Troubleshooting your Garage Door Opener

Sometimes stuff stops working and we have no idea why. If you can’t figure it out, it’s usually a question of replacing the broken thing or getting a professional person to fix it. Both of these choices come with a price tag, unfortunately, but with a little bit of knowledge you might just find that a simple fix can get you going again.

Garage door openers and garage door opener repair-people don’t come cheap. Here are a few common problems and how you might fix them. Please note that these tips generally apply only to overhead systems and not wall mounted jackshaft models, as those should always be installed and serviced by a dealer.

The Door Only Closes When Holding the Wall Switch

Check that the photo eyes are clean, aligned, and whole. Sensors often have lights that turn on if everything is clear. If you can’t get them to light up no matter what, it may be wiring or a bad sensor. You can use a multimeter to test the wiring. Replacement sensors can be ordered from the manufacturer or dealer.

The Opener is Dead, Dead, Dead.

You, my friend, probably have a blown circuit board. This is something you can actually order and replace yourself. It’s all screws and plugs; dead easy stuff. Maybe invest in a surge protector to prevent this from happening in the future.

The Trolley Carriage is Rolling, but the Door Isn’t.

New trolley, I’m afraid.

A Grinding Opener and a Stationary Door

This sounds like a stripped or broken gear – also a replacement job that’s DIY in nature. It can be complicated in the sense that you need to significantly take the opener apart, but it’s not rocket science.

The Wall Switch Doesn’t Work, Everything Else Does

It’s either the switch or the wires. Take the switch off and touch the wires together. If the opener works then it’s the switch. Buy a new one.

If touching the wires doesn’t work, use a short piece of wire to bridge the terminal on the opener itself. If that works, replace the wiring.

If that doesn’t work, call a professional.

The Lights Don’t Work

Step one is to replace the bulbs. Still nothing? The socket may be faulty, and it can be replaced too.

The Remote Doesn’t Work

This could be a problem with either the remote or the receiver. If you have a second remote that also doesn’t work, even after replacing the batteries, you may have a bad receiver. If it isn’t integrated, you may be able to buy a new one. A bad remote can also easily be replaced.

An Ounce of Prevention

Lots of problems can be prevented if you do a bit of maintenance every now and then. Make sure that your door is inspected for broken torsion springs, worn rollers, or other balance issues. If the door is putting strain on the opener, something will break eventually and you may find yourself replacing one thing after the other as the weakest component in the chain fails.

If you have a chain-driven system you need to ensure that the tension is correct. This works the same as checking the tension on a bike or motorcycle chain. Your manual will state how much slack there should be between the chain and rail. If there’s too much, follow the tightening procedure.

You may also note that the rail overhead is bowed. This is a sign that there is too much travel and you need to adjust this according to your opener’s instructions.

Finally, make sure that the rail is properly lubricated every year.

When to Call A Pro

Garage Door Installation TechnicianIf you aren’t confident about making any of these fixes yourself it’s better to call a professional. Also, don’t be afraid to phone your opener’s customer service line. They should always be up to giving you free guidance. Just don’t let them sell you anything you don’t need. If your opener is still under warranty then customer service should definitely be your first step.

If it becomes apparent that there is also a problem with the actual door itself, never try to fix it yourself. Garage doors, with their weight and highly-stressed components such as the torsion spring, have the potential to cause serious injury or death. Let someone with the right tools do it. The cost will be far less than an emergency room visit.

Always keep the door down or fully secured with clamps when you work on anything. A free-falling door can do a lot of damage. Especially to children and pets.

That should be all you need to remedy the most common issues. When in doubt, ask someone who knows!