Your garage door safety sensor may not occupy much space in your thoughts, but it’s more important than you might realize. Safety sensors protect you, your family, and your car from injury or damage that a malfunctioning garage door could potentially cause. Below, we’ll explain the most important information related to safety sensors for automatic garage doors, including how they work, tips for troubleshooting and testing safety sensors, standard features, and more.
What is a Garage Door Safety Sensor?
The safety sensor on your automatic garage door may be small, but it has a big job. Most garage doors weigh at least 500 pounds, sometimes more, which means they are too heavy for most people to move manually. If the door were to close shut on a person or animal, it could result in serious injuries or even death. This device ensures that your garage door operates correctly and safely, preventing it from closing shut on inanimate objects and people and reducing the chance of severe injuries or damage.
The main reasons for the malfunction of garage doors are:
Pinched Wires: In most cases, it has been found that the sensors might have pinched wires. This causes a voltage drop leading to inconsistent door operation. The only remedy for pinched wires is 100% system replacement from a thorough garage doors professional. It is advised to disable the electric opener until the repair work is done to avoid any property damage or injury.
Misalignment: Remember the sensors are just a few inches above the ground level. Hence, the chances of these sensors getting misaligned are very high if not installed by professionals. The main indicator of misalignment is blinking lights. You can either bend the bracket back to its original place or tighten the screws on the bracket. You can continue these processes until the Photo Eyes align correctly and stop blinking.
Dirty Lenses: The photo-eye of garage door sensors is made of superior-quality glass. Over time, these sensors tend to get dirty. You can manually clean it with a mild cleanser and a soft cloth to eradicate the sensor issue.
Garage Door Safety Sensors – Trial & Testing
As soon as you have diagnosed and fixed the garage door safety sensors, it is the correct time to test and take a live trial of your garage door! For that, you will require a few big size cardboard boxes. It is preferred to have big-sized boxes.
Once assembled, start the testing in the following manner:
- Start closing the garage door. Now, place the cardboard box in the path of the door. It is an obstacle for the door sensors; hence the door should instantly stop closing and commence its reversal action. If it fails, follow the next step mentioned below.
- If you see any ‘blinking’ sensor lights, realignment is needed (as per the process mentioned in the previous section).
- Now close the door again and use the second cardboard. If the box gets crushed, clean the photo-eye as per the process mentioned in the previous section.
- Next, close the garage door using a third cardboard box. Still, inspect the sensor wiring if the sensors fail to pick up the obstacle lying in their path. Are they broken or damaged? Sometimes, the moisture present in the atmosphere might short-circuit the sensors. Replace the entire garage door safety sensor set.
How Does a Garage Door Sensor Work?
How does a garage door safety sensor work? Simply put, it works by detecting the presence of objects in the path of a closing garage door and will immediately stop and reverse the door’s motion. Depending on the manufacturer, the physical appearance of a safety sensor may vary. However, most work in the same way and consist of two primary components: the photo-eye system and line of sight.
Looking at your garage door, you would see the photo eye system on each side, anywhere from two to six inches above the ground. When your garage door is open, the photo eyes send an infrared beam across the open space to each other. The infrared beam is what the safety sensor uses to detect objects in the path of a closing garage door.
Line of Sight
The line of sight component refers to the infrared beams. Once you press the “close” button on your garage door opener, the door will shut entirely as long as no objects are in the way. If there is an obstruction, it breaks the connection. Once the beam connection breaks, the sensor automatically stops the door, reversing it back upwards into the open position.
Retroreflective Garage Door Safety Sensors
While the most common type of safety sensor uses an infrared beam, there’s also the retroreflective sensor. Though this type of sensor uses the same “line of sight” and infrared beam technology, it consolidates space by having the device’s emitter and receiver in the same solitary unit. Instead of two units, one unit and a retroreflector on the other side sends the beam back to the receiver.
Troubleshooting Common Problems with Safety Sensors
If the safety sensor on your garage door is malfunctioning or broken, don’t wait another day. It’s essential to fix it as quickly as possible to ensure complete safety for you and your family. For severely damaged sensors, of course, it’s best to call a professional or purchase a replacement. However, sometimes there are minor issues you can quickly fix to get your sensor working again. Here are some tips for troubleshooting a problematic safety sensor:
Check the Garage Door Light Sensors
Problems with the light sensors are common with garage door safety devices. You can check your light sensors by attempting to close the garage door, at which point the exterior LED lights should blink and stay green. If they stay red, the garage door is out of alignment. If you notice the light staying red, check for loose mounting brackets or screws.
Reset the Power Supply
The lights on your safety sensor are integral to its operation and should always remain on. If you notice that one or both of the lights on your sensors are off, they probably aren’t receiving any power. Look for loose connections and try turning the power source on and off.
Clear Any Obstructions
Remember, the purpose of a safety sensor is to prevent the garage door from closing if any objects are blocking the infrared beam connection. It may sound simple, but things like leaves, rocks, dirt, tools, etc., can often pile up, blocking the beam from connecting. Keep the area around your safety sensor completely clear.
Another common issue that can prevent garage door openers from working is improper alignment of the sensors. Remember, the infrared beam must be able to connect for the sensor to function. So, if one of the photo eye devices is in the wrong place – such as too high or too low – it won’t be able to make the proper connection. Check that each sensor is level and making a complete connection.
Canadian and US Laws Require Garage Door Safety Sensors
Garage doors must have safety sensors; it’s mandatory under the law. As of January 1, 1993, all automatic garage doors for residential homes must follow the Underwriters Laboratories Standard for Safety, known as UL 325. The law requires all garage doors to have photo-eye safety sensors or a similar safety device.
Flash forward a few years to 2017, when Canada and the US created a bi-national standard for residential garage doors, changing the requirements for construction, installation, testing, etc. The primary purpose of these changes is to increase safety and security for families with automatic garage doors and prevent accidents from occurring.
Call Your Local Raynor Authorized Dealer Now
A garage door safety sensor uses an infrared beam to detect the presence of objects in the path of a moving door, ensuring safe operation for you and your family. At Raynor Garage Doors, we’ve been an industry-leading garage door manufacturing company since 1944, proudly serving Canada and the US. We have a stellar reputation that we’ve earned over the last 75 years of providing superior service and unmatched craftsmanship.