Garage door safety sensors have been mandatory on all garage door openers since 1993.
Whether mechanical (where physical impact forces the moving garage door to reverse), or photoelectric (where an infrared beam acts as an invisible trip-wire), either system needs to be working flawlessly for your garage door to operate as safely as possible. In this article, we’re going to share a few tips with you on the photoelectric, or ‘eye-beam’ sensors.
These garage door sensors work when electricity is transformed into an infrared beam of light. This light is emitted from one side of your garage door from a sending unit that sits 4 inches up from the floor. It sends the beam of light to a receiving unit on the other side of the garage door.
If either the sending or receiving unit is misaligned, the sensor will signal a problem with a light flashing on the wall-control, installed close to the entry door to your home. If this occurs, the garage door will reverse. The only way to override this is to hold the open/close button on the control panel.
To avoid crushing injuries, the door will stop abruptly and reverse. Unfortunately, misalignment of the garage door sensors will cause the door to behave erratically. If your door shows any of these problems, consider examining your garage door sensor for obstruction or misalignment:
● Sudden stops and reversals
● Flashing lights, either on the overhead part or on the sensors themselves
● Opens but does not close
Most of the time, misaligned or improperly operating sensors are caused by human error. If the sensor is accidentally hit for example, the photocell system could be misaligned.
However, other causes can include:
● Repeated garage door operation can cause the sensor to vibrate out of alignment if the mountings aren’t tightly secured.
● Dirt on the sending or receiving sensors can break the beam of light.
● In rare cases, sunshine can confuse the mirror in the receiving sensor, making the unit think that the sensor beam has been broken.
Fortunately the remedy for misaligned or obscured sensors is straightforward. You will only need a few tools:
● A screwdriver – examine the sensors to see if you need slotted or Phillips head screwdrivers.
● Cleaning products – an all-purpose cleaner and paper towels help clear the work area and keep the lenses clean.
The steps are simple:
1. Time your work so that you’re working in the shade. Infrared sensors can be fickle and may be thrown off by strong direct sunlight.
2. Disconnect power to the sensors.
3. Clear the area around the sensors and make sure the ‘eyes’ of the sensors are especially free of dirt.
4. To re-align the beams, keep the wall control in your field of vision (or ask a friend to help) then slowly move the sensor unit. If the beam is misaligned, a red LED light will flash. You simply have to move the sensor until the flash stops, then tighten everything up.
A pinched wire can drop the voltage to the sensors so they operate sometimes but not others. If this is the case, you cannot service the sensors yourself, as the casing are sealed. You will either have to completely replace the beam system or contact your nearest garage door specialist. However, for most garage door sensor problems, simply re-aligning them will give you worry-free service for the life of the door.