It only happens when you’re in a hurry: Your garage door opener malfunctions and you cannot get out of — or into — your house. Garage door openers are a tremendous convenience, but they can be temperamental. Let’s solve some of the most common frustrations.
Anatomy of a garage door opener
The modern garage door opener consists of an electric motor attached to the center of the garage ceiling. The motor drives a belt or chain attached to the door by a steel bar. This mechanism pulls the door up or drives it down. A light mounted on the motor comes on when the motor starts. Settings on the opener’s up limit and down limit switches tell the door where to stop at the top and bottom.
A set of electric “eyes” installed near the bottom of the door opening will cause the closing door to stop or go up if it’s interrupted during operation. This safety feature prevents the door from hitting someone or something beneath it as it descends. Even if the door hits something that doesn’t trigger the electric eye, the door will stop and/or rise.
You operate the garage door opener in one of three ways: a remote control in your car, a keypad outside the door where you punch in an access code, or a simple button inside the garage.
One simple maintenance task
If the door rollers on the track or the large spring mounted horizontally on the wall over the door become dry, the door might not operate properly. A simple task that can preempt many opening and closing problems is to grease these components once per year.
When the door will not open properly
If you encounter problems raising the door, try these troubleshooting steps.
- If you step into the garage from inside the house and the button does not open the door, try the remote. If the remote doesn’t work either, try the outside keypad. If none of these work, the power source to the opener’s motor has probably been interrupted. Check to see whether the motor is not plugged in fully or a breaker has been tripped. If there’s no problem with either, then your motor may have failed, which will require a service call from a professional.
- When the wall button in the garage works but the remote doesn’t, the remote’s battery probably needs replacing. If that’s not the problem, check the wire antenna that hangs from the motor to make sure it dangles freely and can receive the remote signal. Make sure when you are approaching your house that you are close enough to it that the garage door opener remote is within range of the antenna.
- If the outside keypad doesn’t work, check to see if it’s batteries need replacing.
- Sometimes the code between the remote, keypad and motor needs reprogramming. But try batteries first.
- If the door tries to open but stops prematurely, lubrication may be the issue as mentioned above. Or the up limit switch on the motor may need to be adjusted to raise it higher.
When the door will not close properly
If closing the door is the issue, try these options.
- If the door starts down but almost immediately stops and retreats back up, either an electric eye at the bottom of the door opening is blocked by an obstacle or the eyes have been bumped out of alignment. The door eyes must be aimed straight at one another to work.
- When the door goes partially down but then stops and reverses, the rollers may need lubrication. Dry rollers make the unit’s safety feature think that it has hit an obstacle, which causes it to stop closing and lift the door back up. If lubrication is adequate, you may be able to repair the problem by adjusting a screw in the motor housing that sets the closing force.
- If the door goes partly down but stops and stays above the ground, the closing limiter switch on the garage door opener may need adjusting.
If all else fails
Keep in mind that if none of these fixes help, you can pull the overhead emergency cord to open and shut the door and call a professional to repair the opener.