Garage doors are on just about every residence and help to keep people’s stuff and vehicles safe. But can they be dangerous? Find out below.
What Makes Garage Doors Dangerous?
Their weight, size, and components all make garage doors dangerous. Garage doors usually become dangerous when they fail due to breakage or poor maintainence.
Are Garage Doors Safe?
Garage doors are very safe when they are functioning properly and are used cautiously. Most people, however, do not pay much attention to the warning signs that a garage door may break. If the owner performs annual inspections and does the required maintenence or repairs, then garage doors are very safe, especially the newer models.
One issue that arises is a lack of lubrication on the parts, which starts to cause problems after about 7 or 8 years of usage.
This ammount of time is enough to open and close a garage door atleast 3500 times (used twice per day x 5 days per week = 500 times per year x 7 years = 3500). Using any product this much will cause wear and tear and ultimately require maintenence, repairs, or replacement.
Safest Garage Doors
Newer garage doors are the safest, because they come a number of safety components. One that is very effective is the laser line meter on either side that stops a door from closing if an object or person gets in the way.
Older garage doors are dangerous because, like old buildings, they lack the newest safety measures. However, if they are adequately maintained, they can be quite safe, for awhile. Old garage doors will decrease the value of home, both functionally and aesthetically. In general, a garage door that is 15 years old or older should be replaced with a newer model.
The most dangerous garage door type may be the tilt-up swing garage door because the entire door swings open as one peice. It can be very heavy to lift one of these that does not have a good spring lifting mechanism. If it fails it will all come crashing down on the person opening it.
Garage Door Types
It is necessary to separate garage door types from the different styles and sizes.
Garage door types include:
Sectional Garage Doors – These are often used for 2 or three car garages and are sectioned off for one vehicle only each.
Roll-up Garage Doors – These roll up on the top of the opening and are often used in industrial spaces.
Slide to the Side Garage Doors – These are doors that open to the side, not requiring any lifting.
Side Hinged Garage Doors – These doors open outwards like giant doors, and are most often used for small buildings or sheds.
Tilt-Up Garage Doors – These tilt upwards in one section and require lifting overhead to open.
Garage Door Sizes
Single Garage Doors – Single garage doors are large enough to fit a single vehicle through.
Double Garage Doors – Double garage doors are large enough for two vehicles to get through.
RV Garage Doors – Large enough to fit a small RV or recreational vehicle through.
Industrial / Commercial Garage Doors – Much larger than garage doors on homes, they can fit large trucks and heavy equipment through.
Garage Door Styles
Traditional Garage Doors – Often made of steel or wood, they can include windows.
Farmhouse Garage Doors – These look like doors on farmhouses and have a rustic look to them. They are often made of wood and painted.
Contemporary Garage Doors – These are newer designs that match contemporary homes.
Craftsman Garage Doors – xwood garage doors, These doors typically have a set of windows along the top of the door and artisan-inspired hardware throughout. ing that enhances the straight lines found throughout the exterior of a Craftsman-style home.
Carriage Garage Doors – xstagecoach stables. They are a timeless and elegant accent for both luxury and modest-sized houses, but they’re especially well-suited for the Victorian home.
French Style Garage Doors – These have the look of a garage door on a french chateau.
Custom-Built Garage Doors – These are often used on custom designed homes.
Garage doors can be purchased that open vertically (up/down) or horizontally (left/right). Garage doors can also include insulation, which are ideal for very hot or very cold climates. Some garage doors are better for standing up to high winds, and even hurricanes.
What are Garage Doors Made of?
Garage doors are made in a number of different materials, each has its strenghts and weaknesses and offers its own aesthetic appeal.
Wood Garage Door
Wood Garage Doors – Made almost entirely of wood, these can be quite heavy and require coating or paint to keep from showing wear.
- These are made from several different types of wood, including Mahogany, Cedar, or reclaimed wood. Finished wood garage doors have a certain visual appeal, as do painted wood garage doors. However, garage doors made of wood tend to require more maintainence than one’s using other materials.
Metal Garage Door
Aluminum Garage Doors – A popular choice and included on many newer homes and buildings. They are light and strong, but may look less attractive.
