Today:24 May, 2024

Troubleshooting the most common garage door opener problems

The importance of having functional garage doors cannot be stressed enough. After all, average residential doors are opened and closed around 1.500 times per year! In translation, five times a day we open or close our garage doors. They provide convenience, safety, and security to our homes. But, we often take garage doors for granted. In other words, maintenance and regular servicing are usually overlooked. Inevitably, this results in broken or damaged doors. For that reason, our garage door opener repair guide will provide you with the most important tips for the most common problems.

The role of garage door openers

In a way, garage door openers are the most important component of the door. As their name suggests, door openers are created with one purpose in mind – to open and close garage doors. Even though their lifespan is somewhere between 10 and 15 years, these gadgets can break down or malfunction even before this “deadline”. As a result, your door could be out of order for a while, trapping your car inside or outside of the garage.

So, our garage door opener troubleshooting guide will tell you how to respond to the most common glitches and defects. However, your approach to the issue at hand will depend on the type of garage door opener you are using.

The best approach to garage door opener repair

Nowadays, garage door openers come in four types, and each of these categories is using a different drive. So, your opener could come equipped with one of the following types:

  • Chain drive
  • Belt drive
  • Screw drive
  • Direct drive

Depending on the type, the troubleshooting process for the garage door opener may vary. Yet, the general elements should be similar.

Also, there are two different ways in which you can approach the process of repairing the door. The first one is the so-called DIY manner, and you should not go down this road unless you have enough tools or experience.

The second option is a sort of a ‘safe bet’, but we recommend it either way. In other words, you should call for professionals as soon as you notice that your garage door opener is not working as it should. Needless to say, trained technicians will be able to service the door without putting anyone in danger. After all, an average garage door can weigh up to 400-500 lbs. Not to mention the fact that tension springs can snap with enormous force, which often results in severe or even fatal injuries. For that reason, it is best to play it safe and let the pros handle the situation.

But, there are certain things that homeowners can check on their own. So, here are the most common problems with garage doors and the proper ways to fix those defects.

Most common garage door opener problems and how to solve them

The remote doesn’t work

In most cases, garage door openers are controlled by a remote. Due to advances in technology, remote controllers are becoming smaller and more convenient with each passing day. Even so, their batteries run out of power, sooner or later. And, this is one of the leading causes of malfunctioning doors. Thus, check the batteries on the remote if your garage door opener is not reacting.

Of course, batteries may not be the only culprit. To clarify, you could be out of range, or the antenna on the opener could be damaged. Modern garage door openers communicate with the remote by a radio frequency of 315mHz. Yet, this communication can travel only so far, and you should make sure that you are standing within the required distance from the opener.

The wall switch doesn’t work

Likewise, damaged outlets can often cause problems with garage doors. For that reason, whenever you start troubleshooting garage door opener, check the wall switch first. Sometimes, the problem could require as simple a solution as plugging back the cord all the way into the outlet. Yes, the cable sometimes falls out, either by human interference or by accidental contact with items in the garage.

If the door still will not budge, you should try plugging some other device into the outlet. By doing so, you will see if the electricity is even reaching the switch in the first place. If not, you may have to check fuses, breakers, or the GFCI box. Either way, this will probably call for the professional help from a certified electrician.

Garage door won’t close all the way

Oftentimes, garage doors stop with the opening process a couple of inches off the ground. Or, they do not close all the way. In both of these situations, you may want to check the sensors and their alignment. The sensors, also known as the electronic eyes, are located on both sides of the door, next to the tracks. And, the ‘eyes’ should face each other at all times. Also, it is important that nothing stands in the way of the beam of light that travels between the sensors.

The main purpose of the sensors is to stop the opening process if something is in the way. Sometimes, this feature can save people from injuries. Yet, the delicate technology can misbehave at times, affecting the door’s behavior. So, make sure that the lenses are facing each other and that nothing is standing in the way.

The garage door stops when opening

Even though garage door systems may seem robust and sturdy, they can be highly sensitive at times. In other words, a large number of moving parts are depending on each other. So, if one of the components falls out of place, the entire system will not be in good working order. For instance, rollers and tracks are the leading causes of problems that may result in getting your door stuck.

If the tracks are not well-aligned, the rollers will struggle to travel up and down. Sooner or later, they will get stuck in the rails. Therefore, you should check the tracks on a regular basis. Also, lubricating them with silicone spray is a must! It goes without saying that you should also keep the tracks free of any dirt or debris at all times. So, perform a quick checkup of these parts every once in a while. By doing so, you will extend the longevity of rollers and tracks, making your door more stable and functional as well.

Read one more tip here.

The garage door opener makes grinding noises, but will not open the door

The next tip in our garage door opener troubleshooting guide is related to the main gear drive. To clarify, if you press the button to open the door and all you hear is a grinding noise – your main drive could be damaged. Unfortunately, this little part is made out of plastic. As a result, homeowners often have problems with this particular component of the garage door system.

