How to Bypass Garage Door Sensors

Bypass Garage Door Sensors

Your garage door sensor is an important safety mechanism used to prevent the door from closing on someone. In most homes, your garage door is the largest moving piece of machinery, so the sensors are essential for the safety of you, your family, and your home.

That said, knowing how to bypass garage door sensors has a time and a place. When there’s a malfunction, or you need to control the door manually, you need to know how to bypass the sensors.

This guide will teach you everything from A to Z that you need to know about disabling or bypassing garage door sensors.

Understanding Garage Door Sensors

In 1993, the United States made it a legal requirement for all manufactured garage doors to come with sensors.

The photo-eye sensor sends infrared rays to the sensor on the other side of the door. When something obstructs the ray, the sensor will prevent the door from closing. This process happens in one of two ways.

  • The door jams immediately and won’t move until the obstruction is gone and you reset the door
  • The door will reverse upwards and come to a complete stop

While this is an important safety feature, there are some situations where you will need to know how to bypass garage door sensors.

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Bypassing Garage Door Sensors

If you’re not trying to remove or permanently change the sensors, you can bypass them. Bypassing the sensors is simple and doesn’t include any involved repairs or changes to your garage door opening system.

Move Them out of Alignment

The simplest way to bypass a sensor is to knock it out of place. The only way they work is when both sensors are perfectly aligned. When one sensor is pushed out of the way, you’ll be able to walk right through.

Walk Over them

Since the sensors are so low to the ground, you can step right over them. Of course, this is only recommended if necessary and make sure to be as quick as possible. Many people do this when they need to shut the door from the inside.

Cover Them

There are a few ways you can cover the sensors. Rubbing something like shaving cream or mayonnaise on the lens will temporarily disable them without leaving any permanent obstruction.

Pull The Emergency Cord

All garage door openers should come with an emergency release cord. It’s a red cord that hangs down right near the motor. If you pull on it, you’ll be able to control the door manually using the pulley system.

You may also be interested in: Our guide to the best outdoor extension cords

Switch to Manual Mode

If you’re looking for another way to bypass the garage door sensors temporarily, here are a few steps to make that happen.

Close the Door

Before switching the door to manual mode, you need to make sure it’s firmly closed. You don’t want to release the control mechanism of the belt when the door is open. If you do this, it can slam the door causing damage to the garage door or hurting someone nearby.

Brace the Door

If you want to switch to manual mode, but you’re worried about the door slamming, go ahead and brace it using a wooden support, chair, bucket, or something similar. This also works if you need to get in and out of the door when the motor isn’t working.

Make sure that the object you use is strong enough to carry the weight of the door and that an accidental slamming won’t break whatever object you choose.

Pull the Manual Release Cord

If you’ve either shut or controlled the door, you can now pull the manual release, disconnecting the door from the automatic system. Doing this will allow you to use the manual pulley system to open and close the door.

Remove the Obstruction

When you’re ready, you can then remove whatever you used to prop the door open and shut the door carefully using the manual system. Do not go under the garage door to remove the obstruction, stay out of the way in case the door slams.

Disengage the Sensors

If you’re dealing with faulty or broken sensors, you might want to remove them altogether. Let’s go over a few ways to accomplish that.

Cut off the Power

Garage door sensors are powered by electricity, so by removing the power source, you’ll disengage the sensors, and they will no longer work.

Remove the Sensors

Once you’ve killed the power, you can get rid of the sensors. Unscrew whatever is securing them to the rails. Most are very easy to remove.

Cut the Wires

Now you have the sensors in hand, but the wires are still attached. You’ll want to use a set of wire cutters and strip the wires about an inch from the sensor box to give yourself some space to work.

Connecting New Wires

When you have your new sensors, you can reattach the wires by stripping the casing and attaching the two wires together and refastening the sensor to the rail.

Make sure that they are pointed in the right direction and operating correctly before enabling the automatic door opener.


Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding garage door opener sensors.

Q: How do you open a garage door without power?

A: You need to pull the emergency cord. Every garage door offers a manual system that allows you to open and close the door using a manual pulley.

Q: I keep trying to close the door, but it opens, why?

A: If the door keeps opening back up, it means there is an obstruction. Sometimes it can be dirt particles in the air tripping the sensors.

Q: How often do you change garage door sensors?

A: If you feel that they’re not operating properly, that’s when it’s time to change them. In some cases, the sensors will last longer than the doors themselves. There is no definitive measure of time to change garage door sensors.

Brett Gordon

The engine behind editing at DigMyRide and the brains behind its build. During the day, Brett is a thirty-something dude from SoCal climbing the corporate ladder, but by night, he spends his time contributing to the online world of automotive tech & trends.