Garage Doors: Some reasons why won’t open or close

As the most frequently used entry and exit in the average residential home, the garage doors are subject to daily wear and tear. Consequently, a garage door is bound to have functional problems from time to time. Problems are more common in the winter when power outages occur. Homeowners in the north are very familiar with these problems.

When a garage door is not working properly, the source of the problem could be in a number of areas.¬†If you have a garage door that will not open fully or a garage door that will not open manually, it is best to know the most common causes of each problem and if it is necessary to call a professional.¬†Below are the 15 most common reasons why garage doors won’t open or close:

The sensor is blocked, dirty or misaligned

If your garage doors won’t close completely, the problem could be caused by a photographic blockage.¬†Most garage doors manufactured since the early 1990s are equipped with this safety feature.

The photoelectric eye components consist of two pieces that line up face to face on each side of the garage door, approximately four feet above the ground. Upon activation, a pea-sized laser beam is sent from one end to the other. To sum up:

  • Problem : blocked sensor
  • Cause  : obstructions
  • Severity  : mild
  • Remedy  : remove the obstruction.
  • Customer service  : if the eyes are misaligned.

Each time the door is asked to close, the beam is activated to scan the underlying free space for obstructions. If any type of object or body part is detected, the door stops closing or retracts completely. The purpose of the eye photo is to ensure that the door does not close on objects, pets or people.

As a safety mechanism, the photo eye is programmed to respond instantly to any obstruction. Consequently, the slightest of anything, such as a pencil or a piece of paper, can cause the photoffer to stop the movement of the door.

In some cases, when garage doors won’t close, the eye in the photo will just have dust or dirt on it, and the laser will misinterpret the dirt as a physical obstruction.¬†There is also the possibility that the sensor circuits have been damaged or saturated with moisture or rain.

With some garage doors that won’t close, the problem is due to a misalignment issue between the two photo eyes.¬†When the two sides interact, the LED lights are activated at both ends.¬†On most garage door systems, the corresponding photo eyes will consist of red light and green light.¬†If one of the lights is misaligned with the other, the beam becomes unable to scan free space.¬†Photo eyes can become misaligned from fatigue, physical pressure, etc.

The operator does not receive energy

Sometimes garage doors won’t open or close for just one reason: the operator has no electrical connection.¬†In the funniest scenarios, the problem is simply caused by an unplugged power cord.¬†You may have distractedly disconnected the operator when exiting the garage through the inside door of the house.¬†People sometimes do such things and forget they did it.

However, many times, a more serious problem will prevent an operator from receiving power, such as a blown fuse or circuit breaker. Circuit breaker problems should only be handled by a professional. To sum up:

  • Problem  : no electrical connection
  • Cause  : Unplugged cord or blown fuse
  • Severity  : medium
  • Remedy  : Plug in the cable or reset the fuses.
  • Service call  : if the fuse is blown

The problem could even be due to a faulty electrical outlet. If you plug a power tool or lamp into the outlet, and that doesn’t work either, the outlet is likely to blame, in which case the operator just has to plug it in elsewhere until the faulty outlet is repaired.

Dead transmitter batteries

When it comes to activating a garage door, electrical access is required at both ends. As such, the operator is not the only component that could be stolen from a power source. If your garage door won’t open with remote activation, the problem could be the result of an expired battery in your remote transmitter.

The first thing to check is the broadcast receiver on the inside wall of your garage. When you manually press the button on the receiver, does the garage doors activate? If so, the problem is the remote control and not the receiver. To sum up:

  • Problem  : dead batteries
  • Cause  : expiration
  • Severity  : mild
  • Remedy  : replace the batteries.
  • Service call  : no

In cases like these, you are basically in luck because the remedy consists of a simple change of batteries. If your remote’s batteries come pre-installed and you’ve never changed them, simply slide the back cover off the remote, remove the old batteries, and take them to the store to purchase same-size replacements. On some remote controls, removal may require a screwdriver if a locking component is used to hold the batteries in place.

Before installing new batteries, check the tips of the batteries to make sure the ends are properly aligned on the inside. If the remote is not working properly due to a backward battery installation, you could mistake this for a more serious problem with your garage door opener.

Broken garage doors torque or extension springs

If the garage doors won’t open but the engine is running, the problem could be with the springs in the garage doors assembly.¬†Broken springs are the most common problem when a service person is called into a residence to repair garage doors.

Broken springs are one of the most dangerous but unavoidable problems that can occur with a garage door opener. In each assembly, the door will be guided by one or two torsion springs that run horizontally across the width of the door, and by two extension springs that raise and lower the door along the tracks. To sum up:

  • Problem  : broken springs
  • Cause  : coil wear
  • Severity  : higher
  • Remedy  : replace the spring
  • Service call  : always

Each spring is classified according to its maximum number of cycles. Once a spring has exhausted its cycles, it needs to be replaced. Springs that are used beyond their cycles are prone to snap open in the middle of a door activation. In some cases, a spring will break before its expiration date. Either way, spring breakouts are loud and dangerous.

If a spring is interrupted while you are at home, you will likely hear a loud bang similar to that of a firecracker or gunshot. Springs are often broken when homeowners drive to work and close their garage doors remotely from exiting cars. If that’s the case, consider yourself lucky, as you will have missed the alarming sound.

In either case, do not attempt to manually open or activate your garage door if one of the springs has broken.¬†Also, don’t try to fix or even manipulate a broken torsion or extension spring.¬†Contact a service specialist immediately to handle any issues involving faulty or broken garage door springs.

Pressure cables

If there’s an even more dangerous problem than broken springs in a garage door assembly, it would be a broken wire. While the extension springs provide tension as the door goes up and down, the cables that line up with each tension spring are responsible for the physical act of raising and lowering the door. To sum up:

  • Problem  : broken cables
  • Cause  : cable wear
  • Severity  : higher
  • Remedy  : replace the cables.
  • Service call  : always

Once the springs have broken, the cables are the only thing keeping the door from hitting the ground with its full weight. Aside from the thunderous noise, this would cause, the door could suffer tremendous damage if it were dropped to the ground. Also, anything in the path of the door Рa bicycle, the hood of a car, a child, or a pet Рcould be crushed, seriously damaged, or injured by the weight of the door.

Joan Padilla