10 Common Reasons Your Automatic Garage Door Won’t Work

Whenever something in the home doesn’t work the way we expect it to, it’s common to feel a moment of panic. How long until it’s fixed? How much will it cost? This is especially true when your garage door doesn’t open or close properly. In this post, we share common reasons your automatic garage door won’t work – as well as possible fixes.

1. The Safety Sensors Are Out of Alignment

When your garage door opens but won’t close, this is the first thing to check.

If your garage door was installed after 1993, it has two safety sensors on either side of the door. Each sensor has a photo eye that transmits a beam to its mate. If one sensor can’t detect the other, it stops the garage door from closing.

The goal is preventing personal injury or property damage, since the door won’t go down if something blocks that invisible beam. Sometimes, though, the sensors don’t detect each other because they became misaligned. Or, perhaps the photo eye is dirty.

Start by making sure the sensors are aligned. Check the height of each sensor as well as the angle the photo eye points. You may need a level to do this.

If the door still won’t close, it’s time to clean the photo eyes. Just use a soft cloth and a mild cleanser that doesn’t streak. Treat it as you would a camera lens (since that’s essentially what it is). In other words, be gentle and don’t soak it in the cleanser. A little goes a long way.

Try to close the door again. If it still doesn’t work, it may be time to call GT Garage Door Repair. We’ll inspect the door and give you a free estimate to fix it.

Garage door safety sensor callout

2. Something Is Blocking the Door

Closely related to the first issue is that something is blocking the door’s path. For example, an item may block the beam between the sensors. Toys and garbage cans are common culprits. In addition, any small item on the track will cause the door to go back up. This safety feature keeps the door from crushing anyone or anything beneath it.
After making sure nothing blocks the sensors, sweep the ground under the door. Also, check the track to make sure it’s clear. If not, wipe it gently with a soft, damp cloth. If the garage door won’t go down and stay down, give us a call.

Drawing broken garage remote concept

3. The Batteries Are Dead in Your Garage Remote

If the garage door opens and closes okay when you use the wall station but not your remote, the most likely issue is a dead battery. Changing the battery is easy. We recommend taking either the battery or the remote to the store to ensure you get the right size. Also, consider replacing the battery in any additional remote controls you have. If the remotes get approximately the same amount of use, the batteries will likely go out around the same time.

4. There's No Power to the Garage Door Opener

Sometimes, your garage door remote works but nothing happens when you press the wall station. In that case, the garage door opener may not be getting power. Make sure it’s plugged in. If it is, try plugging another item into the same outlet to see if that’s working. If not, you may have a broken fuse.

5. Your Garage Door Springs Are Broken

A broken spring or cable is probably the number one reason people call us for garage door repair. That’s because springs are usually the first thing to break, although that doesn’t happen often.

When the spring breaks, it makes a very loud snapping noise. If that didn’t grab your attention, the door slamming into the ground should have.

DO NOT TRY TO OPEN THE GARAGE DOOR. Without the tension provided by the springs, risk of injury and/or property damage is extremely high.

Replacing broken springs requires specialized tools and the right training. Most stores won’t even sell you the necessary parts because the risk of injury is so high. When it’s time to replace your garage door springs, always call a professional. Even if that means someone other than GT.
The average lifespan of residential garage door springs is around 10,000 open/close cycles. You can estimate how many years your springs will last by figuring out how many times a day you open and close your garage. For example, when you go to work, you open and close your door when you leave (one open/close cycle), and again when you return home.

Multiply the number of open/close cycles by 365 to get your yearly total. Then, divide 10,000 by that number to determine how many years you can expect your garage door springs to last. For most people, it’s around 7 years. Regular maintenance helps extend the life of your garage door springs.

6. You Locked the Door

Some garage doors include a manual lock that opens and closes from inside the garage. It’s easy to accidentally engage this lock. If the garage door opener makes noise when you press the button and your sensors are fine, check the lock. Typically, simply turning the knob or bar unlocks it.

7. You Hit the Disconnect Switch

The disconnect switch lets you open and close the door manually in the event your home loses power. You activate it by pulling straight down on the rope or cord hanging from the center track area. This unhooks the switch, disconnecting the motor from its power source.

To reconnect the switch, just reattach that hook (after opening the garage door). Once it’s reconnected, it should open with the remote or transmitter.

Pulling garage motor disconnect rope

8. The Garage Door Limit Settings Need to be Reset

If the garage door closes all the way and then immediately opens again, your limit settings may need to be reset. Before resetting, though, refer to items 1 and 2 to ensure there’s no issue with your safety sensors.
Your limit settings define how far the door needs to move to close completely. If you set this limit too high, your opener thinks it hit an obstruction instead of the garage floor. That’s when the built-in safety mechanism kicks in, raising the door to avoid crushing whatever is “blocking” its path.

The procedure for resetting the garage door limits depends on your particular opener. Refer to your owner’s manual for exact instructions. It may require a bit of experimentation to determine the correct setting. If you can’t seem to get it to work properly, consider calling a professional.

9. Your Garage Remote Malfunctioned

Next to a dead battery, the main reason a remote transmitter doesn’t work is that it’s out of range. You may also have a neighbor – or neighbors – whose garage door openers are on the same frequency as yours. Try waiting to open the door until you’re actually in the driveway.

By the way, neighbors on the same frequency may also cause your garage door to open and close, seemingly at random. The door isn’t possessed; it’s just your neighbor. Check your manual for instructions on changing the frequency.

If you know you’re in range, look at the garage door motor. It should have an antenna that’s free of any blockages or damage. If it’s damaged, you need a tech to replace it.

Another remedy may be reprogramming the transmitter. Check the manual, but usually you just need to press and hold the “learn” button. Once the light starts blinking, release the button and press it again. That should reprogram it.

10. The Garage Door Track Is Out of Alignment

Finally, a misaligned garage door track may be your problem. Look for gaps between the rollers and the rail of the track your door travels. You may also see bends or distortions in the rails. These issues get worse over time, so take care of it as soon as you notice it.

If the door doesn’t open, a professional garage tech can realign the track safely. Or, if the track is past the point of a safe repair, we can install a new garage door track.

For any garage door issues you have, GT Garage Door Repair has the skills, training, and tools needed to get the job done right. We offer free estimates and same-day service whenever possible. Call us at 602-680-9700 for your free estimate.