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Troubleshooting Garage Door Opener Problems

By Jonathan Hernandez of Garage Door Nation

Garage door openers are amazingly convenient devices to have around the house, but like all things mechanical or electrical, yours will eventually run into problems. Some are easy to solve, others will most likely need the help of an expert, but this short guide to troubleshooting garage door problems should help you figure out most common issues.

Where to Start

When your garage door simply refuses to respond to your commands, or starts to work and then goes sideways on you, there are a few simple things many people overlook in their pursuit of a solution. So, before you start tearing the door apart or call in a garage door opener expert, check these things:

Remote control

Sometimes your remote will simply fail. If the light isn't coming on when you hit the button, you should check the batteries; if the light comes on and the door opener doesn't respond you'll have to go into the garage and test the door manually with the wall control unit. If new batteries don't help, try reprogramming the remote control. If the door won't open even with the wall control unit, keep digging.

Garage door opener remote control

Wall control unit batteries

If your wall control unit is failing, your remote may be unable to communicate with the garage door opener. Make sure that any batteries in your wall control are good and that the connection to the garage door opener hasn't come loose.

remote control wall unit

Breaker box

When everything in the garage appears to be properly connected, the problem could be in the walls. Blown breakers have cost homeowners ridiculous amounts of money in repair calls, so make sure the breakers that go to your garage are in healthy working order. Angie's List shares some more insight into the cost of calling a repair company over. Whether your breaker box is labeled or not, you'll be looking for a breaker that's about halfway between the on and off position. Flip it back to the on position and check your remote and wall unit again.

circuit board with cover removed


Your garage door is equipped with small sensors set low on the tracks near the floor. These sensors make sure that the garage door doesn't happen to close on anything that's in the way, like your car's bumper, the family pet or assorted gear. It's a great feature when it's working right, but sometimes those sensors get out of alignment and the garage door simply refuses to budge.

Ensure that the two small eyes are pointing at one another -- an LED on the top of the units should tell you when they're in alignment. If this doesn't help, clean the lenses. If they're too dirty the sensors won't be able to see each other.


Depending on your home's configuration, you may have one or two tightly wound garage door springs just above your garage door or one on either side of the door on the wall. Inspect these for breakage -- a busted tension spring can make it really hard to open the door since your garage door opener will no longer have help lifting that great weight. Ordering a replacement kit like this one from Garage Door Nation will fix most of your problems.

Once You've Ruled Out the Simple Stuff

Once you've ruled out the simple things, you'll have to switch into high-end diagnostic mode (or call your helpful garage door opener repairman). Attempt to open the garage door and observe what it does. If the door opener doesn't make any noises and the track fails to move at all, the problem is obviously in the garage door opener -- it may be toast.

If the garage door opener is still moving, it may simply need an adjustment. This is a frequent problem for people who live in areas with variable climates. When it gets cold and the door begins to gather ice, sometimes the weight difference is too much for the door opener to overcome. You can adjust the force the opener applies at the back of the unit, near where you'd reprogram your remote. A door that closes all the way and bounces back up needs less force, one that closes just most of the way needs more.

broken torsion spring

A noisy garage door or one that opens very slowly or reluctantly may be in desperate need of track and roller maintenance. Go and grease any bearings and tighten the screws in the track, as well as the ones that hold the track to the wall.

These are the most common problems you'll meet with your garage door -- most can be easily taken care of yourself, but if you have any doubts about your ability as a garage door DIYer, call a professional. There are several parts on the garage door, such as the torsion spring, that can be very dangerous if handled without experience or proper preparation.

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