Security issues concerning
motorised garage doors
As we are all no doubt aware, motorised doors should provide better security than manual doors, at the very least, and should not remove the security afforded by manual latching.
In the early days of automation, garage door openers were conceived to assist in the lifting of large heavy American doors. Some years later they began to be marketed this side of the Atlantic, and were most often used on the larger up and over doors such as purpose made timber doors fitted with Henderson Ultra gear and those 'battleships' that Westland Engineers produced in the 60’s and 70’s. Security was not the issue that it is today and consequently doors fitted with early chain drive or screw drive models that could simply be pushed open were accepted as the norm! Early key switches also were prone to opening the door if they became wet, and some early remote controls were available with only a few pre-set codes, and as a result were susceptible to all sorts of interference and ghost openings. Today many garages provide access to the house and an alarm system alone is not enough to protect the property because by the time the alarm sounds the intruders will already be inside! Therefore, the garage door must provide the highest degree of security as a first line of defence against intruders.
Sectional doors afford the best security when automated and there is no real need for any additional devices although a drop bolt system would provide the ultimate in security to the bottom panel of the door if fitted preventing it being forced inwards. Canopy Doors are usually held firmly closed by using a Bow Arm or Scissor Arm adapter and a conventional opener. Alternatively, the Cardale AutoGlide is good choice for certain canopy doors as it uses the existing latches to secure the door. The merits and disadvantages of such systems could be debated at length, but one fact is clear, none of these solutions allow or in fact need any extra locking to be fitted as they already provide an acceptable level of security.
The largest problem arises with horizontally tracked doors. Some modern door manufacturers supply a de-latching option with their openers and in some cases these kits can be adapted to fit older doors. Without a de-latching system a tracked door feels as if is could be opened. This can lead to problems. To illustrate, one of our members had a situation where a courier was delivering a parcel to an empty house. It was raining, so he thought he would leave the parcel inside the garage door which 'felt open'. The courier was also a body builder and with a sharp tug on the door he managed to break the motor fixings and bend the door. The parcel however stayed dry!
The movement at the bottom of horizontally tracked doors provides a potential weakness, as it is possible to force the door open using a lever such as a crow bar, or in the case of the courier, (bodybuilder or not) to force the door open manually.
There are a number of devices on the market that enable de-latching to be fitted to old doors, even to those with locking rods. Wherever possible competent professional door installers should be specifying these devices on as many installations as possible or at least be offering the customer the option.
Whilst there are many solutions on the market to the 'loose at the bottom problem' on horizontally tracked doors one of the best that we've seen is Securi-Dor. This ingenious device not only integrates the electric operator to the original manual latch system but can also be fitted to lockup garages with no alternative pedestrian access. This is achieved by adding a standard cable operated release device to the installation and the Securi-Dor will automatically unlock the side latches when the external release device is operated. Securi-Dor is compatible with all boom type operators including DC motor variants with 'soft start & stop' and will activate the existing manual locking system on any make of one-piece retractable door including those with sliding bar type locking. When fitted to current Henderson doors the device will operate all four latches. An optional floor bolt is available which can be used in addition to side latches.
Consideration should be given to the ease at which motorised doors can be opened by simply hooking the manual release cord with a coat hanger through the gap above the door, a problem that can be eliminated easily by fitting a door stop batten above the door. By offering these additions or extras and familiarising ourselves with the latest developments we can all provide a secure and versatile package for the horizontally tracked door. The manufacturers also might consider including de-latching devices on standard automatic retractable doors. Another modification they might consider, could be a plate or plastic moulding to blank out the handle and lock holes in the door panel, making it obvious that the door is automated and preventing anyone attempting to use a handle for leverage.
Security is also a problem on motorised side hinged barn doors, Operating arms for this type of door have been around for quite some time but until recently they only held the doors shut by the operating arms at the top. The manufacturers of Securi-Dor have recently introduced a side-hinged barn door operating arm kit that can automatically lock these doors at the bottom when closed.