- Usually made of steel, these are very strong but also heavy.
Steel Garage Door
Steel Garage Doors – Heavy and strong, steel garage doors are tough and last a long time. Old garage doors are often made of steel.
Steel garage doors are usually made of heavy-duty steel that is real-gauge and hot-dip galvanized in zinc for rust prevention. They come in one of three levels of strength:
- Triple layer
Triple layer is the best typf of steel for a garage door. Newer steel garage door are also required by many states to include wind-load reinforcement.
Aluminum Garage Door
These are made of aluminum and often include a large amount of glass or polycarbonate windows on the face.
Vinyl Garage Door
Vinyl, also called polyvinyl chloride (PVC), is a synthetic plastic polymer with useful properties including toughness, durability, and flame-resistance. For garage doors, vinyl is considered to be a more affordable optionin comparison to other materials such as wood or steel.
Vinyl also can be colored and shaped so the garage door can look like it is made of wood. Benefits of vinyl garage doors include:
- Does not require regular painting
- Rust resistance
- Weather resistance
Fiberglass Garage Door
Fiberglass Garage Doors – These are another newer type of garage door that are both light and strong, but not as strong as steel.
Fiberglass is a material made of fine glass filaments and is comparable to steel or aluminum in strength under certain circumstances.
Benefits of fiberglass garage doors include:
- Fiberglass is generally cheaper than wood.
- Can include insulating layers between the fiberglass exterior shells.
- It will not corrode due to sea air.
Wood Composite Garage Door
Wood Composite Garage Doors – These are less heavy wood garage doors made of wood composites.
Wood composite garage doors are made of recylced wood (up to 80-90%) which means it is an environmentally friendly product. They are made form mixture of wood, plastic and glue. Different types of wood particles are combined together and held with adhesive.
Glass Garage Doors
Garage doors are not entirely made of glass, but they can include large windows in sections.
Garage Door Components
Garage doors are not only the door itself, but also additional components, including:
Springs – These are strong coils that sit at the top of the door and allow the user to lift the door with one hand. They are a very important part of a garage door system. There may be secondary springs attached at the sides of the door also.
Lifting Cables – attached to the door’s springs which help to lift and close it.
Hinges – These connect section peices of the door and allow the door to bend and roll as it opens and closes. Double hinges reveal the door as higher quality.
Door Rollers – these allow the door to roll along as it opens and closes. Most rollers are small and made of steel or nylon, with nylon being a quieter option.
Door Tracks – these guide the door as it opens and closes. Door tracks are usually hung from the garage’s ceiling.
Garage Door Opener – This is the large motorized device that allows for automatic opening and closing of the garage door.
Weather Stripping – This prevents moisture, water, dust, and other weather influences from getting through the sides of the garage door.
Insulation – This can either be installed later or included on purchase. This acts as insulation during cold or hot weather.
Laser-line sensor – This is a newer component, required by law and very useful for making garage doors safe to use. This forms a part of the garage door auto-reverse system.
How Much Do Garage Doors Cost?
The cost of a garage door depends on the materials and design style. New garage doors that are ready to ship in the U.S. will start at around $300 and can go as high as $6000 if they are made of steel and include insulation.
Broken Garage Door
Garage doors can break in a number of ways. Including:
- Broken cables – these appear as one side of the door sagging lower than the other.
- Broken springs – this happens eventually and it makes a loud noise when they break. This makes the garage door very dangerous to use.
- Rollers that are stuck – these can lead to a door coming off its tracks and makes opening and closing the door louder. This is often due to improper lubrication of the rollers.
- A door that closes and reopens without staying shut – this could be due to an object infront of the laser line sensor, or the opener needs adjustment to its settings.
- Door is stuck closed or open even when the opener runs.
- Door opens but does not close – this is usually due to dirty laser sensors or something blocking the door.
- Door gets stuck or stops moving – the door may need to be realigned, or its needs lubrication.
- The remote opener is not working – this is usually due to low battery power in the remote opener.
- The auto reverse system fails – this is due to the laser sensor failing or being dirty.
