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Common Garage Door Opener Problems: When to Repair & Replace

Throughout the course of a residential occupancy, a homeowner is likely to experience a broken garage door opener at some point. The situation can be off-putting because you might not have even realized the crucial function a garage door plays in your daily routine until the day it stops working.

The reason could be that the garage door opener is broken itself, whether it’s problems with the internal wiring or antenna. Alternately, there could be an issue with the remote, the switch, the rolling pins, the tracks, the sensory beams or the tension spring. When any of those parts cease to function properly, it can render the door faulty at best and inoperable at worst. Some problems can even make the door dangerous.

If you’re wondering how to fix a broken garage door opener, it’s important to understand that most of the issues that tend to arise with garage doors are best handled by professionals. In some cases, however, garage door opener troubleshooting tips will solve the issue in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. Some things, of course, are no-brainers, such as taking proper care of the opener and its components. For those rare occasions when your power goes out, the opener to your garage door must be equipped with a battery.

In other cases, troubleshooting is a dead end, and the most you can do is identify the problem and report it immediately to a licensed service person. In Colorado Springs, garage door opener repair services are just a phone call away when you contact American Overhead Door — the area’s leading provider of garage door products, services, and maintenance.

Garage Door Safety Reversal Feature Fails

As of 1993, all garage doors are required to have sensory beams that detect when objects, pets or people are situated along an open garage doorway. That way, if a dog, child or vehicle hood crosses that beam as the door is closing, the door automatically reverses. The sensory beam is located roughly six inches off the ground along each side of the garage door track. The purpose of this sensory feature is to prevent small children and pets from getting hurt by a closing garage door.

However, many homes built before this requirement was implemented still lack this feature. Moreover, the mechanisms of this feature sometimes fizzle out and need to be replaced. Therefore, the safety reversing mechanism should be inspected routinely. If the feature no longer operates, have a professional come and inspect the problem. Even if you don’t have children or pets, a faulty sensory mechanism could be symptomatic of other problems.

Garage Door Partially Closes, Then Reverses

If your garage door opens yet fails to close, and it’s not a case of a power outage or worn batteries, there’s likely something obstructing the sensory beams along the doorway. Even without the presence of a child, animal or bike across the doorway, the beams might be interrupted by something that crosses the line, such as a dangling piece from a trash bag or stack of newspapers near the doorway.

When the garage door closes only partially, then opens back up, yet there are no obstructions between the sensory beams, the problem could be dirty, dusty sensory eyes. With a paper towel, clean the lenses on each sensory eye and activate the door to close once again. If the garage door repeats the same problem and fails to fully shut without reversing, contact a service professional to diagnose and fix the problem.

Another type of obstruction that can cause a closing door to reverse back upward is the presence of dirt, grime or gum along the rolling tracks. The moment a garage door senses any roadblocks while lowering down to closed position, it opens back up to avoid conflict. Therefore, the rolling tracks on both sides of the door should be cleaned and re-lubricated on a routine basis to avoid such problems.

Garage Door Fails to Close All the Way

One of the more confusing issues that can arise with a garage door is when it nearly completes a close but freezes just inches off the ground. A problem such as this doesn’t necessarily mean your garage door opener is broken, but there’s a strong likelihood that something is wrong with the tracks and rollers, especially if there’s nothing in the way to have tripped the sensory beams.

If the garage door won’t close all the way but does go lower than the safety beams without reversing, check the rollers along the tracks. If corresponding rollers are jammed at the curve on each track, the nuts that connect the rolling pins to the garage door could possibly be screwed too tight. If the door stops just a couple of inches above the ground, check for bends in the rails or obstructions within the tracks along the bottom-most inches.

Loud Noises From the Garage Door

With today’s garage doors, no household should have to cope with loud, obnoxious sounds from the door opener. You might hear a light sound from an adjacent room, but nothing that would wake anyone. In some cases, however, an opener will make noises that get louder as time goes on. While you might not notice the difference at first, it can eventually sound like nails on the chalkboard from across the house.

