Your garage door’s sensors are one of its most important components to ensure safe operation. As critical as these sensors are, there are multiple factors that can cause them to malfunction. As a knowledgeable Indianapolis homeowner, it’s important to understand these variables so that you can properly maintain your garage door’s sensors at all times. One potential challenge to watch out for is direct sunlight shining on the sensors. To understand more about this issue, check out this guide from Garage Door Doctor.
How the Sensors Work
The two sensors on either side of your garage door are the heart of the automatic opener system. The two units constantly send an infrared signal from one side of the garage door opening to the other. If the system senses that the receiving sensor is receiving the infrared signal from the sending sensor, it allows electricity to flow to the opener motor so that your garage door can open or close. If the signal is blocked or interrupted in any way, the system will interrupt the flow of electricity and prevent your garage door from operating.
Typically, the infrared system is efficient and effective. The problem is that infrared energy is part of the light spectrum. Since sunlight contains all of the various types of light, including light types with more energy than infrared light, sunlight can interrupt the signal flow between the two infrared sensors. This means that your garage door might not work even if the sensors are clean and no unsafe conditions exist. Fortunately, even if you do experience interference from the sun, it isn’t likely to last long. That’s because garage door sensors use focused infrared beams. This means that the sun has to be at the perfect angle in the sky to cause interference. This also means that you may not have any problems with your garage door until you leave your home at just the right time one day, making you think there’s a major malfunction with your garage door.
Unless your home sits at just the right angle, sunlight interference will likely only be a problem for a few minutes out of a few days of the year. However, there are other variables that can make your sensors more susceptible to sunlight interference that may make this problem more common. A major variable is dust or cobwebs on your sensors. In some cases, dust or cobwebs can catch sunlight and direct it toward your garage door’s sensors. Thus, even if your sensors wouldn’t otherwise be at the correct angle, they will have problems as long as they are dirty. Of course, even if sunlight doesn’t come into play, dust and dirt on garage door sensors can interrupt the infrared signal without sunlight. That’s why Garage Door Doctor recommends cleaning your sensors with a dry cloth about once a month.
A Source of Heat
It’s important to understand that repeatedly allowing sunlight to shine directly on your garage door’s sensors could cause more than just a temporary inconvenience. Since sunlight also contains heat energy, prolonged exposure to sunlight could cause your sensors to overheat and stop working permanently. Since garage door sensors use convex lenses, the lenses will focus the light from the sun on the electronic components in the sensors. Similar to using a magnifying glass to start a fire, this phenomenon, over time, could lead to problems that you’ll need Garage Door Doctor to fix.
Fortunately, protecting your garage door’s sensors from sunlight is a fairly easy task, even if you’re on a budget. Something as simple as a cardboard toilet paper roll can provide an effective shield against sunlight. All you have to do is cut a short section of the tube, center it on the “eye” of the sensor, and tape it in place. You can also use a short section of PVC pipe to create a sensor shield. When installing the shield, make sure that you keep the sensor’s lens in the center of the shield. Otherwise, the shield could redirect the infrared signal and lead to signal interruption. Another important consideration is to make sure that you don’t make the sensor shield too long so that you don’t run into it when you’re walking in and out of your garage.
For a more permanent fix for your sunlight interference problems, Garage Door Doctor recommends purpose-made sensor shields. These shields attach to the sensor using a wing nut, making them less likely to come off over time. Another advantage of purpose-made shields is that they have a more professional appearance, making them ideal for the well-kept garage. Plus, the shields are made of heavy-gauge metal that helps them last a long time. Finally, these types of shields tend to be thinner than a do-it-yourself shield. This tends to make purpose-made shields easier to install correctly without needing to worry about signal redirection.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to make a sun shield, you can try other temporary workarounds to correct the problem. One quick fix is to shield one of the sensors with your hand or a piece of paper. If the other sensor isn’t in direct sunlight, this technique could help boost the signal strength to the point that the garage door can open and close normally. If this doesn’t work, try waiting for a few minutes to allow the sun to get to a different position in the sky. Since the sun has to be at just the right angle to interfere with the sensors, waiting just a few minutes should restore normal operation.
Safety Is Vital
Some homeowners become frustrated with their garage door’s sensors to the point that they override them. Most garage door openers have a setting that allows you to manually override the sensors so that your garage door will go all the way up and down without stopping for any reason once you press the correct button. Remember, though, that the sensors are entirely there for your safety. The reason sensors became mandatory in the first place is that garage doors close with a lot of force and are quite heavy. This means that they can cause serious injury if someone is in the path of the garage door. Therefore, it’s best to try one of the other fixes listed above. If those don’t work, you can override the sensors, but be sure to call Garage Door Doctor as soon as possible for a safer fix.
Taking Care of Garage Doors and Sensors
The professionals at Garage Door Doctor have years of industry experience. This experience allows them to perform all types of garage door services, including garage door repair and replacement, spring repair and replacement, and garage door opener upgrades. They can take care of both commercial and residential garage doors. Accredited by the Better Business Bureau, each employee at Garage Door Doctor takes pride in giving the very best service to each customer. That’s why we continually receive five-star reviews from our raving customers. To learn more about garage door safety, contact the experts at Garage Door Doctor today.