How to Bypass Garage Door Sensors

Garage door sensors are a critical component in your garage door opener. They are a valuable safety feature that keeps you and your family safe while using the garage. 

Safety sensors prevent the door from shutting down on someone when there’s an obstruction in the door’s way. But what happens when the safety sensors malfunction? 

Safety sensor malfunction prevents the door from opening and closing. Your door is permanently stuck. It is either left wide open or won’t open at all preventing you from accessing your garage. 

There are several ways to address safety sensor malfunction. The most immediate solution is to bypass them and fix them as soon as possible. 

In this article we explore how to bypass garage door sensors and why bypassing should only be a temporary solution to be considered. 

Let’s dive in!

How to bypass garage door sensors if you are in a hurry

To easily bypass the sensor if you are in a hurry, press and hold down the open/close button on the wireless keypad till the door hits the floor surface if originally opened. Holding down the open/close button on the keypad temporarily disengages the sensors and the door will continue to open/close provided the open button is held down. This method only works for certain garage door openers and might or might not work for your exact model. 

Bypassing Garage Door Sensors

Garage door sensors facilitate the opening and closing of the garage door. Some garage doors won’t even open in the absence of the sensors. 

But sometimes, the garage door sensors act up preventing your door from moving an inch further. This can be quite frustrating especially in the morning when you’re late for work. 

Garage good sensor malfunction is not uncommon. After all, the sensors are mounted very low on the garage door poles and often get knocked out of position. This causes photo-eye misalignment causing the door to come to a standstill. 

The sensors could also be dirty and covered with dust, causing a blockage of the infrared signal from the emitter. And finally, the sensor could just stop functioning. Nevertheless, the garage door fails to work leaving you stranded. 

When Garage door sensors fail, your immediate (but temporary) action should be to bypass the sensors and get them fixed later in the day. 


Garage door sensors are a critical safety measure and you should never operate your garage door without them!

Before we look at how to bypass garage door sensors, let’s first look at when you should bypass the sensors and why it’s probably a bad idea to bypass them in the long run!

When Should You Bypass Garage Door Sensors

I once woke up and prepared myself for work, only to head to the garage and get stranded. My garage door sensors had malfunctioned completely shutting down my garage door. I had to pull the cord and operate the garage door manually!

Bypassing garage door sensors is a bad idea. However, we sometimes have to do it.

There are several scenarios that warrant a sensor bypassing. First of all, if you have an emergency or must immediately access your garage space, then bypassing garage door sensors makes a lot of sense. 

If you’re late for work or have an urgent errand to run, then fixing the garage door sensors can wait a little bit. 

The other scenario in which you can bypass garage door sensors is when the garage door opener has malfunctioned – preventing the door from opening or closing yet there’s nothing in its way. 

Garage door sensors tend to act up after some time or after frequent usage. The sensors will just stop functioning for no reason. Such a scenario necessitates replacement – which you might not be able to do immediately. When this happens, you ‘are allowed’ to temporarily bypass the sensors as you wait to fix them. 

Why You Shouldn’t Bypass Garage Door Sensors

Garage door sensors are a very reliable safety feature in automatic garage door openers. These sensors prevent the door from closing if there is an object in the door’s path. Your garage door can’t, therefore, shut down on your foot, pet, or any object beneath the garage door. 

However, garage door sensors are mounted just a few inches above the ground along the door posts. This positioning exposes the sensors making them frequently be knocked out of position. 

This then means your door won’t open, leaving you stranded. When this happens, the temptation to permanently bypass the safety sensors always kicks in. The frustration of being locked out and stranded adds to this temptation. 

But that’s a bad idea! Understand that bypassing garage door sensors is taking a huge risk. It can put you, your family, and your property in great danger. 

For starters, the door is very likely to shut down on your foot or your pet. It could also shut down on your car’s bumper or your kids’ toys. In case of an emergency and you need to leave your home quickly, bypassing the sensors could prevent the door from opening therefore locking you in. 

Bypassing the door puts you in hot soup with your insurance company should something wrong happen to your house. Your insurance claim is likely to be denied since you intentionally interfered with the safety feature. This could cause a huge financial dent to you. 

And finally, bypassing garage door sensors is illegal in many states. You could face legal action should an accident occur after you bypassed the safety sensor. 

By all means, bypassing garage door sensors is a bad idea. It’s like having your house burn down just because you removed the batteries out of the smoke detector while cooking pancakes!

So if you have to bypass garage door sensors, do it as a temporary measure as you seek to address the sensor malfunction. 

How to Bypass Garage Door Sensors

Bypassing the garage door sensors is a simple process that you can do within a few minutes. You don’t need any complicated tools for this process. 

