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Garage Door Sensor Issues (And How To Fix Them)

garage door sensor issues

Modern garage door openers include garage door sensors, which are designed to improve the safety of your garage and avoid personal injury. For this reason, it’s important to maintain the garage door sensors so they work properly.

In this article, we’re exploring several garage door sensor issues and how to fix them.

Garage Door Sensor Issues (And How To Fix Them)

Since 1993, it’s been required that all garage doors come with sensors. These are there for your safety, and 99% of the time they work perfectly. Sometimes they do malfunction though, and you’ll need to fix the problem as soon as possible. If you’re experiencing any issues with your sensor, here’s what you can do in order to fix them. 

Firstly, it’s important you realize how essential your safety sensors are. They sit at either side of your garage door and shoot an invisible beam of light between them. This is what detects if anything is sitting in the path of the garage door. If anything does break that beam, they send the signal to the garage door to open up again. This helps keep you safe, as it ensures that the door won’t be able to shut on you if you’re still in the way as it closes. It keeps your car safe too, as the door won’t close on it and damage it. 

A closing garage door can cause more injury than you’d think, so it’s vital that your sensors are working properly when you’re using the door. Sometimes you may find that the door isn’t closing all the way, but auto-reversing even when there’s nothing is there. If you notice this happening, it’s time to troubleshoot it.

Here are several common garage door sensor issues and how to fix them.

Dirty Sensor Photo Eyes

The simplest solution is often the one that works. Your photo eyes sit quite close to the ground, so they’re going to get dirty over time. This is especially true if the weather is wet and windy. Wind and spray from your tires are enough to cover them in the dirt. 

If this happens, the eyes are going to be blocked. As far as they’re concerned, the light beam is blocked and so something is in the way. That means the door won’t shut until you do something to fix it. Luckily for you, it’s very easy to fix. All you need is a soft cloth, and you can simply wipe the dirt off the eyes to get them clean again. Remember, you don’t need any cleaning fluid to do this. A dry cloth should be enough to get the dirt off.

Once you’ve done this, test the door again to see if it will close. If it will, you’re good to go. 

Clutter Blocking Sensors

Another very common issue is that your garage door sensors may be blocked by something in the garage itself. Many people use their garage to store things, whether it’s the lawnmower or boxes of items you’re keeping for sentimental reasons. Even if you keep the garage as tidy as possible, you’ll find that sometimes there’s too much in there, and a box is blocking the photo eyes.

Look for anything that’s sitting near the sensors, and move it away. Even the smallest items can cause disruption, and stop the door from closing. Now’s a good time to clean out your garage, and see if there’s anything you can throw away. If you do, there’s less chance of something making its way between the sensors. 

Once you have clean the garage out and moved as much as you can away from the door, you can then try the door again. You’ll see in most cases this is enough to get it working again. 

Sensor Mount Needs Reshaping

The mounts your sensors sit on are soft aluminum, and you’d be surprised how often they get bent out of shape as you use them. When you walk past them it’s very easy to kick them, knock them when carrying heavy objects, or even knock them in your car. When this happens, the sensor will not longer be in the right location, so you’ll see that the light beam can’t make it all the way to the other side. Again, the sensor will think something is in the way, so they won’t let the door close. 

If this happens, it’s very easy to fix it. The mounts are quite malleable, which is why they got knocked in the first place. You can try bending them back to see if you can get it back into the right position. This will, most of the time, get the sensors to work again. If the damage to the mount is quite severe, you may need to have it replaced. 

Sensors Need to be Realigned

If cleaning the sensors hasn’t worked, you may find that the sensors are slightly out of alignment with each other. If one sensor is off even a small amount, this is enough to break the beam between them. If you think this may be the case, you may need to realign the garage door sensors

Tie a length of string between the sensors, and use a spirit level to see if the string is level. If it isn’t, that’s a sign that the sensors are out of alignment. To fix it, you’ll need to loosen one sensor on it’s mount and move it up or down until you can get the string level. Once you’ve done that, try the door again. In the vast majority of cases, this will be enough to get the door closing again. 

Safety First

If you’re going to try to fix your sensors to get them working again, remember to keep yourself safe as you do so. Open up your garage door and secure it, and disconnect the garage door opener. This will stop it from closing on you as you work on the sensors. 

It’s also a very good idea to have someone with you, in order to keep you safe as you work. They can watch over you and catch any issues before they happen.

Now you know what to look for if you do experience any problems with your sensors. They’re easy to fix if you know what you’re looking for, so try getting them working again if you experience issues. If you’re ever unsure though, it’s always a good idea to call an expert for help.

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