Automatic garage doors are extremely heavy, and if they were to hit you, a family member, a pet or one of your belongings, they could cause serious damage, injury or even death. Luckily, garage doors have safety features that prevent them from becoming major hazards. To ensure your garage door remains safe, you should understand these safety measures and how to maintain them.

There Are Two Major Safety Features 

One safety feature you'll find in many automatic garage doors is the reversing sensors. These sensors or eyes sit on either side of the garage door, and they send a beam across to each other. When the beam successfully travels from one sensor to the other, the system knows the door is clear and safe to shut. If the beam can't reach its target, the door won't shut. Another safety feature is the door sensitivity. This feature is required on all automatic garage doors. Basically, if the garage door does actually hit something, the force sensitivity stops the door and pushes it back up.

You Should Keep the Sensors Clean

The sensors are designed to stop the door from shutting if someone or something is in the door, but that isn't the only reason the door may not close. Anything that prevents the beam from traveling from one eye to the other can stop the door from closing. One of the easiest problems to fix is dirty sensors. Dirt, mud, cobwebs, etc. can collect on the sensor and block the beam. Luckily, the solution is simple: clean them. Try using a dry, clean rag to remove the residue, but if necessary, you can use a damp cloth and mild dish detergent. Don't use anything corrosive, such as bleach, as it can damage the sensors. With the sensor clean, wipe it dry with a rag.

The Sensors Can Get Misaligned

Another problem that can prevent the beam from reaching its target is misaligned sensors. If the eyes aren't aimed directly at each other, the system will register that something is blocking the beam, and the door won't shut. The sensors may have become misaligned if someone or something bumped into them, such as a bike or lawn equipment. To adjust the sensors, start by loosening the nuts or screws on the sensor box. Don't remove them. Simply loosen them enough so you can slightly wiggle the box. Gently adjust each sensor until the power-indicator lights up, which indicates the sensors are aligned.

You'll Need to Routinely Test and Adjust the Sensitivity

The force sensitivity should be routinely tested to make sure it is sensitive enough. You can do this by putting a piece of wood under the garage door. Close the door and wait for it to reach the board. The door should barely touch the board, strain and then reverse. With the garage door open, check the board to see if the door caused any damage, such as denting. If it did, or if the garage door opened well before it hit the board, you need to adjust the sensitivity. To do this, locate the correct dial on the motor. Adjust the dial and keep testing the door until the door opens just as it hits the board without causing damage.

Your garage door could become a big danger if you fail to properly maintain it. It's especially important to maintain the reversing sensors and force sensitivity because they are designed to protect against damage and injury. If you would like more information about garage door maintenance or if you need a repair, contact a garage door specialist in your area today. Websites like can also be a great resource.