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Safety eye simplified

T. Posey, Electrical Engineering Student at the University of Oklahoma,

Modern garage doors are becoming increasingly safe to use. In the past three decades, a technology referred to as safety photo-eyes, or safety eyes, has become more and more common. These sensors are seemingly very simple in design. Their only goal: prevent the door from closing on things or people. Safety eyes typically use an infrared beam to detect obstruction of the door’s path. You may have noticed the little boxes at either end of your garage door track typically about 6 inches above the ground. These boxes are the safety eyes. One side will cast an infrared beam to the other, when this beam is broken, a response known as auto-reverse will engage.

The auto-reverse function is designed to protect people and items from becoming injured or damaged from a closing garage door. Many of us may have experienced annoyances with such sensors while trying to close a door. For example, a leaf blows into your garage and covers the safety eye while attempting to close; this will result in the door automatically inverting the signal received by your garage door opener causing it to open. Given that garage doors can weigh between anywhere from 100lbs – 900lbs, this function could quite literally be lifesaving to small children and pets. Often, issues with safety eyes are relatively easy to diagnose and repair. While attempting to close your door, you may hear a series of clicks or flashing lights. These may be indicators or codes that can be used to give a more accurate diagnosis. However, this can vary model to model. As mentioned in the previous example, sometimes something as simple as a leaf or plastic bag blowing onto the sensor can obstruct the beam, causing the auto-reverse function to activate. Checking that the sensors are not covered should always be your first step in troubleshooting safety eyes. If there was nothing covering the sensors, cleaning the lens of the sensors may be necessary. To do this use a damp, warm cloth to gently wipe the lens, then dry with a dry towel.

If the problem persists, you may need to check that the sensors are aligned. Many models of safety eyes will have indicator lights. Although each model may vary, you should be able to check the connection of the beam by viewing the indicator lights on the sensors. Typically, both sensors’ indicator lights should be solid. If one of the sensors is blinking or dark, you may need to adjust the level of the safety eye brackets. To do this, loosen and tighten the safety eye brackets making small adjustments until both lights remain constantly on (a level can help substantially). If you continue to have problems with your door after following these steps, feel free to contact us at Rushmore Garage Repair LLC +1 (605) 786-8463.


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