disconnect handle, or lifting it by yourself if the door ends up on your foot. That’s why you need to remember this garage safety item, have door springs properly adjusted (preferably by a professional) and visually evaluated on regular basis. More details here: garage door springs safety.

Finally, garage safety issue #4 – firewall separation

Garage safety - firewall drywall seams (ceiling and wall) must be taped and sealed with joint compoundFor those with attached garages this separation wall between the house and an attached garage is extremely important garage safety item. Your life might simply depend on it!

It must be properly assembled and not abused in any way so it protects you inside the house in case of garage fire or Carbon Monoxide spillage (ie. running vehicle engine). Abusing the garage firewall doesn’t really take much effort but results can be devastating. Follow this link for more information: garage firewall.

I think that the above four categories complete garage safety list by U.S. Home Safety Council.

Please, check your garage safety now.

]]>
Garage Door Sensors & Overhead Door Opener Sensor Troubleshooting https://www.checkthishouse.com/4175/garage-door-sensor-overhead-door-opener-sensor-troubleshooting.html Wed, 12 Aug 2009 02:30:46 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=4175 garage door sensor troubleshootingGarage door sensors, also called photoelectric sensors, are designed to protect people and their belongings (not just cars) by constantly checking for an obstruction in the path of an automatically closing overhead door. As soon as something is detected, the garage door sensors send a signal to the garage door opener to reverse its movement and open the door.]]> garage door sensor troubleshooting

Garage door sensors are also called photoelectric sensors, are designed to protect people and their belongings (not just cars) by constantly checking for an obstruction in the path of an automatically closing overhead door. As soon as something is detected, the garage door sensors send a signal to the garage door opener to reverse its movement and open the door.

A single pair of the garage door sensors includes a transmitter that emits an infrared beam and a receiver. In order to operate effectively, both of them must be properly aligned – the receiver eye must see the transmitter eye.

Each of the garage door sensors has a small “status” light that stays ON at all times on the transmitter side, and turns ON at the receiver side only if there’s a clear path between them. You might also have a receiver with a light that instead of turning OFF changes color to red or starts blinking when the infrared beam is broken.

Height of the garage door sensors

You should install each of the overhead door opener safety eyes (top of the lens) no higher than 6” from the garage floor surface. This is critical for small children or any individual lying down on the garage floor in the path of a closing garage door.

I would not recommend installing the photoelectric garage door sensors very close to the floor surface.

  • Placing the sensor within and inch or two from the floor might result in leafs or other small debris triggering the overhead door opener false responses.

Under no circumstances should you install the garage door sensors anywhere else. Sometimes I see them taped together on top of the garage door opener or secured to the roof/ wall framing, which creates a serious safety hazard – do not do it!

Overhead garage door sensors troubleshooting

Problem

  • When you push the garage door opener button, the door starts traveling down, but as soon as you release the button – it reverses automatically. The following are just the most common issues under the assumption that the safety eyes itself and the garage door opener are not mechanically damaged.

Things to investigate

  • Check for any obstruction in the infrared beam path, it might be a spider web, leaf, etc.

  • Check the garage door sensors lens and clean it if necessary (transmitter and receiver)
  • Check alignment of the sensors / make sure that both of the status lights are constantly ON. If they are not, try to slightly adjust the transmitter or receiver – if this works, secure them in place.
  • Wave your hand in the path of an infrared beam to see if one of the garage door sensors status lights turns OFF / changes color to RED / starts blinking

If there’s no status light on either of the garage door sensors, make sure that the wires at the garage door opener terminals and at the sensors (if not permanently attached) are secured / wiggle them slightly to see if none of them have separated / broken at the screw that is holding them.

  • It is also possible, that the wire between the overhead door opener and the garage door sensors got accidentally damaged / cut – check the entire length.

If none of the above helps to correct the garage door closing, you may need to call a professional to investigate the problem.

You can also check the overhead door opener post for more information about the garage safety issues.

I hope this will help you in troubleshooting and proper installation of the garage door sensors.

]]>
Importance of Attached Garage Firewalls & Garage To Room Entrance Safety https://www.checkthishouse.com/744/garage-fire-wall-separation-wall.html https://www.checkthishouse.com/744/garage-fire-wall-separation-wall.html#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2008 03:37:07 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=744 Garage Firewall SafetyGarage fire wall / separation wall between the house and an attached garage is very often mistreated  by the home owners. I’m assuming that they are simply unaware of the fire safety requirements and how critical it might be to gain those extra minutes that garage fire wall should provide in case of fire. As always. check your local jurisdiction requirements, because they might exceed the IRC (International Building Code). #1. Garage fire wall / separation wall – materials used on the garage side of walls and ceiling common to the house must meet certain requirements in order to slow [...]]]> Garage Firewall Safety

Attached garage firewall is a separation wall between the house and an attached garage. The problem is that this firewall is very often mistreated  by the home owners becoming a significant garage safety issue.

