What to Do If Your Garage Door Won't Close

If you are experiencing difficulty closing your garage door, it could be due to a variety of reasons, but there’s often a simple solution for most of these issues.

It could be anything from the door not being properly aligned with the motor and track to a broken torsion spring or cable that needs replacing. There's also the chance that you have an issue with one of your safety sensors like those used for automatic doors, and if so, it'll need to be fixed before you can have any hope of shutting things down safely.

The garage door is one of the most important parts of a home, and it's also among the most dangerous. When things go wrong, they can be detrimental to your safety. Garage doors are often heavy, and moving them requires a lot of force, which means that when something goes wrong with the mechanism or sensors, it can lead to serious injury. For this reason, it is best to get the issue fixed sooner than later to protect your family members and property.

In this article, we will look at some of the most common causes for why a garage door won't close.

Issues with the Photo Eye Sensors

Garage door sensors have been mandatory on all new garage doors since 1993, adding an extra element of safety to our household, pets, and vehicles. Garage door safety sensors are an important part of the garage door system. These devices can detect if someone or something is in the path of a closing garage door and stop it from closing on them, saving lives and preventing injuries.

The safety sensors malfunctioning on a garage door opener is a serious issue for many homeowners, which is why it's important to know how to identify when this happens and what you should do about it. The sensor system in your garage door prevents the door from closing on anything or anyone standing below it. If there is no power to the unit, this critical safety feature can be rendered useless. If these sensors are set up incorrectly or if one of them has been knocked out of place, this could be why your garage door won't close all the way.

If your garage door has no issue when it goes up, but it won't go down, or it closes but immediately reopens, it will likely be a problem with the sensors.

The Sensors Need Realigning

There is one photo eye on either side of the door; they are aligned to face each other about four to six inches from the garage floor. When activated and working correctly, they send a laser beam to each other. However, some photo eye sensors can be sensitive to even a slight jolt and become misaligned.

Both photo-eyes have lights that should be visible. However, if one is blinking, it means that the laser beam that indicates that the way is safe for the garage to shut isn't aligned correctly. You'll need to adjust one of the sensors by loosening it and then adjusting it so that they are both at equal height. When the light remains steady and stops blinking, it will indicate that they are in alignment.

On occasion, sunlight can interfere with the sensors if the light falls at a specific angle. A simple way to remedy this problem is to place cardboard in front of the sensor to shield them from the sun. But do test the sensors to make sure that the cardboard isn't obstructing the signal.

The Photo-Eye Sensors are Dirty

If your garage door is opened and closed regularly throughout the day or is left open often, all sorts of things can be blown into the garage and end up on the sensors. This can cause them to malfunction as dirt or dust will be mistaken by the laser beam as an obstruction.

It's a good habit to clean the photo eye sensors from time to time so that they don't get dirty and this doesn't become an issue. To clean them, just wipe them with a damp cloth, then dry them. The lenses can be easily scratched, so take care not to damage them in the process.

You should also ensure that rain or moisture doesn't get into the photo-eye circuitry and cause damage. This is particularly a consideration in regions that get a lot of ice, rain, and snow.

The Sensors are Faulty

If both sensor lights aren't lit up, it could be due to a wiring problem. It might be because a wire has come loose or even caused by a rodent chewing on the wire. On some garage door models, the sensor will flash orange to indicate a wiring issue. You can inspect the wires and see if you can find the wiring issue yourself. If the wiring is the issue, you might need to hire an electrician to fix the issue. Of course, if you have wiring skills, you should be able to complete the task yourself.

If you can't see anything wrong with the wires, it could be that the sensors are at fault and need replacing.They are easily found online or at your local Home depot. The replacement sensors should cost less than a hundred bucks, but if you hire a professional to install them, then factor in the expenses for labor.

Disruption of Power Source to Your Operator

This is, more often than not, the easiest fix and the most embarrassing to admit to. You are standing around scratching your head, wondering why your garage won't close, and then you suddenly remember that you unplugged the power cord for whatever reason. Bingo! You plug the power cord back in, and your garage door is back working; the crisis is over!

But sometimes the issue is more serious and is not caused by your absentmindedness. The power disruption could be caused by the circuit breaker being tripped; this typically happens if it has been overloaded. It also could be because of a short circuit or blown fuse. If the issue is a short circuit, you should call a professional electrician to check your electrics.

The last reason for a power disruption could be a faulty outlet, test another electric device into the outlet, and if that doesn't work, you'll know the culprit. You can then plug your operator into another outlet until you have repaired the faulty one.

Issues with the Garage Door Openers Remote

It could be when your garage door doesn’t close that the remote opener could be the cause. If your garage door won't close, one of the most common reasons is that the batteries in the remote have died and need to be replaced. To test if it is an issue with the remote, open and close the garage door using the wall switch. Most big brand remotes, such as Chamberlain and LiftMaster, use a CR2032 3V battery similar to those you would use in a watch.

