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Garage Door Safety Sensors & Maintenance

Garage door sensors: chances are you don’t ever think about them until something goes wrong. We’ve all been there, trying to close the garage door and for some reason, it starts to go down but then goes right back up. This is probably due to a malfunction with your garage door sensors. Let’s dive in and see just what these sensors are, what they are supposed to do, and why they need regular maintenance. 

A Bit About Sensors

Did you know that electric garage doors have been around since 1926? Some of the earliest models had outside keypads and/or inside switches. It wasn’t until 1993, however, that legislation was passed mandating the installation and use of safety sensors with electric garage doors. Every electric garage door that has been created and installed since that date has been required to have these sensors. Typically there is a sensor on either side of the garage, both with lights. One like indicates that these sensors are on and operational. The other light indicates that there is a clear path between the sensors. 

What They Do

Garage door sensors were created as a safety measure to prevent the door from closing if there is an obstruction in the way. This helps to prevent garage doors from damaging cars or injuring people or animals. The sensors are able to tell that there is something in the way when there is a disruption in the infrared beam of light that is sent between them. When an object, regardless of what it is, blocks this light, the sensors are made aware that there is something in the path, and the door immediately stops closing, instead opening completely and remaining in that position until the obstruction is moved. 

Sensor Problems

It is likely that you are experiencing sensor problems if one of two things happens. First, if your garage door begins closing, but then returns to the open position even if there is no obstruction, it may be time for a sensor inspection. Second, if your garage door fails to recognize an obstruction and continues to completely close anyways, there may be something askew. Let’s take a look at some of the common problems that may cause this. 

Dirty Lenses

Since the major form of communication between sensors is infrared light, maintaining a clean lens on both sensors is crucial to avoiding malfunctions. If you notice issues with your garage door closing, a good first step is to ensure that the sensors are cleaned off with a soft cloth and mild household cleaner, being mindful to avoid streaks or additional residue. 


In order for your garage door sensors to be effective in their communications, they must be aligned properly. Noticing an issue with the closing of your garage door may be a sign that the alignment is off with your sensors. If the sensor units are blinking, simply tighten the screws in the brackets or manually bend the bracket back into place until the blinking stops. Once a steady light shows, you will know they are properly aligned again.

There are other issues that may cause your garage door sensors to malfunction, like pinched or bad wiring. In these cases, you will want to have a professional take a look and assess the source of the problem. If you are running into issues with your garage door closing consistently, it may be time to have an expert check it out. Contact us today to see what we can do for you!