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11 Most Common Reasons Why Your Garage Door Won't Open

I love working on DIY home repair projects, even if they drive me crazy sometimes.

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11 Reasons Why Your Automatic Garage Door Won't Open (or Shut)

  1. The photo eye is blocked.
  2. Its power source is disrupted.
  3. The torsion springs are broken.
  4. Remote control malfunction.
  5. Snapped or loose cables.
  6. Sensitivity needs adjustment.
  7. The limit setting is off.
  8. The door has dislodged from its track.
  9. Something is blocking the door.
  10. "Disconnect" has been switched.
  11. The door is locked.

Read on for information, video tutorials, and troubleshooting tips for these issues. You'll also find tips for opening the door manually while you're trying to figure out how to fix the problem!

#1 Your Photo Eye Is Blocked

Most garage doors from the past 15–20 years have a photo eye which detects if a person or object is blocking the door from lowering all the way. The photo eye will be about 4–6 inches off of the ground for most doors, with an eye that is about the size of a pea. It shoots a laser across the length of the garage that, if interrupted, will cut off the signal used to lower and raise the door.

Check to see if the cord attached to the eye is cut or damaged; occasionally, a rainstorm or leak can damage the photo eye.

Dirt and dust can clog the eye and block the laser beam, so a thorough cleaning with a tissue can sometimes solve this issue.

Plug it in!

Plug it in!

#2 Your Operator's Power Source Is Disrupted

Sometimes, people unplug their power source and then wonder why their garage door opener fails to work. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but it does happen. Make sure that your garage door opener is plugged into a working outlet. Outlets sometimes go out without warning so you can check to see if the outlet is working by plugging another working electronic device into it. Also, check your circuit breaker, fuse, or GFCI.

Broken Garage Door Torsion Spring

Broken Garage Door Torsion Spring

#3 Your Garage Door Torsion Springs Are Broken

SNAP... bang... boom. That is the sound of a garage door torsion spring breaking. It can be a very loud noise that sounds like a firecracker or gunshot. Springs are rated for a certain number of cycles and are the first thing that will break in your garage door assembly. Broken springs are the #1 source of customer calls for garage door repair companies. If you have a broken spring, you should NEVER try to open the door, as it can be very dangerous. This repair should be left to a professional or someone with the right tools and skills.

#4 Your Cables Have Snapped or Popped Off

Just like on a bike sprocket, your cables can sometimes become disengaged. Often, when a torsion spring breaks, the garage door cable will snap as a result. Sometimes, the cable will cause damage to a vehicle or wall, and if a person happens to be in the way of the cable, it can cause serious harm. If your cables have snapped, you should call a professional to help you. See the video above.

Make Sure the Sensitivity Is Correct!

Make Sure the Sensitivity Is Correct!

#5 Your Sensitivity Is Out of Adjustment

This can happen to a newly installed garage door or an older one: if the sensitivity is set too low or high, the door will not open. Read the manufacturer's directions to reset the sensitivity. You can adjust the close force and limit switch to the correct levels, and you should be good to go!

How to Program Your Garage Door Remote

#6 Your Remote Control Is Malfunctioning

When your garage door won't open with the remote, there are few things that can cause this problem:

  1. You might be out of range.
  2. The antenna on the motor could be damaged or blocked from the signal; make sure it is hanging down from the motor.
  3. If the door opens with the wall switch, a simple battery change in the remote should do the trick
  4. If all these fail, try reprogramming the remote.

#7 The Limit Setting Needs Adjustment

If the door closes but then immediately pops open again, you'll need to check the limit settings, which help the mechanism determine how far to move the door in order to close it properly. If the settings are off, the door will hit the ground before the opener believes it should. It will assume that it has hit an obstacle and will automatically backtrack to avoid damage. Check the owner's manual or the buttons on the motor to adjust the limit settings. It may take some trial and error to get the setting just right.

  1. Get a ladder and find the limit switch adjustment knob. Some models are labeled “up” and “down.” Consult your owner's manual for help.
  2. If your door isn't closing, adjust it down. If it won't go up, adjust it up. A full turn of the screw equals about two inches of door movement on most models.
  3. It's smart to make very small adjustments, so you don't overdo it and end up slamming the door open or shut. Keep testing it to see if it works.

#8 The Door Is Off Its Track

Of course, if the door is off track, it won't slide properly.

  • Make sure the door is rolling smoothly along its metal track.
  • Check the track for bends, bumps, gaps, or obstacles.
  • Listen to and watch the door's progress: Do you hear any squeaks or areas of friction? Does the door seem to slow down or get stuck along the way? If so, you'll know that section of track is misaligned.

To fix this problem, loosen the screws that hold the track to its frame, gently tap the track back into the proper position, then retighten the screws. A level and a rubber mallet might help.

