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My Garage Door Won’t Open. What Do I Do?

A garage door opener is a wonderful, convenient thing—unless they don’t open your garage. When your garage door gets stubborn, your first thought is likely to be “how do I get this fixed as quickly as possible?” The next thought after that will be “I really hope I don’t have to call the repair people.”

Well, it’s true that some garage door repairs are a job for the professionals. Taking on one of these jobs yourself could be dangerous and probably won’t work, anyway. But there are also times openers don’t work for reasons that are super-easy to fix.

Read on.

Simple and Easy Garage Door Problems

If your garage door opener won’t work, always check these options first. Yes, some of them might make you feel a bit silly—you might think only a fool would have these problems. But sometimes every single one of us is a fool, and you’ll feel a whole lot less foolish if you discover that fact yourself instead of having the garage repair people come and tell you.

  • Is the garage door locked?
  • Is the garage door opener plugged in (the plug can wiggle loose sometimes)?
  • Did the circuit breaker for the opener trip?
  • Are the batteries in the remote control dead (or missing)?

Actual Problems You Can Solve Yourself

The best problems are those that won’t make you feel silly but are still easy and safe for you to fix on your own (though you’re welcome to call a professional instead, if you’d rather).

Is the Trolley Disconnected?

The trolley is the box-like-thing that moves along the long track on the ceiling. It can be turned off, if you want to open the door manually. If you want to turn it on again, you’ll need to consult your owner’s manual because every type of opener works differently, but it shouldn’t be a problem.

Does the Remote Need to Be Reset?

See if you can open the door by pushing the button on the wall. If you can, the problem is in the remote. Since you already checked the batteries, maybe the remote needs to be reset. The owner’s manual will tell you how.

Does the Photo Eye Need Cleaning?

The photo eye is a tiny lens in the lower part of the garage door frame. It stops the door from coming down if anything—like a small child—is in the way. But if the lens is dirty, the door won’t go up, either. A soft rag should take care of it.

Does the Pulling Force Need to Be Increased?

Over time, garage doors get harder to open because of normal wear and tear on the tracks and rollers. The problem is that older openers go right on using the same amount of force, and eventually it’s not enough to open the door. Consult your owners manual for how to adjust the pulling force. Newer openers don’t have this problem because they adjust their own pulling force as needed.

Is the Door Off Its Track?

If something hits the side track and bends it, the door could derail and then it won’t open. If you’re feeling industrious, you can fix the problem yourself, though it will take two people. Disconnect the opener trolley and open the door manually, making sure the rollers go back in the track. Then use a mallet to bend the track back into place. If you want to have a professional take care of the problem for you, though, that’s totally OK.

No, Really, Call the Professionals

Then there are issues for trained repair people. Yes, you might be handy. Yes, you might be motivated. Yes, you might really love a challenge—but no, you should not tackle any of these yourself unless you actually are a garage door repair tech (in which case you’re probably not reading this article because you know all of this already). These are tasks that require both special training and special tools, and if you do it wrong you’ll drop the door on your head and you will die.

Or some other catastrophe will occur. You get the point. 

  • Is a spring broken? (You’ll be able to see the break, and if you were home at the time you would have heard a loud BANG)
  • Has a cable snapped or loosened?
  • Is the opener mechanism itself not working?

If any of these is the issue, or if you can’t figure out what the problem is, just call your repair company and they’ll come take care of the problem for you. You’ll have your garage back soon.


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