Step 1: Prop the door

This is the very first step. You will need an extra set of hands for this step. Use a physical prop or anything that can bear the weight of your garage door to prop your door. It could be anything from a table to a log of wood, provided it can bear the weight of your garage door. 

Step 2: Pull the Cord to engage manual mode

Safety sensor malfunction prevents the door from opening and closing. You, therefore, need to operate the door manually. 

After propping the door, locate the manual release cord and pull it down. The manual release cord, also known emergency release cord looks like a red string and is always suspended from the trolley. 

Locate it and pull it down to disconnect the trolley from the opener carriage. This means your garage door opener won’t automatically open and you have to open and close the door manually. 

Step 3: Operate the door manually 

Having pulled the cord, you can now operate the door manually. Carefully remove the prop (ask a friend to help you to prevent the door from shutting on your foot) and lower the door. 

You will operate the door manually at this point. Apply minimal force to open and close the door. Do not use a lot of force to avoid breaking the door. 

How to Bypass Your Garage Door Sensors Permanently!

Are your sensors regularly malfunctioning? Tired of frequently having to fix them? You can permanently bypass garage door sensors. 

This method involves tricking the sensor that they are aligned. All you need is a cutter and tape as you’ll be doing some electrical work on the sensors. 

The method only works if the sensor malfunction is a result of misalignment. So if you regularly knock off your sensors and often have to align them back, this is the method for you!

It involves tricking the sensors that they are aligned and that there’s no obstruction on the door path. You’ll therefore need perfectly functional sensors for this method. 

Step 1: Close the garage door and disconnect the garage door opener from the main power supply. 

Step 2: Using a cutter, cut the wires of the door sensor, giving an allowance of about 7 inches attached to the sensors. Using the tape, seal the wires attached to the house.

Step 3: Mount the sensors together facing each other and aligned. You will then proceed to rewire the sensors to the overhead unit. 

The garage door opener should have 4 holes for wire connection. The holes are colored differently starting with red, white, white, and finally black. You will use the black hole and the white hole adjacent to the black hole. 

Your sensors also have two wires each – white and black. Wire together the white wires into the white hole and the black wires into the black hole in the motor unit. Your sensors are now rewired into the motor unit. 

Step 4: Test to see whether the trick works and whether the garage door will open. If the trick fails, check the sensor alignment or the wiring. 

Finally, store the sensors well and in a place where they’ll never be knocked out. You can use the 7-inch wire allowance to store the sensors on top of the unit, where you’re guaranteed they’ll never be knocked out. 

Note: We do not advocate for this method as it disengages a critical safety feature and puts your whole family in danger. 

How Do Garage Door Sensors Work?

Sensors are a great component in garage door openers. They are so pivotal that some garage door openers won’t work without them. But how do garage door sensors work? 

Garage door sensors work by emitting an invisible beam of infrared light across the entrance of your garage. This light automatically triggers the door to stop and reverse when interrupted. 

Ever wondered how your garage door has never shut down on your feet? Well, that’s the work of the garage door sensor. They force the door to stop and automatically reverse when an object is directly beneath the door

Garage door sensors are a great safety feature. Sensors detect obstructions in the path of the door and trigger it to stop and reverse. This prevents the door from shutting down on you, your pets, and any other objects.

The sensors are placed about 4 to 6 inches above the ground, therefore, ensuring that even the smallest obstruction is detected. 

Types of Garage Door Sensors

There are two main types of garage door sensors: mechanical sensors and photoelectric sensors.

  1. Mechanical sensors trigger the door to stop and reverse only when they encounter an obstruction in the path of the door. These sensors are normally found on old garage door openers. 
  2. Photoelectric garage door sensors are found in modern garage door sensors. They use an infrared laser to map the path of the door and identify obstructions. The infrared beam creates an invisible tripwire that triggers the door to stop when tripped.

There are two types of photoelectric garage door sensors: retro-reflective safety sensors and through-beam safety sensors. 

  1. Retro-reflective sensors combine an emitter and a receiver into one unit. The emitter produces a beam of light that traverses the garage door. The retro-reflector on the opposite side reflects the light ray to the receiver. 

When the light is interrupted, it loses its strength and angle of reflection. This interruption is read by the receiver consequently triggering the door to stop and automatically reverse. 

  1. Through-beam sensors are the most common type of sensor. The emitter and receiver are placed opposite of each other. The emitter produces a beam of light which is received by the receiver on the opposite side. The door automatically stops if the light is tripped or interrupted. 

What to do when Garage Door Sensors Fail

Garage door sensors are very pivotal for door movement. Some garage doors fail to function properly when the garage door sensor malfunctions. 

Your door might function erratically. It might suddenly stop and reverse for no reason, or open but not close. Sensor malfunction may also cause the garage door opening halfway and then stopping. 

