Say you pressed the down button on the garage door remote while standing in your garage, then slipped and fell into the path of the moving garage door. What’s to keep you from getting crushed by the two hundred pounds of steel, wood, and fiberglass coming down on you? Say you’re pulling your vehicle into the garage and you accidently push the button on the remote. What’s to keep you from destroying your door and your car as the door comes down? Well, your automatic garage door system has a failsafe built into it. When the dangers of heavy moving doors became apparent, manufacturers put in a device that will automatically make doors rise if something crosses the door’s threshold while it’s in motion.
That device is called a safety eye, an electronic device that sends a signal to the garage door motor when its beam is crossed.
What are Safety Eyes and How Do They Work?
Safety eyes are a matched set of light-emitting diodes that are mounted near the bottom of a garage door, usually right next to the roller track. The diodes are set facing each other and emit an invisible infrared beam of light between themselves. This beam creates a mild electrical connection between the two so that if the garage door motor is engaged and the beam is broken, it signals the garage door to rise. If the door is lowering while the beam is broken, it will instantly change direction and rise. If something is already interrupting the beam when the button is pushed, the motor will engage, then instantly stop.
Troubleshooting Tips for Garage Door Safety Eyes
The photoelectric safety eyes are useful and essential, but can be a problem if they are malfunctioning. Since they are designed to make the garage door go up, a broken or malfunctioning set will make it difficult for the door to close. And one of the main reasons you want doors on your garage is so they will close.
The first thing you want to check for may not be a malfunction at all, but the safety eye merely doing its job. If anything breaks the beam, the failsafe will engage. So look and make sure nothing is obstructing the beam. Something as simple as a dead leaf stuck on the track can be enough to set it off. Find the safety eye sensors and make sure that you can see both of the actual diodes. Make certain there is no debris blocking them. If there is, remove it. Test the garage door opener and see if the problem is fixed.
There may not be anything you can see, but dirt build-up can also obstruct the beam and cause the system to engage. Clean the sensors with a soft cloth or an air blower.
Safety eyes are not only dependent on being clear of obstructions, but also that they are aligned. If one of the eyes gets bumped, it may no longer be connected and might read as an obstruction. Slightly adjust the sensors to fix the problem and tighten them into place.