Two questions:

1) Are garage door safety sensors required or just highly recommended?

2) I currently do not have them, and think that I want to add them. In my previous house my kids kept smacking into them with their bikes, toys, etc. and knocking them out of alignment and it was always a pain to have to recalibrate them. I would have to do this frequently. Are there different kinds that are either more resistant to this or easier to align?

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    You could use a thick steel bracket rather than the flimsy one's that the come with. – JPhi1618 Oct 19 '15 at 13:51

The sensors are needed because automatic garage doors without them (or with malfunctioning ones) can and do kill people, including children.

If your current opener has no photo-beam sensor, you should toss a 2x4 on the flat side on the floor and close the door - if it does not stop and reverse by itself when it hits the 2x4, then it also lacks (or is ignoring, or is massively misadjusted) the required pressure sensor reverse. The most likely cost-effective solution to that (other than adjusting) would be a whole new opener. The fact that your opener operates at all without photo-sensors is also an argument in favor of a new opener.

I had a main control board go bad after a nearby lightning strike which was causing the opener to try and drive the door through the floor - not a "fail safe" design on that one. You should check (and if needed, adjust) the safety systems at least twice a year, and any time the thing seems to be behaving oddly.

As for the kids smacking into the sensors, you can box the sensors into a more protected situation - and they do not HAVE to be mounted on the tracks - they can be mounted on the walls (the beam goes a little further, but the sensor is not hanging in space.)

  • Just looked closer. They are mounted right above my garage door opener pointed right at each other. Oh boy. – Mike Cole Oct 20 '15 at 15:31
  • If you had a home inspection before purchase, and they didn't catch that, get your money for the inspection back, at least. – Ecnerwal Oct 20 '15 at 17:19

Yes, saftey sensors are quite important. You could build a shield or guard to protect them from bumps. There are covers available, but I can't speak to how well they work.

International Residential Code 2012

Chapter 3 Building Planning

Section 309 Garages and Carports

R309.4 Automatic Garage Door Openers Automatic garage door openers, if provided, shall be listed and labeled in accordance with UL 325.

UL 325 requires two types of safety sensors for residential vehicular gate operators. The first type is a contact type sensor, which reverses the direction when an obstruction is contacted or the gate is stopped by something. The second type of sensor is a non-contact, contact, or pressure sensor, which is also required to reverse direction when an obstruction is detected.

So yes, the sensors are "required", unless you replace them with some other type of sensor.

  • I understand they are important for safety reasons. I was curious if they are legally required. I'll take a look at those covers. – Mike Cole Oct 19 '15 at 14:00
  • Not sure on code or legality, but newer openers certainly require the sensors. They must be in place, and bypassing isn't as easy as just jumpering a wire - it knows the sensors are there and working and not bypassed. – JPhi1618 Oct 19 '15 at 14:09

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