Garage Door Weight
Garage doors are usually very heavy due to their size and materials they are made of. The chart below shows how heavy your garage door is, and covers garage doors made of steel.
|Size of Garage Door||Insulated / Standard||Weight of Garage Door|
Garage Door Is Stuck
A garage door can get stuck for a number of reasons. Sometimes the door can get stuck on one side.
This can be due to:
- Ice buildup on components
- Springs and drums lack proper lubrication
- The sensor is abstructed by an object
- The chain is stuck or out of alignment
- The trolley is stuck or off track
If you can’t spot the reason yourself, or need help fixing it, consider calling a professional to do it for you.
Will My Garage Door Open In A Power Outage?
Yes, but it will require do certain things manually, unless you have a battery backup or power generator in your home.
Old garage doors without automatic openers will not have this problem. However, newer homes and buildings usually have automatic openers that require electricity. This is a very convenient option and most people choose them over manually operated ones.
However, bad weather (storms, heat, ice, etc.) can cause the power to go out, which means your door will not open when you press the button.
Ways to open an automatic garage door during a power outage include:
Pull the Bypass Switch – this is in the form of a red rope attached to the garage door opener. You can pull this and it will put the garage door in manual mode. Be sure to only pull this when the garage door is down as it could come crashing onto you.
Keeping Manual Mode Activated – You can continue to pull the red rope is the power stays off to open and close the door.
Are Garage Doors Secure?
Unless garage doors are left open for anyone passing buy to go into to inspect or take your things, then they are very secure. Even so, a burglar could get into a garage from the outside if they know how.
There are ways to make your garage door more secure, including:
- Garage Door timers – these are useful if you often forget to close the garage door.
- Set your home alarm system to control your garage door.
- Never leave your garage door remote opener in your car or outside the house.
- Have a radio with music playing on low volume in your garage when you are not at home.
- Tint the garage door windows or cover them so no one can see inside.
- Secure the safety release cord so it cannot be tampered with from outside.
- Install a motion detector outside and inside your garage.
- Add a deadbolt garage door lock, similar to a securing a regular door.
Garage Door Injuries
Garage door injuries need not happen if the user is careful during operation and maintains the door properly. However, over time, all parts will experience wear and tear and need adjustments and realignments. Automatic openers without functioning laser sensors make the garage door a safety hazard.
Getting Stuck on Cables or Springs
Side cables and springs are very dangerous if one gets caught on them. This can happen to curious children, or someone reaching for a tool stored in the corner next to the door.
Garage Door Collapse
This is most often the cause of injuries outside of a person getting stuck on the cables or springs. The garage door is very heavy and when it collapses due to improper operation or failure, a person can be severely injured. The garage door may look fine but the rollers, springs, and cables could be about to break, allowing the door to collapse on anyone or anything underneath. A garage door could also come off its tracks and crash onto a vehicle or person underneath.
Being Shocked By A Garage Door Opener
A garage door opener uses battery provided electricity and can shock you if you don’t handle it propery. If it breaks open, do not touch the wires or electronics.
Garage Door Safety Tips
- Remember that garage doors are dangerous and should not be underestimated.
- Children should not be allowed to operate a garage door or play near one.
- The push button opener for a garage door should be mounted on the wall at a height of atleast 5 feet.
- Always stay away from a moving garage door, and do not go underneath one until it is stopped.
- Watch and make sure the garage door is fully opened or closed before looking or going elsewhere.
- Do not touch garage door components, wires, or rollers while it is operating.
- Do not touch the openings between door sections. Only use the safe gripping areas when touching the door.
- Keep the garage door properly maintained and lubricated.
- Do not try to repair or handle a broken garage door spring; they are very dangerous.
- Repair broken garage door windows or door sections immediately as they can throw off the balance of the door.
- Be sure the auto-reverse is always working properly.
- Do not try to race under a garage door while it is closing, and do not let children turn this into a game.
What Type Of Garage Door Is Best?
There is no simple answer to this question, which depends on your aesthetic preference, budget, regional climate, and what size you need. To decide, you may need to request the services of a professional, which can go over the available options.
What Type Of Garage Door Do I Have?
