In 1993 it was federally mandated that all garage door openers manufactured and installed have photo eye safety censors. These are meant to ensure that a garage never closes when there is something in the way. The thing about them is that they can be very sensitive, and stop working unless they are super clean, and always pointing at each other. Since they can be so annoying, many people will mount them up by the opener unit on the ceiling, so that they are facing each other always.
Photo eyes are photographic sensors that project an invisible beam across to each other. If this beam is interrupted in anyway, the sensors will send a signal to the opener head to prevent the door from closing. By law they are to be mounted 6 to 12 inches off the ground. This law is in place to protect many things from your garage door, to your car, to your children and pets.
Before 1993 If there was something underneath the garage door, you could push the button and it would shut on whatever was beneath it. Now, with people circumventing this safety feature, the damage that is supposed to be easily avoided still happens. When people move their photo eyes, we get calls all the time from people who have shut their doors on their cars! We have all parked a little too far forward in our garages before. If you don’t have a marker to follow in your garage it can be an easy thing to do! Usually it’s okay though, because your safety censors will “see” that your car is in the way and make sure that your door doesn’t close on it.
We have had so many people close their door, denting both the hood of their vehicles AND the bottom panel of their garage doors. Many garage door panels absolutely have to be replaced if they are dented in this way. When a panel gets dented, the integrity of the panel strength is compromised and can cause the door to eventually buckle.
On a more somber note, the Los Angeles times reported in 1990 that at least 46 children had been killed because they had been struck by an automatically operated garage door. These kids were probably playing when someone pushed the garage door button to close the door. If the child was pushed over and wasn’t able to get up in time, they were seriously injured and in some instances they were killed. Garage doors do have safety limits that have to be manually set that make the door reverse in case of too much pressure being applied. Sadly, many people do not test the limits very often on the door. And if children are very small they may not have triggered the safety limit.