How to Align Safety Sensors on Garage Doors

Safety sensors play a vital role in preventing the garage door from crushing your property or closing in on family members or pets.

Naturally, children are intrigued by the thrill of ducking into or out of the diminishing gap between the door and the ground, leaving you with no choice but to invest in a safety sensor. Sensors automatically detect any human or object obstructions and stop the garage door from closing on them.

However, despite the attached importance, your door sensor is likely to fall out of alignment over time, perhaps due to loosened screws in the brackets holding your sensor or cobwebs or debris blocking the beams from the transmitter to receiver sensors.

Fortunately, this can easily be remedied by garage door safety sensor alignment.

Stick around and learn how to align safety sensors on garage doors.

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How to align safety sensors on your garage door

  • Disconnect the power supply to the garage.
  • Unfasten the screws holding the sensors
  • Slide the garage door sensor downward without unscrewing the mounting brackets.
  • Attach the string and tie the knots
  • Check the level of the string and fasten the screws holding the sensor
  • Finally, turn the power back on after ensuring the sensors are level.

Below is an in-depth guide on the step-by-step process to aligning garage door sensors.

Step 1: Disconnect power supply to the garage

Be wary of the electrical shocks and first turn off the power supply to the sensors. Inspect if your safety sensors are manually plugged into the wall outlet and turn off the switch. Also, you may locate your home’s breaker box and trip the fuse of your entire garage as another safe way to turn off the power supply.

In this step, ensure you have the right electrical appliances, such as pliers, and wear electricity-resistant gloves to protect you from shock as you fiddle with the wires. Personal safety is paramount when dealing with electrical systems and appliances, even when live wires are not involved.

Step 2: Unfasten the screws holding the sensors

Open your garage door’s sensors and loosen the mounting brackets. Use a screwdriver to loosen the screws, insert the screwdriver into the screws and turn it in the anticlockwise direction.

The screws should only be loosened and not taken all the way out since you will slide the mounting brackets up and down in the following steps. The step would not be possible if you lost the screws. Thus, care is needed to ensure you do not lose the screws.

Step 3: Slide the garage door sensors downward

After ensuring your screws are loose enough to allow the mounting brackets to slide up and down easily, slide the garage door sensor downwards.

Use your bare hands when sliding it, as using things like a wrench will leave marks on the sensor’s surface, leading to reduced functionality. Dirty or scratched lenses may malfunction the sensors that start blinking when not seeing each other or cannot send the infrared rays. Keep sliding until they are lower enough.

As you slide the sensors down to the lowest levels, they should remain inside their mounting brackets.

Step 4: Attach the string and tie the knots

Once you have ensured the sensors have reached the lowest level, attach one end of the string to one sensor and its mounting bracket. Ensure you have tied the knots as tight as possible, as the overall operation’s success depends on this step.

You then need to run the untied string end across the opening of your garage door. Roll the string around the center of the opposing sensor before you tie the know to ensure that the string runs as straight as possible, as this will help you correct the sensors’ alignment.

Step 5: Check the level of the string

You can determine the level of the string by using a level placed below it and guaranteeing that the level runs across the garage doorway. You can do this manually by pressing the level against the string and holding it for a minute.

Once you have ensured that the string line is level, you tighten the screws to the sensors since the correct leveling means the sensors are back to the correct alignments. However, if the string line is still not leveled, you may continue sliding the mounting brackets to adjust one or both sensors. Ensure that you make the adjustments until the line of the string is leveled.

Step 6: Fasten the screws to secure the sensors in their new position

Begin fastening the screws once you have determined that both sensors are on the same level. Ensure that the level is maintained as you fasten the screws.

To determine that the new positions are not interfered with after fastening, use the level again to ensure that the two sensors are aligned. In some instances, mainly when you apply more effort when tightening, the sensors may come out of alignment. Therefore, you must check for the leveling before and after tightening.

Finally, if both sensors are properly aligned, remove the strings, turn the power back on, and test your sensors. Adjusting garage door sensors correctly means they will efficiently work and control the garage door’s safety.

The below video shows how to effectively align garage door safety sensors

How to test for sensors after fixing a malfunction

Once you fix a malfunction on your door sensor, you’ll want to test them to ensure you did a perfect job and are functioning correctly. The best way to do this is with a few cardboard boxes or an object that cannot cause damage to the door in case the sensors fail and the door crashes it. Below is a step-wise process to execute the process.

  • Place the box or object in the garage doorway, ensuring it’s directly in front of the garage door sensors. You then press the button that closes the door on your remote or the garage wall. The door is supposed to stop immediately and return to the open position due to obstruction. If the garage door closes on the object or box, it shows a malfunction of the sensors, implying that the alignment has not been fixed.

