The Ultimate Garage Door Repair Guide

The Ultimate Garage Door Repair Guide

Select your issue from the list below:

Door will not go down.

It performs fine on the way up but when I push the button, the door will go down a couple of inches (or almost all of the way) and then it comes back up again. If I push and hold down the button on the wall in my garage, the door will go all the way, but my remotes and keyless entry only work to open the door.

  •  It may be your safety sensors (photo-eyes) that are preventing the door from going down.
  • What they should be like:
    The safety eyes should be no higher than 6” from the floor – one on either side of the door opening. Most door opening systems will have an LED light(s) to let you know if they are working properly. There are many kinds of operator systems. They all have different LED light configurations on their photo-eyes. Most commonly in West Michigan they might be:

    • Genie (Overhead Door) One will have a red and the other will have a green light. If one is blinking or off, it is prohibiting the motor from cycling the door.
    • Chamberlain (Liftmaster) An amber light on one, and a green light on another. The green light tells you that the eyes have power, but the missing amber light tells you that the eyes are preventing the motor from cycling the door.
    • Linear Two lights on one (one green and one red) and a single green light on the other. If the red LED goes off, it is sensing that there is an obstruction and will prevent the motor from operating. If one of the green LED lights goes off, it does not have power, and you guessed it, will prevent the motor from closing the door.
    • Allister (Allstar, Challenger, Quantum, Pro-Drive) An older, but still very common style that will have a single light on only one of the sensors. Where the light would be on the other sensor, there is a small rubber plug. If the light is off, it will prevent that operator from working.
  • Resolution:

    • Safety Sensors are obstructed or misaligned. Sometimes dust or even cobwebs can obstruct the lenses of the seeing eyes. Make sure that they are lined up properly and that nothing comes in between them even when the door comes down. If something is sticking out on the bottom of the door more than it should it might break the beam of the photo-eye causing the door to go back up.
    • Wiring is broken or detached. Check the wiring all the way from the sensors themselves to the operator head if necessary. Make sure that the wires are not disconnected, exposed, or pinched. A common breakage point will be at the screw heads or inside a connecting wire nut.
    • Faulty photo eyes, faulty circuit board or both. This is a toughie because if you have to replace the photo-eyes and the circuit board you are better served (usually) to get a whole new opener with a warranty. The problem is, that if it is a circuit board, you can’t always tell because it will often imitate the faulty photo-eye symptoms and so you replace the photo-eyes but then need to replace the much more costly circuit board. A professional has much more experience knowing how to tell the difference, but as of 2018 there is no foolproof way of knowing for sure if it is your photo eyes alone, your circuit board alone or both. This is one of the things that keeps garage door techs awake at night.
    • It may be an alignment issue. This means that the operator is sensing an obstruction. This could be caused by any number of reasons up to and including
      significant door damage. We need to determine if the operator is sensing a real obstruction in the path of the door/operator system, or if there is something wrong with the opener itself.
    • What the door should operate like: When the door is closed, with the operator detached from the door, (never detach the door from the operator when the door is up, only when it is all the way on the ground) you should be able to manually open and close the door with no more than 15lbs of pressure.
    • Resolution:
      There is not much that a layman can (or should) do to fix this issue, but if the door goes up and down smoothly and easily, the problem is probably with your operator and you should have a professional come and take a look at it for you. If there is something obstructing the path of your door, make sure that there is nothing in the tracks (tracks should be clean of any grease or dust). If there is something else obstructing the path of your door you should call a professional to come and take a look at it.

The door will not go up.

When I push the button on my remote or on the wall in my garage, I hear a noise from the opener, but it either doesn’t budge or it goes up about 6” but then comes back down again.

  • You might have a broken spring. The springs are either located about 10” above the door coiled around a shaft (torsion springs) or they extend near the horizontal tracks front-to-back (extension springs). Most double stall doors have two springs (joined in the middle) and most single stall doors have one spring. If one of the torsion springs is broken you will see a gap of about 4” somewhere in the spring. This needs to be replaced by a professional.
    Please do not attempt to do this yourself.

