Published at Tuesday, October 13th 2015, 22:46:55 PM by Tommy. Door Matts. RESIDENTIAL GARAGE DOORS - Personal Injury Claims Over the past 15 years, I have been involved in over 100 residential garage door injury cases and I am generally retained as the door expert almost equally by plaintiff and defense. I provide an unbiased neutral assessment of every claim. The following article is derived from various common conditions that have led to a claim. Reviewing some of the most recent resolved cases has prompted me to write this article in an attempt to provide some substantial information to others contemplating litigation. It is almost impossible to include every variation, nuance, or combination of events pertaining to garage door injuries in this short article. The cases discussed in this article are based upon multiple previous claims that are similar in nature. I am repeatedly contacted by attorneys describing the same kind of injuries involving garage doors. It is not unusual for my office to have multiple active claims with very similar circumstances. If you are an attorney considering taking a potential garage door injury case, it is probable that I have previous experience with a similar or identical situation to your potential claim. Garage Door injuries pertaining to rental properties: Amputations of toes and fingers are probably the most common injury attributed to residential garage doors. It has been my experience as the retained door expert that the majority of cases that involve these types of door related amputations occur in rental properties. Who is responsible? Why are so many claims from rental properties? • The landlord has failed to inspect the overall condition of the rental property prior to or during tenancy. • The landlord does not know, or care about the condition of the garage door. Because the property was purchased to be torn down for future development, current circumstances have created development delays so the property was rented to a short term tenant. • The property was inherited from elderly relatives that formerly lived there. The new owners are not professional landlords, and never thought that any defects of the property existed or were important. • The door operator needed replacing, but the landlord did not want to spend the money or effort as the tenant was not using the garage to park cars, only store household goods. • The door does not have current compliant safety devices installed or appropriate hardware such as an exterior door handle to move the door up or down. • Improperly maintained or deferred maintenance because of cost. • Section 8 or low rent tenancy. • Tenants have inappropriately used the garage door or created damage to the door and opener. • Parental supervision of tenant children is lacking. • Tenant did not pay the electric bill and the automatic door opener cannot function. • The owner has hired a management company that is responsible for oversight and maintenance, and does not want to provide the appropriate maintenance due to cost. • A management company provides inappropriate repairs by unskilled and untrained workers. Every garage door must be properly balanced to operate safely Many amputations of fingers and toes have occurred as a result of an improperly balanced garage door. These cases are often the result of limited interaction with a seldom used sectional or single panel door. I have been retained on many cases where a tenant only used the door a couple of times prior to sustaining an injury, but had been living in the property for a few years. In other claims, tenants attempting to exit the door as a pedestrian have had the door violently slam down on top of their head and neck or it landed on their feet, breaking bones or trapping a couple of toes, smashing them beyond recognition. Fingers have been crushed or cut off, and hands have also become crushed between the meeting sections of a sectional garage door as the door rapidly descends because of improperly tensioned, broken or disconnected springs. Tenants, attempting to fix a garage door on their own have also suffered severe injuries to all parts of the body. One tenant actually became entangled in the trolley release cord, and fell off of the ladder she was using, hanging herself in the process. Tenants often blame the landlord for their injury because the owner failed to make timely repairs. Sometimes, that blame is legitimate, as multiple requests to have something fixed have gone unanswered. Other times, the tenant was acting without allowing the landlord a reasonable amount of time to have the door repaired. Regardless, most door repairs should be made by qualified personnel or trained professional garage door service providers. In many amputation claims, disconnected or malfunctioning automatic garage door openers have meant that users have had to manually open or close the doors. Many of the people that have become injured were unaware that the door was improperly balanced prior to their incident because they generally relied upon the automatic controller to open and close the door for them. In some cases, no handle on the exterior of the door was installed. When the door was manually pushed or pulled, the tenant was unable to control the movement of the door, and inadvertently reached between pinch points (mating locations of individual sectional panels) of the moving door. In almost every injury case, the landlord has been included in the blame for