Top 5 Common Garage Door Opener Problems & How to Fix Them

With over a decade of experience fixing garage door opener issues for many homeowners, here are the most common and typical issues people encounter with their garage door openers and how to troubleshoot them. 

Most of these common garage door opener problems are issues you can fix by yourself provided you are just a tiny bit handy and have the necessary tools. If your issue isn’t mentioned here, then it’s best you hire a professional or probably consider getting a new garage door opener in the future.

Garage Door Opener Reverses when Closing

If your garage door keeps reversing when you try to close it, there could be a few reasons. Start by looking for things in the way, adjusting the safety sensors, and securing the wires. These steps may solve the problem.

Check for obstruction

The safety sensors of garage door openers are designed to detect things in the garage’s doorway and prevent the garage door from closing. One sensor, the transmitter, sends an infrared beam to the other sensor, the receiver. When an obstruction is detected in the path of the closing garage door, the receiver sensor detects the interruption in the infrared beam and sends a signal to the garage door opener to reverse when closing.

First, look for any objects blocking the door’s path. Check the tracks and nearby areas for anything that shouldn’t be there. Remove the obstacles and test the door to see if it closes correctly.

Align safety sensors

aligning safety reversing sensors

Misaligned safety sensors often cause this issue. These sensors sit at the garage door’s base on either side. They need to face each other for the door to close right. Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Make sure the sensors directly face each other.
  2. Clean any dirt off the sensor lenses.
  3. Loosen the sensors’ hold-down screws and adjust them until both lights stay on steadily.

Check the safety sensor’s connection to the garage door opener

Sometimes, the sensors are aligned, but the door still reverses due to bad connections or a broken wire. Here’s how to troubleshoot this issue:

  • Look at the wires from the sensors to the opener for damage. This could include cuts or loose wires.
  • Check the connections to the opener, making sure they’re tight.
  • If you find problems with the wires, replace them yourself or call a technician to fix them for you.

If you have experience dealing with electrical wires, this should be an easy job to handle yourself. Garage door safety wires are lightweight and flexible so replacing them should be easy. Just pick up this Universal Garage Door Wire (on Amazon) if the wire is broken. It works with all garage door openers and sensors.

By following these steps, you might get your garage door to work properly again. But if the issue continues, even after checking obstructions, aligning sensors, and fixing the wires, it’s time to call a pro for further help.

Garage Door Reverses after Fully Closing

If your garage door goes back up after shutting completely, a few issues might be the cause. You should check for anything blocking the door and adjust your door opener’s settings.

Check for Obstruction

First, look around your garage door for anything that might block it. This could be tiny things like stones, or a block of wood. If the path is clear and the door still won’t stay closed, it’s time to tweak the settings.

Adjust Close Travel Limit

adjusting travel limits - chamberlain garage door opener troubleshooting

Your garage door opener has a setting for how far the door can go before it stops. Think of it as the distance your garage door needs to travel before it stops. It is usually referred to as the Travel Limit Setting by most garage door opener brands. There is the Close Travel Limit and Open Travel Limit settings. In this situation, we have to adjust the Close Travel Limit

  1. First, find the limit adjustment screws on your opener. They’re often on the motor’s side, marked “up” and “down” or “open” and “close.”
  2. With a flathead screwdriver, turn the “close” screw to the left. This decreases how far the door moves before stopping.
  3. After adjusting, test the door. If it still reverses on its own, go back to step 2. Keep adjusting until it works right.

This method works for most garage doors. However, if you’re looking for brand-specific instructions on how to tweak the Travel Limit settings, check these guides out.

If tweaking the settings doesn’t fix the problem, it’s time for professional help. A garage door technician can look deeper into the issue. They’ll know what to do to make your garage door opener function smoothly again.

Garage door opens or Closes Halfway

If your garage door stops operating halfway, there might be several issues to check. Look at the power door lock, balance, and the door’s tracks and rollers. You might also need to adjust the travel limit and force settings, along with checking the RPM sensor.

