What is a Containment Cable and Why Did My Home Inspector Write This Up?

This photograph may not look like much, but it represents one of the stark realities of home inspection.

Home inspectors are constantly calling out safety items in our home inspection reports and of the millions of repair items called out over the years, most are unlikely to ever hurt, injure, or kill. The reality is, many home inspection findings are low-probability findings that come with high risk consequencesJust a few examples include: 

  • Missing GFCI protection for electrical circuits – could result in electrocution and even death
  • Missing graspable handrails for stairs – could result in an injury or death from a fall. Don’t believe me. Google “stair accidents in America.”
  • The fire separation in your garage – this could buy enough time for fire fighters to respond to a garage fire and this could save your entire house.
  • A missing discharge tube for a water heater relief valve – water heaters can become explosive and literally shoot through your roof and knock a house to the ground.

While many clients of home inspectors appreciate this level of detail and attention to modern safety standards, I have received my share of eye rolls over the years for pointing out a low probability high risk type finding. This can become exhausting, but home inspectors must remain vigilant. You never know when one of these small silly items could injure or kill. This leads to the wake-up call I had the other day on a home inspection.

Even Low-Probability Events Happen

If I just did a handful of home inspections in my career, it would be likely that the safety items noted in my report would never hurt anyone. However, when you factor in thousands of inspections and the millions of people who live in homes, these accidents will eventually happen and this photo illustrates how important it is that home inspectors remain vigilant despite the frequent eye rolls.

This photo shows a solid wood occupant door between the garage and the house. What happened at one time is that the spring for the overhead garage door broke and shot across the room and hit this door hard enough to leave a dented imprint of the spring as well as a deep gouge. This was located basically at head height.

Needless to say, if someone had been standing there it would not have felt good. It could have easily injured or killed the owner of this home.

Keep Your Family Safe

To prevent this from happening, we install containment cables in our garage door springs now. Containment cables are wire cables that run inside the spring and prevent the spring from shooting across the garage. These simple safety devices can save your life.

Not all garage doors employ a spring system such as the one shown below. But if you have springs such as these on your overhead doors, consider installing containment cables. They are inexpensive and a great modern safety feature that can keep you and your family and other guests in your home safe.