There are many different types of garage doors, materials used, and how they open. You can use the lists above to help you determine which type you have.
Can Garage Door Springs Hurt You?
Garage door springs are very dangerous, even when working properly. It is best to leave the handling of garage door springs to a professional repairman. If a garage door spring breaks when you are nearby, you could be seriously hurt or even killed.
Winding a garage door spring requires a special tool, called a winding bar. But most people do not have one and attempt to do it themselves using a screwdriver. This is very dangerous and can result in a bad injury. Again it is best to call a professional to do this.
Garage Door Spring Tension
Garage door springs hold a lot of tension in them. They have to in order to lift the weight of the garage door each time it is opened or closed. If a garage door spring does not have the right tension, it could cause the door to no open or close evenly.
A garage door spring holds mechanical energy by being tightly wound and rotating or twisting in motion. The ammount of energy stored in garage door springs can equal hundreds of pounds of force.
If a garage door spring loses its tension due to breakage, this could cause the door to fall abrubtly, risking injury to anyone underneath or nearby.
Dangers Of Garage Door Springs
Garage door springs are most dangerous when they break and the door falls on someone.
Another danger is when a person tries to fix a garage door spring on their own (DIY) without calling a professional first. Dangers of garage door springs range from simple scrapes to serious injuries or loss of life.
Broken Garage Door Springs
Garage door springs can corrode over time due to weather, rust, dust and grime, lack of lubrication, and useage.
Older garage doors will also have older springs, making them more susceptible to failure. If you have an older garage door, consider replacing the entire door altogether rather than just replace the springs.
Caught On Garage Door Springs
If you do not try to handle or replace garage door springs youself, you will not likely be caught on them.
It would be difficult to get caught on garage door springs because they are located on the top of the door on either side. Unless you are on a ladder and trying to handle them, getting caught on them is a low risk.
Caught Underneath A Garage Door
There have been many incidents of people being crushed by their garage door. Even if you are not crushed, you could be caught and unable to move. At this point you will have to call for help.
Fortunately, newer garage door have laser switches that can tell if someone or something is blocking the door’s path as it closes. If it spots an object blocking the garage door’s line, it will stop closing.
However, you could live in an older home or condo that has an old garage door, or one that is about to break. In this case, the chance of the door falling on you is very real.
Why Do Garage Doors Break?
Garage doors can break a number of ways, many of which are caused by age and use, including:
- Worn out springs
- Broken cables
- Hitting the garage door with a car.
- Garage door becomes misalinged on the track causing extra wear.
- Extremely hot or cold weather, or sea air causing rust on metal components.
- The garage door opener breaking or losing power.
Broken Garage Door Switch
Three types of garage switches are involved in their operation:
Garage Door Limit Switch
A chain driven garage door will have two small switches that keep it from rolling continuously. When one or both are broken, the door opener will continue running even after the door is fully opened or closed.
Garage Door Disconnect Switch
This is also called the bypass switch and is a red rope attached to the top of the door in the center. If this does not work, then the door will not be able to open or close independent of the opener. Its critical for the disconnect switch to work during power outages or other emergencies to open the door manually.
Garage Door Wall Switch
This will be in the form of a wall button that sends messages via wire to the door opener to open and close the door. If it is not working, it may be broken or a wire was disconnected at some point, or the home’s entire power may be out.
How Heavy Is A Garage Door?
The weight of a garage door depends on its size and the materials used in its construction. Generally, 2-car garage doors will weight between 120 and 250 lbs. For more information, see the chart above.
Garage Door Jamming
A garage door that is jamming may have several causes, including:
Garage Door Track is Obstructed – a small object may have become lodged in the garage door track preventing it from moving along it.
Garage Door Is Locked – A simple explanation is that the garage door is locked from the outside.
Garage Door Springs are Broken – The torsion or extension springs may be broken, which means the door has no power to lift.
Garage Door is Off Its Tracks – The garage door has large tracks that it runs along, and there are rollers that guide it. If a roller comes off line, the garage door may go off the tracks, causing it to jam.
Garage Door Cable is Broken – The garage door cables do the heavy lifting when propelled by the torsion springs. If they break, the garage door will not move, appearing jammed.
