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  • Testing Your Garage Door Opener’s Automatic Reversal

  • Guest post by Kevin Pettiette; acting president of the International Door Association.

    Recently, awareness about upgrading your garage door opener to a model made in 1993 or after has gone up. These ’93 and later models of openers adhere to the revised safety standard set forth by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requiring all garage door openers to have an inherent reversing system. This reversing mechanism in all garage door openers is in response to the surprising number of fatalities and injuries adults, children, and pets were suffering when entrapped by a closing garage door.

    Technology for door openers has come a long way. Smart openers connect to Wi-Fi and other models contain built-in cameras and audio capabilities. At the end of the day, the only technology that truly matters concerning a garage is the reversing mechanism and its corresponding external sensors. The CPSC recommends testing the reversal capabilities once per month.

    There are two common safety features with a functional auto-reverse system: the opener motor and infrared sensors. The opener motor senses resistance and reverses direction if a certain level of resistance is recognized. The infrared sensors are the second line of defense. If any object is blocking the path of the infrared sensors, the garage door opener will reverse if operating or will not activate at all.

    How to Test Your Automatic Reverse Mechanism


    For this safety test, you will need a 2×4 wood block or any object 1 ½ inch high. Place your block flat on the ground, centered under the garage door. Now close your door. A fully functioning opener will stop the garage door upon contact with your object and within 2 seconds, re-open.

    If your garage door does not reverse within 2 seconds of contact with the woodblock, you have cause for concern that your GDO is not fully operational. If the door does not reverse at all after contact with the woodblock, disconnect the automatic opener and call a repair technician immediately. DIY methods for repairing your opener or the electric eye sensors exist but calling in a professional to examine this crucial aspect of your garage system is highly recommended for your safety and for the safety of others around you.

    Important Reminder

    In performing this test, please make sure all small children and pets are away from the garage door before closing.

    Fixing Your Automatic Reverse Mechanism

    Fixing an inoperative reversing mechanism will vary depending on the model and age of your garage door opener. It may be a simple fix that you could do yourself, or it may be serious enough to require replacement of the door opener completely. If you’re unsure, call your local garage door service company to ensure your safety and the safety of your family.

    Kevin Pettiette is the owner of Smokey’s Garage Door in Glendale, AZ. Smokey’s has been family-owned and operated since 1982. Kevin shares his years of industry knowledge to help create safer installation and repair practices while remaining committed to providing businesses and consumers alike with high-integrity garage door products.