Common Garage Door Problems and How to Fix Them

Common Garage Door Problems and How to Fix Them

There’s a variety of reasons for why your garage door may not be functioning properly. The causes range from dead transmitter batteries to something blocking the door’s path. Fortunately, the answer is usually something easily resolvable.

Some common garage door problems — and how to fix them — are:

  1. A Tentative Door

When the garage door starts to lower and then stays down for about a second before coming back up, it’s likely a sign that there is something blocking the door’s path. Since the door attempted to go down, that suggests there’s nothing wrong with the batteries or transmitter.

Garage doors are designed so they don’t crush objects in their path. Otherwise, it would present a very dangerous prospect. Check the area around the door to make sure nothing is blocking it. If it’s all clear, the issue could also be a buildup of debris on the tracks that’s preventing the rollers from moving forward. Dirt, mud and rocks can build up there, and if a door hits that debris, it will go back up, resulting in this tentative door.

The resolution to a garage door that’s reopening is either something blocking the path or debris build-up. The latter may require a step ladder to view the tracks on the top part of the system, but otherwise this issue can be resolved fairly easily by moving whatever is blocking the door.

  1. A Non-Responsive Garage Door

If the door isn’t responding at all, it’s likely that the door’s transmitter batteries are dead. This prevents a strong enough signal being sent to the receiver to open the door. You might still see the lights on the receiver light up, or it may try to open. But, if the door remains shut when you push the buttons, try replacing the batteries in your handheld transmitter.

Changing the battery is a simple process that requires sliding the door open on the back of the transmitter, removing the old battery, then replacing it with another. Make sure the plus and minus signs are lined up, like conventional batteries, and test it. The door should work now.

  1. Misaligned Photo Eye

If your garage door is refusing to open or opens a bit and then stops, it also could be due to a misaligned photo eye. Garage doors developed after 1993 have two tiny photo eyes that transmit an invisible beam to detect if anything is in a garage door’s path. If the door keeps stopping, yet clearly nothing is blocking it from closing, the eyes could be misaligned or dirty.

Be careful not to scratch or damage the photo eye when cleaning it, since it’s only a few centimeters in diameter and can be fragile. Use a soft cloth and a mild cleaner to wipe away any dirt or residue. After this, make sure the alignment is correct — the eyes should be pointing in the same direction and at the same angle. They need to register each other to accurately detect if anything is in the garage door’s path. A level can also be used to ensure they are pointing directly at each other.

  1. Broken Torsion Springs

Another potential cause of a garage door failing to go up is broken torsion springs. When these break, there will be a loud bang, so if you hear that and the door stops working, it’s likely broken torsion springs. Doors typically have one or two of these springs.

While some garage door solutions can be resolved at home, broken torsion springs require the work of a professional. A broken spring, and the springs in general, can be dangerous to work with because they are under an extreme amount of pressure. Make sure not to attempt to open the door until a professional gives it a look. Springs expire after significant use, so this can happen to anyone.

Tension springs and cables could also break, and they require the attention of a professional as well.

  1. Check the Disconnect Switch

If the door doesn’t move but you can still hear its motor, your disconnect switch may be enabled. This switch allows you to open the garage door without power, in case you need to get something out of the garage, such as your car, during a power outage. The switch is sometimes attached to a hanging rope.

If you used the switch during a power outage, you will have to reattach it to automatically open and close your door again. You’ll need a step ladder to reattach it.

Issues for garage door owners are fairly common. The garage door might keep re-opening, not close or not stay down. The various explanations above can usually remedy the issue, with many of them entailing simple at-home repair. However, you can always contact a professional as well should something with your garage door be beyond your realm of DIY abilities — such as changing the torsion springs.

No matter your garage door situation, though, by following these tips, you’ll be fully prepared next time your garage door gives you difficulty.


  1. I hope I have a big enough home to install two garage door openers! LOL
    That is a beautiful home!

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