A door equipped with an old chain drive can often get noisy, especially after years of wear and tear. If you hear squeaking sounds as the door opens and closes, it’s likely time to replace the chain drive. This can be verified by checking around the motor unit for what resembles a bicycle chain. If noise is coming from that location, the chain is indeed the culprit, and a replacement is in order. Better yet, consider upgrading to a more modern screw drive or belt drive system, neither of which are liable to make the noise that chain drives are often known for.

Worn or Broken Torsion Spring

There’s no such thing as a garage door spring that lasts forever. Sooner or later, the metal coils fatigue and ultimately break at a certain spot. Therefore, it’s good to annually inspect the spring to ensure its reliability for the months ahead. As you raise the door, does the spring appear balanced? If the spring looks to be in good performance, and there’s no noise emanating from the coils, it’ll likely be in good shape for the time being.

If the spring makes unsettling noises and appears unbalanced, you don’t want to beat around the bush on the matter, as the spring could snap. When a torsion spring snaps, a noise resembling that of a firecracker will often be heard throughout the house. In many instances, the noise is so loud that it can be heard across the distance of several houses on the block.

Not only is this upsetting to anyone within range to hear the sound, but the snap could cause the door to plummet to the ground if the cable is also weak. The impact of the fall could damage the panels of the door, as well as the rolling pins and tracks. Therefore, a worn torsion spring should be replaced as soon as possible.

Frayed or Broken Garage Door Cable

Along with the spring, the cable on a garage door controls the raising and lowering mechanisms. In the event that your garage door spring snaps, the cable will keep the door from slamming to the ground, providing the cable itself is in good shape. If the cable moves evenly, makes no strange noises and appears free of frays, it’s probably in good, reliable condition for the time being. However, if the cable does appear frayed, it might give way at any time, which would be especially dangerous if the spring is also in poor shape.

An overhead garage door opener broken at both the spring and the cable will slam down on the ground with a thud, and possibly damage the door and the rolling tracks in the process. Such an event could be especially disastrous if your vehicle is situated halfway through the door, or if a pet or child happens to be crossing through the door the instant this occurs. After all, the sensory beams won’t reverse the door in this situation. Therefore, a frayed cable should be replaced immediately.

Garage Door Has Trouble Moving up and Down

If a garage door has difficulty opening and closing, the problem could be bends along the metal rails. A problem of this nature is likely to result from blunt force to the door, such when the door has been accidentally hit by the front or rear bumper of a vehicle. If you spot gaps between the tracks and rollers or if the rail is bent at any point along either side, there’s definitely a problem at hand. If not fixed, the rails could bend further out of shape by the weight of the door. Before the door becomes less reliable and possibly dangerous to operate, have your bent rails replaced by a professional.

Another tell-tale sign of bent tracks is when the garage door makes rubbing noises as it opens and closes. If you’re unable to identify the bends visually, but do hear noise from the tracks while the door is active, monitor the door’s movement from inside the garage and make note of where the rollers are aligned at the exact moments you hear the noise. These would be the spots where the bends are located.

Garage Door Won’t Open With Remote

For most of today’s homeowners, a remote-enabled garage door is one of the great luxuries of heading out and heading in. Therefore, few things can be more vexing than when your garage door won’t open with a remote control device. If you’ve recently changed the batteries on the remote device, it’s possible that the garage door opener is broken. Therefore, several things should be checked on the opener before you single out the remote device as the culprit.

When the garage door fails to activate via remote control, pull or flick the manual switch to see whether there’s a problem with the motor. If the door does activate, the problem is either with the antenna or the remote device. Make sure the antenna points downward from the motor unit, and change out the batteries in the remote device if necessary. 

Of course, the remote might fail to work if you attempt to activate your door while out of range from the remote sensing system. If you push the activation button from down the block, before you can even see your house, and you arrive to a closed door, chances are the motor did not detect the signal. Simply put, you have to be within a certain distance to activate the door via remote control.

The Switch Doesn’t Work

On days when you use the garage for work projects or other purposes, you might be more inclined to switch activate the door to open and shut. However, if you haven’t used the switch in a while, you might be rudely awakened to find that the switch no longer works. While such a problem doesn’t exactly indicate a broken garage door opener — especially not if the remote device activates the door as normal — it likely means that somehow, the switch has failed to trigger the motor.