Frozen Garage Door
If you live in regions that get very cold during the winter months, then a garage door freezing shut is a very real possibility (and may be quite common). This is due to several reasons:
- Piled snow at the base of the garage door that turns to ice and freezes the garage door closed.
- Door panels that become frozed with ice.
- Garage door sensors that get covered with ice or snow, or crack when they freeze.
- What will not cause a garage door to freeze shut is the garage door opener, which will not freeze.
If you live in cold climates, then keeping your garage door components lubricated is very important.
Manually Open Garage Door
You can manually open a garage door by pulling the bypass switch at the center/top of the garage door. This is usually a red rope and pulling it will disconnect the garage door opener from the door allowing you to open it by hand. Just make sure only to grab the handholds to lift the door.
Electric Garage Doors
Most new garage doors have electric garage door openers. However, this makes them susceptible to power outages, which means the garage door will not open or close. This requires pulling the bypass switch to open the door manually. Another issue is the garage door remote’s batteries could die leaving you unable to open the door remotely.
What Is The Most Popular Type Of Garage Door?
Garage doors come in four main types (regardless of the material or style):
- Swing out
- Swing up
- Roll up
The most common type of garage door is likely the roll-up style of garage door. This garage door is made up of panels connected by joints that rull up or down along two side tracks. Roll up garage doors can be made of a variety or materials and in different styles.
Garage Door R Value – What Is It?
The garage door R value is a measure of the door’s ability to withstand heat transfers through the door (thermal resistance). This applies to both hot and cold air moving outwards and into your garage. If you want a door that will better insulate your garage, you should look for a door with a high R value.
A garage door that is attached to a home garage (not detached from the main house) and is also actively heated or cooled for the occupants, should have a higher R value. This will also save on energy costs for the home because the garage door will not let hot or cool air from leaving it. This is why a garage door’s R value is so important.
Garage Door Safety Requirements
Garage doors have safety requirements that were hard learned lessons over time as a result of user injuries. These can be found withing the garage door safety laws presently on the books that apply to all garage doors sold within the U.S.
Garage Door Safety Laws
Garage door safety laws have lead to modern safety features that keep users safe from any type of injury while using a garage door.
One of them is the automatic reversal system, which has been a federal mandate since 1991. If the system detects an obstruction, it will immediately stop and return the garage door to the open position.
These components still need to be checked for needed repairs regularly. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends homeowners inspect garage doors once a month to be sure the safety features are in functional.
How Often Do Garage Door Springs Break?
Garage door springs will break the more they are used and the kinds of temperature changes they face. The standard life expectancy of garage door springs is 3-5 years, or 10,000 cycles. The quality of the garage door springs also will affect their lifespan and tendency to breakage.
Can You Open A Garage Door With A Broken Spring?
Yes, but it will be more difficult. You will first have to pull the bypass switch if you have a garage door opener. However, if you try to lift the door, it may have also come of its tracks or have another reason for jamming. It may be best to leave the door alone and have a professional garage door installer inspect it first.
Broken springs can be very dangerous so it may be best to stay away from the door until you can have it checked out by a professional.
Garage Door Hinges
Garage door hinges are another part that can cause injury if not in working order. These are connecte to each panel on a roll-up garage door. Do not place your fingers near these hinges when the door is opening or closing. Garage door hinges can rust over time, so make sure they are clean and lubricated.
Ice On Garage Door
This is a cause for garage door’s to freeze shut and happen to homes in very cold climates and during the winter months. It is best to remove ice and snow from your garage door when you are at home, so you can drive in and out when you need to.
Garage Door Not Work In Cold Weather
This is likely due to a buildup of ice or snow at the base of the garage door and on the sensors. It is not likely the garage door opener, as this cannot be frozen. A frozen garage door is just one of the issues people face when living in cold climates.
Large Garage Doors
Large garage doors are also called double garage doors. These range in size, but are generally:
- 12 ft x 7 ft.
- 14 ft x 7 ft.
- 16 ft x 7 ft. – Large garage doors can fit a large vehicle or two smaller vehicles side by side.