the incident. In some of those cases it was determined that the tenants had abused and misused the equipment creating their own unsafe condition. Some of the injuries were directly attributed to deferred observations and no professional maintenance on the part of the ownership, while others were due to improper installation issues and bad service providers. In most of these claims, the dangerous condition of the garage door is due to deferred maintenance, missing hardware, improper spring adjustments, failed springs or cables, or defective automatic door operators. Basic components of a garage door system: There are many different types of garage doors found in residential properties. In antique homes, hinged carriage doors are often found. Sliding barn type doors were once common. As hardware was developed, pivot hinges and stretch springs allowed single panel doors to be used. Single panel overhead doors, once built on-site, have all but been replaced by factory supplied sectional doors. Sectional doors are probably the most common type currently installed in the United States. Sectional doors have a variety of benefits that single panel overhead doors lack. Sectional doors offer a variety of options in design, flexibility of installation, insulation, choice of materials, and style that were not common in the past. Sectional doors generally employ one of two types of counterbalance systems to motivate them. In certain geographic areas where cold temperatures are common, tensioned stretch springs are frequently installed. They assist the operator (manually or mechanically) to allow the sectional door to open and close without any stress to the system. A more modern and robust common system includes torsion springs attached to a rotating rod with wire cables and pulleys. In most garage doors spring tension is responsible for smooth operation of the door. The springs stretch and retract or coil and uncoil as different positions of the door are reached. In general, doors have the most tension on the springs when the door is fully closed. A fully opened door has little or no tension on the power assist springs. A properly tensioned and balanced sectional residential garage door should remain stationary approximately mid-point in its path of travel. It may drift slightly up or down, but it should remain relatively neutrally buoyant. In order for a manual garage door to become an automatic door many of the same basic spring components must be properly installed and functioning. This author has other articles of how sectional doors work, overhead door and other door related injuries. If a residential garage door is properly balanced, it is easy to attach an automatic door operator to assume the task of opening and closing the door. No properly adjusted and functioning automatic garage door controller should be able to overcome the forces of a defectively operating unbalanced door. Basic safety devices available for residential garage doors: Most new garage door operators include several safety devices to protect all users. In most basic systems currently sold there are at least two automatic safety systems to protect the public from being crushed by the closing door. • One basic function includes an automatic reverse of the door when in the opening or closing cycle. If the door encounters obstructive forces, it generally will stop and move in the opposite direction of travel. In the closing mode, the downward force is often checked by placing a small stuffed animal on the threshold floor of the garage. The motor controller has a field adjustable force control that is set to react when a soft obstruction, such as a teddy bear is slightly compressed. This simulates the potential obstruction that may be caused by a small child in the path of the downward door travel. • The second safety device, commonly in usage are photo electric beams. These beams when properly located and integrated across the full width of the garage threshold will not allow the door to close if the beam is broken by something in the threshold path of travel of the door. From the end users perspective, a basic residential automated garage door should operate without concern due to all of the available safety products. From a professional installers perspective, there are numerous requirements that need to be addressed for an automatic operator to function safely. The difference in obligation between the two is expressed in the installation manual vs the owners manual. Normally, there are several systems that need to be calibrated by the installer that the homeowner will never have any reason to interact with. That is also one of the reasons why a professional service provider should inspect and maintain an automatic operator on a routine annual basis. Initially, the door operator installer sets system parameters that assure safe operation of the automatic garage door operator. These systems need to be checked and verified for continued safe operation of the door operator by a professional trained service provider. Maintenance and homeowner obligations differ from professional service providers How the doors are professionally installed, maintained and evaluated is important. However, homeowners and tenants living in a single family home or condo should take it upon themselves to determine whether or not the door they use daily is working properly. Generally, no maintenance is ever done by most homeowners to the average home garage