Garage Door Safety Sensor Problems

Garage Door Safety Photo Eyes

Garage door safety sensor problems are a frequent occurrence for most homeowners. One of the most common issues is a garage door that stops and reverses while attempting to close. The reverse feature is often accompanied by the opener light flashing and making clicking noises. Several different reasons exist for this type of situation and many of them can be repaired by the homeowner. Save yourself the cost of a service call by reviewing the following scenarios. You might be able to repair your garage opener photo eyes yourself.


Objects can often block the garage door safety sensors that clip on to the bottom of the track. Garbage cans, flower pots and even spider webs can block the laser beam that is emitted by the eye sensors. If any object blocks the invisible beam that travels across the opening, the garage door won’t close. Make sure your car is pulled all the way forward in a smaller garage, as the back bumper usually rests close to the laser beam. Always be sure to keep the eye sensor lenses clean as you would with a pair of eye glasses.


If the safety sensors are out of alignment your garage door will not close. One side of the track has a receiving eye sensor and the other side has a sending signal. If either of  the sensors are bumped or knocked out of alignment the receiving eye  won’t receive the signal. This triggers the door to reverse as it thinks their is something in the opening. Adjust the sensors by hand by moving them into proper alignment. Most garage door safety sensor problems are related to the eyes being out of alignment. Children, trash cans and pets are three of the most common things that knock safety sensors out of adjustment.


If you are sure the garage door safety sensors are not being blocked by any objects and are directly pointed at each other a few possible explanations still exist. For starters, the same blinding sunlight that you experience in your car while driving can cause the safety sensors to malfunction. During morning and afternoon hours when the sun is rising and setting creates conditions where sunlight blinds the receiving eye sensor. These times often coincide with the same hours when you leave to go to work and arrive home at night. To solve this problem you can make or purchase cardboard cutouts to block the sunlight hitting the receiving eye.


Another common problem is the wiring that runs from the photo eye to the operator head. Often the staples that hold the wiring are installed too tight and pinch or cut the wire. Inspect the wiring to ensure this isn’t the case for your situation. Secondly, inspect the wiring that runs into the photo eyes and to the opener. Over time these wires can slip loose and disconnect from vibration and shaking during operation. Consider replacing your photo eyes if you suspect a short in the wiring or moisture damage. Residential photo eye sensors usual cost $35.00 per pair or less depending on the model.

Circuit Board

The last common occurrence for door malfunction when closing is a damaged circuit board. Circuit boards can go bad over a long period of time or get destroyed during power surges from lightning strikes. This type of problem is often the most expensive since circuit boards are the computers of the opener and cost around $80.00 each, not including installation. If you cannot remedy the door reversing on the down cycle and have exhausted every other method of repair consider replacing your circuit board or garage door opener.

Garage Door Safety Sensor Problems

Safety eye sensors at the bottom of the track on both sides of your garage door are mandated by government regulation. Any opener manufactured after 1992 is required to have an entrapment device like eye sensors. Photo eyes must be mounted 4-6 inches off the floor and must be functioning properly. Failure to do so could result in serious injury or even death as small children or animals can be crushed by a garage door. Mounting the photo eyes above the opener and pointing them at each other may seem convenient, but it is dangerous to do so. Although eye sensors can malfunction and cause problems during the down cycle there safety value is overwhelmingly important

Garage Door Guide Cal
Hello, I’m Cal – owner of Garage Door Guide LLC    

I write tutorials about garage door repair, installation and maintenance. With over a decade of experience in the overhead door industry I’ve learned a lot and I’d like to share my knowledge with you.

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