19 Things to Check When Your Garage Door Won’t Open or Close
Everyone has experienced that tell-tale moment when your garage door refuses to open or close (usually when you’re pressed for time or already running late). As the garage door is now the most commonly used entrance for people going in and out of their homes, this can be frustrating, inconvenient, and even dangerous, so you need to know what to do when your garage door just won’t cooperate.
There are a number of problems that can prevent your garage door from opening or closing accurately, and some you can easily remedy yourself. Others may call for the installation of new hardware or appliances and require professional assistance.
Regardless of what the problem may be, it is imperative that you take good care of your garage door and address any issues that may arise in a timely manner. Here is a list of the top 19 reasons why your garage door won’t open or close and what you can do to get it up and running again.
1. Photo Eye Blocked
The photo eye is a safety feature on your garage door that is designed to prevent the garage door from closing when something is in the path of the door. It consists of two sensors located on either side of the garage door about 6 inches off the ground. One sensor sends a laser beam across to the other, and if anything interrupts that signal, the door will not close.
Sometimes dirt or dust will obscure the lens, so be sure both sensors are clean. Also, the sensors can be very sensitive and you may not notice right away if something is setting them off. Check to make sure there isn’t something in or around your garage that could be blocking the beam.
2. Photo Eye Alignment Off
Once you have cleaned the photo eye sensors and determined that there is nothing else blocking the signal between them, you need to check to make sure they are accurately aligned.
If the sensors are on and working properly, they should have lit LED lights; most garage door openers have one green and one red photo eye sensor. An unlit or flickering light could indicate that the sensor was bumped or somehow knocked out of alignment. Try adjusting the unlit sensor slightly back in line with the other sensor to see if the light comes back on. If that does not work, check to make sure your sensors are mounted at the same height. Uneven sensors may need to be remounted by a garage door technician.
3. Disconnected Photo Eye Wires
If the alignment seems right and there is nothing obstructing the signal between the photo eye sensors, double check to make sure that the wires are still intact and have not been damaged. It is possible for pests to tamper with any wires they come across in a garage or for rainwater to leak in and cause damage.
Broken Springs and Cables
Broken garage door springs are the number one reason garage door companies receive calls from customers. You are likely to know if you have a broken spring because it generally sounds like a gunshot or firecracker when it breaks.
The torsion spring is the spring that runs across the top of the door and the extension springs are those running on either side of the door, and both are necessary for the motor to have the ability to lift the door. When you have a broken spring, it is best to call a professional to replace it rather than trying to do it yourself due to the safety concerns in dealing with springs that are under a great deal of pressure.
When a spring breaks, the cables that run alongside your garage door also tend to break. Cables will need to be replaced along with the springs, which is also a job best left to the professionals.
6. Remote Out of Range
If your garage door seems to be working when using the keypads but not your remote, the remotes are likely the source of the issue.
But before you worry about whether or not your it’s working, make sure you are close enough to your garage door for the remote sensor to register. If your remote is out of range, it is not going to open your garage door.
Sometimes your remote may not work from as far away as it does others because it is more likely for the frequency to be interrupted the greater the distance you are from your garage door.
7. Dead Remote Batteries
Sometimes the most simple solutions are the most easily overlooked. If your garage door will not open or close in response to your remote regardless of how close you are, it is possible that you need to replace the batteries.
As batteries weaken, your remote may begin to work less consistently, making it seem like your garage door is acting up or your remote is broken. Most remote batteries are easy to replace, so this is a quick fix you can do yourself.
8. Remote Receiving Sensor Blocked
Once you know the batteries in your remote are working and your garage door still won’t open or close, check the antenna on the motor to see if it is blocked or has been damaged. It should be hanging down from the motor in order to best receive the signal from the remote. This is likely the problem if you are having trouble opening or closing your garage door with any of your remotes rather than just one specifically.
9. Remote Needs Reprogramming
When all else fails, try reprogramming your remote. Sometimes remotes get out of sync with the opener and need to be reprogrammed in order to work with your garage door. This can be done by using the learn button located on the opener, which is usually a large, brightly colored square.
