8 Common Garage Door Opener Problems And How to Fix Them

Common Garage Door Opener Problems And How to Fix Them

8 Common Garage Door Opener Problems And How to Fix Them

For most homeowners, opening and closing their garage door is a routine activity they hardly pay attention to – until something goes wrong. In such cases, fixing the problem can seem like a daunting task. However, the good news is that simple DIY solutions can resolve many garage door opener issues. Before you call a professional, you may want to try troubleshooting the issue yourself. Here are eight of the 8 common garage door opener problems and how to address them to get your opener functioning smoothly and reliably again.

1. The Opener Won’t Close

The Opener Garage Door Opener Problems

You press the remote, and the opener activates to open the door, but it won’t close. What’s going on? There are a couple of potential culprits:

The sensors are misaligned – Safety sensors on either side of the garage door opening emit invisible beams. If anything is blocking these or they get knocked out of alignment, it will prevent the door from closing as a safety precaution. Try cleaning the sensors with a rag if they are dirty. Then, ensure they are pointed directly at each other and are not obstructed.

The cable is off track – Check the metal cables that lift the door. If the cable has slipped off the pulley at the top, the opener will struggle to lift the door’s weight. You’ll need a ladder to reposition the cable on the pulley wheel.

The motor is having issues – Older openers can start to lose power, so they struggle to lift the total weight of the door. Try lubricating the chain or belt that runs from the motor to the arm that lifts the door. If this doesn’t help, you likely need a replacement motor.

2. The Lights Don’t Work

The handy garage door opener lights stopped turning on? Start with some basic troubleshooting:

  • Check if the lightbulbs have burned out and need replacement. For LED lights, make sure they are correctly plugged into the light sockets.
  • Ensure the power supply to the opener is good. Flip the circuit breaker off and back on.
  • Test the wall switch that controls the lights. You may need to replace a faulty switch.
  • Inspect the wires connecting the lights to ensure they are not loose or damaged. Fraying wires can interrupt the flow of electricity.

If adjusting the wiring and bulbs doesn’t work, you’ll likely have to replace the circuit board that operates the lights. Consulting your opener’s manual will help you locate this part.

3. The Remote or Keypad Won’t Work

Getting out of your car in the rain or cold to open the garage door by hand is annoying. If the remotes or wireless keypad stops working, here are some steps to take:

  • Make sure the opener has power – Check for any blown fuses.
  • Verify the sensors are not obstructed. Blocked sensors can turn off the remotes.
  • Check the remote battery if applicable. It may need replacement.
  • Reprogram the remote. Refer to your opener’s manual for instructions on how to sync the remote. You may need to press the “learn” button.
  • For keypads, check that the correct access code is being entered. Try changing the code as a test.
  • Clean the antenna on the motor assembly with a rag if it is dirty. This can obstruct the signal.

If these measures don’t restore operation, the circuit board that reads the wireless signals may need replacement. Contact a garage door technician for assistance.

4. The Opener is Making Noises

Hearing strange noises coming from your garage door opener is always concerning. Here are some familiar sounds and what they can signify:

  • Squealing or screeching – These high-pitched noises point to a metal-on-metal issue. It usually means lubrication is required for oil bearings, rollers, tracks, and hinges. A silicone spray lubricant should stop the annoying noise.
  • Rumbling and vibration – This can indicate the opener’s chain or drive belt is loosely connected and needs tightening. Or the chain may be worn and about to snap. Checking the chain’s tautness and condition is advised.
  • Grinding – This grinding sound might happen when you activate the opener. It typically signals a problem with the opener’s gear shaft or worm gear that requires replacement by a professional.
  • Thumping – If you hear a repetitive thumping every time the door opens or closes, it likely means a cable is out of its roller track. Cables should be reseated into their tracks.
  • Popping – You may hear a popping sound when the door opens. This can occur when a wire pulley gets detached from the pulley bracket. Pulleys must be securely fastened to stop any popping.

