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Garage Door Photo Eye Troubleshooting

garage door photo eye

If you notice your garage door isn’t working and suspect it has something to do with the sensor, you may be interested in learning how to fix a garage door photo eye sensor.

The photo eye sensor is one of the most important parts of your garage door system. These sensors sit either side of your garage door, near the ground. They shoot an invisible beam between them, which will sense if something is between them as it breaks the beam. When the beam is broken, it will not allow the door to close until the obstruction is moved. This keeps you and your family safe, as well as avoiding any dents in your car.

Sometimes though, the photo eye sensors will experience problems. In this article, we’re taking a closer look so you know how to fix a garage door photo eye sensor.

Garage Door Photo Eye Troubleshooting

It’s easy to know if the photo eyes aren’t working, as you’ll find that your garage door won’t close even if there’s nothing in the way of the door.

You may also find that the door auto reverses and opens, every time you try and shut it. Fortunately, this isn’t a difficult problem to fix.

Here’s how to fix a garage door photo eye sensor in 7 easy steps.

1. Check The Photo Eye Is The Problem

Firstly, you need to be sure that it is the photo eye that’s experiencing problems. You may find that the door won’t shut because it’s stuck in the tracks. This happens when there’s a bend or dent in the track, stopping it from moving. You may also have a bent track if the door squeaks when you open and close it. This is another issue that’s simple to fix, so check for it first.

You’ll know the photo eyes aren’t working as they should if the door won’t shut when you try and close it. You may also find that the door makes a clicking sound, or that the light on the garage door opener is flashing. If this is happening, it’s time to troubleshoot.

Related: How to Tell if Garage Door Sensor is Bad

2. Check For Obstructions

When photo eyes are working as they should, you’ll find that any obstruction in the door will stop the door from closing. You’ll usually assume that an obstruction means a car parked halfway into the garage, or someone standing in the doorway. However, something else could be breaking that beam and stopping the door from closing.

The photo eyes are more sensitive than you think, so take a look around and see if anything is sitting near the door. Boxes and other items stored near the door could actually be interfering with the beam. Move them away and try the door again, to see if that solves the issue.

3. Check For Lights

Each garage door photo eye should have a small LED light on it. This indicates that the sensor is on and working as it should be. Take a look at your sensors. You may well find that one has a light that’s on, and the other’s light is off, or flickering. This is a sign that the sensor has been bumped and so it slightly out of place. This is very easy to do when you’re walking into your garage, or carrying items in.

Try moving the sensor slightly on it’s mounting, to see if you can make the light come back on again. In some cases, you’ll see that this slight adjustment is enough to get it working again as intended.

4. Clean Your Sensors

The reason your photo eye sensors aren’t working could be because they’re simply dirty. Being so close to the ground, it’s easy for them to get covered in dirt and dust over time. This is especially true if the weather is wet and you’re driving past them to put the car in the garage.

Take a look at the sensors, to see if they need cleaning. If they do, all you need is a soft cloth to wipe away the dirt that’s accumulated on the lens. Once you’ve done this, try closing the door again to see if this has solved the problem.

5. Try Moving The Bracket

Your photo eye sensors are attached to a pivot bracket, which may have been moved and so has broken the beam. If this is what’s happened, it’s very easily fixed. You can loosen the bolts that secure the bracket to the door frame, and try moving it around slightly. Move it side to side and up and down, and see if the LED light comes back on. If it does, secure it back into place and try the door again. This may have been enough to fix the problem for you.

6. Realign Your Sensors

Your sensors need to be perfectly in line with each other in order to work properly. If they’re not quite in the same position, then the light beam is broken, simulating something in the doorway that needs to be protected. You’ll need to check if the sensors are misaligned and readjust them if they are.

To test the alignment, tie a length of string between the two sensors. Use a spirit level to see if the string is level. If it isn’t, then you know that the sensors need to be adjusted. Loosen one sensor and move it until the string is level. Then you can untie the string and test the door.

Related: How to Align Garage Door Sensors

7. Check The Wires

Finally, take a look at the wires that are leading to the sensors.

You may find that there are issues that are stopping the sensors from working as they should. If the wires have become caught on something, free them carefully. If you see issues such as fraying, don’t try and fix them yourself. Problems like this are best left to professionals who provide garage door opener repair services.

Related: How to Repair Garage Door Sensors


Now that you know how to fix a garage door photo eye sensor, you can troubleshoot your own sensor.

These 7 steps will help you fix most issues with your photo eye sensors. Most issues are rather simple, such as the eyes being nudged out of position, or simply becoming dirty over time. You’ll find that you very likely can fix the problem yourself.

If you’re not sure though, always call a professional to help you get to the bottom of the problem.

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