The Problems With Photo Eyes And Garage Doors

Posted on by All About Doors
Garage Door Repair Portland

Has this ever happened to you? You come home from a long day at work. It’s raining so you hurry to get the garage door open to park the car inside. You press the remote to close it again, but it only goes down a little way then opens back up. You immediately think it must be something wrong with the door, but that is not likely the case. The biggest problem with garage doors in Portland often has nothing to do with the door itself. A simple garage door repair will get it back to working in no time.

Garage Door Photo Eyes

Garage doors are very heavy, and safety is a big concern when they are not working properly. There have been many reported cases of people being injured and even killed by lowering garage doors. To help alleviate this safety issue, in 1993 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) started requiring that all garage door openers sold in North America have an automatic reverse system.

Named the photo eye reversal system, this consists of two components placed about six inches above the ground along the garage door tracks and connected to the opener motor. An invisible beam passes from one device to the other and if anything interrupts or breaks that beam when the garage door is trying to close, the door will stop and reverse back up. The result has been a large decrease in injuries and deaths caused by garage doors accidently entrapping someone.

As much as they help to solve the safety issue, they are known to malfunction quite often. Usually you can tell if this problem is happening by a door which will not close at all or one which closes part way and then opens again. The photo eye problem can generally be solved by a homeowner, but your garage door professional can easily resolve this issue for you as well.

Why Have the Garage Door Photo Eyes Stopped Working?

The answer as to why the eyes have stopped working is usually simple; for whatever reason, they have become misaligned. Perhaps you bumped the door by mistake, for example or you have a pet that hit the eye as it walked by. Either way, it should be fairly apparent that this is the issue.

Can I Be Sure the Photo Eyes are the Problem?

Your garage door system should have one or more of several different indicators that there is a problem with the photo eye:

  • If the light on the opening mechanism mounted in the ceiling is flashing, something may be wrong with the photo eye.
  • There are LED lights on each of the sensors on either side of the door. If either is flashing, this is a sign that the photo eye is out of adjustment.
  • You may hear a clicking sound indicating an issue with the photo eyes.
  • You might also see a blinking light on the door opener itself.

One way to test the operation photo eye is by intentionally placing something in the pathway of the beam and then press the button to close the door. If the door does not automatically retract after starting to close there is a possible malfunction, repairs should be made immediately.

Fixing the Problem with Garage Door Photo Eyes

Broken Garage DoorThe first thing to check when the photo eye is not working is whether something is obscuring the lens on one or both sensors. Being as low to the ground as they are, the photo eye can become covered in dust, cobwebs or debris. Use a clean cloth and mild cleaner to wipe down the lens. Be careful not to scratch the glass as scratches or other markings may cause it to function improperly.

Once they are clean, you should check the alignment of the photo eyes. Measure the height of each photo eye from the ground, and then use a level to ensure they are pointing straight across at each other. You should also take the time to make sure that the photo eyes are attached securely to the wall on their metal brackets.
Each sensor is also connected to electrical wires and these wires can get twisted, pulled, or disconnected by an object bumping into the sensor. Make sure the wires are connected to the sensors and that they are not pulled or stretched in any way. If the wires are connected correctly, the LED lights should remain on steadily and the door should not reverse when you try to close it.

Once you have taken these few steps, you’ll want to test the photo eye to see if it is working properly again. To do this, push the door transmitter or wall button to trigger the door to close. If it closes, the eyes are correctly lined up. Now use a broom or some other object to break the beam to ensure that the door opens. If the photo eye functionality is working correctly, the door should reverse and return to the open position.

Of course, if it still does not work right, then it means that the problem might be somewhere else. For example, there could be a broken wire that connects the photo eye units and the motor of the opener. If you are unsure of what the problem is and how to fix it properly, you are going to want to make sure that you are using a professional for the job.

We’ve been servicing garage doors in the Portland area for more than 25 years. We’ve built our business on being the best at what we do and all of our garage door repair and services are backed with a 30 day labor warranty. We can take care of all of your residential or commercial garage door needs. Give us a call at (503) 620-2453 for reliable, warrantied, full services for your garage doors in Portland.

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