What's Wrong with My Garage Door Opener?
A garage door stuck in the closed position may tempt you to crash on through, but don't let frustration get the better of you. Take a few minutes to troubleshoot some built-in safeties in your door that may prevent it from opening. Typical hotspots are the battery, the wiring and the electric eye that prevents your door closing on pets -- it can also prevent your door from opening. These simple checks can keep the repairman away and save you big bucks.
- Ensure the door isn't in "Vacation" or "Lock" mode when it won't respond to the remote from the outside. When in one of these modes it may open once using the remote, then must be unlocked from the wall control inside the garage
- Check the battery in your remote operator by walking into the garage holding it in your hand. Press the button as you observe a small blinking red light on the box where the chain enters and exits. If the door opens as you get very close to the box, but fails to open as you back away, the battery is low and needs to be replaced. When you can't see any blinking red light at all on top the box, the battery is dead.
- Click the remote as you are standing under the box but can still see the top. If you can see that the red light on top is blinking, it means that the battery is fine and that the problem exists somewhere else in the system.
- Locate the fine wires that run away from the control box on the ceiling. There are several inspection points, two run from the box to the manual switch on the wall -- most likely by the walk-in door, and four running from the back of the box to the electric eye locations on both sides of the door a few inches off the floor.
- Hold the remote in one hand. Grab the wires a few inches back from their connection points with the other hand. Wiggle the wires one by one while pressing the remote switch with the other hand. If one of the wires is loose, when you wiggle it, it will cause the door to open. Identify the wire. Shut off the power to the garage door opener. Use a screwdriver to tighten the wire. Turn the power back on and the door should open and close normally.
- Check the door's electric eye. This feature normally only fails when the door is already open and won't close, but some models won't work either way. Just a few inches off the floor on one side of the track, there are two small boxes that aim a beam across the floor at each other. If the beam is interrupted or won't align, the door may not work at all. Use a tissue to clean both electric eyes. The most often cause of this problem is a spider making a home in the eye, so if you're afraid of spiders, you might want to use something else to get him out of there.
- Align the eye. If you've cleaned the eyes but the door still won't budge, the eyes may be misaligned. The two eyes should be pointing directly at each other. They are typically mounted on thin piece of metal that can be accidentally bent. If it is misaligned, you should be able to see this. You can't see the beam, but if you take the small box with your fingers, you can bend it. Bend it a little at a time, while clicking the remote until the door opens.
- Spider removal tools
- The most likely problem is batteries. If it's been a few years since you changed one, skip the first two steps and just replace the battery. It can't hurt. Some garage doors are hard wired into the wiring system, and some plug in like any other appliance. Make sure the opener is plugged in. If your door won't open no matter what you do but you still need to get your car out, locate a red cord hanging from the track. It typically has a small ball at the end. Tug on it hard and it releases the door from the track. You can then manually raise the door. Never pull the cord if the door is stuck open though. It will come crashing down.
- Don't attempt to wiggle any wires unless your fingers are well away from the connections or bare wires. If the wires become loose enough, they may also come completely off the connection. Be ready if you are standing on a ladder.