How Garage Door Safety Sensors Work

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garage door sensor installation - Ohana Garage Door Repair

Due to safety concerns, the federal government required garage door opener manufacturers to incorporate safety measures. As a result, all garage door openers have been using garage door safety sensors since the law was adopted in the early 1990s to meet national standards.

Even though garage door sensors are essentially mainstream, many people still are unfamiliar with how they work. The primary purpose of safety sensors is to ensure that the path is clear of any obstructions in order for the door to close. Safety sensors were created to prevent any garage door mishaps which has the potential to result in catastrophic auto damage, human and animal injuries, and even fatalities.

Safety sensors employ an infrared beam to create an invisible tripwire to detect a car tire, a person’s leg, a small kid, or a pet. The sensors are typically placed 4-6 inches above the ground. When something crosses the infrared safety beam while the door is closing, it is designed to stop and reverse direction.

Whether you are engaging your garage door opener using the wall button located inside the garage, with the handheld remote in your car, via the Homelink connection in your car, an external keypad or using an app, this essential safety feature is always engaged.


Troubleshooting your Garage Door Safety Sensors

Do garage door safety sensors cease to work properly? Unfortunately, yes. Like any electronic device, over time safety sensors can begin to malfunction. Although it is not always the case, flashing lights on the sensors can indicate a problem with the sensors. Other possible sensor issue indicators are when the head unit itself flashes, or when you are unable to close the door. These indicators can have a variety of causes related to the sensors, but to learn if your sensors are functioning properly – meaning that they are keeping you safe – a simple test is all it takes.

Here’s how to determine if your garage door safety sensors are functioning properly:

  1. Open the garage door and place a box in the middle of the entryway positioned between the two safety sensors. You want to interfere with the sensors’ ability to “see” one another, so make sure the box sits higher than both sensors.
  2. Next, press the button to shut the garage door. If the sensors are functioning properly, the door should jerk and not move down at all.
  3. If it continues to close ultimately crushing the box, that needs to be addressed by a professional immediately as it is a serious safety issue!

That is when you want to call Ohana Garage Doors to properly diagnose and fix the problem. Do not delay as this can result in the type of catastrophic harm the safety sensors are designed to avoid.

But what if you aren’t testing your system and your garage door isn’t closing? What then? If when you attempt to close the garage door and it just jerks, this is usually a simple fix that you can try yourself. Try these two options:

  1. Using a soft cloth, clean the lens on both sensors removing any dust or debris that would impair its vision. Test the door again.

If that doesn’t work

  1. Look at the sensors to see if it looks like they are lined up, with an invisible beam pointing at one another. Usually it will be just one of them that will look off. Adjust it to line up with the other. Check to see if any lights are flashing on the sensor itself. Most often when the sensors are re-aligned, the flashing will stop. Test the door again.

sensors on insulated door - Ohana Garage Door RepairIf you are unable to get it to work try aligning them again, it may take several tries.

If you are sure the sensors are aligned, and you are still having trouble closing the door, it’s time to call Ohana. We will send out one of our professionals to further assess your sensors. They may need to be replaced.

More on the Need for Garage Door Safety Sensors

In 1993, the manufacturers were mandated by federal law UL 325 to integrate safety sensors that help deter your garage door from opening and closing. Additionally, the law states that these safety sensors should be able to stop the operation of the door in less than two seconds.

Safety sensors for garage doors prevent injuries while also improving the convenience and functionality of garage doors.

On top of being mandated by the law, installing garage door safety sensors has several added benefits:

  • Shield against dents and scratches for your car or other vehicles.
  • Keep your family safe from getting trapped or seriously injured. People with disabilities, young children, or pets rushing in and out of the house face the risk of accidentally hitting a door that is shutting or opening. Safety sensors reduce this risk.

Your garage door safety sensors carry out an essential task. They alert the mechanism that controls your garage door to any possible obstacles that can hinder its downward course. Garage door safety sensors are highly recommended to protect you, your family, and your pets from harm. They can shield the garage door and its mechanism from damage as well.

We do not advise deactivating the safety sensors on your garage door.

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Call for an estimate, or schedule one of our professional technicians – whether you’ve had a garage door spring break, your garage door opener quit working, your overhead doors need maintenance service, or you want new modern overhead doors for your new home. We can offer you cost-effective, trouble-free garage door solutions.

If you’d like to receive an estimate to repair or service the overhead garage door system in your home please give us a call 281-623-4335 or fill out our contact form and someone will be getting right back to you.