You back out of the driveway and press the garage door button. It slowly rolls down as you put the car in drive and start to pull away, but suddenly you notice the door is opening again by itself. Other than being late for work, this means you have a problem with your garage door sensors. Luckily this is easy to fix if you’ve got a little know how.
While you may consider this safety feature a nuisance, garage door sensors became federally mandated through a law passed in the 1990’s that aimed at reducing the number of garage door injuries. The sensors operate through infrared radio signals sent from one node to another. Your nodes are the little boxes on either side of your garage door, usually placed a couple inches off the floor with a green indication light if all is well. If something is amiss, these indicator lights may begin flashing or turn red. Don’t panic, there are some simple remedies to try first.
Check for Obstructions
The most logical thing to do first when your garage door wont shut is to check the sensors for obstructions. If something comes in between the infrared beam connecting the sensors, it will trigger the garage door to open immediately. This is why we can’t just hit the close button inside the garage and walk out as the door comes down (unless you duck and jump over the sensors at the same time which you’ve probably attempted at some point, but we do not recommend).
Even something as small as a leaf blowing past or direct sunlight shining into the sensor’s “eye” can trigger this safety mechanism. When in doubt, let the door open fully, check the area, and attempt to close it again. If this works, excellent! If not, follow on to step two.
READ MORE: How Does a Garage Door Sensor Work?
Clean the Lens
The outside world is dirty and regular cleaning of your sensors is recommended to avoid problems. Just like any machine, your garage doors should be inspected and maintained regularly. The lenses are delicate, so don’t just swab at them with your fingers. Use a proper cleaning cloth of microfiber or any material you would clean a pair of eyeglasses or a camera lens with.
Mild cleaners are ok, but remember that this is an electrical appliance and you should be careful around it when using liquids. It may be a good idea to clean the floor and wall area around the sensors too so they stay cleaner for longer.
Realign the Sensors
If you don’t see that lovely green light on your sensors and you’ve tried cleaning the lens, the next step is to realign the sensor boxes. Sometimes these small sensors can get damaged or knocked when you move things around in your garage. It’s generally pretty easy to fix if you just get down and slowly wiggle the boxes. Once they are aligned, the green lights should reappear and be steady (aka, not blinking). You may need to grab a screwdriver, pliers, or other small tools to assist in straightening the boxes and a laser level (or a good friend who owes you a favor) can be extremely helpful to get perfect alignment.
Replace them Yourself
Some people love DIY projects, which means changing out a new pair of garage door sensors is a walk in the park. Just be careful and follow all the instructions that come with your new system. Since sensors are wired into the electricity of your home, you will want to start by unplugging the garage door mechanism or turning off the breaker to the garage. A simple screw or hook mechanism holds the sensor boxes, which makes them easy to remove. New systems should hook right up to existing ones via the color coordinated wires, but take care when removing these wires from your old sensors. You may need to cut them to rewire the boxes.
Once everything is installed, be sure to check that your garage door now functions properly. Open and close the door several times with an object placed between the sensors to make sure they are connected and won’t close on something under the door. Make sure to test this using the interior button and your portable opener.
Call a Professional
For those of you who don’t know the difference between a Philips head and flat head screwdriver, you may want to skip the DIY option. Sears Garage Services has a team of highly trained specialists to send to your home and even an on-call staff for sudden emergencies.
With the best quality and experience in the business, Sears Garage repair services can cover anything from a garage door that’s falling completely off to a small sensor problem. After an initial inspection, your Sears technician will discuss the issues, repair options, and costs with you before proceeding. In most cases, repairs can be completed in a single day.
After your repair or tune-up, the Sears Garage specialist will perform a 20-point safety check on your entire system to ensure smooth operation.
Just like your car needs a tune-up, your garage door needs some love too. Over 20,000 garage door accidents happen each year due to malfunctioning sensors. Don’t wait until your need replacing; service them now to avoid problems in the future. Call your local Sears Garage today!