September 28, 2018

The #1 problem with garage doors

LiftMaster garage door opener

It may surprise you that the problem behind the largest number of service calls to garage door specialists is not with the door itself, but rather with the automatic reverse mechanism, more exactly the misalignment of the photo eyes.

Here’s the scenario. You’re getting home from work and press the remote to open the garage door. At this point, everything is working smoothly, as it should. You close the door by again pressing the remote, but after barely starting to lower, it suddenly reverses direction and goes back up!

Right away, be assured that this is not a serious problem and you can resolve it fairly quickly by yourself. You seem to remember that the same thing happened to your neighbor, but you never learned how he solved the problem. If you would like to know what to do in case this problem presents itself one day, read on.

What exactly are photo eyes?

To start with, you should know that all electric garage door openers sold in North American since 1993 must come equipped with an automatic reverse system. This was done in response to the high number of unfortunate accidents caused by people, especially children, being hit by a lowering door.

This reversal system uses photo eye sensors placed in two small units, each installed about 6 inches (15 cm) from the ground on the tracks on each side of the door. These two units are directly connected electrically to the opener motor. You can think of the process like the automatic opening and closing of the sliding doors at your local supermarket.

Between the two units there is an invisible beam that crosses the width of the opening. One of the units serves as the transmitter and the other has a mirror that reflects the signal beam. If for any reason the beam is interrupted 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.

You should also be aware that there is a second automatic reverse system to protect you and the members of your family. This one is mechanical. How does it work? Again, while the door is descending, if a person or object in the path of the door is hit by the bottom section, and if the detection system is properly adjusted, the door must reverse direction. How sensitive is it? If you place a piece of wood, for instance a 2X4, flat on the ground under the door, as soon as the door hits the board, it must go back up.

What can cause the photo eyes to become misaligned?

Often it happens without us realizing it. You might be working in the garage, and you, or someone else, inadvertently bumps one unit. Or it could happen by an improperly placed box that falls and hits one of the units. Sometimes we can even move a nearby object and not notice that we’ve knocked one of the photo eyes.

Now, back to our original scenario. You get home from work, the garage door opens normally, and then when it comes time to close, the door moves strangely, the lights of the door opener start blinking… This is an obvious sign 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.

How can I fix the problem?

This is really not too difficult. You just need to realign the light beam between the two units by trying to see which one was shifted. Move it back in a straight line keeping an eye on the wall control panel. When the light stops blinking and stays on, they are aligned.

At the same time, make sure it is securely attached to the metal bracket. If necessary, tighten the nut that holds it in place, and as long as you are there, take a cloth and wipe each “lens” to remove dust or dirt on them.

To make sure that your system is working correctly, lower the door by pressing again on your remote. If now, everything is operating properly, you can get back to whatever you were doing with a renewed sense of peace of mind.

And what if it doesn’t work properly? It could be that the source of your problem is somewhere else, such as one of the wires between the units and the opener motor is frayed or broken. If you can’t find the problem quickly and judge the extent of the damage, this is not a situation that you can correct yourself. That means it’s time to contact us.

As long as we’re talking safety, here’s a word of caution!

Too often it happens that someone pushes on the wall control to close the door and then starts to run out of the garage, jumping over the beam so that it won’t stop the descent.NEVER DO THIS!

Accidents occur frequently in this type of situation with children who want to hurry to leave the garage but tumble and are hit by the garage door. A solution is to install a keypad on the outside frame of the door. It works like a kind of battery‑powered cordless remote operated using a 4‑digit PIN.

It is recommended to check out your two reversal systems monthly and make an overall inspection of your garage door system twice a year.

If you haven’t solved your problem…

Then contact us right away, toll free at 607-687-5126. We know garage door openers inside and out. We have the experience to advise you and explain the actions to take or best choice to make while respecting your budget. We will also happily send you a no‑obligation free quotation by email.

If it’s convenient for you, then stop by our showroom. A tool that is available for you is our 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.

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