Double Glazing, Garage Doors and DIY Information

23 February 2007

History of the Garage Door - Part 3

In the final part of our series of articles on the history of the garage door, we'll talk a bit about garage door openers and the dangers garage doors can pose. Parts one and two of the series can be found here and here.

After more modern materials and designs were used, a more modern way of opening the garage door was sought. Using the latest technology of the day, electrical energy, the new garage door opener could open the garage at the touch of a button, providing even more convenience. At first, they were a luxury. However, today most homes with garages have them and in many places, almost all new homes use electrical garage door openers. Opening the heavy garage doors can be difficult and dangerous (even if the home owner wasn't aware of it), so the electric opener made life easier for thousands of homeowners. Opening these heavy garage doors was also often a problem in the rain or the snow, where one had to get out of the car and try to open the door in the freezing cold or while soaked to bring the car inside. This took time and was often impossible as in many cases the handle became "iced over" and very slippery. Today, we can open our garage doors before we even enter our driveway and take our cars inside.

The Dangers of Garage Door Openers

Garage door openers are not a toy, but to many young children, opening and closing a garage door can be fun, even though it is very dangerous. It was reported that at least 85 children in the U.S. had died or suffered permanent brain damage between 1974 and 1995, in accidents involving automatic garage door openers.

Hence, in 1993 the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the U.S. passed a law that required all garage doors to be equipped with photoelectric sensors and pressure-sensitive sensors. The photoelectric sensors were mounted 6 inches from the ground and the pressure-sensitive sensors were mounted on the bottom of the door. When either of these sensors detected any object under a garage door while it was closing, they would automatically reverse themselves and fully open.

Still garage doors are not completely safe and these sensors can function improperly. At one point, a study showed that on a test with 50 openers only 40% of them reversed and, before reversing, they exerted 130 pounds of pressure, enough to break an arm or leg of a small child. Even though we may have better garage door sensors today, it is much better to be safe than sorry.

Today, there are many styles and sizes of portable garages available. They're made from clear or colored ultraviolet-resistant, fire-retardant plastic sheeting or tarps, stretched over metal tubing. These are great for storing a boat or a recreational vehicle. You can even get an instant garage, consisting of a plastic sheet which you drape over your car. Supported with aluminum poles, it leavs about 3 feet around your car, which is then pumped up with warm air - a great place to work on your car in the winter.
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