In essence, the main drive is in direct contact with the worm gear, which moves the trolley and opens/closes the door. Consequently, the door will not react if the main drive is busted. To fix this issue, it is best to call a certified technician. Yet, some models do not require a lot of technical knowledge. So, homeowners could try to replace the drive on their own. For example, the Chamberlain garage door opener troubleshooting guide can provide you with detailed instructions on how to approach this process.

The chain is making too much noise

In case you own a chain-drive garage door, you could experience issues with the tightness of the chain. To clarify, one of the essential steps in the garage door opener troubleshooting process is to take a look at the chain. Why? Well, the chain can get loose over time with all the action going on. Of course, if your garage door system is heavy and cumbersome, the chain will be under increased pressure. As a result, you could be hearing a lot of unpleasant noise due to the contact between the rail and the chain.

So, try to find the screws that will tighten up the system. However, it is important that you do not tighten the chain too much. If you do so, it could collapse under the weight, causing unplanned expenses and repairs.

Additional tips for successful garage door opener repair

As we said at the beginning of this guide, safety should always be your number one priority when fixing a broken door. Believe it or not, more than 35.000 injuries per year are associated with malfunctioning garage doors. For that reason, please follow the following safety guidelines when servicing the garage door system:

  • Always work with the door down! – Close the door first and then try to find the cause of the problem. By doing so, there will be no risk that the heavy door will come tumbling down on top of you.
  • Pull the emergency release cord! – As the name suggests, this red piece of string plays a role in emergency situations. For example, every Liftmaster garage door opener troubleshooting guide will tell you that the cord will unhinge the opener from the door itself. Thus, there will be no tension and you will be able to close/open your garage by hand.
  • Unplug the opener! – Electricity is one of those things you should never mess with. The same goes for servicing your garage door opener. So, make sure to unplug the cable from the outlet before you start working on the door. Even better, flip the switch on the circuit breaker panel. By doing so, you will be safe in case someone (ex. An unsuspecting family member) decides to put the cable back into the wall switch. The importance of regular maintenance and servicing

Even if you manage to repair garage door openers without any major problems, the process will make you lose time and money. So, to save yourself from a lot of headaches, start doing the regular maintenance of your garage door system.

As a rule of thumb, garage doors will need you to perform a full checkup once a year. Yet, homeowners who want to keep their doors in good working order for years to come should make visual inspections every few weeks. Also, minor servicing work, such as lubricating the moving parts, should become a part of your monthly routine.

All in all, servicing and maintenance are essential for having long-lasting garage door openers. Instead of learning how to fix a garage door opener, you should try to develop a habit of checking the door every once in a while.


  • What is the first thing I should do if my garage door won’t react?

In most cases, the first thing you may want to check is the remote control. To be precise, replace the batteries or get closer to the antenna. If the wall switch is working, your remote may be broken or damaged.

  • How will I know what is the cause of the problem with my garage door opener?

Garage door systems are often complex and full of moving parts. For that reason, it may be difficult to recognize the issue at first glance. But, you should start the garage door troubleshooting process by checking the tracks, rollers, safety sensors, and so on. Use the elimination process and you will get to the cause of the problem.

  • What could prevent my garage door from closing/opening all the way?

If your door will not close/open all the way, the most common cause of this issue is a misalignment of the sensors. Also known as the electronic eyes, these sensors are placed on each side of the door. Their role is to make sure that the garage door opener stops the door if something is in the way. So, clean the sensors and align them properly.

  • Should I close or open my garage door when working on repairs?

Garage doors can be heavy and cumbersome. As such, they can cause serious injuries. For that reason, make sure to keep the door closed if you are going to try fixing a certain issue. Also, release the emergency cord and unplug the garage door opener.

  • Do all garage door opener systems face the same problems?

No, not all garage door openers will behave the same. Depending on the manufacturer, some models may be more durable than others. For example, your Craftsman garage door opener troubleshooting needs may be entirely different from the guy’s next door who is using an opener from Liftmaster or Chamberlain.

The bottom line

To sum up, garage door openers are an important part of your garage doors. As such, it is imperative that you keep this device in good condition. However, all sorts of factors can influence the operations of a garage door opener.

Even so, as soon as you notice a change in the way your doors are behaving – start working on a garage door opener repair. In most cases, you will need to call a technician, but some issues are easy to solve on your own. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to get the door back on track in a safe and efficient way.

Joseph is the founder and Chief Editor of "Indoor To Outdoor". He is an entrepreneur with experience in sales of household products. He also travels a lot, takes pictures and loves to ride a bike.

One Comment

  1. Edwin Rudetsky Reply

    I own and use a Liftmaster 893LM. Due to its shape, the open/close button can be pressed inadvertently ,eg, when placing it on a table, in a pocketbook, lifting the car window sun-shade and in many other instances. The other night the garage door was left open through an accidental press.
    Can this opener be programmed to work on a two button press to avoid accidental opening, or something? If not, since the opener creates a hazard, I shall have to replace it with a more “user friendly” device.

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