Here is what to do when your garage door sensors act up!

  1. Check Sensor Alignment

Garage door sensors are made up of an emitter and a receiver. The emitter shoots a beam of light to the receiver.

The two components must be accurately aligned for the beam to reach the receiver. In case of misalignment, the beam barely hits the receiver leading to the sensor not working perfectly. 

Sensors could easily be knocked out of position by a person or a vehicle. Ensure you regularly check for sensor misalignment as part of your maintenance routine.

  1. Clear Obstructions

Garage door sensors emit a beam of infrared light. The sensors automatically trigger the door to stop and reverse when the beam is tripped or blocked. 

Obstructions are common in the garage space. Some obstructions are big and obvious to spot. However, some require inspection. Ensure to check on small obstructions that might be blocking the beam of light from the emitter.  

  1. Clean The Sensors

Dust, dirt, and debris might accumulate on the reflector and receiver of the garage door sensor. 

When this happens, the beam of infrared light is barely transmitted, reflected, or received accurately. This in turn leads to sensor malfunction.  

The solution is often to clean up the optical components of the sensor as guided by the manufacturer’s recommendations. Ensure you refer to the manufacturer’s guide on how to clean the sensors. 

  1. Check for a Wiring problem

As time passes, the wiring on an electronic device loosens. This often leads to device malfunction. Check whether the wires connecting your garage door sensors are properly welded and connected. 

  1. Reset The Garage Door Opener

This is definitely your last resort before you replace your sensors. This method is pretty effective as it restores default settings to your garage door opener. In essence, the garage door opener reverts to how the manufacturer made it. 

However, this method deletes all your previous programming and you might have to reconnect and reprogram your remotes. It’s all worth it though if it fixes your garage door opener. 

Resetting a garage door opener varies depending on the brand and model of the opener. Refer to the user manual to reset your garage door opener appropriately.  

Still won’t work? Use the Self-Diagnostic feature!

This should probably be your first course of action when your sensors or garage door opener malfunctions. 

Some garage door openers have a very helpful self-diagnostic feature that highlights the problem once it occurs. These garage door openers automatically run a scan and show you the exact problem. 

LiftMaster garage door openers with Security Plus 2.0 have such a feature and will always tell you in case a problem arises. Chamberlain and Genie garage door openers have a similar feature as well. 

Other models have different telling signs such as flashing the learn button inside the opener when there’s something wrong. Some garage door openers even have a sensor status LED to show you whether the sensors are working perfectly. 

Always check on the self-diagnostic feature when you notice a problem and before you embark on a reset or sensor bypassing.   

Frequently Asked Questions 

You’re definitely not the only one to wonder how to bypass garage door sensors. Here are some of the most frequent questions regarding bypassing garage door sensors. 

Q: Is it illegal to bypass garage door sensors?

Yes. Bypassing garage door sensors is illegal in some states and can attract legal action. However, regardless of legality, it is advised that you do not bypass your garage door safety sensors for your safety around the garage space. 

Q: How do I know my garage door sensors are not functional?

Garage door sensor malfunction leads to erratic door operation. Check the sensors when the door does not stop when obstructed, or when it fails to open completely. Ensure that the sensors are aligned and clean.

Q: Can I reuse garage door sensors?

Yes. Garage door sensors can be reused if they are compatible with the new garage door opener. However, new garage door openers come with their safety sensors hence no need to reuse the old sensors.

Q: What happens if you disconnect garage door sensors?

Disconnecting garage door sensors suspends all safety measures putting garage users in danger. Your garage door opener may also stop working altogether or work erratically. 

Q: Are garage door sensors universal?

No. garage door sensors are not universal. However, several garage door sensors are highly compatible with most garage door openers and will probably work with your garage door opener.

Q: Where do I find the right replacement sensors for my garage door?

The right sensors that are compatible with your garage door opener can easily be found on Amazon or your garage door manufacturer’s website. Search for the sensors compatible with your opener model on the manufacturer’s website or on Amazon. 

You can also install universal and highly compatible sensors that will definitely work with your garage door opener. 

Fix Your Garage Door Sensors, Don’t Bypass!

Bypassing garage door sensors isn’t a very good idea. It puts you and your family in imminent danger. It is also illegal in some states and puts you on the wrong side with the state and your insurer. 

However, bypassing safety sensors is at times necessary. And I hope this guide helps you figure out how to bypass garage door sensors. Try it and let me know if you experience any challenges. 

Remember, bypassing garage door sensors is risky and should only be done when necessary. Always fix your garage door sensors as soon as possible.

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As a home improvement specialist, ex-hotelier, blogger, and the creator of this platform, my mission is to guide you in making your garage functional, enjoyable, and inviting whenever you desire. Embrace the journey of learning with me!

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