Garage doors are an important part of almost every home, but there isn’t magic behind the opening and closing of these doors—it’s technology. Technology is wonderful, but it doesn’t always work as you want it to. Many different variables get in the way, but it’s tricky to know what those variables are. There are multiple reasons why your garage door sensor may not be working, but thankfully, there are also multiple ways to get the sensor up and working again.

How Do Garage Door Sensors Work?

Before diving deeper into why your garage door sensor isn’t working, it’s good to break down what a garage door sensor is and how it works in the first place. In 1993, federal law began requiring every new garage door to have a safety sensor that would detect if there were obstacles in the way of the garage door. Before 1993, the garage door system would open and close when you hit the button, but they wouldn’t stop until it finished closing or if they had hit something. Without sensors, the system wouldn’t know if there was a trash can, pet, car, or person in the way, and it would try closing on top of them. This could lead to different injuries and even death. Sensors became required in 1993, but how do they work? These safety sensors have a photo eye. You’ll have one on both sides of your garage door, about six inches off the ground at the highest, and these sensors create an invisible line across your garage door. When the door closes, the sensors will detect if something crosses in the way of this line and automatically stop and reverse. It’s a great safety mechanism, but the technology can be incredibly sensitive, making the sensor not work as it should.

Objects in the Way

One of the most obvious and common reasons why your garage door sensor may not be working is that there is an object in the way. The sensors try to see if there’s anything in the way so they can stop the door from closing, but sometimes, it’s not something actually in the way. Often, people use their garages to store miscellaneous stuff, including:
  • Boxes
  • Bikes
  • Packs of water
  • Pots
  • Soil
  • Gardening equipment
There are a lot of random elements in the average person’s garage, and it only takes one item being a little in the sensors’ path to trigger it. Thankfully, the fix for this is easy. All you’ll need to do is identify what is in the way of the sensor, move it out of the way, and the garage should close as intended. If it’s still not closing, there may be another issue.

Too Much Moisture

Depending on where you live, moisture is either something you never think about or something at the front of your mind 24–7. Construction workers and manufacturers consider the humidity in areas with high humidity and adapt their building materials accordingly, but it’s not always possible to do so perfectly. Your garage door sensors aren’t the most weather resistant, meaning they can easily get wet from rain, sprinklers, or excess humidity. This moisture can cause your sensors to malfunction, creating issues when opening and closing the door. Depending on the amount of water damage, there are different fixes you can look at. Sometimes, you may just need to let the sensor dry, and then it should start working again. However, in other situations, the damage may be extensive, and the sensors could have shorted. In these instances, your best bet is to invest in a new garage door sensor and better weatherstripping to keep water and excess moisture at bay.

Power Supply Issues

Another reason your sensors may not work is that you are having issues with the power supply. Without a solid connection to your power, the sensor will not work, and the garage door will not close. The issue can sometimes be more complicated than simply saying that the sensor doesn’t have power. The garage door sensor has lights, and if those lights are completely off, you might not have power running to your opener. If the lights are still on, the power connection could be unstable. Garage door sensors use batteries as their main supply, so consider replacing your batteries. Doing this can fix the problem, but if there’s still an issue, it may be something more internal, and you might need to replace the sensors completely.

Dirty Sensors

Dirty sensors are another reason your garage door may not be closing. The sensor creates a line with the other sensor on the opposite end of your garage door, but this little lens can get dirty if you’re not regularly cleaning it. In the garage, there are a wide variety of contaminants that can dirty a sensor’s lens, such as:
  • Dirt
  • Dirt dauber nests
  • Spider webs
  • Car exhaust
  • Pollution
  • Dust
Any one of these is enough to cloud your lens just enough that your garage door won’t close. It doesn’t take much to block the lens to the point where the sensor thinks there’s an object in the way. Thankfully, cleaning this lens is easy. A soft cloth is all you need, but if the lens is still slightly dirty and not working, you can add a small amount of water to the cloth.

Poor Alignment

Another common reason your sensors may not work is that they’re just poorly aligned. Both sensors must be at the same height and pointing toward each other to work. Otherwise, the laser connecting the two won’t form. Without this connection, the door won’t close. Thankfully, solving this issue is relatively easy. Put both the sensors at the same height, and if the LED lights illuminate, you have proper alignment. If the lights don’t come on, you may need to wiggle one sensor around for a little bit to try and find that sweet spot of alignment. Another solution is tightening the bracket or screws to keep the sensor in place instead of moving around.

Normal Aging

Unfortunately, another reason why your sensor may not be working is that it’s just old. After years of use, wear and tear adds up and can send your sensor to a premature grave. Almost all pieces of technology degrade over time, and it may just be time to get a new sensor. However, before resorting to this decision, be sure to check all of the other options first. You don’t want to purchase a new sensor and realize it wasn’t working just because there was a box in the way. A garage door sensor may not be working for various reasons, but when you know how to identify those issues, you can fix them! Some fixes are easy and require little intervention, but others may require professional help, so contact us at Steel City Garage Doors. We are a Pittsburgh garage door service company that can help you with your garage door issues 24–7. 6 Reasons Why Your Garage Door Sensor May Not Be Working