Garage door openers are meant to make life a little more convenient. Unfortunately, those garage door openers can also put your children at risk of injury, or even death. In 1990, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission enacted a law requiring that every garage door opener be equipped with a small sensor that prevents the garage door from closing when someone, or something is in its path.

A garage door's safety features are only effective if they are working properly, so doing regular tests of the safety features should be a part of your maintenance routine. Below, you will learn how to do just that.

Automatic Reversal Feature Test

If the garage door encounters any resistance as it closes, it should immediately begin to open. To test this feature, get someone to help you. Use a broom handle to perform the test. While you stand inside the garage holding one side of the broom handle and the other person stands outside of the garage door with the other end, activate the garage door opener.

When the garage door comes into contact with the broom handle, it should immediately begin to open again. If it doesn't, something is not working properly and the opener needs to be serviced immediately.

Obstruction Sensor Test

This is the sensor required by safety laws. You will find two of these sensors on each side of the garage opening about six-inches off of the ground. The sensors emit a beam of light to each other that, when broken, should activate the garage door reverse motion.

To test the sensors, use your broom stick to break the beam of light after you have pressed the button to make your garage door close. The very second you break that beam, the garage door should reverse and open fully.

A second test for the sensor is to place an item large enough to break the beam directly in the beam's path. You want to break the beam before activating the garage door. Once in place, press the garage door button to close it. If the garage door begins to close, the sensor is malfunctioning, as it shouldn't even move if there is an obstruction in the beam.

Garage Door Balance Feature Test

This feature is meant to prevent the garage door from slamming to the ground if the drive system should break. Test this feature by disconnecting the drive system. Open and close the garage door a few times. Does it move smoothly? Are you able to stop the garage door in several positions and keep it in that position without holding on? If the garage door falls out of position, it needs to be serviced soon.

These three features must be tested regularly. If you don't test them, you won't know if they aren't working until the features should have prevented an injury and didn't. Talk with a local garage door expert like Door Systems Inc to learn more about improving the safety of your garage door and garage door opener.