The number one reason that homeowners contact a garage door specialist isn’t actually a problem with the door. Surprising? The most common cause for a garage door malfunction is often something that many homeowners never think about - the automatic reverse mechanism, or more specifically, the misalignment of the photo eyes.
Imagine getting home from work, pulling into your garage, and hopping out of your car so you can run inside and relax after a long day. But as you open the door to the house, you notice that your garage door is doing something very odd. It started to close when you pushed the button, but about halfway down, it reversed and went back up! This won’t keep your garage very safe overnight. What can you do?
Luckily, this problem is something that is easy to fix – you can even do it yourself. If your garage door is having this common problem, here’s what you can do to get it back in good working order.
Step Number One: Locate the Photo Eyes
Let’s assume that you don’t know all the specifics about how a garage door system works. This system uses a very specific safety feature that has been required of all electric garage door openers sold in North American since 1993. This system is called an automatic reverse system. This ensures that if someone or something goes under the door when it is closing, the door doesn’t continue to close and squish them!
How does this system work? Well, located on either side of the garage door, installed about six inches (15 cm) above the ground beside the tracks of the door, are two small units. These house the photo eyes, which transmit an invisible beam of light between each other. These two units are directly connected electrically to the opener motor.
The first unit serves as the transmitter, and the second unit has a mirror that reflects the light beam. If something or someone runs under the door, that light beam between the two photo eyes is interrupted. If this happens while the door is closing, the door must reverse direction and open automatically, after only one section of the door has passed through the door frame.
This is one of the two types of safety systems that protect you from a closing garage door. The second one is mechanical. This one is a sensor that causes the door to reverse direction if anything touches the bottom of the door before it is in the completely closed position. How sensitive is it? If you place a piece of wood, for instance a 2 x 4, flat on the ground under the door, as soon as the door hits the board, it must go back up.
Step Number Two: Determine if the Photo Eyes are Misaligned
It is actually easier than you’d think to knock one of the photo eyes out of alignment. You might be working in the garage, and you, or someone else, inadvertently bumps one unit. Sometimes something can bump into the photo eye unit as it falls, or you may even accidentally shift the unit if you bump into the garage door too hard.
So, you’re standing there after work, looking at this door that just won’t close. Here’s an obvious sign that the issue is the photo eye units: Do you see a blinking light on the door opener wall control panel, or do you hear a clicking noise? These are indicators that the photo eye system is misaligned. Depending on the brand of door opener you have, you may either hear a clicking sound or see a blinking light. If you have a wall control panel, about 3” x 5″ (8 x 13 cm), installed near the door leading to your house, you’ll notice a blinking LED light.
Step Number Three: Realigning the Photo Eyes
Now that you know what the problem is, you can easily fix it. It’s not hard to realign these units. You simply need to carefully push one of the units back in alignment with the other one. As you move it so that the two photo eyes get realigned, keep your eye on your wall unit. If the blinking stops, you fixed it! If you hear the clicking stop, you fixed it!
Be sure that the unit is attached to the wall with no wiggle room, and tighten up any nuts that need to be tightened. Then wipe off the lens on the photo eye units to get rid of any dust and you’re all done! The garage door should be ready to go.
Now you just need to test the door. If it closes, you’ve done a great job. If it doesn’t work properly, it could be that the problem is actually an electrical issue, or a problem with the opener itself. At that point, it’s time to contact the professionals.
A Quick Word of Caution!
Have you ever tried to close the garage door from the inside, and then race outside before the door could close? NEVER DO THIS! And make sure your children know that this is not safe behavior.
This type of behavior can lead to accidents in which a child may stumble or fall, and be crushed by the door as it closes. One good solution is to install a keypad on the outside frame of the door. You type in a secret four‑digit code, and the door will open or close from the outside.
It is recommended to check out your two reversal systems monthly and make an overall inspection of your garage door system twice a year.
Need Help? Contact Us Today!
If you haven’t found the problem, or you want expert help, contact us right away, toll free at 616-453-0164. We will happily send you a no‑obligation, free quotation by email, and can help you find the perfect solution for your needs and your budget.
If it’s convenient for you, then stop by our showroom, or check out our online Design Centre to assist you in selecting the style that fits you best. For more inspiration, view the myriads of examples in our image gallery.