When Buying A Pre-1993 Home, Check The Garage Door's Auto-Reverse Feature

Posted on: 29 March 2016


When buying a house, there are a litany of things to check. You'll want to make sure the garbage disposal, the doorbell and all of the toilets are in proper working order, among other things. One thing that many homeowners overlook is the garage door opener. If you're buying a home that was built prior to 1993, here's why you need to also check the garage door and how to do so.

Implementing Auto-Reverse Regulations

You shouldn't just check the home's garage door opener for functionality, but also for safety. Specifically, it's important to make sure that the opener is equipped with a working auto-reverse feature.

Homes built prior to 1993 may not have an auto-reverse feature on their garage door opener, because there weren't requirements to include these features. New garage door regulations were passed by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1993 that require garage door opener manufacturers to include an auto-reverse feature on their openers. Openers made prior to the regulations' enactment, however, are exempt from this requirement.

There are three types of auto-reverse features that a garage door opener may be equipped with: a constant-contact control button, an electric eye, or a contact sensor.

Checking Constant-Contact Control Buttons

Constant-contact control buttons are installed on the wall of the garage, and they must be held down to close the garage door. If the button is released, the door will stop closing. Since holding a button down is inconvenient, these are less common than electric eye auto reverses.

Testing a constant-contact control button is easy. Simply start closing the garage door, and then let go of the button. The door should stop closing immediately. If it doesn't, the auto-reverse needs to be fixed.

Checking Electric Eyes

Electric eye auto reverses use a laser, or electric eye, to make sure nothing is in the door's path. The laser is located a few inches off the ground and goes across the garage door opening. Should anything break the laser's beam, the garage door will stop closing and begin opening.

To check an electric eye, begin closing the door, and then break the laser's beam by waving an object like a magazine through it. If the door doesn't stop closing and begin opening, the feature isn't working.

Checking Contact Sensors

Contact sensors are able to sense when a garage door is in contact with an object. If they feel resistance when the door is closing, they'll stop the door from closing and make it start opening.

You can test a contact sensor by pushing against the bottom of the garage door lightly with an object while it's closing. You shouldn't need to use a lot of force to get the door to stop closing. As with electric eyes, you should use an object to push in case the sensor is faulty.

Checking Pre-1993 Homes' Garage Doors

You should check the auto-reverse feature of any home's garage door. When buying a pre-1993 home, though, you need to do more than see whether the feature works. You first need to make sure the garage door has an auto-reverse by looking for a constant-contact control button on the wall, electric eye near the floor or pushing against the door to see if it has a contact sensor. If you find one of these features, test the reverse using the appropriate method described above. If the garage door has never been replaced, it may not have a feature. If it has one, the feature may not work properly.

If a home you want to buy doesn't have a working auto-reverse feature on its garage door, bring it up with the seller before closing. Ask them to either install a working auto-reverse feature or lower the closing price by the cost of such a feature. You can get a quote on how much it would cost to install one, by contacting a garage door repair company in the area. Because these are now required on garage doors, you'll likely be able to negotiate either solution with the homeseller.