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Garage Door Opener Stops or
Reverses When Activated
My garage door opener doesn't close all
the time. Well, sometimes it does... then sometimes it reverses at the bottom,
sometimes it reverses right after it starts moving. What's a mother to do?
The first thing to check are the electric eyes that are located on either
side of the door frame. Their purpose is to detect an object in the way of
the door and reverse or disable the opener. If the eyes are not facing directly
at each other, they may work intermittently, causing occasional spontaneous
reversals with no rhyme or reason. If you don't have these eyes, no one stole
them... you just have an opener that was built before the 90's when they became
mandatory for all newly manufactured openers.
To check the function of the door...
Disconnect the garage door opener from the door and go through the troubleshooting routine
on the garage door repair page.
In fact, you really should read the entire garage door repair
article. It will make troubleshooting later much easier!
Remember that sometimes, a garage door opener can increase the binding in a
door just because of the way it pushes the door down. Ever notice how it is
easier to pull a wagon over a curb than it is to push it? Same principle. Garage
doors were designed to be pulled, not pushed. You may think the door is working
OK because it feels OK, but you should still check all components to be sure.
Do any necessary repairs, reconnect the opener and try it out. If you still
are having problems, you can make slight adjustments to either the closing
force, opening force, or the travel limit adjustments.
- If the door closes and reverses, it is traveling too far and you should
decrease the travel.
- If the door reverses part way down, and you are sure there is no
obstruction or binding, increase the closing force a small amount and try it
Some older garage door openers do not have nicely labeled adjustment screws
for force and travel limits. In fact, even some of the newer openers
manufactured for and resold by your basic garage door company are not user
friendly. This guarantees return business... costly minimum charges for diddly
adjustments! Unfortunately, I cannot give you specs on every opener and all the
configurations, but, if you want to know how I have approached the problem of
limit adjustments on an unknown opener, it's really a matter of observation and
CAUTION : This is true,
seat-of-the-pants troubleshooting. Because of the power of the motor,
always the risk of injury, so you must be very cautious !
If you feel
uncomfortable continuing, call a professional!!
- For a closing or opening force adjustment, look
for external or internal springs that may have adjustment screws.
how they work will help you to find the adjustment. Most auto-reversers work
on the principle of transferring force to a momentary contact switch:
If there is enough resistance to the movement of the door, this force
is transferred back as torsion (twisting force) in the motor assembly. If
this torsion exceeds the strength or tension in the springs that stabilize
the motor assembly, the assembly twists. A small arm of some sort is
attached to and moves with the motor assembly. If the movement is great
enough, the arm will strike a switch, sending an electrical signal to the
motor to reverse.
The springs and/or switch may be located on the top of the unit, or
the opener from the electrical outlet
before even thinking about taking the cover off! Once the cover
is off, plug the opener in, keep your hands clear, and send the opener
through a cycle or two. If you are lucky, it will reverse as always and
perhaps give you a clue as to where the force adjustment springs are.
If you figure out where the adjuster is, simply increasing the
tension on the spring will increase the closing or opening force.
- For opening and closing limit adjustment:
Look for trip arms or clips attached to the opener chain. These
may be metal plates screwed on to the chain, plastic snap-ons dojiggies
with flexible metal arms attached, etc. There will be two on the chain,
one for the opening limit and another for the closing limit. When you
activate the opener, the clips move with the chain, and hit the
auto-reverse switch when they reach it. By repositioning them, the switch
that they trigger activates earlier or later, thus increasing or
decreasing the travel. Simple, but effective.
Open up the case and look for a screw-type track that moves when the
opener runs. Sometimes, the limit switch is activated by the movement
of a specially shaped "nut" traveling on this track. When the
opener is activated, the screw rotates, causing the nut to move, until it
reaches the switch. When the opener reverses, the screw turns the opposite
way, and the nut travels back. There may be two nuts on one track... one
for the opening limit and one for the closing limit. By adjusting the
starting position of whichever nut, the opening and closing limits are
set. You know what they say... sometimes you feel like a nut... sometimes
Be sure that unit is unplugged before making any
internal adjustments. The opener may start and bite you... or
worse!! After making the adjustment, plug it back in, keep your hands away,
and test your adjustment.
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Written by Jerry Alonzy
Jerry Alonzy, a.k.a. the Natural Handyman, has been an active handyman for over 30 years with experience in most areas of home repair and renovation.
As a do-it-yourself author and web developer since 1995, he has been featured in USA Today, the Today Show and on radio shows, magazines, newspapers and websites. His material appears widely on the web, but primarily on his website... The Natural Handyman. You can also find him on Google+.