Safety eye sensors and auto reverse features became mandatory on all automatic garage door openers beginning on January 1, 1993. The new mandate was to prevent entrapment and serious injury or death caused if a garage door closed on a person.
Prior to January 1, 1993 garage door opener manufacturers did not have safety features to prevent entrapment injuries and deaths.
The first part of the law established the requirement of having an automatic reverse feature that would cause the garage door to automatically stop and then reverse to the fully open position, if the garage door closed on a person or object in the garage doors path. The basic test for the automatic reverse system is placing a 2×4 or similar object under the center of the garage door. When the garage door, while closing contacts this object, the garage door should, within 2 seconds, reverse to the fully open position.
The second part of the law deals with the electronic safety eyes or beams. These beams are to be mounted no more than 6 inches from the garage floor and no further apart than 20 feet. One of the safety eyes is a transmitter while the other is a receiver. If the beam gets broken by any object, the door should immediately stop and reverse to the fully open position. These safety eyes/beams help prevent the door from closing on a person, causing an entrapment of the person. The reason for the stipulation of the maximum 6 inches from the floor is to prevent the garage door from closing on an adult or a child who might be laying on the ground underneath the garage door. The 20 feet maximum distance from one beam to the other covers the width of most every garage door either residential or commercial.
Testing the safety eye sensors and auto reverse feature should be done frequently, to ensure it is working properly, many manufacturers recommend monthly tests of the safety eye and auto reverse features. I would recommend at minimum 4 times per year, but follow your manufacturer’s guidelines.
To test the reverse feature, as I mentioned earlier, place a 2×4 or similar object on the ground under the center of the garage door. When the garage door contacts the block, while closing, the garage door should stop and reverse to the fully open position. The door should stop and began to open within 2 seconds of contacting the block. If the garage door fail to stop and reverse to the fully open position, you need to adjust the closing force so that the door stops and reverses when it contacts the block. If you are unsure how to reset the force limits or the garage door fails to reverse after adjustment, call a garage door service company to make necessary adjustments, repairs or to replace the automatic garage door opener.
To test the safety eye sensors, use an object to break the safety eye sensor beam, while the garage door is closing. When the beam is broken during the closing cycle, the garage door should stop and return to the fully open position. Many manufacturers also include a clicking sound and a flashing of the courtesy light on the garage door opener when the safety eyes sensor beam has been broken. If the garage door opener does not reverse when the safety eye beam sensor is broken, then it is time to replace the garage door opener.
As a note we answer numerous calls about a garage door not closing when using the remotes and the customer also says they have to hold the wall console button down to get the garage door to close. These symptoms tell us there is a safety eye sensor issue. It could be that the safety eyes have gotten out of alignment causing the issue. First check to be sure the safety eyes sensors are aligned properly. There should be an LED light visible on each sensor. These LED lights should be constant with no flickers or flashing. Some manufacturers use one green and one amber colored LED while other companies use red. If the LED lights are solid and aligned, then the beam has probably become weak and it is time for a new set of safety eye sensors. If you are not sure how to replace or align the safety eye sensors, call a garage door service company to service and or replace the safety eye sensors for you.