I’m assuming that they are simply unaware of the attached garage firewall safety requirements and how critical it might be to gain those extra minutes that attached garage firewall should provide in case of fire.

As always, check your local jurisdiction requirements, because they might exceed the IRC (International Building Code).

#1. Attached garage firewall / separation wall

Attached garage firewall material used on the garage side of walls and ceiling common to the house must meet certain requirements in order to slow the spread of fire. IRC (International Building Code) specifies that single and 2-family building must have a one hour rated surface, half an hour if an automatic sprinkler system has been installed.

Missing drywall on the attached garage firewall ceiling, below the second floor bedroom

Missing drywall, holes in the attached garage firewall - separation wall

Attached Garage Firewall Material

In order to achieve this garage wall fire rating, the house – garage common wall needs to be sheathed with at least 1/2″ thick drywall, and the ceiling surface requires minimum 5/8″ thick, type X gypsum board.

All drywall seams must be taped / finished with joint compound and some jurisdictions  might require fire rated joint tape for this purpose.

Attached garage firewall drywall seams (ceiling and wall) must be taped and sealed with joint compound

Attached Garage Firewall Material Seams and Penetrations

  • The attached garage firewall should have no missing / damaged drywall sections
  • Any penetration must be sealed (fire rated caulking would be perfect for small gaps around the pipes, air ducts, door frames, etc)
  • If the firewall is made out of brick, cinder block, stone, solid concrete, or any other non-flammable material, you’d just have to worry about penetrations

Attached garage firewall - garage to room door must be at least 20 minute fire resistance rated, or one & three eights of an inch solid core #2. Attached garage firewall – garage to room entry doors

Garage to room entry doors they must be at least 20 minute fire resistance rated, or 1 3/8″ solid core doors – no hollow core, interior type doors like the ones that you normally install in bedrooms, closets, bathrooms, etc.

Garage to room doors require proper weather stripping to create an air tight barrier between the garage and a living quarters.

No openings are permitted from an attached garage to room used for sleeping purposes!

One more feature that helps to preserve an attached garage firewall is a self closing door. Although, I always recommend it to my clients purchasing older homes, self / fully closing garage door is required on a new construction in many jurisdictions for several years already.

Attached garage firewall - garage to room entrance door should be self and fully closingI don’t think that any local code enforcement division would force a homeowner to upgrade in an older home, but it makes sense to do such an update for your own sake. It is a very small investment (around $30.00) to improve this attached garage firewall penetration, and all you need to do is replace a couple of regular door hinges with a spring type and adjust the door so it will fully close automatically.

It is for your own safety … I know that nothing bad ever happens to you, but just in case somebody forgets to turn off the car engine and leaves the door between the garage and the living quarters open … you won’t smell Carbon Monoxide …

The entry door from an attached garage to room should be slightly elevated / higher than the garage floor surfaceAttached garage firewall - many building codes require a step (or curb) at the house to room entry door and the garage floor#3. An attached garage to room entry door – its threshold needs to be slightly elevated / placed higher than the garage floor surface.

Many building codes require a step (or curb) between the house door and the garage floor. The step (min 4″ recommended, but check your local code) prevents spilled gasoline vapors from entering the house and partially protects residents from carbon monoxide fumes.

Attached garage firewall - air forced heat register open into the garage which is not permittedAttached garage fire wall - a forced air heating system distributing air through the house with a register (supply or return) open in the garage violates garage fire wall#4. A forced air heating system distributing air through the house with a register (supply or return) open in the garage violates attached garage firewall.

This is typical for older homes that often used home heating system to control garage temperature. They should be removed and the air duct opening sealed with sheet metal (at least 26 ga. steel) and fire rated caulking.

Metal air ducts exposed in the garage area should be at least 26 ga. steel to prevent attached garage firewall violation. No plastic or aluminum (thin wall or flexible type) vent hoses penetrating the separation walls are permitted – if there’s no other way to run those vent pipes, insulate it, box it out and finish it with 5/8″ drywall (Type X, taped).

#5. An electrical box installed in an attached garage firewall with another one connected to its back

Electrical boxes back to back installation with one side serving garage and other  serving the house might be forbidden in some jurisdictions. They might also not allow having an electrical panel installed inside the garage fire wall.

#6. Attached garage floor must be non-combustible material and sloped towards the floor drain or overhead doors.

I’ve seen many garages with a carpet installed …

#7. Attic access installed in an attached garage firewall.

Even if the garage attic is completely separated from the house attic or house walls don’t back-up to it, open access creates a vacuum and garage fire will be sucked into the attic – keep it closed at all times (check drawings in comment section below for some tips).

