A garage door is a heavy, expensive, and sometimes lethal part of a home. Therefore, it’s important to check to see that is in acceptable working order when you do a home inspection.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission made automatic reverse features on garage doors a national law back in 1992. Thus, no matter what state you work in, the garage door must have a working reverse sensor.
The ASHI standards of practice require home inspectors to only inspect garage doors, not test them. However, you cannot determine whether a reverse mechanism works without testing it.
But first, you will want to make sure the door itself works. Like a heating or air conditioning system, you can’t know without turning it on and off.
Check the Garage Door Remote
So first, use the switch in the garage to open and close the door. Make note of any abnormalities, such as extreme rattling or shaking, screeching, clanging or other concerning noises. Once you’re satisfied that the door does, in fact, go up and down, test it again with the remote opener.
A remote opener is an important piece of the garage door. Without it, the homeowner must get out of the car to open the garage door, and when it’s raining, snowing, or cold, this chore is even more annoying.
There are many reasons a remote starter may not open the garage door. The batteries may be dead, or the signal between the remote and the sensor may be blocked by something as simple as dirt. Sometimes the code needs to be reset. Whatever the problem, the homeowner should resolve it before transferring the home, even if it means ordering a new remote.
Testing the Reverse Feature
Assuming you can get the garage door to go up and down with either the button inside or the remote, test the reverse feature by putting an object in the door’s path. Never use an object that you have found in the home, no matter how useless it looks to you. Use a piece of lumber you have brought with you.
As the door descends, wave your hand under it before it hits the wood — the door should sense this as well and immediately reverse. If it does not, make a note and recommend the door be inspected by a local reputable garage door repair service.
The ASHI reporter details some rare instances in which doors have been damaged during testing. If you, as a home inspector, are concerned about this, you can decline to test the door or add something into your contract that releases you from responsibility if the door is damaged after testing.
The Danger of Torsion Springs
Also, try to determine how old the door is and when the last time it was serviced. The torsion springs that help the garage door move are under a great deal of pressure, and a mishap with this part can cause severe injury and even death. That’s why it’s recommended that homeowners do not try to replace these parts themselves unless they have the proper training.
CNN reports how the torsion springs on a garage door in Orlando simply gave out one day, allowing the door — likely several hundred pounds — to come crashing down. A reverse function will not protect people in this circumstance.
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