Motorized Vehicle Door Hazards

By Steven L. Smith

Home Inspector with King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

February 27, 2016


Motorized vehicle doors present serious safety risks for consumers who are unaware of the dangers associated with defective doors. The door, in the video below, is an example of what you do not want to see happen when an overhead door strikes an object that was set flat on the garage floor.



Anybody or anything under that door would be seriously injured. This is a real world problem, I have met people who have had pets maimed or killed by unsafe garage vehicle doors. A motorized door, when it is operating correctly, will reverse at the floor level if it comes in contact with an obstacle (standard test being a 1-1/2" object such as 2x4 lumber set flat on the floor). This next video provides an example of a door that is reversing correctly.

Another standard safety test, performed by King of the House Home Inspection during the course of most inspections, involves verifying functionality of auto-reverse at mid-height.

That motorized vehicle door, smoothly and properly so, auto-reversed.

Since 1993, sensors have been required at the edges of motorized vehicle doors. Sensors must be aligned with the eyes positioned 4" to 6" off the floor. If a person, animal, or object breaks the infrared beam between the two eyes, the door will reverse.


As an additional precaution, the operator button must be within sight of the motorized door, so a person who is planning to close the door can see if someone, or something, is under the door. To guard against youngsters playing with doors, the wall button for opening and closing a motorized door should be mounted at least 5 feet above the highest horizontal surface (floor, stairs, etc.) that a person could stand on to reach the button.

Button mounted less than 5 feet above the floor

An improperly operating motorized vehicle door presents a significant safety concern; therefore, I always recommend having any defective vehicle door serviced by a qualified overhead door professional. Service should include repair of deficient safety features and checking for proper balance of the door (critical to safe operation). Most homeowners do not have the technical skills, or the depth of knowledge necessary, to repair or set the balance at a motorized vehicle door.

Notice: Performing "impact" safety tests at old doors, or at doors that are out of balance, could result in damage to doors or mechanisms. Safety testing and all repairs should be conducted only by knowledgeable and qualified persons.







March 8, 2016 King of the House, Inc