  • Check on the sensors and find out how it is blinking after the alignment. If only one of the sensors is blinking, you’ll have to realign. You can correct this by adjusting the sensor with the blinking LED by tightening the screw holding the sensor to the bracket. Immediately the sensors are aligned correctly, the light will stop blinking.

  • Attempt to close the door again and try to find out if it still doesn’t pick up on the obstruction. If this happens, you should check your sensor’s photo eyes and determine if dirt is embedded there. If the door still crushes the box even after cleaning the photo eyes, then you should inspect your sensor wires to determine whether they are broken or damaged in some way

How Do Garage Door Sensors Work?

Having known how to test if the garage sensors are correctly aligned and their importance, you may be wondering how the sensors work.

As already mentioned, the garage doors have two sensors on either side of the garage door. One sensor emits the signals in the form of infrared light, also called the emitter or transmitter sensor, while the other receives the infrared rays, also called the receiver sensor.

The two sensors are integrated with infrared light, which is not visible to the naked eye as it is out of the visible spectrum. The transmitter sensor sends the infrared red to the receiver sensor. Once the receiver sensor receives the light, the garage door closes.

The infrared light travels in a straight line between the two sensor boxes for the closing mechanism. The infrared light transmission between the two sensors is achieved when there is no obstruction on its path.

However, if there is an interruption such as an object, pet, or crawling child on the garage door’s path, the infrared light from the emitter sensor will not reach the receiver sensor and will not receive the signal to close the door.

The transmitter sensor can also signal the receiver sensor to cease the operation when the door has closed halfway. This is why in some instances, you will be wondering why your garage door only opens a few inches and then stops. The receiver sensor blocks the door in its current position when there is an obstruction on its path to protect the object from getting crashed, hence the working principle of garage door sensors.

Maintenance practices for safety sensors

Garage door sensors look for any item, person, or thing that may obstruct your door from opening or closing. For safe and efficient operation, your door sensor needs periodic maintenance. The sensors utilize beams that pass from one sensor to the other sensor.

The sensors shoot a beam across the door’s length to detect any object or item hindering its smooth closing. Because of the safety the sensors offer your garage, it is crucial to perform routine maintenance on your garage door and its components to ensure that everything is working correctly.

Check for dirt, dust, and debris

Your sensors are bound to catch dust after a while. The grime and dust can obstruct the garage door sensors’ lenses and cause malfunction. Therefore frequent checkups should be a priority.

During the checkup, use clean and soft cloth materials to carefully wipe the lenses and remove the dust and debris materials that may clog the sensors’ lenses and cause them to malfunction.

Check if the sensors are properly aligned 

Your sensors will work properly if they are correctly aligned. If they are misaligned, the beam may mistake the misalignment for an obstruction, prohibiting your garage door from closing.

Fortunately, this can be remedied by simply checking to see if the brackets holding your sensors in place have any loose screws and tighten them, or you can also bend the bracket back into place.

Inspect and clean the photo eyes of your garage door system

Garage door openers work with the use of a photo-eye system. The primary purpose of the photo eyes is to prevent the door from closing on someone or something. The door closing, even with obstruction, is an indication that there is a problem with the photo-eye.

The photo-eyes are very small and get dirty quickly over time. Therefore, frequent cleaning should be done with a soft cloth with a mild cleaner that doesn’t leave streaks on the surface.

Keep the door shut when not in use

Your garage door is always a target for pests. Pests get their way through the entrance to a place where they can find shelter and bread without being noticed. Their presence in the garage is often a threat since they can damage the door components by chewing some of its sensitive parts like the sensor wires leading to malfunction on your sensor.

Therefore, inspecting your garage for pests and applying control measures is advisable.

Clean out your garage

Cleaning might seem a daunting task, but it’s a vital thing to do for the sake of your safety. The garage is a common dumping ground for all kinds of things. Equipment like sharp tools, flammable items, and many more pose a risk to your sensor.

Therefore, you should take your time and clear out your garage by removing the unnecessary items you no longer need and putting dangerous substances on high shelves out of children’s reach.

Reasons for your sensor’s malfunction

For obvious reasons, a safety sensor is a critical component of a garage door. If a sensor malfunctions, the door might suddenly stop or reverse .Faulty garage door sensors need to be taken care of as quickly as possible so that your door gets to open and close remotely without the hassle of manually operating it.

Dirty lenses

Your safety sensor is bound to get dirty over time, especially in areas that are known for dust. Therefore in this scenario, you should make it a regular duty to clean your sensor using a clean, soft cloth in order to wipe away the dust. The sensor lenses will automatically fail to operate when dirt blocks their view of the garage door opening. But through proper cleaning of the surface, your door will begin to operate normally again.