10. Keypad Needs Reprogramming
In the same way your remotes can become out of sync with your opener, your keypad can as well. If your keypad is not opening or closing your garage door even though your remotes will, it may need to be reset. Using your user’s manual, try reprogramming your code to see if that will fix the problem.
11. Lock Mode Accidentally Enabled
Some garage door openers can be put into vacation or lock mode electronically by holding down the opener button on the keypad for an extended period of time. Just like manually locking the door with the handle, this will prevent the door from opening or closing automatically. To deactivate lock mode, simply reverse the process by holding down the opener button for a few seconds again.
12. Operator Power Source Blocked
It may seem simple, but if your garage door opener has no power, it is not going to open or close. Check to make sure that it has not been unplugged inadvertently and that the outlet being used is working properly. You may also want to check your breaker box to make sure you didn’t blow a fuse.
13. Opener Wires Disconnected
There are several wires that run to and from your opener, which all need to be fully connected for the door to open and close correctly. Check to make sure that no wires have come loose or been damaged.
14. Disconnect Switch Enabled
Every garage door is outfitted with a disconnect switch, so the door can be operated manually in case you ever lose power. This is likely the problem if you can hear the motor in your garage door opener running as it usually does, but the door is not actually moving up or down.
There is usually a rope connected to the switch to make it easier to use, but it can also get caught on something or pulled accidentally and cause the door to become disconnected from the motor. With the help of a step ladder, the switch can easily be reattached, and your garage door should be back in business.
15. Sensitivity Out of Adjustment
Regardless of how old or new your garage door is, it will not open if the sensitivity is set too high or too low. The reason this can affect whether or not your door will open is that when the levels are not correctly set, your opener will think the door is either too light or too heavy to open.
The manual that came with your opener should give guidelines for the proper sensitivity settings, and you can adjust them to the right levels by using the open and close force switches on your opener. If you can’t find the original manual, you can usually Google the brand name and model of your opener and find one online.
16. Stripped Gear
If you hear a humming noise when trying to open your garage door but nothing actually happens, there could be a stripped gear in your opener. Sometimes just the gear can be replaced, but other times the whole opener will need to be, determined largely by the age and design of your specific garage door opener. Either way, this is a repair best performed by a professional repairman.
Other Garage Door Adjustments
In order for your garage door to go up and down, it runs along a metal track. The track must be properly aligned, or it will prevent the door from moving. If you can see bends in the rail or gaps between the rollers and the track, you need to have your tracks serviced.
Sometimes a misaligned track will not immediately prevent the garage door from opening or closing, but it worsens over time. Rubbing noises or a slowing of your garage door at any point on the track can indicate an issue. Track alignment is crucial to the garage door functioning properly and not doing further damage, so any problems need to be addressed as soon as possible.
Just because something does not trigger the photo eye sensors does not mean that it cannot still block the garage door from closing. Garage doors have built-in sensors designed to prevent them from crushing any objects that might be in their paths.
This reversing mechanism is a useful safety measure but can also be sensitive to small objects like rocks or debris. The door will even reverse if it catches anything on the tracks that prevent the rollers from moving. Check the tracks for any buildup or blockage, and be sure to clear the area where the garage door touches down.
19. Garage Door Manually Locked
Some garage doors have a lock handle located on the outside of the door as an added safety feature. This handle can be locked manually and prevents the door from being opened automatically. Always double check to make sure the handle is unlocked when your garage door is not responding to your automatic buttons, keypads, or remotes. If you need to replace, rekey, or repair your garage door lock or want to have one installed, Mr. Rekey is a full-service locksmith and sister company of Mr. Garage Door that can easily meet your needs for an affordable price.
People often pay their garage door no mind until something goes wrong, but as the largest moving part on your home and the most commonly used entrance, it deserves a much greater deal of attention.
Regular maintenance can significantly extend the life of your garage door system and prevent the necessity for more serious repairs further down the road. Paying a little now to make sure everything is in good order can save you the expense of having to repair or replace parts later, which are generally much more costly.
Whether you are in need of garage door repairs or just a preventative service check, Mr. Garage Door is the company to call. We offer 5-star garage door services backed by our 100% Lifetime Workmanship Guarantee at an affordable, upfront price. We can help you with any of the repairs or troubleshooting listed above, as well as any other repairs, replacements, or garage door needs you may have.