Top Solutions for Garage Door Problems

 

Garage door problems happen to everybody. Issues can develop slowly, or they can burst forth without warning. Often it seems like everything's fine one day, but the next, your door's on the fritz — and you need to fix it. Thankfully, most glitches only need a keen eye to spot and basic knowledge to repair.

In this DIY guide, we'll show you how to tackle some common garage door repairs. At IDC Automatic, we know many garage door problems don't need experts like us to fix.

Most garage door problems fall along basic patterns. If your door demonstrates particular actions, it likely suffers from certain causes. In this guide, we’ll provide the most frequent types of bad garage door behavior so you can match the door's problem with the solutions we suggest.

Once you diagnose the problem, fixing the issue becomes much easier. Of course, more severe problems require professional assistance, but it never hurts to investigate the issue yourself before calling for help.

We at IDC Automatic like to "think differently about garage doors," and we encourage our customers to do so, too. Take a step back and decide which problem you're encountering — then weigh your options. Maintain the utmost safety when attempting to fix garage doors and never hesitate to call us.

Let's check out some ways to fix your garage door. We'll begin with the basics and move to more advanced issues later. 

 

Is the Cord Plugged In?

When troubleshooting a problem, it's best to begin in obvious territory. You likely checked whether everything's plugged in, but it still doesn’t hurt to ask. Some people unplug the machine-head cord to save power, so check that it's secured. The same goes for everything else as well. Anything which requires power or involves a wire should appear fully functional. If your garage suddenly started acting up, it might be something as simple as a loose plug. 

Check Your Batteries

When diagnosing a malfunctioning garage door, the problem often stares you right in the face. An obvious reason why a stubborn door won't open concerns the batteries. Yes, it doesn't take a garage door expert to know that batteries die, and it’s easy to forget to check them.

Open your garage door opener and change the batteries. If the garage door still won't open, maybe there's another source of dead batteries involved. Sometimes wall transmitters run on batteries, so investigate every possible source of a pesky dead battery. Once discovered, switch those batteries out and see what happens. If the door continues to ignore you, there's a number of other possible issues at play. 

Examine Your Electronic Keypad

Unusual trends in door activity often derive from electronic keypad issues. Where is your keypad now? Is anything coming into contact with its buttons or surface? Occasionally, keys become fixed in unnatural positions due to moisture or unwanted contact with adhesives.

Essentially, you want to confirm that the keypad remains in optimal condition. If the keypad shows any signs of wear or damage on the outside, perhaps its inner hardware is even worse. Give the keypad a thorough inspection and make sure it's functioning perfectly before removing it from the list of suspects. During your investigation, you want to rule out every possible cause for an errant door.

If your keypad doesn't appear fully functional, consult a professional like us to confirm the keypad as the source of the issue. Replacing keypads isn't an uncommon or extravagant solution. 

Keep Your Electric Eye Open

Your garage door relies on a pair of photosensitive eyes to maintain operational safety. These sensors sit about a foot above the ground on both ends of the garage door opening. They shoot out a beam which crosses the path of the door opening. If the path of light becomes obstructed, then the doors will fail to open — or they will not close all the way.

Of course, this feature is an important safety component. Without the sensors, your door might close on a person or object, causing injury or damage as well as possibly damaging the garage door.

Obviously, if there's something like a box blocking the sensor, then you’ll just need to move the box. If nothing's in the way, however, then some dirt may be obscuring the eyes. The eye's closeness to the ground commonly leads to issues of obscuration as debris such as dust and dirt gets kicked up every time you drive by.

The sensitivity of the eye demands a certain level of care. You don't want to accidentally scratch the eye, whereby irreparably damaging its vision. To clean the eye, simply take a soft cloth, apply a mild cleaning solution to the fabric and gently massage away any debris. If you have a microfiber cloth — perfect. This type of small cloth usually comes with cameras. Cameras employ a similar lens, so consider your garage door sensor as sensitive as a camera lens.

For the cleaning solution, we recommend employing a simple combination of 50/50 water and vinegar. Any other agent which doesn't foam up or leave residues should work, too.

The technique for cleaning the lens doesn't require any finese. Simply pinch a tent around your index finger and use the damp cloth to gently brush away any gunk clouding the eye. Make sure you get the area along the edge of the eye. Perform this task for both eyes and then attempt a test. If the door still won't budge, then your eyes may be misaligned.

Some sensors have light indicators. One example includes those with a red light on the left and a green on the right. You want both lights to show a solid color. If one is flashing, then it does not align with its partner, and you'll need to correct its trajectory.  