If a garage door fails to activate with a flick of the switch, the problem could be a disconnection between the switch and the motor. The switch is often connected to a rope, and the two can sometimes unhook from one another. Check to see if this is the case, and re-hook the two if necessary. Preferably, the garage should be clear of any vehicle when this is attempted. Otherwise, a problem with a faulty switch is best handled by a licensed, garage door service person.

Garage Door Won’t Move

Sometimes you can try everything, yet it all seems to be for nothing, such as when the garage door simply won’t activate via any command. You point the remote straight at the antenna, but the door shows no signs of life. You flick the switch, having confirmed that it’s connected, but still, nothing happens. The mystery lingers — the power lines are up, and each unit is backed with fresh batteries.

If the remote shows life, but neither the remote nor the manual switch can activate the garage door, check the lights on the motor unit. If the lights are dead, the unit is somehow failing to receive power. Check to see whether the motor is connected to the power supply. If the motor is indeed plugged in, check the circuit breaker or fuse. If the problem still persists, the issue is with some electrical component that should be handled by a professional.

A door that fails to move is no door at all. Sure, you can raise and lower it manually, but that wouldn’t be too convenient when you’re pulling out and pulling in. What you have here is a broken garage door opener that either needs to be repaired or replaced. If this happens to you and you’re in the Colorado Springs area, call American Overhead Door — the area’s leading garage door specialists.

The Garage Door Has a Mind of Its Own

If the garage door works inconsistently, and there’s no apparent problem with the remote battery, the rolling tracks, the torsion spring, or the switch, it’s likely faulty wiring within the motor unit. A problem like this calls for immediate attention. Perhaps the door activates at whim on its own, day or night?

There’s really no DIY remedy for such issues. When an overhead garage door opener is broken on the inside due to internal wiring issues, the only thing to do is have a licensed garage door professional come and diagnose the problem and either repair or replace your garage door system.

Garage Door Security Codes Trouble

Security code-controlled garage door openers are designed to make garages more secure and easier for homeowners to access, but the technology hasn’t always been perfect. On older garage doors with fixed remote control codes, a thief could find his way inside by trying various combinations until he figured out the correct code. Therefore, security codes as they were once known offered little in the way of foolproof security.

Recently, however, security manufacturers have developed the rolling code feature, which changes the code each time the door is opened. If the security pad goes haywire and fails to operate, however, it’s best to have this highly technical problem examined and fixed by a pro.

Garage Door Sensory Pad Difficulties

One of the main advantages of newer garage doors is the keypad feature, which allows you to open the door without a key. You simply type your code into the pad and the door opens. A keypad can be incorporated into some older doors, but not all. Keypad technology has also advanced to the point that some don’t even require a code — you can open the door via fingerprint recognition.

If a keypad suddenly fails to understand your code or signature, reprogram the pad and try again. If it still doesn’t work, and you’ve verified that there’s nothing wrong with the battery, the connecting lines or any other parts of the garage door opener, have a professional diagnose the problem.

Colorado Springs Garage Door Opener Repair From American Overhead Door

When you find your overhead garage door opener broken in one way or another, it can be frustrating. However, the problem can be can be rectified — in some cases with a little troubleshooting, but in most cases, with a call to your local service professional. The situation is easier to deal with when you can instantly pinpoint the source of the problem. Whether it necessitates a quick fix or a phone call, you’ll at least know what you’re in for once the problem is discovered. When you can recognize the problem, you’ll also be better equipped to provide the necessary info when you make that call.

In Salida and Colorado Springs, garage door opener repair work is available for all kinds of opener problems by the service specialists here at American Overhead Door. For more than 30 years, we’ve provided garage door products, services and maintenance for residents and businesses in southern Colorado. Over that time, we’ve emerged as the largest, most trusted dealer of overhead doors in the area.

At American Overhead Door, we carry garage door openers from leading brands like LiftMaster. We also offer a variety of garage door styles for commercial and residential properties. Moreover, we offer 24-hour garage door repair services. To learn more about what we offer or to request service, contact us today.

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