#9 There's an Unseen Obstacle

In order to prevent injury, garage doors automatically reverse if they come into contact with an obstacle. When the door closes halfway but then reverses for no apparent reason, this may be a sign that there is something preventing it from closing, something that you can't see. Check the tracks for stuff like dirt, rocks, bits of trash, or other debris. Give the tracks a wipe-down to dislodge anything that might be getting in the way.

#10 "Disconnect" Has Been Switched

Every garage door opener comes with a disconnect switch, cord, or knob that allows you to work the door manually in case of a power outage. Check to make sure that you haven't accidentally disconnected the motor.

#11 It's Locked!

This one falls squarely into the category of user error. If the motor is running, but the door doesn't budge, it's time to ask yourself if it might be locked. Check to see if there are any metal parts that have slid down to bar access. If there are, locate the locking knob or handle and use it to disengage the lock.

FAQs About Garage Doors That Won't Open or Shut

Why won't my garage door open all the way?

Sometimes, when it gets stopped halfway shut or open, it might be that the springs are broken (see #3) or the limit setting needs an adjustment (see #7). If all else fails, you might try spraying the track with lubricant.

The garage door motor is running, but the door isn't opening. What's wrong?

Check the photo sensors' alignment (tip #1 above) or the cables to see if they're broken or if the tension is off (#4).

Why isn't my garage door wall switch working?

Check the LED light to see if it's giving you any malfunction information, and check the outlet for power. It could be a problem with wiring or with the logic board. See the video below for more information.

Why won't the garage door close or open with the remote?

Your remote is probably malfunctioning. See tip #6 above for a list of possible issues to troubleshoot.

What if I can't get into my garage?

Maybe the battery died, or a spring broke, but you can't get into the garage to even see what the problem is. If the garage door is the only way in or out, or if you can't find the key to the door, you'll have to either find a way to break in or call a locksmith. As a preventative measure, it's smart to keep a spare key or install an emergency key release that would allow you to release the emergency disconnect to the operator so you can manually raise the door.

How to Open Your Garage Door Manually

  1. Get a ladder.
  2. Find the red cord on the mechanism that's hooked to a lever. This is the emergency disconnect, and it should release the door and enable you to move it.
  3. Yank the cord, then get down off the ladder.
  4. Lift the door with both hands. If it won't move, go back up to pull the red cord again.
  5. Once you have it open, you'll have to prop it up with something to prevent it from sliding down again.

If you're outside and can't get into a closed garage, you don't have many options. You may have to call a locksmith or find a way to break in. As a preventative measure, it's smart to install an emergency key release that allows you to release the emergency disconnect remotely so you can manually raise the door.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 Brian Williams

Comments

nancyjlenio@yahoo.com on August 16, 2020:

The door doesn't work from the inside garage or the car remote. it doesn't work at all and is only 13 months old a linear.

Paul on June 29, 2020:

I have Genie 2022. Stop working. LD lite is not on. I disconnected power and reconnected again. It opens and closes manually. Where is the problem?

KG on June 27, 2020:

My garage door stops mid way. I have to hold the wall opener to open all the way.

GH on June 23, 2020:

Thank you, the reSet on remote worked great!

Thomas on June 22, 2020:

if remote wont work outside the garage and fine inside, unscrew light bulbs and try it worked for me, off to get different bulbs

Julian on June 16, 2020:

One of our garage remotes stopped working. Thought it needed a new battery. Had one fitted. Now the remote only works (sometimes) if held very near to the control box and not at all from outside.

The second remote is fine.

Any thoughts anyone?

Essie on April 20, 2020:

Hi I have a Genie Garage door opener 1/2 HP,MODEL H6000-07/M

Recently this door opener started acting funny. I don't have any problem for closing the door from inside using key pad or remote from outside. when I want to open from inside of garage using the key pad,if I push the button and release it the door goes up only a few inches and stops, but if I continue holding the button until it is up about half way it continues going up without holding the button. When I use the remote from outside, the door goes up only a few inches and stops, it does not go up even if I continue pushing remote button. By the way this problem started after a week of cold weather and rain.

Mike on March 20, 2020:

Hello,

This is a residential garage door, I cant open the door using my fob. And I found out that the lights of the two sensors shut off, but there is power in the system. What’s wrong with that? Thanks.

Donna on February 10, 2020:

What causes a double door to open but not the other side? ( the light on the side that is not working is out. )

Howard on January 17, 2020:

had recently replaced light bulb the bulb was not soft white incandescent Remote would only work in certain positions Changed back to soft white incandescent now works fine.

logrog on January 11, 2020:

Garage Door opened, no problem, when we went to close it, it would not close, from either, car remote, outside remote, or inside box. The motor light does not flicker as if something is blocking it, everything appears normal. Light turns on at box as if it's opening.

