Automatic Reverse Mechanism: When Garage Doors Malfunction
The automatic reverse mechanism of a garage door is what forces a quick reversal of the door’s direction when an obstacle is encountered. It’s an important safety function that can prevent harm to a child, pet, car, or any other obstruction. A leading cause of garage door malfunctions is the auto reverse mechanism, but few people know there can be serious consequences to the mechanical failure, from causing injuries to fatalities. Due to the intense pressure and weight of a closing garage door, children and pets who may be in the path are especially at risk for serious injury or death.
The two safety components of an automatic garage door that can affect the operation of the automatic reverse mechanism are the opener motor and the infrared sensors.
Opener motors are designed to reverse directions if a certain level of resistance is encountered. If the opener motor will only switch to reverse when there is an excessive level of pressure, the reverse mechanism is inoperative. It may not be because of a malfunction, though. Most garage door openers manufactured prior to 1982 don’t comply with current safety standards requiring an auto-reverse feature. These outdated models may stop when there is resistance, but they won’t reverse.
How to Test an Automatic Reverse Mechanism
If you aren’t sure whether the automatic reverse mechanism on your garage door is operative, there’s an easy test you can conduct using a 2×4. Actually, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that garage door opener reversing mechanisms be tested monthly. Here’s the test: Place the 2×4 underneath the garage door. Activate the garage door. If the wood doesn’t cause the garage door to switch into reverse, the reversing mechanism has failed. In the event of failure, the CPSC recommends disconnecting the door opener until repair has been made and the auto-reverse function is restored.
The other safety feature that will cause a garage door to reverse directions is a set of infrared sensors. The sensors should be mounted on each side of the garage door frame approximately 4” to 6” from the floor. If the path of the infrared sensors is blocked, the garage door will either reverse directions or won’t activate.
DIY Fixes for the Auto Reverse Feature
Depending on the model and age of your garage door opener, you may be able to fix a malfunctioning automatic reverse mechanism yourself. Check troubleshooting tips in your owner’s manual. For some garage door openers, fixing the auto reverse mechanism can be as easy as tightening some screws with a screwdriver.
The most common cause of problems with auto reverse, however, is the set of infrared sensors. The most common issue is that the sensors become misaligned, usually as a result of being bumped into. There’s usually a clicking sound if the infrared sensors are the reason the garage door is malfunctioning. Simply replace the sensors to their previous position and test the door.
If you’ve tried troubleshooting it still doesn’t work, it’s best to disconnect the automatic garage door opener and contact a garage door service company about the automatic reverse mechanism malfunction.