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Afraid Your Garage Door Is Becoming Unhinged? Tips To Help Homeowners Diagnose Problems & Find Solutions For Strange Symptoms

by April Carlson

Garage doors have undergone major changes since the days when they required manual power to move them up and down. While these changes have been positive and offered benefits, such as making them easier to use, offering better security and providing a more pleasing appearance for the homes on which they are installed, the changes have also made them much more complex to maintain and repair. If your normally dependable garage doors have suddenly become erratic and troublesome, the following tips will help you diagnose possible problems and return your garage door to its normally trustworthy self.  

Garage doors that go down and then back up

One rather exasperating garage door malfunction is when the door closes on demand and then immediately reopens by itself. In most cases, this type of issue is related to the limit switch. A safety feature, the limit switch prevents modern garage doors from causing crush injuries by controlling the descent of the door when it is being closed. If the limit switch is improperly adjusted, the door will begin to act erratically, usually by closing and then reopening. To address this issue, homeowners can check their owner's manual for the location of their garage door's limit switch and follow the instructions on how to adjust it. 

Garage doors open and close on their own

Garage doors that suddenly open and close on their own can be experiencing a number of issues, including:

  • malfunctioning safety sensors – these prevent the door from closing while objects, pets or children are standing under the door (homeowners should locate, clean and check each sensor for damage or obstructions that could be causing them to malfunction)
  • power issues - from both electrical storms and those caused by electrical outages or issues (homeowners who note erratic garage door behavior immediately after a lightning storm or power surge should consider having their electrical system checked for possible damage or issues)  
  • frequency interference - from another garage door opener, or other electronic device or system, including cordless phones, ham radio sets, wireless networks, etc. (while recently manufactured doors solve this problem through the use of randomly generated rolling codes, older models used limited amounts of preset codes making them more vulnerable to this problem; this is usually fixed by upgrading or replacing the opener system) 

Garage door opener sounds functional, yet garage doors remain closed

If your garage door does not open when attempting to open it with the remote control, but you can clearly hear the motor running on the opener system, there are several possibilities for the problem. The first step in troubleshooting the problem is to determine if the issue lies with the door or with the opener system that is tasked with raising and lowering the door. To do this, homeowners should refer to their instruction manual and locate the emergency release. (Remember that the emergency release should only be used if the door is stuck in a completely closed position to prevent possible injuries from it closing suddenly when the emergency release is activated.) 

Once the emergency release has been located and activated, attempt to manually open the garage doors. If they open easily, the malfunction is likely caused by the opener system and should be referred to a garage door repair professional. 

If the garage doors are not able to be raised easily once the emergency release has been activated, the problem could be caused by one or more of the following problems: 

  • an issue with the chain, sprocket or gear responsible for moving the garage door up and down
  • broken, damaged or obstructed garage door springs
  • damaged or obstructed garage door tracks
  • damaged or broken cables, pulleys, rollers 

Garage doors that malfunction or become unreliable can be inconvenient, as well as dangerous to your family's security. If you are unable to determine the cause of your problem and remedy it easily on your own, or if you do not feel comfortable attempting to do so, consider having your system inspected and serviced by a reputable garage door installation and repair professional in your area. For more information, check out a website like