Another large garage door typs is the RV garage door. This is large enough to fit a recreational vehicle and is both taller and wider. It will measure 16 ft x 8 ft.
A large garage door will also be heavier, and therefore more dangerous for a person trying to lift it manually.
Garage Door Height
The standard garage door height is 7 feet. Extra tall garage doors on homes can be up to 8 feet tall. Industrial garage doors can go many feet higher, usually up to 24 feet.
Tall Garage Door – Do I Need One?
A taller garage door will help you clear the opening of your garage with your car, suv, pickup truck, or your own head. There is no doubt that a tall garage door can be handy, but they are also harder to grab when you need to close them manually. Most people do fine using a standard sized garage door.
Rusted Garage Door
There are metal parts on all garage doors, even those not considered steel or aluminum garage doors. If you live in wet climates, or near sea air, rust will be more of an issue.
A big way to prevent rust from forming on garage door components is to use lubrication on the rollers, hingers, tracks, and springs. A light silicone-based garage door lubricant can be purchased at a local hardware store or online. It is best to check these components no longer than every 6 months. Ask a professional which lubricant to use and how to use it if needed.
Garage Door Code
A garage door code may be required to open the door from the outside. Make sure not to forget this code, but if you do, then you will have to reset it. You can also change yoru garage door code at anytime by following certain steps.
Garage Door Lock
A manual garage door lock can be installed on the outside of the door. This is in the form of a handle a person turns left or right and acts as a deadbolt lock. Be careful though, as a person could lock your door from the outside without you knowing it.
Garage Door Glass
Garage doors can have glass panels in various arrangements. Most common are clear panels located at the top of the garage door.
Garage door glass panels can be made of various materials, including:
- Tempered glass – resists cracks or splintering.
- Clear Lexan – a flexible glass material that is also shatter resistant.
- Insulated glass – This glass offers insulation.
- UV enhanced glass – Also called ‘bronzed’ glass, these offer good UV protection.
- Fiberglass – This is an inexpensive and durable glass option.
Glass panels can also be obscured to prevent outsiders from seeing into your garage easily.
Garage Door Manual
The garage door user’s manual has much of the information you need to operate and maintain your garage door. Especially look for the emergency release feature in the manual and how to lubricate the components.
Garage Door Safety Features
There area a couple garage door safety features included in new models. These include:
Laser line sensor – Also called an infrared motion detector, this is situated on either side of the door, about six inches above the ground. This is part of the auto-reverse function and will open the door if it detects an object such as a person or bycicle blocking the door’s path.
Emergency manual release – Also called the bypass switch, this is a bright red handle attached to a rope hanging from the garage door opener. When pulled, this will separate the door from the opener and let a person open or close the door manually. This is made to be used if someone is trapped by the garage door or a power outage prevents opening or closing.
Garage Door Torsion Springs
Garage door torsion springs are very dangerous because they store a lot of energy coiled up within them. These assist the door when it opens and are crucial to its normal functioning and ease of use. These need to be replaced no less than once every 10 years.
Garage door springs will continue to work when the emergency manual release is pulled, allowing the user to lift open the garage door easily.
If the springs are not working, it will be very evident because the door will be difficult to lift. Other signs the springs are not in good shape are when they make unusual noises or the door opens and closes slower or faster than normal.
Drive Into A Garage Door
You’ve either done it yourself, or heard stories from friends or coworkers driving their cars into their garage door. This due mostly to human error when leaving or arriving in a hurry. It is likely the door sustained some damage and will need to be inspected for broken components.
Even if the door looks fine after driving into it, it could still have problems going forwards. Call a trained service technician to check it out if you are not sure.
Hit Garage Door
If you hit a garage door with a hammer, yard tool, or while riding a bike, you could cause some slight damage. While it is likely less than driving into the grage door with a car, it is best to check the door over for any changes.
Make sure to check the alignment of the door and how it opens and closes, as this can make it more dangerous if it is not aligned properly.
Garage doors serve a very functional purpose for vehicle owners, and are considered very safe in normal operating conditions. However, the key to their safety is being adequately maintained and making repairs to them when needed, and not too long after.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.