Help!

Don on December 30, 2019:

The garage door opener makes a clicking noise when I push the garage door opener. The motor will not turn on.

atlascollc@yahoo.com on November 27, 2019:

Power outage door closed think fuse tripped,in garage,remote wont work.? Break in back wall.???help.!

Randy on November 17, 2019:

Our opener won't work when the temperature of the garage is below 35 degrees. It'll just go up 10 inches or so and then stop. If I hold the remote in my hand AND continuously push up on the wood garage door then it'll keep humming/work until it's all the way up. When remote is pushed again to close -- it'll close easily/normally.

Laurie on October 17, 2019:

My garage door won’t open

1) it has electric and new battery

2) it’s not locked

3) springs nor cable r broken

4) cleaned the electric eye with tissue

5) manual unlock pull is still in place

6) when I push the wall button, every thing works, but when I go out side I can close it bit it won't open . I even tried to reset every thing.

7) what is the problem? Can you help?

Steve on August 21, 2019:

My craftsman garage door raises a few inches then closes. The sensor lights are clear. I disconnected the door from the traveler and still only moves a few inches. There is not a sensor alignment problem.

Ray Vaccaro on August 05, 2019:

Like others in questions. My remote works from house, works from mailbox (yes mailbox) but only sometimes works from 2 cars. We have replaced both car remotes with new batteries. Once last week I was sitting in my living room and it opened and closed by itself a few times. Please help and thank you

Lette on June 28, 2019:

My garage is making a widing noise when i try toraise it up

Tim on June 08, 2019:

Make opener moves a few inches then closes can you help me

Miguel P. on May 11, 2019:

My genie revolution series will open about 2 inches and it stops. How can I fix it?

Fred on April 12, 2019:

Garage door opens with both remotes and the wall switch but will not close what is the problem?

Brenda on April 06, 2019:

Door closes but will only open about 10 inches.

al nevarez on March 19, 2019:

my genie sc12oo wont open with wall button whats the problem

Greg Lyon on March 05, 2019:

My garage door won’t open with remotes or even with the remote programmed in my truck. Tried to reset remotes and get nothing . It will open from the wired button but no remotes.

Geneva Harris on January 21, 2019:

My Garage door will not open even when I use the remote, I have no way to enter.

Jose on January 18, 2019:

I have a genie ims1000/A the remote control send the signal to the receiver but the door don't open

Glenn Ronald. on January 17, 2019:

My roller door works in the cool of the morning but will not open with the remote or manually when the temperature gets into the high 30* or above. Are they temperature sensitive.

Jessica jacobs on December 18, 2018:

The garage door opens with the wall switch and even sometimes with the remote but it doesn't close with the remotes, only with the wall switch.

Sandra armenta on December 07, 2018:

Car,wall, and control on the wall, garage door will not open. I do not hear the motor running but the light does turn on. Help!!!

Carol on September 30, 2018:

I aligned the laser but the wall switch kept blinking. So I got up in the box and reprogrammed the remotes. That fixed it

Harvey on August 19, 2018:

Door opens with switch but will not open with either remote. At first one remote worked after hitting it several times right in front of the door. Changed batteries but neither work now. Thanks

Rhonda lavalle on August 15, 2018:

My garage door won’t open

1) it has electric

2) it’s not locked

3) springs nor cable r broken

4) cleaned the electric eye with tissue

5) manual unlock pull is still in place

6) when I push the wall button, I get no sound no reaction

7) what is the problem?

Veni on May 09, 2018:

My door while going down,something was in the way and it got stuck in the way and now the door works but one side hits the ground and shake hard that make me scare and the door is uneven now,plz help I don't have money to fix it so is there any means that I can fix it.

roger on April 30, 2018:

my door doesnt open i dont even hear the motor but the light flashes 4 times

Rick on February 22, 2018:

We arrived at a rental property and tried to open garage door to get our vehicle in so we could unload luggage, etc. Could not open from outside. Went into house and, from inside garage, tried automatic opener but this did not work. So in trying to open the door manually, I reached up and pulled on the red cord attached to a lever. What I could not see, and was not expecting, is that the rope was frayed through almost completely. The rope broke when I applied some weight to it, sending me backwards onto the floor of the garage.

My question is, was there another way I could have opened the garage door manually, thereby avoiding what happened?

John on February 16, 2018:

My wireless remote control will open the garage door, but will not close the door. And when I want close it with the bottom, I have to continue pushing the bottom until door to be completely close .

Does anybody have any suggestions?

Lindy on February 04, 2018:

How do I charge the batteries in the remote?

TOM on January 03, 2018:

DOES EXTREMELY COLD WEATHER AFFECT THE WAY THE DOOR OPERATES?