Many single story homes with an attached garage have no ceiling in the garage section and an open attic above the house. In such case the attached garage firewall / house separation wall should extend all the way to the roof decking or garage section should have a 5/8″ drywall ceiling installed.

Typical garage attic access (at least in the majority of Chicago land homes including new construction) is a square drywall section, usually set on four pieces of trim. Drywall is fine, but the trim neither provides a proper seal nor has a required fire rating … it would most likely burn within a few minutes …

Attached garage firewall - attic pull down stairs finished with a quarter of na inch thick paneling violate fire wall separation

Another “gap” in an attached garage firewall is a pull-down type staircase to the attic – most of these have only a 1/4″ or 3/8″ paneling sheet installed and rarely provide proper seal along the opening – have your local code enforcement division comment on it if your garage attic opens to the house attic space.

Many older homes do not comply with those attached garage firewall requirements, and of course – I’d highly recommend to do all of the necessary improvements – it’s better to be safe …

]]>
https://www.checkthishouse.com/744/garage-fire-wall-separation-wall.html/feed 2
Garage Door Opener Safety Manual Bottom Line https://www.checkthishouse.com/696/garage-door-opener-safety-manual-bottom-line.html Tue, 19 Aug 2008 19:05:58 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=696 There is one extremely important reason for presenting you this garage door opener safety manual.

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 post – it might be beneficial for you, especially if you have any garage door opener safety concerns… maybe because the opener has been installed by somebody else, it is old, or you aren’t sure if what you did with it is really safe.

Garage door opener safety manual is not a review of any kind, for garage opener reviews I’d recommend this free site (all types of reviews) – Consumer Search – Reviewing the Reviews.

This post is about garage door opener safety features that MANY people (homeowners / installers) neglect to install properly.

Garage door opener safety requirement;

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 feature should replaced.

External entrapment protection system refers to two types of garage door sensors:

  • Garage door opener safety sensors two photoelectric eyes 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 of the garage door opener safety sensors 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.

Garage door opener safety sensors improperly installed above the opener - at ceiling levelGarage door opener safety sensors improperly installed on top of the opener - at ceiling levelGarage door opener safety sensor on garage doors installed too high it should be 4"-6" above the floor surfaceWhat you see on the first 2 pictures is unfortunately a very common installation – two sensors taped together and secured above the garage door opener … the sensor on the third image should be lowered to its recommended location.

  • Garage door opener safety 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.

Open - close force adjustment on the garage door openerAnother of the garage door opener safety features is a reverse on obstruction setting, which must be adjusted properly.

In case this is the only garage safety feature (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 safety setting “up / down” force must be adjusted in such way, that when the door bottom edge touches some 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!

Garage door opener safety Up - Down adjustmentGarage door opener arm slide bracket at the travel limit screwGarage door opener safety – Up / Down travel

This is also very important because overdoing it, often combined with an improperly adjusted Up – Down force, might compromise the garage door opener and the door itself.

Garage door opener safety – Down travel
It should be adjusted so when the door it is in a closed position – the bottom weather strip is slightly compressed (not crushed completely).

Garage door opener safety – Up travel
When the door is fully open, the garage door opener arm bracket should never hit the opener itself or a protective bracket / screw – at the most, it should stop right before it, without actually hitting it.

The garage door opener is not a crane – it’s a device that replaces your own hand in opening / closing process. What this means is that before the opener arm is physically connected to the door, you should make sure that the door spring tension has been properly adjusted and the door is equally balanced.

If you want to test the door already equipped with an opener, disconnect the opener arm only when the door is fully closed – be careful, because some door spring tension may be too high and it could pull the door up as soon as the opener has been disconnected.

Garage door opener safety tip
When springs are properly adjusted, you should be able to easily raise / lower and stop the garage door at any height, and it should remain at this level without any assistance – stay clear of the door path and don’t place your fingers between the door sections when performing any tests.

If the door is out of balance – doesn’t act like described above – call the professional to adjust it – this is a very dangerous procedure if you don’t know what you’re doing! Few more things:

The garage door opener safety - unit powered by an extension cord which might nullify its warranty

 

Garage door opener safety – garage door opener should be plugged directly into an electrical outlet, not an extension cord, not a light fixture socket.

Latest NEC (National Electrical Code) requires garage door opener GFCI protection Not necessarily a convenience if it trips on a high ceiling installation, but there’s an easy solution, just follow the link above.

Garage door upper panel cracked in opener arm attachment area - missing door reinforcement barGarage door opener safety – any time you install the garage door opener, make sure that the upper door panel or door section (with single panel doors) has been reinforced – this applies to single and double garage doors. Reinforcement bar doesn’t usually come with the door, it is an additional piece of metal you have to pay for.