    • Keep in mind:
      Even though you may only have one spring broken, wisdom dictates that you replace both. They both are the same size (most likely) and they have he same amount of wear on them. If you don’t replace both, you will likely find yourself with another service in a month or so, then you have to pay for two service calls instead of only one. Depending on the age of your door and how many times the springs have already been replaced (if the springs have stenciled letters or numbers on them then it is likely that your springs have already been replaced at lease once. Your springs should last a minimum of 10 years. Consider hi-cycle springs to ensure that you have the best value for your door. We install all of our doors with springs that will last a minimum of 20 years (springs are usually about 30,000-50,000 cycles) but most other companies install springs with only 10,000 cycles. We believe that 10,000 is inadequate for most people in our fast-paced society. Most people’s springs will go through 10,000 cycles in 3-4 years. This is unacceptable in our view.
  •  You wall button might have the vacation lock engaged.

The door will not consistently go up or down.

The door will go up a little or down a little when I push the button, but although it sounds like the motor is running, the door doesn’t move or if it does move it lurches. After a while the motor stops.

  • Resolution:
    You might have a broken gear in your opener. There are typically two gears inside your operator box transferring the power from the motor to the chain or belt. These gears can sometimes go bad when they are put under undo strain. This should cost between $150 – $200 but when fixed (and with the door operating like it should) your operator should be as good as new.

One of the cables on my door is broken.

The door is lifted up on one side about an inch or so. On the side that is down I can see a cable dangling loosely.

  • Be aware that many times what looks like a broken cable is actually not a broken cable at all but a single spring that has been broken. The broken spring has released cable tension making it look broken but it is still intact. Sometimes however the whiplash of a breaking spring will also break the cable.
  • Something to consider.

    •  You need to call a professional to replace the cable. The springs are under high
      tension and they are extremely dangerous to those who are untrained.
    • Most of the time in a residence, a cable breaks because it rusts. If you look at the
      loop on the bottom of your detached cable, you will most likely see that it is rusted.
      This is usually because the cables are located near the cold Michigan out-of-doors
      but inside of a warmed climate. This causes condensation to collect on the cables and dip down to the bottom of the loop (the fiber of which have been expanded to from the loop) where it rusts that galvanized cable.
    •  It seems to us that it makes good sense that when we need to replace that broken, rusted cable, we should replace it with good solid stainless steel. This should help to protect against another service call in the near future for the same problem. This is why we always replace a broken, rusted cable with stainless steel cables.

My operator is acting erratically or doesn’t do anything when I push the button, even though it has power.

  •  You might have a bad circuit board.

    • Circuit boards usually go bad from power surges, but it doesn’t need to be a
      direct lightning strike to damage your operator. If you think about it, this delicate piece
      of hardware is connected (usually) to a big metal box which is connected (usually) to a
      long metal rail which is connected (usually) to an enormous metal door which is a
      sponge for static electricity. See? So you don’t need a direct strike of lightning to
      destroy the circuit board on your operator. You will need a professional to make sure
      you get the right circuit board installed safely.
  • You might have a bad starting capacitor.

    • This is not something that you will want to tackle on you own. If you handle these
      things incorrectly they will give you a very strong shock. The good news is that they are
      usually inexpensive but the bad news is that your operator is getting old. Newer
      operators don’t use capacitors anymore so you operator is likely at least 15 years old.

The top panel of my door is bent in half and the door doesn’t go up and down properly.

  • There are a number of symptoms that can cause this but put most simply, your garage door “system” (door, door components and operator) if I may call it that, is inadequate for the type of opening and how you use it. I deal with this in the the installation portion of this website but suffice it to say that a lighter gauge door (25 ga. or lower)
    with plastic rollers, and often no support struts across the door will invariably cause this problem. If you do a repair, you want to make sure that you don’t just bring it back to it’s former condition because you will be repairing it again in a few short years. Make sure that you have a professional look at your door and give you advice on how to
    make your door last long term. These items may include an operator bracket that connects the top two sections of your door, a reinforcement strut, ball-bearing rollers and possibly even reinforced horizontal track. Also look at the installation side of our website to see how a door should be put together.