Essu on December 30, 2017:

My wireless remote control will close the garage door, but will not open the door. I have changed the battery but still no luck.

Does anybody have any suggestions?

Richard on December 21, 2017:

change the light bulb back to an incandescent some led or fluorescent bulbs mess with the remote. It will work close but not from outside

Bryan on December 13, 2017:

I have new opener and it will work in the garage but when I walk out side I can not get it to open or close

Mark on December 02, 2017:

None of this works when I can't get inside my garage to pull the disconnect cord or anything else. Guess I have to cut a hole n my door to pull the disconnect cord, then I can open it?

Mark on December 02, 2017:

My garage door has been acting up. Not wanting to work sometimes. I noticed the blue light flashing on the opener when I push the remote button. Today it will not open. That is the only way in, so I can't go in the garage from inside the house. I can't pull the cord to release the belt drive. How do I open it now? I never did run wires to the manual button into the house. I have to use the opener. Only have one I can find now. It is not working. I need in there now.

Robin on November 01, 2017:

This morning I tried to open from outside, it kept moving little bit of up and dow like hunted house . I went inside and tried to pull rope from rail, it all stop with loud sound. What is wrong?

Tammy on October 29, 2017:

My garage doesn’t open in night from remote wireless opener. But works fine in morning

Jim on October 13, 2017:

My garage door opens almost fully then it stops. What could be the problem?

Moses on September 15, 2017:

The garage door open completely just open a little bit so please help me about that

N. Kasman on September 09, 2017:

We have a new Toyota and when I attached the old opener to the visor with elastic bands (since the visor is very thick and rigid), the door won't open. If I keep the remote in a cup holder and press it, the door opens.

jim on September 04, 2017:

The garage door will freeze in various positions. The opener just quits. Neither the remote nor the wall switch will work.

The only way to unfreeze it is to disconnect, then reconnect the power. But it happens again, and again. Is there a circuit board or part that is homeowner friendly to replace?

Debi.jacimine@gmail.com on September 03, 2017:

Power went out last night, this morning garage door wouldn't open.No light no sound. The plug works but nothing about the door works.

Jason on August 25, 2017:

My door will not do anything other than the lights coming on or off. It has power but nothing happens when I try and open. No motor sound or anything. Please help!!!

Cris on August 22, 2017:

When I click my remote, the light on the garage door opener unit blinks but the door doesn't open or close. The wall button is working though and I changed the battery in the clicker...any ideas?

Sihle on August 22, 2017:

My garage door opens half way. If you press the button to close it from that half, it goes down and when it touches the floor it goes back to half on it Owen

Jen on August 20, 2017:

I push button to open the garage it goes up 1/3 of the way have to close it again and push button again and then it will open. Any idea what i can do to fix this?

Ernesto on August 02, 2017:

Why it's my garage door not working

Scott on July 31, 2017:

My garage door will not open or close with the remote. I have changed the batteries and reset the codes. The garage door opener was put in in 1998. Need a little help any suggestions

Jeannie on July 14, 2017:

My door remote light will come on and it makes a moan but it won't open or close so I have to do it manually

nazif oric on July 11, 2017:

my garage door wont open all the way just a few inches from the floor can somebody help me with this.

Lou on May 16, 2017:

My door raises 6" and stops. I tried to work it it manually and it won't budge

Tim on May 03, 2017:

my garage. Door wont open by using the remote and I have no other way to get inside

Betsy on April 16, 2017:

Garage door will only open if we hold the button down. It will only open a few inches from the car.

mecael on March 17, 2017:

My garage door won't open or close the motor runs and the shaft turns bur doesn't engage the chain. it opens and closes manually

Terry on March 10, 2017:

My garage door remote works great until glad comes on after the light Times out it works again please advise me what to do thanks

Ern on February 26, 2017:

Hi my garage door will only open a quarter of the way up without me holding the button Down. It will open completely as long as I'm holding the button down the whole time. What could be wrong?

Joe on January 05, 2017:

Brent, check your door sensors either they need adjusted or something is in the way

Brent on December 14, 2016:

I have realigned my sensors and my garage door keeps stopping in the open position and then the light flashes 3-6 times. Any idea what could be wrong?

Ronald Stein on November 10, 2016:

Our garage door won't open, three red lights are lit

Help

Ed on September 01, 2016:

Check the release. There is a cord that you pull that disengages the door from the opener. When it is pulled the trolley that rides along the bar will move back and forth but the door doesn't move. All you need to do is push the release lever back up.

Victor on August 27, 2016:

I have the exact same issue. Only difference is that my opener is screw driven and not chain. I would love a response to this problem. Thank you.

Tony on August 27, 2016:

HI, my garage door does not open. The motor runs and the shaft turns, but seems it is not engaging the chain. It does close when opened manually.

Please advise on what the problem may be.

Thank you.