Check the Automatic Garage Door Lock

If you have an automatic garage door lock, like those by Surelock, Liftmaster, and Chamberlain, it could be stopping your door from moving all the way. Check if it’s unlocked when you try to open the garage door. Make sure to check your opener’s manual for how to unlock it.

Check for Unbalanced Garage Door or Garage Door Off Track

If your garage door is unbalanced or off track, it might halt midway. To test balance, lift the door halfway without the opener. If it moves, you need to fix the spring tension to balance the door. Read my article on how to put your garage door back on track to keep it balanced.

Check Garage Door Tracks and Rollers for Issues

Look for any issues with the tracks and rollers. Worn rollers or bent tracks can jam the door. Visually inspect the tracks for any signs of a dent, and check all the rollers to see if they are good in condition. Once again, if you’re handy you can fix your bent tracks by yourself by following this guide.

However, if your garage door rollers are worn out and damaged, you might need to replace them. My article on how to choose and replace garage door rollers will help you get this done easily.

Although some people can fix this issue on their own, for the majority of homeowners, I recommend you seek professional repair help.

Lubricate Garage Door Tracks and Rollers

If your garage door is balanced and there are no dents and issues with the tracks and rollers, the next thing you want to do is lubricate your garage door. Lubrication is one sure way to smooth a garage door opener’s operation. Keeping the tracks and rollers well-lubricated can prevent the door from stopping. Here are my recommended lubricants for garage doors to keep things running smoothly

If you don’t have a lubricant with you as you troubleshoot, fret not! You can move on to the next steps to get your garage door opener working again. You can lubricate later.

Adjust Travel Limit

Just as I explained earlier, The travel limit settings determine the door’s movement range. If the travel limit is set wrong is set wrong, this could stop the door halfway.

  1. First, find the limit adjustment screws on your opener. They’re often on the motor’s side, marked “up” and “down” or “open” and “close.”
  2. With a flathead screwdriver, turn the “open” or “up” screw to the right if you want to open the garage door fully. This increases how high the door moves before stopping.
  3. Turn the “close” “or down” down screw to the left if you want to close the garage door fully. This increases how far the garage door travels down.
  4. Keep adjusting the garage door till it fully opens or closes without reversing.

Once again, here are some links on travel limit adjustment for your perusal.

Adjust Force Settings

Another setting you want to tweak if your garage door opener isn’t opening or closing fully is the Force settings. Increasing the force setting means giving your garage door opener more energy to open or close your garage door.

Before you increase the Force settings, ensure your garage door tracks, jambs, and rollers are in good condition and not damaged. That is because if they are, it can cause your garage door opener to overheat and possibly damage. And you certainly don’t want that.

  1. Locate the force dials behind your garage door opener
  2. Increase the open (UP) or close (down) force slightly.
  3. Try opening or closing to the garage door to see if it does so fully. Repeat step 2 if it doesn’t.

Check out these links on how to adjust the Force Settings for these popular garage door opener brands.

This works for most garage door openers. If your garage door opener doesn’t have Force Adjustment dials, you may need to read your manual to see how to adjust them.

Replace RPM Sensor

After you’ve tried all these methods and it doesn’t fix the issue, your last option is to replace the RPM sensor. A broken RPM sensor can also be the issue for the door not moving fully. It checks the motor’s speed and can halt the door if it thinks there’s a problem. If all else fails, it might be time to replace this sensor.

The 41C4398A RPM Sensor (on Amazon) works for Craftsman, Liftmaster, Chamberlain, and Sears garage door openers. Not every garage door opener manufacturer makes replacement RPM sensors for their devices. So you’ll have to verify if there’s one available for specific model garage door opener.

Checking and adjusting these parts of your garage door opener can fix the problem of it stopping halfway. But if you’re not comfortable fixing it yourself or the problem keeps happening, calling a pro is the safest choice for a proper repair.

Garage Door Opener Not Working

When your garage door opener stops working, it’s both annoying and can throw off your day. Before you call for help, there are steps to try on your own. Check the power, door locks, the weather, and the springs. You might fix it without a pro’s help.