If your sensors do not carry this feature, you can measure their distance from the eye to the ground on either side. If the measurements appear to correspond to each other, take a level to check that their vision is straight. If all seems perfect, engage the transmitter or wall mounted transmitter and see if the door will close. If the door shuts, then you solved the problem.

Although you figured out the problem, it's still a good idea to test the response of the eyes. Take an object and purposefully obstruct the eye's path. The door should begin to close before retracting to return to its original open position.

Maintain Sensor Functionality

What if your sensors' eyes align, but the door still won't close — or a sensor's light keeps blinking? In this case, your sensors may suffer from faulty wiring. The wires which connect the sensor to their power source often deteriorate. They look like two small speaker wires leading from the sensor's back. If they show corrosion or fail to make firm contact with the sensor, then you'll need to repair or replace the sensor. 


Rule out Rusty Staples

This easy check eliminates the possibility that a rusty staple is impairing the sensor's connection. Sometimes during installation, an errant staple may puncture the sensor's wire. Although it didn't impede the connection before, suddenly it decides to wreak havoc.

Through the vibrations and weathering of the staple's closeness to the garage door, it will one day sever the connection. Just examine the sensor's wiring as it leads around the doorframe, checking for malicious staples. If found, readjust the position of the wire, which will hopefully restore the connection. If the wiring damage exceeds this solution, call a professional.

Track Misalignment 

Another common issue involves misaligned tracks. Before we discuss the problem at hand, let us say that track trouble often requires attention from experts. Failure to consult with professionals can result in injuries or further damage to your door.

Track alignment greatly determines the core functionality of the garage door. The tracks line the sides on the door opening, and they follow the doorframe before curving along the ceiling. The tracks act as rails for the rollers, which attatch to the door itself, and guide the garage door’s actions along the tracks. Such a vital part occasionally needs attention and realigning, especially in circumstances where the door's operations become impared.

Although it's always better to leave door adjustment to the experts, sometimes minor misalignments require only a slight tweaking. The first step in adjusting the track involves measuring the space between the track and the doorframe.

For both sides, ensure measurement remains constant. If you discover a difference, then you'll likely need to adjust the track alignment. If the misalignment appears severe, consider hiring a professional. If a slight recalibration seems sufficient, then proceed in locating the metal clips.

Several metal clips, spaced apart along the track, connect the track to the door. You'll notice that these clips have a screw sitting in a horizontal slit. This screw attatches the clip to the track. Because of the space in the horizontal slit on either side of the screw, you can move the screw. Readjust the screw's left/right position relative to the door frame, and you will affect the track's proximity to the doorframe. This will determine the postion of the track.

In performing minor adjustments, it's common to maintain a constant distance of 1/2" to 3/4" between the doorframe and the track. This allows the rollers, sufficient room to move. Be precise. The accuracy of your measurements will determine the success of your realignment relative to the former skewed state.

Just be sure you don't make any drastic changes. If you reposition the track too close to the doorframe, it may bind. If the track becomes too far out, the rollers could pop out.

Remember that you always want to adjust the track with the garage door down. Otherwise something unexpected may occur when you set the gears in motion. Adjust only one clip at a time. Don't do anything like remove them all at once — this will cause your door to fall off! Just take it one screw and clip at a time. Be careful and stick to your calculations.

Self-Opening Garage Doors

Is your garage door seemingly possessed? Does it open and close whenever it pleases? Before you call a garage door exorcist, check out your transmitter. Interference may cause your transmitter to activate your door at unexpected times.

The most common type of transmitter interference concerns the location of the transmitter itself. Is anything coming into contact with the transmitter? If an object accidentally sets off the transmitter, it will appear as though your door magically opens on its own accord. Do a little sleuthing to rule out any possible physical interference involving all your transmitters.

Do your neighbors have the same garage door system as you? Another source of transmitter interference occurs when an individual's transmitter accidentally triggers their neighbor's door. Although this scenario doesn't happen often, it's worth asking your neighbors about the possibility.

If neither of these solutions fixes your door's ghostly behavior, then it's probably best to investigate other causes, or better yet, call an expert. Many issues stem from mechanical problems and prove difficult to fix without professional help.

Hesitant Garage Doors

Sometimes garage doors close half way, change their mind, and go back up. They seem to either love teasing you or fear closing. Don't fault their hesitation — there are several reasons for this frustrating behavior.

Garage doors come with a reverse mechanism which serves as a safety feature. This prevents the door from pulverizing objects in the door's path. Sometimes these sensors become triggered accidentally. We previously covered several ways to clean and attend to the safety sensor eye. Partially closing door syndrome is often another symptom of sensor malfunction.

