How to bypass Garage door sensors? Usually garage door sensors prevent the door from closing when there’s any object in the way.
Since garage doors constitute the largest moving object in most homes, sensors become more than a simple add-on. They are a critical safety feature to help prevent damage to life and property.
When they malfunction, however, they can pose a serious threat to the very users they were designed to serve.
From closing when there’s an object in the way to not closing properly, the results of a faulty garage door sensor can be quite a handful.
If, for instance, if you realize that your garage door sensor blinks rapidly or your door fails to close completely, there’s a chance your door sensors could be faulty. To go around these tech-glitches, it’s crucial to know how garage door sensors work.
Garage Door Sensors: How They Work
Most garage doors from 1993—and after—come with sensors and other safety features that make them safer to use, and minimizes the threat to life and property.
In January of 1993, the United States legislature made it mandatory for all garage doors manufactured after that date to have photo-eye sensors.
When the sensors get faulty, however, the utility of a garage door drops. How do sensors work and how do they get faulty?
The major element in a garage door sensor is the photo-eye sensor. The sensors emit infrared rays to each other, to detect any obstruction; which could be objects as well as people.
When these infrared rays get interrupted between each eye, the sensor prevents the door from full closure. This could either result in a jam or a quick reverse upwards.
When the door’s path free of obstruction, the track and pulley system lifts or lowers the garage door each time you punch the remote.
To open and close a garage door with faulty sensors, users must learn to bypass the garage door sensors in the interim, until the faulty sensor is fixed or changed.
To do this, garage owners can switch their automatic garage doors to manual mode or disconnect the sensors altogether. Fortunately, this isn’t rocket science.
This piece will show you just how to do that. First, we’ll walk you through switching your door back to manual mode and then disengaging the sensors.
Switching to Manual Mode
Step 1: Make sure the door is firmly closed
If the fault hasn’t let to a jam yet and still allows you some liberty to slide the door shut, please do.
Not doing so may expose you to unnecessary risk from your door slamming down violently, especially when the door spring is either damaged or not there at all.
It is therefore important to switch to manual mode while your door remains shut. If, however, the door was stuck while open, the next point would be your first step.
Step 2: Brace the door from underneath
When your door is stuck fully or half-open, one way to ensure your safety is to brace it from underneath with wooden support or other objects.
In this case, you could make do with wooden props/struts (of size 2×4) that runs through the full height of the garage door opening.
If that’s out of your reach, you can devise another means by placing a durable piece of item (such as a shelf or a drum) underneath.
Whatever you’re using, ensure it is strong enough to bear the weight of the garage door.
When using wooden props/planks/struts, it’s safest to align them between the door and the floor on both ends of the garage door opening.
Holding up your garage door with a durable material will prevent it from slamming shut, especially if the door spring is defective or missing altogether.
Step 3: Drag down the manual release cord
Most doors come with manual release cords. This feature is usually a red material situated next to the garage door motor.
Pulling down on this cord helps to disconnect the door’s trolley from the automatic opening system.
This would enable you to open and close your garage door manually. If you’re finding it difficult to locate this feature, click on one of the videos below.
Step 4: Take away the props/struts and gently close the door
Once on manual mode, it’s time to remove the props or whatever object you improvised with and manually roll down the door. Usually, you’ll need some help with this one.
With the full weight of the door resting on those props, removing them from underneath it and closing the door at the same time could be daunting. Except if you’re the guy with four hands from Mortal Combat.
Take out the props by knocking them out with a hammer as someone else holds up the door in place.
When that is done, gently lower the garage door to a close. Now that you’ve successfully switched to manual mode, it’s time you considered disengaging the faulty sensors.
Disengaging Garage Door Sensors
Step 1: Cut-off power to the garage door sensors
Most garage door sensors work with electricity. It simply means that to disengage the sensor, you must cut off power.
To do this, you can either switch it off from the socket providing power to the garage door or pull the plug from off the wall.
This becomes a must-do to avoid electric shock when disconnecting the wires that power your garage door sensors. The next three steps are only necessary when changing the sensor.
Step 2: Locate and remove the garage door sensors
With the power out, it’s safe to “pluck off” the garage door sensors. They shouldn’t be hard to locate. Garage door sensors are small pieces of plastic on each lower side of the door.
When on, they usually blink LED lights—color may be relative to the messages being indicated. Green indicates that nothing is blocking the door path.
Amber or red color indicates that something is blocking the path or there could be a malfunction somewhere.
Also, you’ll find a wing nut on the side of each sensor. Loosen them by rotating counterclockwise. Loosening the nuts frees up the sensors from their brackets.