door, until some component fails requiring professional repairs. Tenants should quickly communicate with the landlord if problems with the garage door occurs, unless their lease agreement requires the tenant to maintain the property. Manufacturers recommend visual inspection of all attached hardware at least once a month in a residential setting. Professional annual service and tuning is suggested. In reality, I do not know many homeowners that observe, inspect, or proactively service their garage doors. Usually, the thing that promotes maintenance is a failure of some door component. The motor will stop working, a spring will break, or the door gets stuck in its track. This is not the industry suggested protocol to assure safe operation and usage of any garage door, but is all too often what takes place. Landlord responsibilities pertaining to garage doors (excluding negotiated lease obligations) In general, a residential rental property landlord has a totally different level of obligation than a private homeowner. Anytime a property is rented to a tenant, and several times during the course of the year, a thorough inspection of all aspects of the rental property should take place. The requirement for semi-annual inspections should be written into the lease agreement with the tenant. Landlords should evaluate, document, and photograph the condition of all systems (including the garage door and automatic operator) throughout their property prior to renting to a tenant. They can then compare any change or damage that can be attributed to their tenant, and verify the need for repairs prior to an injury occurring. This preliminary observation is beneficial to both the landlord and the tenant. It quantifies all conditions of the rental property before the tenant moves in, and can later serve as proof if any damage created by the tenant is disputed prior to moving out of the property. The majority of claims pertaining to these injuries have occurred in rental properties. Some reasons for these claims are listed above in this article. Fewer injury claims involve private homeowners, but these are generally attributed to new construction defects of the garage door and operator or improper installation of some garage door component by an owner or substandard professional service provider.
Published at Tuesday, October 13th 2015, 23:50:55 PM by justin. Door Matts. Save Money When Your House Sells By Inspecting The Doors Before The Home Inspector Arrives As with windows, doors come in many different sizes and materials. Examples of materials are wood, metal, fiberglass, glass, acrylic and composite. Styles include solid core, hollow core, raised panel, flat panel, louvered, bifold, bypass, accordion, pocket, hinged, tracked, fire, pet, garage, patio, "French", "Dutch", double and so forth. Each door has specification requirements for its use. With their many components and functions, doors are a bit more complicated than windows but some of the information is similar. Dont get distracted by door descriptions. When inspecting you will be looking for the physical condition and operation of the door and also making sure that the proper door is being used. Requirements for interior doors are less restrictive than for exterior doors. Exterior doors may be used on the interior of the building but an interior door should not be used for an exterior application. In other words, a hollow core door should not be used for an exterior exit door. This is not only for security reasons but also hollow core doors do not provide adequate insulating properties and resistance to weathering. In addition, a solid core fire rated door is required between the living space and the attached garage. I will elaborate more on the fire door requirements below. Begin your inspection at the front door, which is usually the first door encountered when entering the home. Look at the front door. Is there anything that jumps out at you? Is it a solid core exterior door? How do you determine if it is a solid core door? Knock on the face of the door with your knuckles to hear if it sounds solid. If you are not sure, try comparing the sound made by knocking on an interior hollow core bypass closet door. The solid core door will create a dull noise and the hollow core door will sound like a wooden drum. As you approach the door, look at the way it hangs in the jamb (the trim material that makes up the frame surrounding the door). Check the reveal (the space between the door and the frame or jamb). Is the gap in the reveal relatively even? An eighth of an inch variance in this area is common. Any more than that could be due to loose hinges, deterioration or poor installation. Next, inspect the condition of the door face or surface. Is it deteriorated, scratched or damaged in any way? Hollow core doors and even solid core doors with a veneer skin may delaminate when subjected to severe weather conditions. Are there any cracks in the door edge around the latch? Front exterior wood doors often have panels. Check to see if any of the panels are cracked or damaged. Front exterior doors may also have glazing (glass) panels. Check to see if any of the glazing is cracked, broken or has lost its seal. Is the glass tempered? Next, open the door, straddle the front edge of the door and grab hold of the knobs. Gently lift up using your legs (NOT your back or arms) to determine if the doorknob is tight and the hinges are well secured to the jamb. If