Why Does My Garage Door Opener Only Work Some Times
Not being able to access you garage especially during winter can be a bit of a bummer. If your garage door opener is not working consistently, this can be a daily struggle. You may be forced to get out of your car to open the garage door manually.
Fortunately, fixing the issue is generally quite easy. Keep reading to learn why your garage door opener is working intermittently.
Reasons why your garage door opener only works intermittently
Here are the top 10 reasons your garage door won’t work and potential fixes.
Dead batteries are one of the most common reasons why the Garage door opener loses power. Usually, remote batteries last for up to two years. If you haven’t changed them recently, it may be time to get new ones.
Before you call a professional, be sure to check the batteries in your remote control. A simple way of knowing if batteries are depleted is by pressing the remote. If the light doesn’t turn on, you know it might be the time to change them. However, this is only for remote controls that have an LED light.
Another way to be sure that batteries have expired is to try to open the door with the control panel on the wall. If that works then you should immediately change the batteries. When you do that, make sure they are placed in the remote correctly.
Otherwise, the remote won’t work. If the garage door remote is not working after the new battery replacement, you must consider another cause.
Check to see if the transmitter on the wall inside your garage still opens your garage door when pressed. If it does, then the transmitter in your car likely just needs a simple battery replacement.
If you have more than one car transmitter for your garage door, then your other transmitters will likely need new batteries soon as well, since they were probably installed around the same time.
How to change your garage door opener batteries
Changing the battery on your garage door transmitter is pretty simple. On most, you can simply slide the door open on the back of the transmitter and remove the battery. Others may be screwed in to keep the battery more secure, so this type of transmitter will require a screwdriver to open.
After removing the old batteries, make sure the plus and minus signs line up with the plus and minus signs on the inside of the transmitter.
Otherwise, the new battery won’t work in the transmitter, and it could give you a false sign that something else may be wrong. Once the battery is in place, test the transmitter, and if it works, replace the transmitter door.
The photo eye is out of alignment
You may remember a time as a kid when you and your siblings would close the garage door and run underneath it as fast as possible to make it out before the door closed.
Well, on any garage door installed after 1993, that’s no longer possible thanks to two tiny photo eyes on either side of the garage entrance.
These photo eyes transmit an invisible beam between each other that detects if anything is in the garage door’s path when it closes.
This safety measure is there to prevent automatic garage doors from closing on top of someone or something and causing serious injury or damage to property. Photo eyes transmit an invisible beam between each other that detects if anything is in the garage door’s path when it closes.
If you notice that the garage door opens normally but doesn’t make any attempt to close when the remote is pressed, the first thing you’ll want to do is visually inspect the photo eyes.
Over time, these eyes can get dirty, causing the light from the beam to be blocked. They also can eventually become misaligned, causing the eyes to not match up on both sides.
Clean the photo eye to resolve this issue. When cleaning the photo eye, you should take care not to scratch or damage the eye since it’s made of glass, similar to that of a camera lens.
The photo eye itself is pretty small, only a few centimeters in diameter, but it can get dirty rather easily. To clean it, you’ll need a soft cloth and a mild, streak-free cleaner.
- Gently wipe away any dirt or residue that has built up on the eye and be careful not to oversaturate as excessive wetness can cause dirt to stick to the eye more quickly.
- If your photo eyes are clean and the door still isn’t closing, the next thing you’ll need to do is check the alignment of the eyes.
- The eyes should be pointing in exactly the same direction and at the same angle.
- If they’re off, they won’t register that the other one is there, and it’ll assume something is in its path, causing the door to stay in the open position.
- When checking the alignment, measure the height of each photo eye from the ground. Use a level to make sure they’re pointing directly across at each other at the same angle.
- A laser level will make this part a little easier, but if you don’t have one, a regular level will work as well.
Once you have the eyes cleaned and aligned, test your door to make sure it opens and closes normally. If you’re still experiencing issues with the photo eyes, it may be time to call the professionals to come out and diagnose the problem.
The track is not aligned properly
If your garage door track is out of alignment, it can be a serious issue. The metal track your door runs on needs to be aligned properly in order for your door to move. If you see gaps between the rollers and rail, or bends in the rails themselves, you have a problem.
The heavy weight of the door can compound these issues and make them worse until it becomes dangerous to operate your door.
The metal track your door runs on needs to be aligned properly in order for your door to move. If the track is misaligned, but the door still moves, there are a few things you can do to attempt to remedy the issue on your own.
