Guide to Garage Door Safety and Maintenance

Did you know that a garage door is often one of the largest moving objects in the home, weighing hundreds of pounds and lifted overhead several times per day? Garage door safety should be a consideration of every home that uses one. Proper installation and ongoing maintenance are both required to keep your garage door working safely and reliably. This is our top concern at Barton Overhead Door and we have written this guide to better inform you about garage door safety and maintenance.

Just as you do regular maintenance your car to keep it running well, it is a good idea to also regularly maintain your garage door. A small investment of time upfront can save you a lot of trouble later on by minimizing the risk of sudden failure. The purpose of regular maintenance is to ensure that all the parts of the door are functioning properly and in good condition. This can also reduce the noise from your garage door. Below, we have provided a small checklist of the safety and maintenance steps recommended by our company and the International Door Association. It does not take long to run through this list and we recommend doing it regularly.

Garage Door Safety and Maintenance Checklist

  • Garage Door
    • Visual Inspection
    • Lubrication
    • Door Balance
  • Garage Door Opener
    • Reversal Test
    • Force Setting Test
    • Additional Safety Devices

Visual Inspection and Lubrication

The best place to start is with a visual inspection and lubrication. This inspection can identify small problems before they become large, costly repairs. For example, a dent in a door can usually be fixed with a strut but can turn into a crack and require a new garage door if left untouched. The list below gives a few pointers to help with your next visual inspection and lubrication of your garage door. Remember to be safe and follow all of the manufacturer's recommendations, as not all garage doors work in the same way. A video explaining some of the steps can be found here.

These are the different areas that need to be inspected and maintained:

  • Tighten bolts and screws as needed. Do not adjust any red screws, as they are critical parts of the torsion spring system and under tension.
  • Check that all rollers are working properly. If the roller has a flat side or uneven wear, replace it.
  • Check all hinges for any deformity or cracks.
  • Check that the tracks are in alignment with the proper spacing and not bent.
  • Check that cables are not frayed or worn.
  • Check that all of the ceiling mounts for the track and opener are tight and strong.
  • Lubricate all moving parts, following the manufacturer's instructions. We recommend Barton Pro Lube, available at our Modesto and Sonora locations.

Door Balance Test

It is also important to test the balance of your door to make sure that the torsion springs are working properly. A video of the process is posted here to help. Start with the door closed. If you have a garage door opener, disconnect it by using the emergency release mechanism as shown in the owner's manual. Lift the door up manually, being careful to not move under it or get any fingers pinched between the panels. The door should lift without a lot of force and stay open about 3 to 4 feet above the floor. If it does not open easily, smoothly, or stay open, there is a problem with your door's balance. This is unsafe as the springs are not working properly and may cause injury and damage upon failure. We recommend using our service professionals to diagnose and possibly replace your garage door springs, as these springs are under extreme tension and can be very dangerous to work with. For more information on our services, see our page on spring repairs.

Garage Door Opener Safety

It is never safe to walk underneath a moving garage door! This includes playing the game of pushing the wall button and running out of the garage before the door closes. This can result in serious injury or even death. Not worth it! Because of these dangers, children should never be allowed to play with a garage door opener. There are many parts of a garage door that may have pinch points or moving parts that could cause serious injuries. As a precaution, it is good to know how to use the emergency release on your garage door opener. Proper placement of wall buttons and use of remotes can reduce the risk of anyone walking underneath a moving garage door.

Reversal Test

First, perform a reversal test by taking a 2x4 (or 1.5 in. thick board) and laying it flat under the door. Close the door using the opener and it should reverse upon hitting the 2x4. If the door does not reverse, it does not pass the safety test and needs further attention. If the door reverses on the 2x4, move on to the force settings test.  Please refer to the owner's manual or give us a call about setting the proper garage door opener force.

Force Test

Different manufacturers have different recommendations for testing the force and it is best to follow these. The basic idea is finding how much upward pressure is needed on the bottom of the door as it closes until the opener reverses. If it is very hard to reverse, the force settings are too high and need to be adjusted. If the opener reverses properly with your upwards pressure, the door passes the force settings test. This information is in your garage door opener manual. Again, please refer to the owner's manual or give us a call about setting the proper garage door opener force.

Additional Safety Devices

As the last step, check that an additional safety device is present and functioning properly. All garage door openers should be equipped with some additional safety sensor, such as photo eyes or an edge sensor (most newer openers require these to function). For most photo eyes, this means making sure that they are clean, positioned correctly, and working properly. The photo eyes should be installed 5" to 10" off the ground, one on each side of the door. Test the safety devices to make sure that they are working and will reverse the door when triggered. If no additional safety devices are present, we highly recommend upgrading to a new garage door opener to keep your household safe.


We at Barton Overhead Door want you and your family to be confident that your garage door is safe and in great condition. Regular maintenance, when done right, can also help your door work much better and last considerably longer. If any issues come up during the maintenance and safety checks, please address them as quickly as possible! Thank you for reviewing this guide to garage door safety and maintenance and feel free to give us a call! We would love to answer any questions you may have.

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