you notice a lot of play or movement at the hinge area, it may simply mean that the screws are loose. Tightening them with the proper screwdriver may resolve this symptom. Sometimes the hinge screws are fine but the hinge pin may be worn. In that case the hinge may need to be replaced. Once you have made certain the hinges are secure recheck the reveal around the door. Securing the hinges may correct some if not the entire reveal problem. If the door did not latch properly before, that problem may also be corrected by tightening the hinges. Next, check to see if the door will actually latch. You would be amazed how many times I encountered doors that did not latch. The homeowners were often surprised and commented, "We never close that door." I replied, "Well I can certainly understand that but the new owners might want it to latch for some reason. Doors that do not latch could indicate a number of issues discussed below. Make a note at this point if the door does not latch. Does the door stick in the frame at any point, drag on the floor covering or bind at the striker plate of the latch? The striker plate is the metal plate screwed into the doorjamb where the latch catches to secure the door. Does the door swing open or close on its own? Is there any unusual noise or squeaks when the door is opened, closed or latched? Do the knobs and door lock operate properly or do they need some lubrication or possible adjustments? Sometimes just tightening the screws of the hardware will eliminate problems. I often noticed that when the doorknob screws were positioned top to bottom instead of side to side, the privacy lock would not work properly. Check the orientation of the doorknob screws. They should be parallel with the floor. Check to see if the deadbolt latches are able to fully extend into the mortise hole in the jamb. If the deadbolt latch does not fully extend, the bolt can be pushed back into the unlocked position. Try this if you have access to a deadbolt lock. With the door open, engage the deadbolt part way. Stop before you hear the "click" of the lock mechanism. Push on the bolt. You will actually be able to push the bolt back into the door with your finger. Push on the bolt after you hear the "click." The bolt will not move. If you are not able to hear or feel the "click" when locking the deadbolt, the lock is not properly engaged. The mortise hole in the jamb is not deep enough to allow the bolt to travel far enough to fully engage. It is not secure. Home inspectors will report on the presence of double deadbolt locks. Some will report them as a hazard. Double deadbolts are those locks that can only be opened from the outside or the inside with a key. My reports used to say this: FYI: A locked double deadbolt lock could be a hazard in the event of an emergency if the key is not available. I recommend double deadbolt locks be replaced before the home inspector arrives. Check the striker plates in the jamb. If the striker plates are loose, damaged or missing, repair or replace them. Check the jamb itself. Is it split, damaged, deteriorated or water stained? Make a note on any of these conditions. Home inspectors and termite contractors carefully investigate water stains found around doorframes. Water intrusion is a serious issue particularly when addressing walls and exterior siding. Exterior doors will need to be weather-stripped. There should not be any light passing in around the door from the exterior. Pay particular attention to the sweep at the bottom of the door. Weather-stripping is inexpensive and easy to install. The bottom sweep can usually be adjusted downward to sweep the threshold properly. Is there a doorstopper preventing the knob from hitting the wall? As you move into other areas of the building, check the condition and operation of any bifold, bypass and accordion closet doors. Along with the considerations mentioned above, they should slide in the tracks and operate with ease without coming off the track or dragging the floor covering. Broken mirrors on bypass closet doors should be replaced. When checking any interior or exterior double doors, determine if the pins of the secondary door can be properly secured at the top and bottom. Do they operate and engage smoothly? Check patio doors and screen doors for smooth operation and proper locking. Home inspectors will report missing or damaged screen doors. Patio doors often have window coverings. Many home inspectors do not report on window coverings but you should check and note their condition to be sure they operate properly. Your Realtor will usually not recommend replacing window coverings unless the home shows badly. The buyers will probably want to select their own. On many of my inspections the buyers were present. I could hear them discussing how they would redecorate the building to reflect their own personality. New floor and window coverings were almost always on the list for replacement. Realtors often suggest cleaning or removing these items but not replacing them. The glazing in patio doors should be tempered. Check for lost dual pane seals in dual pane patio doors and the fixed glazing. Fire doors are an important consideration. Such doors are located between the living space and an attached garage. They may also be located at the stairway to the basement or any other area that may contain flammable materials, a water heater or furnace. Fire doors should have an operable automatic closer that will cause