You’ll know that it’s misaligned if you hear a rubbing noise when the garage door reaches a certain spot on the tracks each time it opens and closes. Sometimes the door may even slow down slightly when it hits this spot.
To realign the track, first loosen the screws that hold the track to the frame. Then, gently tap the track with a rubber mallet to move it back into the proper position. Use a level to ensure it’s perfectly straight.
Once you have the alignment correct, tighten the screws securely to ensure the track won’t move and cause more issues when opening your garage door. You’ll need to repeat this same process on the other tracks as well, as these may also be out of alignment.
If the door won’t move at all because of an alignment issue, then this problem isn’t one that you should try to tackle yourself.
A garage door professional will have the necessary equipment needed to realign and repair your garage door safely. Additionally, if the track misalignment is beyond repair, a professional can install a new garage door track for you.
There could be a few issues that might be causing your transmitters not to work properly. The most common reason could be that you’re simply out of range of your garage door. Each garage door and transmitter combo has a specific range it will function in.
If you’re trying to open your garage door before you can even see your house, then chances are you’re just too far away. Try waiting until you turn into your driveway to hit your transmitter button, and you should have more success opening your garage door on the first try.
Your neighbors could be running their garage doors on the same frequency as yours, and are opening your garage door along with theirs. When you know you’re in range and the door still won’t open, check to make sure the antenna is hanging down from the motor inside your garage and nothing is blocking it.
Your antenna must be free from any obstruction to clearly receive the signal to open and close the door. Also inspect the antenna for any signs of damage. If it looks like there has been damage to the antenna, you’ll need to call your garage door technician to come out and replace it.
Solution for faulty transmitters
Ensure your transmitter isn’t stuck under something that could be pressing on the button. For example, your transmitter may have fallen under your car seat and the button is accidentally being pushed by something heavy rolling around on your floor.
If that’s not the case, you may also need to check your transmitter’s frequency. It’s possible your neighbors could be running their garage doors on the same frequency as yours, and as they drive by, they’re opening their garage door along with yours.
It’s possible to change your garage door frequency so this doesn’t continue to happen. Each model will have different steps on changing the frequency, so consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions, or call a garage door professional to come help you.
If you’ve tested and tried to remedy these other problems and you’re still having issues, you may need to reprogram your transmitter. All transmitters have a learn button somewhere on the remote, so first you’ll need to locate that on your transmitter.
Press and hold the learn button for a few seconds until the indicator light starts blinking. While the light is blinking, press your remote button again to reprogram that remote.
This process may vary depending on your specific garage door model, so you’ll need to double check the owner’s manual to make sure there aren’t additional measures that need to be taken. It should only be a few steps to fully reset and reprogram your remote, though, so your garage door transmitter should be working properly again in no time.
If you find that your garage door opens and closes randomly when you’re not even hitting the button, it may seem like your garage door is going haywire and the only possible solution is to replace the entire unit.
The door’s path is blocked
Garage doors are designed with a reversing mechanism that prevents them from crushing objects in their path. If you find that your garage door closes part way and then goes back up, this can be triggered by objects on the ground blocking their path such as garbage cans or toys.
It could also be caused by a build-up of debris on the tracks that prevents the rollers from moving forward. This could include small items like rocks, gum or mud build-up. If the door hits even a small object on the track, it will go back up to avoid crushing whatever is underneath it.
Inspect the area around your garage door to see if something is blocking the photo eye sensors. Then look at the tracks to see if there is any build-up on the inside. You’ll need to get a step ladder to look at the tracks on the top part of your garage, as it will be difficult to see from ground level.
It may also not be a bad idea to proactively wipe down your garage door tracks periodically to prevent this type of build-up from occurring. Running a damp rag along each track should be enough to remove anything that’s lingering on the tracks.
Incorrect garage door limit settings
Sometimes, you’ll notice that your garage door closes all the way and then immediately goes back up instead of staying in the closed position. This issue usually arises with brand new garage doors that were just installed or older models that may need to be reset. If this happens, the most likely culprit is the open and close limit settings of your garage door opener.
If your settings are too high, the door will hit the ground before the opener thinks it should. This limit range tells the garage door opener how far the door should move before it’s fully closed.
If your settings are too high, the door will hit the ground before the opener thinks it should and assume the door is hitting something in its path. It will then automatically reverse to prevent crushing whatever is beneath it.
There are knobs or dials located somewhere on your garage door motor that you can use to adjust the limit settings. The exact location and resetting procedures will vary depending on the brand and model of garage door you have. Your owner’s manual should have more specific information on how to adjust your limits.