But if your remote still isn't responding after replacing the battery, you may want to check for interference from other devices as it could also be an issue with the signal being blocked or jammed. If the garage door won't close or open when you use the remote, it could be that tree growth or other obstacles are blocking the signal. Try using the remote from a different angle and trim back any foliage or tree branches that you think might cause the signal to be obstructed.

Could it be that you are out of range? It's always worth crossing it off your troubleshooting list. Another possibility is that the antenna is damaged or out of place; make sure that it is hanging down from the motor.The final option if none of these work is to reprogram the garage door opener remote.

Garage Door Torsion Springs are Broken

A torsion spring, also called a tension spring in some cases, is a type of spring that has many applications and is most commonly used as the part of a garage door opener. It consists of a helical coil that gets twisted to store energy which is then released when you open or close your garage door.

Torsion Springs are one of the most common parts of residential garage doors that need to be replaced and the main reason why many householders call out a garage door repair company.

They will gradually lose their tension over time which is why most people replace them around every 10-15 years. The torsion springs on your garage door have a maximum number of open and close cycles. The standard is 10,000 cycles, with each cycle corresponding to the garage door being opened and closed one time.  Limiting the times that the door closes and opens will increase longevity and keep them regularly maintained and rust-free.

However, there can be other factors that lead to a broken spring, such as being overloaded with too much weight, for example.

Signs that your torsion springs need replacing include a sagging or uneven garage door, loud noises when opening and closing, difficulty in raising or lowering the door, or if you notice that your garage door takes longer to open or close than usual.

If you are at home when a torsion spring breaks, you are likely to know about it; there will be a loud sound like a gunshot being fired or a firecracker popping in your garage! If the springs break, you shouldn't try to open or close the garage door.

While the actual process is relatively straightforward for replacing the torsion spring for your door to get it working properly, it can also be hazardous.

Some homeowners make an honest mistake and try to fix the problem without having the necessary skills or knowledge for the task. They wind up making the situation worse by causing more damage to other parts of the garage door system.

In addition, if not properly installed, torsion springs can break and cause serious injury to those nearby. Torsion springs are dangerous because they can easily snap and release tension; this sudden release of tension could cause a person to be injured or killed if the spring snaps back at them.

Garage Door Limit Settings Need Adjusting

You may need to adjust the garage door's limit settings if the garage door won't close. Garage doors have a limit setting that determines how far the door should move before it is completely closed. The manufacturer usually sets this, but you can adjust it to your needs. The limit setting should be adjusted when installing a new opener or if something has changed in your home's layout.

If the limit settings on your opener aren't programmed correctly, when you attempt to close your garage door, it will automatically go up again. Adjusting the limit is pretty easy, but we suggest you consult the user manual specific to your garage door opener brand before attempting the task.

You'll need to use a ladder to locate the limit switch on your garage door opener. You can adjust the limits by turning the screw clockwise or counterclockwise to increase or decrease, respectively. You are best to make very slight adjustments rather than letting the garage door slam up and down. Test your adjustments by opening and closing the door until it is working properly.

Misaligned or Damaged Garage Door Track

Garage door tracks are a vital component of the garage door. These tracks are installed on the side of your garage and have one or two rollers that allow for smooth opening and closing of the garage door. If you notice that your garage is not closing correctly, it may be due to a misaligned or damaged track.

The tracks of a garage door can become misaligned over time, which is why it's essential to check the tracks periodically. Garage door tracks can be misaligned for several reasons, including wear and tear on the track itself or if something has fallen onto it.

The first thing you should do is to make sure that nothing is obstructing the track. Clean any dirt and debris from between the garage door and the track and lubricate them with light oil or petroleum jelly. Check and replace damaged parts of the track, including screws, bolts, and brackets.

Signs that your garage door tracks are misaligned include difficulty opening or closing the door, uneven gaps between the floor and wall when closed, and excessive noise when operating.

If the garage door can still move, you should be able to fix the issue yourself. Begin by loosening the screws that affix the track to the frame. Using a rubber mallet, gently tap the track to its correct position. Use a level to make sure that the tracks are aligned. Tighten all screws and bolts that hold the track in place.

If your garage door doesn’t move at all due to misalignment, then contact a garage door service who will have the equipment and knowledge to either fix the issue or install new garage door tracks.

Cables Have Snapped

The cable system is one of the most important parts of your garage door. Without it, your door would not be able to open and close. Garage door cables are made of steel wire that is coated with plastic or rubber insulation.

These cables typically attach to the top and bottom of a garage door and run through pulleys in each corner before attaching to springs on either side of your garage. The purpose of these cables is two-fold: they help lift and stabilize the heavyweight of the garage door, as well as provide counterbalance when opening or closing it.

It's not uncommon for cables on your garage door to snap. If the cable has snapped, it may be difficult to open or close the door. The cause of this can be many things, but it generally happens when people overload their garage doors by putting too much weight on them, or they hang heavy items from the door as well.