the door to self close and latch when it is released. If the fire door has an automatic closer but does not latch when it is released, the closer should be adjusted or replaced. Sometimes the floor covering can obstruct the proper operation of the closer causing the door to drag. Fire doors are installed to suppress fire from entering into a living space but only for a limited amount of time. Any modifications to these doors create a possible hazard, such as a pet door. Pet doors installed in a fire door compromises its fire suppression function. I realize we need to help our pets get in and out of our buildings for obvious reasons. I have pets too, but you need to know the home inspector will write up a fire door that has a pet door installed. Some home inspectors will write up a fire door that has a door stop installed because it overrides the purpose and proper function of the door. The swing direction of a door is also VERY IMPORTANT. The code requires a 36" landing if a door swings out over a step. HAZARD A door should not swing out over a step as a person could trip and fall. This error is common when homeowner alterations are conducted. Keep in mind that we are primarily concerned with the appearance and operation of the doors. Interior hollow core doors with holes larger than a nail or screw should probably be replaced. Exterior doorjambs that are deteriorated at the threshold may also have to be replaced. Probing with an awl or screwdriver in these areas will help you determine if deterioration is present. Check all the remaining doors in the house using the same procedures stated above. Again, do not be discouraged when you find an item. That is the reason for the work you are doing. ______________________________ DOOR FINDINGS: REMEDIES AND SOLUTIONS HARDWARE OPERATION If you notice a lot of play or movement at the door hinge area, it may mean that the screws are loose. If so, tighten them with a screwdriver. A screw that will not tighten could mean that it is stripped. A longer screw may be required to secure the hinge into the jamb. Be sure to use a screw with the proper bevel and head size or it could interfere with the hinges ability to close properly. Doors that do not latch could indicate a number of issues. A very common occurrence is a door that will latch during one part of the year or season and not during another. This is an indication of normal changes in the shape of the building during temperature or humidity variations. Plumb bob The design of the striker plate will usually account for these variations unless the plate was not installed in the proper position during construction. The door may be warped or the doorframe may be out of plumb (a plumb bob or a plummet is a weight with a pointed tip on the bottom that is suspended from a string and used as a vertical reference line. This instrument has been used since the time of the ancient Egyptians by bricklayers, masons and carpenters to ensure that their constructions are "plumb", or perfectly upright. The plumb bob is still used to this day but the builders level has replaced this ancient tool in most construction applications.) Doors that bind, stick, open or close by themselves may do so for the same reason the doors do not latch. The hinges might be loose, the striker plate may need to be adjusted or the doorjamb may need to be repositioned. A qualified handyman should be able to adjust or repair a door or jamb that is out of alignment or not plumb. You could also hire a licensed contractor to refit the door. Although a bit more complicated, secondary doors that do not secure properly are usually adjustable provided the internal hardware is operating properly. Knobs and locks that do not operate properly may require lubrication. Dry graphite is recommended rather than oil based lubricants. Oil will accelerate the problem by attracting more dirt. A locksmith can help with fussy knobs and locks. Install any missing or damaged striker plates. CONDITION Jambs and Frame Cracks in the jamb and around the hinges can be filled with putty or caulking if not too badly damaged. Repainting the trim will be optional, depending on your particular situation and realtors recommendation. Door The door surface itself is often difficult to repair if badly damaged or worn. Cracks in the door edge can be filled with putty or caulking if not too badly damaged. If the door drags the floor covering or binds in the casement frame, it may have to be shaved to allow for more clearance. This can happen when new thicker flooring materials like hardwood, tile or carpet are installed. If simple repairs can bring a door back to serviceability thats good. However, if the door is damaged so badly that repairs would cost nearly as much as a new door, replace it. This is particularly true of a front door.