Step 3: Cut off the wires the old sensors
Once out of their brackets, garage door sensors remain attached to your door through their wires. Although the wires come in different colors, depending on their make, white and black are the most common.
Use a pair of pliers or wire cutters to sever the wires about three centimeters from the sensor.
Step 4: Connect the wires to the new sensors
Inserting new sensors to your garage door is not rocket science either. Use your pair of pliers to strip the hanging wires of their casing.
This is to expose the metal wiring. Now, connect the black wire you’ve exposed to the black wire attached to the new sensor.
Do the same for the white wire. With your sensors connected, slot them into their brackets and hold each of them in position by fastening the wingnuts.
Bypassing Garage Door Sensors
The previous steps are only important when you’re going cold turkey on your garage door sensors. You either want them removed or changed completely.
There are other ways to bypass a garage door sensor without going through the technical hassle. Let’s see three of those.
01. Knock them off alignment
By principle, photo-eye sensors work best when they are in alignment with each other. Distorting even one of these sensors will cause a garage door to malfunction.
02. Walk above the sensors
Since the photo eye sensors are positioned barely two inches off of the ground, stepping a bit higher than that puts you above the infrared rays.
03. Smear impervious material on the lenses
This may sound off the charts. Smearing impervious material on your sensor lenses automatically blocks the passage of infrared rays. With the infrared lights gone, you’re at liberty to bypass the sensors without a glitch.
04. Pull Emergency Release Cord
Most doors come with an emergency release cord. This feature is usually a red material situated next to the garage door motor.
A slight pull on this cord helps to disconnect the door’s trolley from the opener carriage. This would enable you to open and close your garage door manually.
Addressing Garage Door Sensor Malfunctions
01. Rid your garage door-opening of any obstruction
The number one culprit of sensor malfunction is obstructing objects. When the door path isn’t clear of objects, it will prevent the sensors from allowing the door to close completely.
To prevent this, keep objects away from the garage door opening and away from the sensors, too. The slight malfunction may not be a technical glitch per se but a simple obstruction to the infrared rays.
02. Make certain that your sensors are properly aligned
Sensors work best when facing each other. To make sure they’re in position, tighten up the wing nuts on both of the sensors. This would make sure they’re well-positioned in the brackets.
Asides from the sensors themselves, the brackets could be knocked out of alignment too. You should check to ensure the brackets are tightly attached to the garage doors.
03. Search for frayed wires
When frayed wires are left to linger, they could impede the function of your door sensors. When you spot frayed, chapped or burnt wires around your garage door sensor, unplug from the power supply and get them changed. Employ the services of an electrician.
04. Wipe your sensor lenses with a microfiber towel
Since they are located only a few inches above the ground, your sensor lenses are susceptible to dirt and debris. A build-up of dirt on the lenses may prevent proper function.
Dirt impedes the passage of infrared rays and makes the lenses perceive an obstruction when there is none. To clean your sensor lenses, however, not any material will do.
Rather than scrub with a cotton swab, use a microfiber cloth instead. Cotton-based materials may fell harmless to the touch but are spikes to your sensor lenses.
Microfibre cloth will do the cleaning without scratching the gentle surface of the lenses.
Frequently Asked Questions about Bypassing Garage Door Sensors
How do I open the garage door when there is no power supply?
Depending on the model of the door, it is possible to open the door from inside. This works when you pull on the red emergency release cord. When you’re locked out, opening the door requires the use of an emergency release lock.
Why does the garage door open when I try to close it?
The most probable cause is an obstruction in the door’s path. You are to look for and take out any object obstructing the path of the door. If nothing improves, check your sensor lenses for any obstructions.
Or the door’s safety beams for any build-up of dirt or miss-alignment. If there’s been a misalignment, gently adjust them until they’re pointing directly at each other.
Why won’t my garage door go all the way down?
Most garage door systems are equipped with photosensors. This system reverses the garage door if there’s any object or person in the way.
Or if there is an object blocking the sensor lenses. It could be a spider web with leaves on it or a minor misalignment requiring a slight adjustment.
Do you have to change your whole garage door if the sensor is damaged?
This depends on how long the door has been in use. And whether or not the rest of the door is still in pristine condition.
Otherwise, replacing only the sensors is enough. However, if the mechanical system of the door is in such rot, it will make more sense to replace the entire door.
How often should my garage door sensors be changed?
Most garage door sensors would continue to serve for as long as they’re in good condition. However when their components get burnt due to a power surge or some other means, then it is advised that you find a replacement.