Another possible cause of unwanted door reversal concerns the track rollers. Through the years, dirt and debris accumulates along the interior of the track. This gunk can block the pathway of the rollers, causing undue stress on the closing mechanism. Additionally, gum, tape or other adhesive substances can clog the tracks.

When the door goes to close, the resistance of the stuck rollers causes the door's stress sensor to activate. Most garage doors contain a secondary safety mechanism to sense undue stress while closing. If the pressure reaches a dangerous level caused by blocked rollers, the door will reverse.

After clearing any obstruction from the track, try lubricating the rollers using WD-40. You'll find this popular lubricant at any hardware store. By applying a little to your rollers, you increase their likelihood of smoothly operating the track.

Occasionally, you might discover a damaged roller, too. In this circumstance, calling a professional will prove necessary. Repairing or replacing rollers requires expert attention. Attempting to perform this task yourself may endanger your safety.

If you conduct an examination of the sensor, track and rollers, and they all appear functional, your door may suffer from mechanical failures. At this point, it's best to enlist an expert to properly examine your door.


Door Refuses to Open

If your door won't go up, there are several factors to consider. Before you curse your door's laziness and lack of vertical ambition, examine the torsion springs. Most garage doors operate using a double torsion spring system. Look up, and you'll see these metal coils on the shaft along the opening of your door.

These springs convert their twisting force, known as torque, into the upward momentum which raises the door. The torque travels along the shaft and into the cable drums which carry the weight of the door up. These cable drums convert their twisting into the upward movement of the door. This happens through a transfer of tension which raises the door using upward volition.

These springs form the backbone of the garage door. Their vital role puts a lot of strain on their physical capacities over time. In fact, each spring contains a finite number of lifts before it breaks. Torsion springs don't last forever.

If your torsion spring fractures and you're around to hear, you'll notice the loud noise. There's a lot of pressure in torsion springs, so expect that energy to release as a thunderous bang. However, even if you don't hear this sound, your torsion spring might still bear damage.

Torsion springs can act like twisted dynamite. Their coiled energy can release unexpectedly. If your torsion spring seems volatile, do not try to repair or replace the spring. You should absolutely call a professional before even attempting to test whether your door will raise itself. Severe injury or even death can result from torsion spring-related mishaps.

 

Fast-Closing Door

If your garage door slams shut, check your torsions springs. Torsion springs help regulate the speed which your door travels. The torque provides a counter balance to the door's weight to prevent rapid shutting. If your door closes too fast, your springs likely aren't providing any resistance.

As we discussed before, if you suspect your torsion springs lie at the root of the issue, call a professional. You don't want to mess around with torsion springs. A hyperactive garage door which crashes closed presents a major risk for your family's safety. For an issue like this, enlist the experts. 

Door Reaches the Ground and Goes Back Up

You might be scratching your head after the door comes down and suddenly returns upright. If this issue affects your door, take a look at the open- and close-limit settings of your door.

These settings describe the height of the ground to the door. Improperly programmed height values can place the ground as lower than its actual position. When the door hits the ground, it thinks, "Oh, I'm about to crush an object. I'd better go back." The automatic reverse prevents a door from closing on objects, so it returns to its upright position.

To deduce if your garage door suffers from ground miscalculation, just check what the height settings describe. Some units’ settings are difficult to locate. If you have trouble finding them, read the owner's manual or look online.

 

Call Us at IDC Automatic

Garage doors love to frustrate, confuse and tease their owners. Sometimes it's hard to remember they're just machines.

As a machine, a garage door only works if its parts communicate properly. Investigating how the different elements interact often leads to discovering the repair issue. With garage doors, every problem has a repair solution.

To the layman, a garage door appears complex and intimidating. If you prefer to let an expert tame the beast in your garage, we're here, but we want you to "think about garage doors differently" and appreciate how they operate as well as trust yourself to fix basic problems.

Of course, there are professionals like us for a reason. Some problems don't just go away with a little polish and gumption. At IDC Automatic, we feature a robust product line to fit your repair needs. Also, our expertly trained garage door technicians will quickly diagnose and attend to any repair issue your door requires. 

We have faithfully served our clients for 41 years, and we offer 24-hour available service. Our speedy delivery, free quotes and three-year warranty for labor and materials has earned us our place as the largest Clopay installing dealer in the five state area.

If you want a whole new door, come down to our showroom and check out our vast array of products, doors and accessories. Feel free to contact us at 763-786-4730 for a free estimate or schedule a service call.