Garage Door Openers Must Now Have a Battery Backup in California


I live in a neighborhood vaporized in the 1991 Oakland (California) Hills fire. All 40 townhouses in our association were wiped out at the same moments, leaving cracked foundations and essentially nothing else. The fire even consumed the pavement in the street. Two people died on my block, in their garage. The units were all rebuilt at the same time, and none had a handle on the interior side of the garage door. I put one in on my house, and suggested to my neighbors that they might do so as well, and even offered my help doing it. No takers. None!

So, here we sit, in a wild fire zone, on a slide prone hillside, 2000 feet from a very overdue fault line. Every house occupied, and you all know about the price of real estate in the San Francisco area, so it’s clear someone wants to own these houses. No amount of legislation will make us safe.


My mother lives in CA, on her own now. She’s 5 foot 3 and all of about 99 lbs. Even if she could reach the rope pull to release the opener, I doubt she’d have the strength to open the door by herself. If her life depended on opening that garage door chances are she would die.

And with that I still think it’s stupid to require a battery operated backup.


OK, once more just to clarify. A regular garage door has helper springs to allow opening the door with little effort. A balanced door will open easily. I don’t have handles on mine but have slide locks that can serve as a handle if I need one. That’s your standard door in use since who knows, 1950 before they had door openers.

So now if you add a motor to open the door, you have not changed anything on the door, but you are just using the motor to open it. It does not have power to lift a door that is not adjusted (or at least is not meant to). By pulling the rope, you are just back to the standard ways doors operated in the old days before people needed openers so they wouldn’t get wet.

I’ve got three doors on four stalls, two of them with openers and one without. I’ve installed openers and replaced springs and cables.

Now everyone, this afternoon, go pull the cord on your opener and open your door to see if its balanced. If not, call a guy for Monday.


They’ll do that before requiring car owners display license plates …

Yesterday (8.24.18) "Police in Northern California are now looking for five men who robbed an Apple store.
It happened at a store in Corte Madera which is north of San Francisco. When officers arrived, they learned that five suspects ran in, grabbed small electronics from two tables worth $19,000. As the suspects were running out witnesses were able to take a picture of a few of them.

The crooks ran outside to a black Honda sedan with a taped-over license plate. "


I assume that Californians can still opt for manually opened garage doors like in the good ol’ days when electric garage door openers were status symbols for the upper middle class.

Another pleasant valley Sunday
Here in Status Symbol Land
Mothers complain about how hard life is
And the kids just don’t understand


Wow how did people ever survive without electricity, running water, buses? Some extremists think that if we are hit with an EMP and our power grid is knocked out, half the population would perish within a year. I laughed, but man if you can’t even find your way out of a garage, I don’t know.


Getting out of the garage isn’t that’s hard, but getting the car out so you can drive away from the fire isn’t nearly as easy. If the circumstances were dire enough, I think I’d just drive through the door if it wouldn’t open. You can outrun a fire in a vehicle, but not on foot.


Unless there’s a huge fire evacuation traffic jam.


A properly lubricated door with non-binding and properly adjusted springs should need nothing more than a finger to raise or lower it or to operate the safety lever.


That’s exactly what happened here. The traffic jam killed a lot of folks.

A neighbor told me when they tried to dive down the hill and out of the fire the smoke was so dense people stopped in the road because they could not see where to drive. He remembered there was a W rail along the side of the street, past the sidewalk, so he drove over the curb and crept along until he hit the rail, then drove down the hill scraping his car along the rail, pretty much on the sidewalk. There’s a phone pole at one point, so when he hit the pole, going very slow, he just backed up, edged around it, and hit the rail again, and slid down the rest of the way. And lived to tell me his story. The moral of the story is don’t give up until you’re dead.


Good point. Lest we forget that if NO electricity to property, the (small battery-powered) hand-held remote is also useless.
The manual override system is as basic as it gets. The rope (which should be nylon or poly) will NOT break - no more so than on a pull-start gas mower (which is used far more often).
Then, with the rope disengaging the upper track lock lever, someone else must go to the back of the garage, grab on to a secure vertical part of the door and LIFT. Once up a bit, the bottom of said door can be used to lift the rest of the way.
Point of note: as the manual latch is set to automatically re-apply the lever-lock (upon release of rope) - and - if you are doing this alone, you must figure out a way to keep the rope ‘tight’ and the lever open - before heading off to door area. Suggest find a heavy enough object or tool to tie on to loose end of rope. Good luck and let’s all stay safe.


What in the world are you talking about ? Once the release rope is pulled it will not lock on again until the door catch hits it or it is reset.


You are sooo smart - Hokey!


If that is the case with your garage door opener, adjustment is needed so that the manual latch WILL NOT automatically re-apply the lever-lock (upon release of rope)


I guess just to clarify, I was talking about the standard modern roll up sectional door, not the old style one piece doors that swing in. Maybe they still use that style door in California. I really didn’t notice garage doors when I was there.


That style is still commonly seen in older homes in the SF Bay area. Rarely seen even in older homes in Colorado where I lived prior; snow would block the door from opening.


Seems like to me it should be something like a PSA (Public Service Announcement) about the possible need for a battery backup. They should also add reading the directions about how to disengage the door so it can be opened manually could possibly be a life saver. The garage door makers or owners should change ones that have a rope to something stronger like a chain etc. Anyone who has an electric garage door should do the same. For example, people that live on the coast, like Houston and hurricane Harvey, when flooded electricity goes out and it could block another escape route if needed.


If you are referring to the pull rope on the release mechanism if really does not take much of a pull to disengage it. A chain is not needed.