Published at Tuesday, October 13th 2015, 21:33:55 PM by Tommy. Door Matts. PVC, Timber, Aluminum Frames Or Frameless Patio Doors - Comparing Style, Technology And Price Yesterday, for the first time in the three years of admiring my slimline aluminium framed bi-folding doors with integral blinds, I felt dissatisfied. This is because, for past few months, I have become increasingly aware of how much more visibility I could have with frame-less double glazed doors. Time-travelling back a few years, the best option for doors between house and garden were central-opening double doors (French doors) which are still popular today. Fifty-ish years ago, sliding patio doors enabled us to embrace more light in the home. Typically, these comprised two panes of glass that could slide left or right within side-by-side parallel grooves so that, when closed, natural light and a good view could be enjoyed. To open, one door would slide to overlap with the other door so that the total width of the opening was similar to that of French doors. Another down-side of sliding doors is that they all too often became sticking doors which became worse with the introduction of double glazing, doubling the weight of the doors and reducing the glass to frame ratio. Moving forward to the next innovation... enter the bi-folding door: a combination of hinged doors that open in concertina style. Often called folding-sliding doors, bi-folds have various mechanisms that allow one side of the door panels to be guided along top and bottom runners while the remainder of each door panel is pushed out, together with its hinge-attached partner, and so on for as many door panels that are connected. In this way, a number of doors are swept aside in a zig-zag to reveal access widths of up to seven metres. Since the turn of the century, the bi folding door has become increasingly popular with home-owners modernising their houses and flats. It is also the standard for many enclosed swimming pools. Bi-folding doors are generally offered with three frame types: Timber, Aluminium and PVC. All are available in different qualities and therefore the prices vary. When comparing the cheapest PVC or wood-framed door sets from a D.I.Y. store with made to measure bi folding doors from a specialist manufacturer, remember that the built-to-order price generally includes installation by experienced bi folding door fitters. Other points to consider may include the origin of your custom built doors. • Are they made locally or imported? There could be unforeseen delays if the measurements are inaccurate. • Does the company use an experienced team or cheap, untrained labour for installation? • Is the Company established with a good reputation, in case something goes wrong? Timber Good quality wooden frames look good in traditional homes. Hard woods, such as teak and oak are more expensive than soft woods but are also more resiliant. Timber frames are more prone to weather conditions - sun and rain can take their toll - swelling, shrinking or warping the frames, making the doors difficult to open or close and facilitating draughts. Stained or painted, wooden frames are high maintenance compared with aluminium or pvc. Aluminium The term thermally-broken aluminium basically means that the aluminium exposed to the temperatures on the outside of the frame and the aluminium on the inside of the frame are separated by a non-conductive material so that heat or cold doesnt pass through. Aluminium itself can be quite ugly therefore the aluminium frames are powder-coated in a polymer that provides a smooth, warm finish. Colours can be added to the coating to produce a virtually maintenance-free frame (it will need a wipe now and then) in white, graphite, silver, green, brown, blue or up to almost 200 colour choices - including purple, orange, red or pink. Barbie and Jordan would love that! PVC Often available in wood-grain finish as well as white, PVC door frames vary from cheap and nasty that will probably be a nightmare to open and close, to metal-reinforced, high quality systems. The better PVC bifolds have many of the qualities of aluminium bifolds, such as low maintenance and good performance - but the frames are always wider, detracting from the potential view when doors are closed, and the profiles are also wider, reducing the access space when open. Frameless For character homes, frameless glass doors are the stunning alternative to the traditional. For contemporary homes, there really is no alternative - this is it! The ultimate Lifestyle choice. Instead of having to consider the safety of natural wood versus repercussions of fashion fopars with copper, graphite or plum finishes, choose frameless. No frames. Evolving from bifolds, an absence of side frames meant having to develop a method without hinges. This is achieved by having a main door that pivots open at right-angles just like a regular door, enabling each of the remaining doors to slide across the gap left by the open door and also pivoting at right-angles, to rest against the previous door. In this way, maximum access is achieved when all the doors are fully open. And when the doors are fully closed, there are no frames to disturb the view. It should be noted, however, that because patio doors are double glazed, there is a small interruption between closed doors where the gasket seals the vacuum between the outer and inner glass panes. Internal & Commercial Frameless As a footnote, if you want frameless glass doors as internal room dividers, conservatory doors, doors to an outbuilding or on commercial premises, such as a removable front wall of a café, single glazed doors can be fitted. Not only are there no side frames but there is no gasket - just edge-to-edge glass (unbreakable quality, of course). The price of frameless glass doors is a fraction over the cost of good quality bifolding doors. Browse the internet for photographs and companies that offer comparative, no-obligation quotations. Meanwhile, Im wondering whether I should close off the kitchen with a frameless glass room divider - the dishwasher is quite loud sometimes...