Check the Power Supply to the Garage Door Opener

Make sure your opener has power first. Ensure it’s plugged in and the breaker is fine. If there’s a wall switch for the outlet, make sure it’s turned on. If it’s still not working, move on to the next steps.

Check the Door Locks/Deadbolt

Check if a door lock or deadbolt is stopping the opener. Turn off any that are on and try the opener again. If it still doesn’t work, let’s look further.

Check if Garage Door is Frozen

Garage doors can freeze shut in cold places or during the winter. I talked about this in my article on how cold weather affects garage door openers. Use a hot air source or a gentle tap to melt snow or ice. After freeing the door, try the opener again.

Check if Garage Door Spring is Broken

A broken spring can be really unsafe. Most garage door openers will not work when the spring is broken. Only a few powerful openers can still lift the door when the torsion spring is broken. If you think the spring is broken, you should change the spring immediately else you risk damaging the garage door opener.

If you’re an excellent handyman and have the necessary tools, you can replace the garage door spring yourself by following the steps outlined in this article. For most people, however, I highly recommend you call a pro to fix it. That’s because changing a garage door spring can be risky if not done. A professional will have the right tools and skills to make it safe again.

Remote Control Does Not Activate the Opener

Is your garage door opener’s remote not working? There are steps you can try before seeking help.

Use Door Control

First, use the door control panel on your wall. If the door opens, the remote might be the issue.

Check if the Door Lock or Vacation Mode is On

Some garage door openers have a door lock or vacation mode feature. This is a security feature that prevents your remote control from controlling the garage door opener. It is meant to be used when traveling or on a vacation. This feature can be found on the door or wall control of your garage door opener.

Check if the door lock or vacation mode is on. Simply turn these features off to use the remote again.

Reprogram Remote

If the remote still fails, it might need reprogramming. Find the “Learn” button on the opener’s motor unit. Follow your garage door opener’s manual to reprogram the remote. This often includes pushing the “Learn” button and a button on the remote. Do this at a certain time.

Change Remote Battery

If reprogramming doesn’t fix the problem, change the remote’s battery. A bad battery can make the remote’s signal too weak to work. Duracell’s CR2032 Coin Battery (on Amazon) works for most remotes.

If nothing works, you might need a new remote. Check your opener’s manual or the maker’s site for a new one. By trying these fixes first, you might not need a professional to look at your garage door opener.

FAQ

What should I do if my garage door reverses when closing?

First, look for anything blocking the door and remove it. Make sure the sensors at the bottom are aligned and clean. Wipe dirt off the sensor lenses. Also, ensure the sensors are firmly connected. If these steps don’t fix it, call in a professional.

What causes a garage door to reverse after fully closing?

To stop the door from bouncing back up, check for obstructions. If nothing is blocking the door, adjust the close travel limit on your opener. This limit guides the opener when to stop the door from closing fully. Look in your opener’s manual for help setting this. If adjusting it doesn’t work, it’s time to get expert advice.

Why does my garage door only open or close halfway?

Start by checking if the power door lock is on. Make sure your garage door is balanced and its track is clear. Use a silicone-based lubricant on the tracks and rollers. Set the proper travel limit and force on the opener, following the manual’s directions. If this doesn’t help, the opener’s RPM sensor might be the issue. In that case, a professional repair is needed.

What should I do if my garage door opener is not working?

If your door opener doesn’t work, check the power first. Make sure the opener is plugged in and its outlet is powered. See if any door locks are on or if it’s frozen shut. If the garage door spring is broken, don’t force it open. This is dangerous, so get a professional to replace the spring.

What should I do if my remote control does not activate the garage door opener?

If the remote isn’t working, try the wall control. If that works but the remote still doesn’t, check if a lock or vacation mode is on. To fix the remote, reprogram it using the opener’s “Learn” button. Follow the manufacturer’s guide. Change the battery if it still doesn’t work. You might need a new remote if the problem continues.

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