Garage Door Not Opening But Motor Running
Tips & Tricks

Garage Door Not Opening But Motor Running: Causes and Fixes

Garage door openers are motorized devices that give garage doors the convenience of opening and closing it using a remote control or wall switches. So, it can be pretty frustrating if your garage door opener is running, but the garage door won’t open.

There are several possible reasons why the automatic opener runs but the garage door doesn’t move. Maybe the remote control batteries are dead; the torsion spring has broken; the garage door track is bent or blocked; the garage door opener has disengaged, or the photo eye sensors are blocked. Before you call in a garage door technician, here are the top reasons why your garage door refuses to open and how you can fix them yourself.

There are two main reasons why your garage door opener is running, but the garage door won’t open:

  1. There could be a problem with the garage door itself.
  2. The garage door opener could be having issues and failing to engage with the garage door.

Rule out garage door problems

Locate the emergency release handle and push it downwards to put the garage door in manual mode. Ensure the garage door is fully closed before disengaging the emergency release. All garage doors have a manual disconnect that is usually a handle located at least 6 feet above the floor on the inside of the garage door. If you’re not sure where it is, check your garage door user manual.

Attempt to lift the garage door manually; if it opens easily, there is no issue with the door itself. However, if the door won’t open or will only open partially, the garage door itself may have the problem and not the opener. If the door is failing, here is how to troubleshoot the issue.

  • Check if the garage door is locked. Sometimes we forget we have locked the garage door using a key from the inside. Locate the locking knob and disengage it.
  • Verify if the trolley is disconnected. The garage door trolley is attached to the inside of the garage door via a metal bar, moves along the chain drive when the garage door is opening or closing. If the trolley is disengaged, pull the emergency release handle up and back towards the opener to reengage the trolley back onto the drive. Align both trolleys, and they reposition themselves automatically.
  • Check the garage door track and ensure nothing has fallen into it that could obstruct the mechanism from lifting the door. If you see something, remove it and try opening the door manually again. Dirt and gunk can also accumulate on the track and prevent the garage door from moving. Use a damp cloth and wipe the garage door track down. If the grime is stuck, spray some grease cutter like WD-40 and wipe to remove the dirt. To avoid this issue in the future, you should clean the tracks regularly to prevent an accumulation of dirt. Remember to lubricate the track after cleaning it.
  • Check if the garage door is off its track. Try opening the door manually, and if it doesn’t slide properly, squeaks, or won’t lift past a certain point, it is probably off track. Next, inspect the track for bends, bumps, and gaps. To realign the garage door, loosen the screws that hold the track to the frame, gently tap the track back in place with a rubber mallet and then re-tighten the screws.
  • Check the garage door springs. Garage door torsion springs create the tension needed to open the garage door. If the springs have broken, the garage door opener will not be able to lift the garage door, but the door motor will keep running, trying to open the door. If the torsion spring has broken, call in a technician to replace it. It is dangerous to fix torsion springs yourself without the expertise because they hold a tremendous amount of tension and can cause severe injury.
  • Inspect the pulleys and cables and ensure they are not loose or they have not snapped. If they are out of place, call a technician to reposition the pulleys and cables correctly and then test the door.
  • The garage door could be too heavy for your opener. If you replaced your garage door opener or garage door recently, then they might not be compatible with each other. If your garage door is heavy, the opener might not be powerful enough to handle its size and weight. You should call a technician to inspect the garage door and advise on a better garage door opener.
  • Reconnect the emergency release by pushing the handling towards the garage door. Try running the door using the remote control, and the garage door should open. Make sure the garage door is fully closed when returning it to automatic mode.

The garage door opener is the problem.

If, after a thorough inspection and the garage door has no issues, then something is wrong with the automatic garage door opener itself. However, if the motor is running, it means the opener has power, ruling out power connectivity issues to the opener.

A jammed emergency release

First, check the condition of the emergency release handle. If it has jammed, the garage door opener will not work. If you see the chain or belt moving, but the garage door is not opening, the emergency release is probably stuck, preventing lift. Call in a technician to correct a stuck emergency release handle.

A malfunctioning remote control

If your garage door won’t open using the remote control, here are a few reasons that can cause this problem:

  • The remote control is out of range. If you’re operating the remote control too far from the opener, the remote control will not be able to send strong enough signals for the opener to detect.
  • The batteries in the remote control could be dead and require replacing.
  • The antenna on the motor that receives radio signals from the remote control could be damaged or blocked. Ensure the antenna is facing down from the motor and replace it if it’s broken.
  • If all these suggested solutions fail, reset and reprogram the remote.

Misaligned safety reversing sensors

If the safety reversing sensors are not plugged in or are out of alignment, the garage door will not open. The safety reversing sensors are parts of the protection system, with the sending sensor transmitting an invisible light beam to the receiving sensor. If an object breaks the light beam while the door is closing, it will stop and reverse. Likewise, it will refuse to open if the light beam is blocked when the door is closed. Follow the troubleshooting tips below if the photo eye sensors have a problem.

  • Remove all the obstacles on the light beam’s path. Dirt, rust and grime can also block the sensors. Wipe the sensors’ eye lens with a clean damp cloth.
  • If the sensors are not aligned, loosen the screws holding the sensors, reposition it correctly such that the light beam land on the receiving sensor’s photo-eye.
  • If the sensor wiring is correct and both sensors are receiving power, you will see a red light on the receiving sensor. If the light is not there, check for damaged wires and replace them or disconnected wires and reconnect them.

Incorrect travel limit settings

Incorrect adjustment of the travel limits will interfere with the proper opening and closing of the garage door.  The travel limits tell the opener how far the garage door should travel or stop to make a completely open or closing cycle. If something interferes with the up travel limit or the limit is too low, the door will not be fully open. Reprogram the travel limits appropriately according to your garage door opener. Locate the limit adjustment buttons and adjust the up travel limit if the garage door is not going up.

Motor issues

If you hear the motor inside the garage door opener turning, but the chain, screw, or belt drive is not moving, you may have a faulty component inside the motor itself. The problem is possibly a stripped gear or a chain drive that has come off the sprocket. Replace the sprocket at the first signs of wearing out to prolong the lifespan of the chain and motor. Also, the logic board may have malfunctioned and needs replacing. Finally, you can call a professional technician to fix the motor because it has complex electrical systems that control the opener.

Check this too: Why is My Garage Remote Not Working After New Battery


The article above will help you fix your garage door if the motor runs but the door is not opening. Although you can fix the issue yourself in most instances, knowing what’s wrong will help you determine if it’s a problem you can solve or it’s time to call a professional. Also, if the problem persists, consider the age of your opener. Most garage door openers last about 10 to 15 years, so if yours has been in service for more than ten years, you should consider replacing it with a newer model.