Out of alignment

A sensor can be thrown out of alignment if something bumps into it due to its low position. This can be detected by sensor lights blinking, an indication that they are out of alignment. This can be remedied by tightening the screws on the bracket or by bending the bracket back into place, making the blinking stop.

Exposure to cold weather conditions

Sometimes the issues could be weather-related. If it is icy outside, the lining of your garage door may be frozen, preventing the door from going up. Or there could be condensation on your sensors obstructing their utility.

Damaged components 

The sensor can sometimes be hit by a car, pet, or moving things around it. This could cause misalignment or damage to your sensor. You can adjust this by making sure the sensors are accurately pointed at each other by eye-balling the path and adjusting or redirecting if needed.

Direct sunlight

Garage door sensors use infrared light. On the other hand, the sun also carries infrared light, which is actually more powerful than the lights of the sensors. If the sun’s strength surpasses the infrared sensor light, the sensors might fail to signal one another. This is why a garage door might stop operating if strong sunlight is shining on the eye of a garage door sensor.

This, however, can be mitigated by putting a small piece of cardboard around the sensor to block the sunlight from interfering with the sensor.

Loose sensor wires

Corroded or bad wire connection is another possible cause of garage door sensor malfunction. Pets can sometimes chew the wiring, causing the sensor failure. Essentially, all the wires need to be intact for the door to work correctly. A sensor that flashes orange instead of the regular red light indicates a problem with the wire connection system.

Frequently Questions Asked

Q1. Why should I call a professional for my garage door safety sensors?

Having a professional help, you out doesn’t mean you can’t do a DIY project of that nature. You should contact a professional if your door sensors are still malfunctioning after trying to fix them. It could be a problem with the wiring; anything involving electricity or wiring should always be left to professionals.

Moreover, a garage door professional has the experience and knowledge of working with many different systems and has the required tools and equipment to fix the problem.

Q2. What color should garage door sensor lights be?

The sending light should be yellow, and the receiving light should be green, failure to which, you should do some inspections to your safety sensors and find out if there is any problem that needs handling. You can fix it on your own or contact a professional.

Q3. Can sunlight interfere with garage door safety sensors?

Yes. The sun’s light can affect the normal operations of your garage door sensors since it is much stronger than the infrared light of the sensors. Therefore, you should consider using small pieces of cardboard to block much of the sunlight from reaching your sensors.

Q4. How High should you place your garage door sensors from the ground?

Your garage door sensor should be placed 6-9 inches off the ground, regardless of your door type. This distance should be maintained for both the sensors (emitter and receiver) from the Ground.

Ensure you have the right measurement instruments to determine the distance, as failure to do so will result in your sensors being misaligned and affecting their functionality.

Q5. Are both garage door sensors supposed to be green?

No. The sensors (emitter and receiver) display unique light colours. One sensor displays a red light to show no obstruction on the garage door’s path or that they see each other (correctly aligned), while the other displays a green light indicating that the sensors are powered on.

Q6. Do garage door sensors need an alignment?

Yes. The garage door sensors need a proper alignment for efficient operation. The injuries, damages, and other risks associated with the garage door crashing on pets, crawling children, or objects can be minimized by integrating and aligning garage door sensors into the door system. The safety sensors detect obstructions and prevent the door from closing on an object or an individual.

Q7. How do you reset the motion sensor on a garage door?

You will first need to locate the position of the sensing button or switch on the door control. Push the button On or Off to reset the motion sensing feature. If you have left your garage and your lights are still on and you have a motion sensor, locate the auto or OFF switch or button on the door control unit and turn off the motion detector.

Q5. Do garage door safety sensors go bad?

Yes. The garage door sensors can fail as a result of wire damage. The wires connecting the garage door sensors can be broken or chewed by rodents in your garage and cause the malfunction of the sensors.

Besides, suppose there is no appropriate drainage system in your garage, the excess water that collects or those from the sprinklers may result in a short circuit to the sensors affecting their operations.

You must constantly inspect your sensor wires, especially when there is a malfunction, and if there are damaged or broken wires, you must replace them.

Final Thoughts

Garage doors are indeed unsafe when they are not working correctly. If you have a crawling child or pets at home, their safety is even more threatened if your garage door sensors malfunction. As a result, you should always inspect the functionality of your safety sensors.

Safety sensors play a vital role in your garage door operation. With your sensors operating correctly, accidents will be minimized. And as a precaution, it’s necessary to repair your garage sensors immediately if you suspect a malfunction.

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