Replacing snapped garage door cables can be a tricky task as it usually involves releasing the tension in the torsion springs. If you have experience in garage door repair and are confident you can carry out the project safely, then go ahead. Otherwise, call a professional as they will have the required tools and training.

Stripped Gears

Nearly all garage door openers on the market feature nylon drive gears. This component is responsible for turning the sprocket which turns the chain that lifts your garage door up and down. Signs of a stripped gear are noises coming from the unit or seeing plastic shavings when you take a look inside the opener's case. One way to make sure that this part doesn't wear out is by lubricating it with grease every few months.

You can install a new gear kit yourself; you just need to find one that matches your garage door opener's make and model; they are fairly inexpensive to replace. There should be instructions included with the kit, and the task shouldn't take much longer than an hour in total.

Disconnect Switch Has Been Activated

The garage door disconnect switch is a device (typically a red emergency release cord) that helps you manually open and close the garage door. It's useful if your power goes out or there is some other problem with your opener.

However, sometimes it can become accidentally unhooked and disengages the motor. If your garage door doesn't move, but you can hear the motor running for a similar amount of time it would normally take for the door to close, a disengaged switch will likely be the problem.

Garage Door Has Been Locked Manually

Some garage doors, especially older ones, are supplied with manual locks. If the motor of your opener runs for a few seconds before shutting off and the door won't open, it could be that you have accidentally engaged the manual lock. The lock is designed to add extra security to the door, but sometimes by accident, the lock can easily be activated. It's a simple fix; just turn the handle until it clicks.

Failed Logic Board

Garage door opener logic boards are the brains of your garage door system. They control all aspects of your garage door, including opening and closing it. If you have a broken or damaged logic board, you will need to replace it with a new one before the problem can be fixed.

The main ways it can fail are usually due to electrical surges and power outages, water damage, or physical damage to the garage door opener.

Damaged Door Panels

Garage door panels can be damaged in a number of ways, from being hit by a car or truck to being dented by something accidentally kicked near them. When your garage door panels crack, it can prevent the door from closing as it will get stuck trying to traverse the curved section of the track due to sagging.

If your panels are cracked or warped and interfering with the mechanism of the garage door, you should first look at either bolstering them with a strut or replacing them.

Installing a horizontal garage door strut is a quick fix solution. A strut will apply outward pressure, add stability and help distribute the weight evenly. Garage door struts will add extra weight to your door, so you may need to make an adjustment to the tension springs and also realize it will put more stress on your garage door opener.

If the panel is beyond repair, you might need to replace it with a new garage door panel. The problem with this is that garage door manufacturers change the designs of their panels every decade or so, and you might not be able to find a replacement. If this is the case, you will have to consider investing in a brand new garage door.

Garage Door Won't Close in The Winter

Do you ever find yourself in a position where your garage door won't close when it's cold outside? This is a common problem for many homeowners. It might be that you have had no problems the rest of the year, but now you are having issues. One of the most common reasons is that in cold temperatures, metal contracts causing the mechanisms in your garage door to slow down, fail or break.

Another thing to check that condensation hasn't formed on the sensors and stopped them from operating. Wiping them with a dry cloth should quickly fix the issue.

Check the Garage Door Opener Manual

Garage door openers are manufactured with diagnostic codes that help identify and diagnose common issues. Knowing these codes can save homeowners time and money by quickly solving their problems.

When your garage door won't close, check for a flashing light on the garage door opener. By counting how many times the light flashes, you can check the troubleshooting guide in your manual to determine the problem. For example, if you have a LiftMaster or Chamberlain garage door opener, and if it is flashing four times up and one down, it indicates that your photo-eye sensors are misaligned or obstructed.

If you've misplaced your manual, it might be easier to consult the internet, you can probably find the code online.

Maintenance Tips to Help Prevent Future Garage Door Issues

Taking care of your garage doors doesn't have to be time-consuming or difficult. If you want them to last as long as possible and not break down at the worst possible moment, you should have a maintenance routine in place.

Keeping your garage clean and tidy is the first step; if it is cluttered and dusty, door operation issues can be expected. An annual spring clean and making sure that the items in the garage aren't too close to the door will help.

If you hear any strange noises coming from the garage door mechanisms popping, screeching, rattles, etc., investigate them and find out the cause as soon as possible.

Routine maintenance to carry out on your garage door should include:

  • Clean off leaves, dirt, and debris from the tracks to make sure they are free of debris and oil buildup
  • Check your garage door's springs every year for wear and tear
  • Test your springs by lifting the door manually, then releasing it
  • Keep an eye on your garage door opener battery life; replace it when necessary
  • Check for rust on the springs, cables, or pulleys
  • Lubricate all hinges, latches, and rollers to prevent squeaking
  • Replace any broken or worn-out parts as soon as possible

In Conclusion

While this is a reasonably comprehensive guide to why your garage door won't close, it isn't exhaustive. If you've tried everything you can to remedy the problem to no avail and the door still won't close, it's time to call in the professionals and get a garage door service company to take a look.

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