You may need to experiment with a few adjustments before finally getting the correct setting. If you find that adjusting the limit settings isn’t working, it might be time to call a technician to come and help get your garage door to stay closed.
The disconnect switch is enabled
If you can hear your garage door motor running for what seems like the full amount of time it normally would take to open or close the door, but the door doesn’t move, chances are the disconnect switch has been enabled.
Every garage door opener comes with a disconnect switch in case you lose power. This allows you to open or close the door manually so your car isn’t stuck in the garage until the power comes back on.
Every garage door opener comes with a disconnect switch so you can manually open or close the door if you lose power. This switch is usually attached to a rope that can be pulled or a knob that can be turned to disconnect. Sometimes, this switch can accidentally come unhooked causing the door to be disconnected from the motor.
However, if you lose power and use the disconnect switch, you’ll need to reattach it to use your garage door motor to open and close your door again. Open the door all the way and then reattach this hook.
Then try opening or closing the door again with your transmitter, and you should be all set. It will be easiest to reattach this hook when your car is not in the garage, as you’ll need to place a step ladder underneath the motor to reach it.
The garage door is manually locked
If your garage door doesn’t open, but the opener motor runs for just a few seconds and then shuts off, the garage door itself may have manually been locked. If you’ve checked the door springs and the track for obstacles, and those things appear to be fine, check to see if the lock on the door is engaged.
If your garage door doesn’t open, and the opener motor only runs for a few seconds, the garage door may be manually locked. Quite a few garage doors come with manual locks, especially older models, for added security for your house. These typically look like a knob or handle in the middle of your door with two bars running horizontally from each side.
There may be a small button on the top or side of the handle that you can press to slide the bars across the doors, thus locking the garage door from the inside. It can be somewhat easy to accidentally hit that button, especially if you’re getting large objects out of the trunk of your car near the door.
To manually unlock your garage door, simply turn the handle until you hear a clicking sound. This will move the horizontal bars away from the edges and secure the handle in the open position.
The tension springs or cables are broken
Garage doors have tension springs and cables that help to slowly and safely lower your door while closing. If these tension springs or cables break, you might find that your garage door closes really fast, often with a loud bang when it hits the ground.
This is very dangerous as there is nothing preventing the garage door from crushing something that might be below it. It’s best to call a garage door professional as soon as you can to have them come out and repair these cables or springs.
If the tension springs break, quite a bit of tension is put on the door cables, and they will often break next. Once the springs break, quite a bit of tension is put on the door cables, and they will often break next.
When these cables break, they will snap and forcibly fly out like a broken rubber band. Think about how much it hurts to be snapped by a broken rubber band, and then multiply it by a hundred to account for the size and weight of the garage door cables.
Refrain from parking your car in the garage until the garage door is repaired. Additionally, try not to open and close the door while it’s in this condition.
With that amount of possible force coming from the springs or cables, they could potentially damage your vehicle or other property in the garage as well as cause serious injury. It’s especially important that you and your family stay away from these cables or springs until everything is repaired.
Another cause for the garage door opener remote not working is RF interference. That may be why the remote won’t open the door. This interference causes the signal from the remote not to reach the garage door opener. There are so many things that can cause this. For example, other home devices can cause this. Examples include:
- Motion detectors
- Gamins systems
Below are just some of the common everyday objects that may generate electromagnetic noise, causing your garage door opener to malfunction.
- Wireless devices, including Wi-Fi Routers, cell phones, various mobile phones, Bluetooth devices, and cordless phones.
- Home appliances, including microwaves, hairdryers that have DC motors, electric hair trimmers, fluorescent and LED lightbulbs.
- Household items that have a switching load above 2 amps, including toaster ovens, air conditioners, electric blankets, food processors, etc.
- Audio and visual equipment, including camcorders and electronic camera shutters.
- Nearby amateur transmitters, citizens band transmitters, police transmitters, military transmitters, broadcast towers and TV transmitters, and any electric device with a circuit board.
- Unlawful frequency jamming devices: frequency or signal blocker, GPS signal jammer, and cell phone jammer.
- Any electric device with a circuit board.
If you are experiencing RF interference, you need to call a garage technician to fix the problem. This problem can be easily fixed. It won’t take long before the garage door is fully functional again.
Note: Natural phenomena such as: lightning storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, static electricity, radiation from the sun, and other natural electromagnetic activities can also cause RF interference.
In some instances, the remote-control signal may not reach the opener, causing the door to malfunction. One reason for this may be because the remote control is out of range.