5. The Door Only Goes Partially Up or Down

Is your garage door getting stuck about halfway up or down when opening or closing? Or does it reverse direction for no apparent reason? Some things to check are:

  • Force adjustment – If an opener is not lifting a door fully, it may need more force applied. Consult the user manual to increase the force level with the force adjustment screw.
  • Limit settings – Adjustable limit switches on most openers control how far up or down the door travels. One of the limits may need adjustment if the door is not fully opening or closing.
  • Obstruction – Is something blocking the door’s path or preventing motion? Look for any cords, tools, or debris that could interfere with operation. Clear the area around the door.
  • Off track – As covered earlier, cables that run off pulley tracks can inhibit movement. Inspect cables and pulleys.
  • Worn parts – Over time, parts like rollers and bearings can wear out and need replacement. A service call can determine if worn parts are the issue.

6. The Opener Strains to Lift the Door

An opener that seems to labor loudly to lift the garage door could mean:

  • Lubrication needed – Lack of lubrication creates friction and resistance. Oil bearings, rollers, and hinges per the opener manual.
  • Weak motor – Older belt drive and chain drive motors degrade over time. Replacing the motor is the solution for regaining lifting capacity.
  • Heavy door – Modern insulated garage doors can be pretty heavy. The opener may need adjustment for maximum force to lift heavier doors.
  • Broken spring – Torsion springs balance most of the door’s weight. A broken spring makes the opener work much harder to lift the door. Have a broken spring replaced.

Tip: Choosing a garage door opener with at least a 1/2 horsepower motor provides adequate lifting force for most residential doors up to 500 pounds.

7. The Door Creeps Up or Down

Does your garage door inexplicably drift up from the closed position? Or start sliding down when open? This problem usually stems from extension spring systems. Solutions include:

  • Adjust spring tension – The tension on each side of an extension spring system needs to be balanced. They may need tightening or loosening to stop creeping.
  • Replace worn parts – Damaged or broken pulleys, cables, and bearings can contribute to creeping. Inspect and replace any worn components.
  • Install safety cables – Adding safety containment cables provides an essential backup if extension springs break and cause the door to fall rapidly.

Warning: Adjusting extension springs is dangerous if not done correctly. Unless you have proper training, have a professional service the springs.

The Opener Motor Runs: Garage Door Opener Problems

8. The Opener Motor Runs But the Door Doesn’t Move

If you hear your garage door opener motor running but see no movement from the door, possible causes include:

  • Broken chain or belt – Like any machine, chains, and belts can wear out or snap after years of use. Examine the chain or belt closely and replace it as needed.
  • Disconnected pulley – Openers use pulleys and shafts to translate motor rotation into door movement. If a pulley becomes unattached, the motor can still run without effect. Reconnect any loose pulleys.
  • Worn gears – Plastic or metal gears can become stripped or warped. But replacing opener gears and shafts is an advanced DIY fix. Consulting a garage door company is often needed.
  • Burned-out motor – Constant straining against a heavy or off-track door can cause motors to overheat and wear out. Have an experienced technician confirm if the motor needs replacement.


What maintenance should be done on garage door openers?

  • Oil the chain, rollers, and bearings every six months
  • Check for any loose hardware and tighten
  • Test the safety sensors and realign if needed
  • Replace the backup battery every 1-2 years
  • Update the access remotes and keypad codes periodically

How often should the garage door be balanced and the springs checked?

Torsion and extension springs should be inspected by a trained professional at least once a year to check for signs of wear and ensure proper balancing. Broken springs are one of the most common causes of garage door injuries.

Why does my opener make a loud grinding noise when operating?

Grinding noises usually indicate an issue with the opener’s gear shaft or worm gear. A garage door technician should replace defective gear for safe operation.

Can I upgrade an old chain drive opener to a new belt drive model?

In most cases, you can upgrade an old chain opener to a new belt drive model without replacing the garage door or rails. Just make sure the horsepower is sufficient for lifting your door.

What causes garage door cables to jump off pulleys?

If cables become loose and disengage from pulleys, it is often because the cable clip came unattached or the pulley is warped. Reattach clips securely and examine pulleys for damage.

Why does my opener struggle to close the door but not open it?

This can indicate worn extension springs that have lost tension on the closing cycle. Have the springs evaluated for proper balancing on both sides?


Diagnosing these 8 common garage door opener problems can seem daunting at first. However, paying attention to the specific symptoms provides clues to likely causes. Many issues can be addressed with basic troubleshooting and DIY methods. Discovering how to install a garage door opener is simplified with our guide, ensuring years of dependable use through correct setup, regular upkeep, and safety evaluations, but for intricate fixes, especially with electronics or risky springs, it’s prudent to trust skilled garage door professionals.

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