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Repair & Installation

How Do Garage Door Sensors Work

Published on January 22nd, 2021

Although you might not think of your automatic garage door as a piece of heavy machinery, that’s exactly what it is. Most weigh at least a hundred pounds and many weigh several times more than that. If you think about the amount of force it takes to move such heavy objects, it’s easy to understand why garage door safety sensors are required by law.

Garage door safety sensors fall into two main categories, photoelectric and mechanical. Each of these safety sensors works to prevent the door from closing on a person or object. Let’s take a look at how they work.

Photoelectric garage door sensors

Over the years, these eye-beam sensors have become the most common safety feature for garage doors. These devices create an invisible trip-wire that signals the motor to stop closing the door when activated. When a technician installs your garage door, they fasten sensors to both sides the vertical track a few inches off the ground.

These sensors work by sending a beam of infrared from one side of the garage to the other. When the receiving sensor loses sight of this beam while the garage door is closing, the door will retreat back up the tracks. If you’ve ever tried walking under your garage door while it’s closing, you’ve probably noticed these sensors in action. They might have even saved your life.

If your garage door has a photoelectric sensor and won’t close, try tightening the screws that hold them in place. The sensors must stay perfectly aligned for the infrared beam to travel between them. When one of them shifts even an inch or two, the beam won’t connect and your garage door won’t close.

It’s also possible for dust or debris to interrupt the beam of infrared light, preventing the door from closing. Simply wiping the sensors with a soft cloth should remedy the problem. If your garage door won’t close and you’ve already tied these fixes, contact a professional. Given the weight of the door and the power of the motor, garage door repair is best left to experts.

Mechanical garage door sensors

Before photoelectric garage door sensors became popular, mechanical garage door sensors were far more common. These devices would sense any resistance as the door closed and send the garage door back up when they did. Although the sensors helped prevent countless accidents, photoelectric sensors provide a much wider margin for error. Waiting for the garage door to make contact with an obstruction before acting seems like a recipe for disaster in retrospect.

If you’re having trouble with your garage door, Robert’s Garage Door Professionals can help. Give us a call today at 773-906-1556 for a free estimate. We even offer emergency garage door services and can have a garage door handyman out to your home or business any time, day or night.

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