  • For a single door, without the electric opener, it isn’t absolutely necessary.
  • For a double door, I’d highly recommended one bar along the top, at least one more along the bottom edge, for heavy doors the third one might be necessary, and installed with or without the opener. Wide doors without the reinforcing bar start sagging after a while, and will most likely crack in the center of the top panel, right above the garage door opener arm attachment area.

Garage door opener safety – push button

Recommended installation is at about 60″ to prevent small children from playing with it, and in a location where you can see the overhead door when closing – Consumer Product Safety Commission

Garage door opener testing procedures:

  • Garage door opener safety – On closed garage overhead doors, carefully disconnect the opener arm (some older models might not have a disconnect option) and test if properly balanced – if not call a professional to adjust it. Springs tension should be adjusted in such way, that overhead door can be operated by hand without the mechanical opener, stopped at any level and remain there without any support.
  • Garage door opener safety – If operating properly without the opener, reconnect the arm and test it with a block of wood or better with a towel roll – adjust if it doesn’t reverse (if you open and close the garage door opener too many times while adjusting sensitivity it will overheat and stop responding until its motor cools down).

– If your garage door opener is malfunctioning or has improperly installed safety features – correct this potentially hazardous garage door opener safety condition immediately!

– If your overhead garage door opener has no currently required safety features please replace it, it’s dangerous!

]]>
Garage Door Springs Safety, Avoiding Serious Injury https://www.checkthishouse.com/656/garage-overhead-door-springs-and-more.html Sat, 16 Aug 2008 02:06:51 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=656 The overhead garage door springs safety cables missing

The major garage safety issue, and the most dangerous component of the overhead door is the garage door spring – (or springs depending on the design), which supports the entire weight of the door panels (sometimes over 400 pounds) and helps you to lift / lower the entire door assembly.

The overhead garage door is usually the largest mechanical thing around your house.

I have personally installed 3 overhead garage doors with 2 different types of  garage door springs and you do have to trust me on the following – garage door springs are under enormous pressure and you can get seriously injured or even killed when performing such work. If you decide to take your chances – it is imperative that you follow instructions to the last detail!

Even if you have a friend or a professional installing garage door springs for you, read the manual and check everything after installer finishes the job.

The garage overhead doors have no safety brakes (at least I haven’t heard about one), that would prevent it from falling down when the supporting spring fails. I’ve found some US patents for such devices, but apparently none of them was ever implemented into an actual garage door.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, garage overhead door related accidents account for thousands of injuries every year (average of 30000 per year). For example, these injuries are; fractures, crushings and amputations. It is believed that not all injuries are reported in the United States. (www.cpsc.gov)

There are basically two types of the garage door spring systems utilizing tracks / side rails (at least these are the most common types in Illinois and probably the rest of US):

1. Torsion type garage door spring(s)

Torsion garage door springs are wound-up on a rod above the garage door opening top section (door header)

2. Extension type garage door springs

Extension garage door springs are attached on either side of the door and stretch along the horizontal part of the track when the door is closed

You might also have an old, one piece door that swings outward as it goes up and overhead. This particular design will have garage door springs mounted on the sides of the door opening – at about your waist height, secured to a lever bracket system that extends the springs toward the ceiling at the door closing.

It is an old and extremely dangerous system, not manufactured anymore. If you have a such system in the garage, I’d highly recommend replacement.

Overhead garage door springs safety - broken spring 1Overhead garage door springs safety - broken spring 2* Torsion type garage door springs come in either single or double spring designs. The spring will usually break while under the maximum stress which is when the overhead garage door closes / travels down, or it is already completely closed (USUALLY). If you’re closing it manually and it happens during this operation, don’t try to prevent it from crushing down, let it go and step / jump back as quickly as you can / make sure your foot is not where the door will slam!

When one of the two garage door springs breaks you need to have them both replaced at the same time! It will cost some extra money, but having an old and new spring installed will:

– put much more stress on the new one

– the garage overhead door will loose proper balance

– the remaining garage door old spring will most likely break soon

Torsion type garage door springs for residential overhead garage doors have anywhere between 5000 – 30000 cycles life span. Those digits represent an average total number o times you should be able to open and close your door before anticipating garage door spring replacement.

Properly installed garage door extension spring safety cable 1Properly installed garage door extension spring safety cable 2* Extension type garage door springs – you might have either one or two on each side of your overhead garage door.

A critical issue with extension type garage door springs is to have a safety cable installed inside of each single spring and secured properly, so when the door opens and closes, the spring can freely slide on this cable!


When the garage door spring snaps without the cable inside, broken ends might severely injure anyone standing within their range. The cables should be always included with the overhead garage doors hardware (assuming that they came equipped with extension springs), but A LOT OF PEOPLE either forget to install them, or don’t read instructions and maybe assume that they are not required.

Replacement of torsion type garage door springs – Manual

Go ahead and carefully test your garage door springs safety.

]]>