A way to test this is by standing within 20 feet of the door, press the remote control and see if the garage opens. Once you stand a further distance, the garage won’t open because the signal is not reaching the opener transmitter.
If the remote works without a problem when you move further, you should inspect the opener’s antennae. Sometimes it may have accumulated dust, disrupting the signal. If that’s the case, try to clean the antennae.
If the garage door opener remote won’t work after this, it means the antenna may be destroyed. Call an expert right away.
A blown GFI
Another reason for the garage door remote not working is if the ground fault interpreter (GFI) is damaged. The GFI is crucial because it protects your home from electrical dangers. It keeps your home from overheating due to electrical errors. If the GFI is blown, the garage door will also stop working.
You can fix this by using the reset button on the wall that is connected to the garage. This button is usually located in the garage. Once you press this button, the remote should be able to open the garage door.
Wiring Malfunction of Your Door Remote Control
If you still find it hard to open or close your garage door by using the remote control or wall-mounted panel, fret not. There is wiring malfunction on your garage door system’s control that you need to fix.
The garage door opener’s receiver board may also not be working as expected. To solve this problem;
- Unplug the garage door opener and disconnect the two visible wires from the motor
- Go on and reconnect your machine to power
- Clear the machines memory and reprogram all remote controls
- Unplug the device again and reconnect the control wiring to the motor
- Use the garage door opener remote to test whether your garage door is working
Solution for Door Control Wiring Malfunction
If the remote and wall-mounted panel method doesn’t raise or lower your door, then you may have a problem with your garage door system’s control wiring or the opener’s receiver board. Quickly test the quality of your opener’s wiring by following these steps:
- Unplug the opener and disconnect the two wires from the motor
- Reconnect your machine to power, then clear its memory and reprogram all remote controls
- Unplug the device for a second time and reconnect the control wiring to the motor
- Locate the wall mounted controls and disconnect the wiring
- Use your garage door opener remote to test the functionality of your door
Other Potential Fixes
Below are some solution for a malfunctioning garage door opener;
Remote needs to be reprogrammed
The signal between the remote control and the garage door opener may become weak over time. You can try to reprogram the remote before seeking help from technicians. It is effortless to reprogram the remote control. Just locate the opener learn button; this is usually orange. Press this button and wait for 30 seconds.
After that, you can press the button on the remote control for 5 seconds. You can also press the button until the light on the opener starts flashing. If reprogramming is successful, the garage door will open when you press the remote.
If the garage door remote doesn’t work, it may be time for a system reset. Like most devices, the garage’s operating system may have issues that can be fixed with a simple reset. If you can’t find another possible reason why the remote won’t work, try to reset the control system.
You can do this by unplugging the opener for a few minutes. Try to plug it back in and test the remote control. If the door opens, you can be sure that you have fixed the problem. If the problem persists, consider calling a professional.
Troubleshooting Radio Frequency Interference and Range Issues
Your hand-held garage door remote should be able to operate normally when approximately 50 feet away from the garage door opener’s receiver, usually around 2-3 car lengths.
If you’re experiencing problems with range, and it’s a weak battery issue, you are looking at Radio Frequency Interference. Let’s break down the most common sources that may interfere with your garage door opener’s frequency.
LED Light Interference
LED lights are very common in homes these days, although some are known to produce unwanted electromagnetic noise.
In order to check if the LED lights are the source for your garage door opener’s frequency interference problems, remove any nearby LED lightbulb and then test the remotes to see if the issue continues.
If it doesn’t, your LEDs may be defective and you’ll need to replace them with other LEDs or other types of lightbulbs.
If you’re having problems opening and closing your garage door from inside the car, the car’s sun visor in may be the cause. For example, the metal from the chassis of your car could be causing physical signal interference, or the positioning of the transmitter in your visor could not be ideal for transmissions.
Try removing the remote control from the visor and seeing if it works in a different position while within range. If it does, consider programming your car to the opener if it has a HomeLink feature.
Metal buildings can cause physical interference as signals find it more difficult to pass through metal surfaces. If your garage door opener is in a building that is constructed from metal, then you will have to install an antenna extension in order to help the signals penetrate.
Multiple garage door openers which are close to one another, may experience interface problems. This is known as “cross-talk”, and is the result of one garage door opener receiving/transmitting signals more “powerfully” than the other one. Unplug the garage door opener that is working normally, testing the openers that are having interference issues.
If the faulty door openers are working better once the other opener is unplugged, you may need to replace the logic board on the opener which is working normally. Although it may appear to be working fine, the opener that causing interference may have damaged circuit that emitting unwanted noise.
Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) can occur due to the devices in your home, many of which will receive and transmit electrical signals frequently. Whether it’s your TV, your alarm clock, your PC or your Bluetooth headphones, there is a myriad of devices which could be causing radio frequency interference with your garage door opener.
The best way to discover which device is causing you problems is through a power-down test, whereby you switch off all of your electronics and power them on individually, one by one, in order to determine the device which is causing problems.
First of all, you should power down the garage using the garage’s circuit breaker, then use an extension cord to plug the garage door opener into a still-working outlet in your house.
Next, test the range on your garage door opener remotes, seeing whether it improves or not. If it does improve, unplug all the items in the garage and turn the garage’s circuit breaker back on.
Now, plug the opener back to its outlet and test its range. One by one, plug your garage’s electric devices back in and continue to test the range, looking for the device which is causing a problem. If you find a device which is interfering, consider getting rid of it or replacing it with a different model.
If this doesn’t solve your problem, you now need to power down your home. Go around your home powering everything down, then proceeding to turn off the circuit breakers to all of your home except the garage.
Now go to your still-powered garage and unplug all the devices except for your garage door opener. Next, test the range of the opener’s remote. If it has gotten considerably better, then you know that something in your house is causing interference.
At this point, restore power to each of your rooms, one at a time, and test the remote control’s range once again after each one. Eventually, you will power on a room and the remote control’s range will notably suffer.
Once you have ascertained which room contains the device which is causing you problems, go to the room and unplug one device at a time, going back to test the remote control’s range in the garage.
Eventually, you should unplug a device which causes the range to improve, allowing you to identify the source of your problems and take appropriate action by disabling the item. Keep in mind that the interference source may be an external device that isn’t located in your home.
Radio Frequency Interference can interrupt the proper functioning of garage door openers as well as other electric devices, especially those who have receivers and transmitters.
If you are experiencing interference problems, a licensed garage door repair company should have the resources to override interference that is caused by electromagnetic noise and retrofit modern solutions to solve the issue.
In some cases, outdated garage door openers that won’t work due to interference may need to be replaced with modern openers that feature 310, 315 and 390 MHz Tri-Band receivers.
How To Fix Frequency Interference with Liftmaster, Chamberlain, and Craftsman Openers
Craftsman, Chamberlain, or Liftmaster garage door openers with the following issues likely experience Frequency Interference (RF) problems.
- Remote stopped working.
- Remote working sometimes (or intermittently).
- Remote only working up close.
- Remote not working from outside.
Frequency Interference issues with Craftsman, Chamberlain, or Liftmaster garage door openers that were manufactured between 1998 and 2010 (with a red, orange or purple smart learn button), can be solved with upgrading the opener to myQ security+ 2.0 system that works on Tri-Band technology and frequencies of 310, 315 and 390 MHz.
To upgrade an older Craftsman, Chamberlain or a Liftmaster opener, simply replace the existing wall button with a smart Liftmaster 889LM wall button.
Openers that were manufactured between 1998 and 2010 work on a 315Mhz single frequency so any older remotes will need to be replaced as well. The new remotes should be programmed to the hardwired smart wall button itself, not to the opener.
How To Fix Frequency Interference with Genie Garage Door Openers
Genie garage door openers that are having issues with a short range or decreased functionality of the remote can be fixed by retrofitting Genie GIRUD-1T Universal Conversion Kit. It’s a dual conversion kit, meaning that if you experience interference at 390MHz, it automatically switches to 315MHz.
If the opener is still having interference issues with these frequencies, the kit should be mounted away from the garage door opener, and right next to the garage door. The conversion kit is a good solution for homes that are located within a 50-mile radius of airports or military bases.
Garage door opener remote only works up close or intermittently
You can further investigate to identify the interference source by powering down the garage. To do so, you’ll need to use an extension cord to plug in the garage door opener to an outlet that is located inside the house.
Then switch off power in the garage through the circuit breaker. Take the remote and test the ranges. If the range improves, you can unplug everything inside of the garage and switch on the breaker.
Plug the opener back in inside of the garage and test the other items one at a time. If you find the item causing interference, simply move it somewhere else. If the problem does not lie within the garage, then it’s time to power down the home.
Turn off all of the circuit breakers except the garage. Only leave the opener plugged in inside of the garage. Test the remote to see if there’s any improvement. If not, go through each room in the home while testing with the remote.
Once you have pinpointed the room, you can plug in each device in that room to find the item causing the interference. There is the possibility that the interference source is coming from outside. The solution in that instance is to update the opener’s frequency or replace it.