Garage Door Sensors safety, plus tips for basic troubleshooting.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, all installed garage doors are to be tested for safety. One of the garage door requirements to be considered safe by the standards is to have an external obstruction or anti-entrapment device. Those devices are commonly known as garage door safety sensors.

You will most likely encounter two types of obstruction sensors: Photoelectric sensors and Edge sensors.

Photoelectric sensors are devices that project a beam of light invisible to the human eye across the garage door opening. If something obstructs that beam of light, the sensor will send a signal to the operator’s control board, and the garage door won’t close and will reverse back to the open position until the obstruction is removed.

Among the photoelectric sensors, the through-beam system is very common. This system has a transmitter and a receiver. Infrared light is used so that the system does not get interrupted by the sunlight. The transmitter will be sending the beam of light to the receiver, and the receiver will be sending a signal to the operator’s control board. If the motor control does not receive the proper signal because the transmitting of the beam is being obstructed by anything, the operator won’t be “allowed” to close the garage door.

The sensor units are to be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions in most cases no more than 6 inches of the concrete slab. The transmitter and the receiver must be positioned at a certain height above the ground and are well aligned. Some of those sensors are connected to the operator through wires; some are connected wirelessly.

It will be the fastest and the simplest for an experienced garage door technician to install or repair a malfunctioning safety sensor. It will also ensure your safety.

Edge sensors also send a signal to the operator’s control board but do it in a different manner. The sensor devices are installed along the edge of the garage door and signal to the operator upon direct contact with an object. The operator’s control board then receives a signal that the door cannot be closed since there is an obstruction.

This type of sensor is typically constructed with two electrical contact strips in a tube made from waterproof material. The “obstruction” signal is created by those two strips coming into contact with each other. When the sensor comes in contact with anything that creates the obstruction. The operator’s control board then receives a signal and the garage door will not close and reverse its movement.

Similarly, the edge sensors can be connected to the operator’s control board through wires or wirelessly to photoelectric sensors. So, it is safer if the sensors are installed by a professional.

Ask your garage door technician about which obstruction sensors will suit your type of garage door best.

Troubleshooting Garage Door Sensors

If you are experiencing issues closing your garage door, one of the possible reasons for the problem is your obstruction sensors. Some issues can be resolved without specialists’ help, and there are ones that will require you to call for a professional’s help. Here is a list of the most common issues you may encounter with your obstruction sensors:

  • Physical obstruction can be any item that is in the way of your sensor’s beam and “telling” it that something is obstructing your garage door from closing. It does not have to be a big item. So, first inspect your garage sensors for leaves or clatter. By removing those, you will restore the functionality of your garage door.
  • Dirt or dust on the sensors could be one of the reasons. Sometimes dirt or dust gets on your sensors and creates an obstruction of the beam. It is recommended to inspect your sensors regularly to avoid this issue. You can remove the dirt\dust\spider web off your sensors by using a soft cloth. Please be gentle with your sensors; this equipment is sensitive.
  • Alignment of the sensors. Sometimes your obstruction sensors misalign. The garage door’s vibration can cause that as it opens and closes or by an accidental strike of the sensor with a garbage bin or your foot even. One of the ways to see if your obstruction sensors are misaligned is by visually inspecting them. If one of your sensors is flickering, it may be signalling you that it does not receive the signal from its “mate.” Generally, you should be able to align your sensors on your own. If you are unsure that you can properly align your sensors, it is a good idea to contact your garage door technician and ask for advice.
  • Electrical issues or issues with wiring. If none of the above reasons resolve the obstruction sensors issue, the issue could be electrical. It is highly advised to contact your garage door technician if you suspect that is the case. In case the problem is wiring, a professional may be able to resolve this issue. If you try and fix such an issue on your own, you may put yourself in danger or damage the sensor, which could have been fixed otherwise.
  • Broken sensor; your garage door sensor could be damaged. You should contact a garage door specialist to advise if your sensor can be repaired or has to be replaced.
  • Direct sunlight: Another issue that is not as common is direct sunlight interfering with the work of your sensors. In case there are some recent changes in the landscape of your garage surroundings, like a tree that has been cut off. Then there are reasons to suspect that kind of an issue. Do not rush to replace your sensors; there may be a solution that will allow you to keep using the ones you already have.

If you inspected your obstruction sensors and they work correctly, your garage door does not close. You may need to inspect your garage door for other issues. It is highly advised that you to contact a garage door specialist before proceeding with any DIY repairs. Trying to repair your garage door on your own can be dangerous. Please put your safety first.