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What are Garage Door Safety Sensors and how to Troubleshoot Them

Here is everything you need to know about garage door safety sensors.

Garage doors, while incredibly convenient, are also substantial moving objects that, without proper precautions, could pose potential risks. This is where garage door safety sensors come into play. Safety sensors keep the garage door from coming down on someone or something, causing serious harm or damage. Issues with garage door safety sensors do tend to be a cause for garage door repair. In many cases though, the issue can be taken care of by the homeowner. If you’re a homeowner who’s unfamiliar with these sensors, it is a good thing to learn about them so you can help keep your garage door running smoothly and without issues. Here is everything you need to know about garage door safety sensors. 

What are Garage Door Safety Sensors?

Garage door safety sensors are small electronic devices attached near the bottom of a garage door track on either side. Their primary function is to detect obstacles in the path of a descending garage door and send a signal to the garage door opener to reverse or stop the door’s movement, preventing potential accidents or damages.

Why are They Important?

  • Safety: The sensors play a crucial role in preventing accidents that could harm children, pets, or even adults who might be in the door’s path.
  • Protection: By reversing the door’s movement when an obstacle is detected, the sensors prevent potential damage to your vehicle, belongings, or the garage door itself.
  • Mandatory Installation: Since the early 1990s, U.S. federal law has mandated the installation of safety sensors on all newly installed garage door openers, underscoring their importance.

How Do They Work?

Each sensor contains either a light source (typically infrared) on one side and a light detector on the other. When something blocks the beam of light between the two sensors, the detector sends a signal to the garage door opener to halt or reverse its motion.

Troubleshooting Garage Door Safety Sensors

If your garage door isn’t closing properly, there’s a good chance there might be an issue with the safety sensors. Here’s how to troubleshoot common problems:

  • Obstruction in the Path: The most straightforward issue could be an object blocking the sensors’ path. Ensure there’s nothing between the sensors, even small debris or cobwebs.
  • Sensor Misalignment: Over time, it’s possible for the sensors to get knocked out of alignment. Ensure both sensors are facing each other directly, with their light beams meeting. You can typically tell they’re aligned when the indicator light on each sensor is illuminated steadily, and not flickering.
  • Dirty Lenses: Dirt or grime on the sensors’ lenses can disrupt their function. Gently wipe them with a soft cloth to ensure they’re clean.
  • Wiring Issues: Inspect the wires connecting the sensors to the garage door opener. If they appear damaged or disconnected, this could be the cause of the problem.
  • Replace the Sensors: If you’ve tried the above steps and the sensors still aren’t working, they may be faulty and need replacement.

Maintenance and Saftey Tips

  • Regular Testing: At least once a month, place an object like a cardboard box in the door’s path and attempt to close it. The door should reverse. If it doesn’t, there’s an issue with the sensors that need attention.
  • Keep the Area Clear: Regularly check and ensure that the area around the sensors is clear of debris, toys, tools, etc.
  • Professional Maintenance: It’s wise to have professionals, like the team at Stateline Garage Door, conduct periodic maintenance checks. They can spot and fix potential issues before they become significant problems.

When to Call in Professionals

While basic troubleshooting can often be done by homeowners, some problems require professional attention:

  • Persistent Malfunctions: If you’ve attempted to address the issues, but the sensors continue to malfunction, it’s best to call in experts.
  • Electrical Problems: If there are visible signs of wire damage, or if you suspect electrical issues, it’s safer to have professionals handle the problem.
  • Replacement: If your sensors need replacement, professionals can ensure they’re correctly installed and aligned.

In Conclusion

Garage door safety sensors are small but vital components of your garage door system, ensuring both safety and functionality. While basic troubleshooting is often simple, remember that garage doors are complex systems, and there’s no harm in seeking professional assistance when in doubt.

If you encounter persistent issues with your safety sensors or require a professional eye, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at Stateline Garage Door. Your safety and peace of mind are our top priorities.