If you're an older homeowner who lives in an area recently affected by burglaries, you might install an alarm system in your home to stay safe. But one of the most vulnerable areas of your house, one you might forget to protect, is your garage door. Criminals can gain access to your house through your garage door.

Eagle-eyed criminals can spot damages in your garage door you might not see yourself, including cracks in the door's panels and deteriorating wood around the lock. Even an outdated garage door opener can give criminals access to your home if they manage to crack your codes.

Take steps to keep your home, loved ones, and valuables safe with the replacements and upgrades below.

Replace Your Door's Paneling

Whether the weather brings rain, ice, snow, or heat, your garage door's exterior panels are exposed to the elements all through the year. Door panels may also take a beating from strong winds during intense seasonal storms. Additionally, you can dent or nick your panels if you accidentally drive your car into the door or bump the door with your lawnmower.

Damaged or weakened door panels become easy targets for criminals. For instance, a burglar may pull off a panel to reach the emergency latch on the inside of the door. A criminal may also access a damaged panel with a coat hanger and use it to manipulate the latch. This type of crime takes only about six seconds.

A bad guy may also use brute force to kick in a damaged door panel. If the crime occurs in the middle of the night or very early in the morning, you might not hear the break-in happening until it's too late to react. Many home invasions occur during the night or on the weekends, and this timing can make the crimes even more frightening to homeowners.

Contact a garage door specialist and have them replace your current panels with stronger panels. A contractor will also inspect the entire door to see whether it requires additional replacements, such as a new lock or rollers. If the panels and other parts have substantial problems, replace the entire door as a precaution.

Upgrade Your Remote Opening System

Criminals don't always use coat hangers or brute force to open garage doors. Some tech-savvy individuals use electronic devices called "code grabbers" to gain access to homes that use old remote openers. As long as they can pick up the electronic signals from your garage door opener, these thieves can operate code grabbers from any location on your street.

Code grabbers work by jamming, stealing, and storing the electronic signals given off by fixed code remotes. Once you leave home for the day, the thieves release the stolen code and use it to lift up your garage door.

You can keep criminals from gaining access to your garage by upgrading your opening system. Some upgraded openers use Wi-Fi enabled devices like smartphones to raise or lift garage doors. The devices connect to your home's wireless service or security system, depending on the setup you choose.

If you feel uncomfortable using Wi-Fi with your garage door, you can use a remote opener with Wi-Fi capabilities. These types of openers have simple features, such as an arrow pointing up for the "lift" position and an arrow pointing down for the "lower" position. You can always discuss your options with a contractor if you can't decide on the right opener.

If you would like to learn more about protecting your home, loved ones, and valuables from criminals, contact the specialists at Affordable Garage Door Repairs . Safety should always come first when it comes to your garage door.