Whether or not you’re able to repair a garage door on your own, there are definitely a few things you should look out for prior to rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty – or calling in the pros.
In fact, you’d be surprised how many garage door issues can be solved in just a few minutes or less. If your garage door isn’t opening or closing as it’s supposed to, just follow these five basic tips and save yourself time, money, and frustration.
It’s Key to Check the Keypad
One of the quickest fixes when it comes to erratic or unresponsive garage doors is to simply check the batteries in the wall-mounted keypad as well as your garage door remote. Because it’s mounted to the wall, many folks don’t even realize that the keypad is battery operated. Just slide open the battery housing and swap the old one out. You can do the same for the remote, while you’re at it.
And, it’s always a great idea to check to see if your keypad was accidentally set to “lock.” A common safety feature, the lock prevents the garage door from being accidentally opened or closed. You can see if it’s engaged by looking to see if the green light by the garage door opener is blinking – if so, hold down the “lock” button for a few seconds to reactivate your garage door opener.
If you are still having problems opening and closing your garage door, you may want to try reprogramming your keypad and remote by following the instructions in the owner’s manual.
Examine the Safety Sensors
Often not noticed until something goes wrong, your garage’s safety sensors are unsung heroes, sensing if anything is in the way of the garage door and preventing it from closing on children or pets. These two sensors are located on the garage door track near the ground on each side, pointing towards each other.
One sensor sends a signal, and the other receives it -- and if something gets in between, they let the garage door know not to close. The sensors also have a way of communicating with you. If the sensor is on, functioning, and the signal is uninterrupted, you’ll see a solid LED light. If they’re not aligned, or if something is in the way of the signal, the light will blink on and off. This can prevent your garage door from closing.
If you garage door won’t close, or starts to close and then goes back up, one of the first things you should check is to see that the sensors are aligned, the wires are intact, and the lenses are squeaky clean.
Over time, dust and grime can build up on the sensor lens. A light dusting with a soft cloth should be all you need to clear the lens and let the signal shine through bright and strong. You can also check to see if glare from the sun is hitting the lens – if the LED light blinks while the sun is shining but stops if you shield the sensor with your hand, a simple cover made from PVC or another waterproof material can keep those rays from blocking the signal.
Make Sure Everything’s On Track
Your garage door goes up and down via a set of rollers that run along tracks on either side of the door. Occasionally, the tracks can become blocked or pinched, preventing the door from opening or closing.
If the door starts to close but bounces back up, and you’ve already ensured that the sensors aren’t blocked, one possible quick fix is to check that the tracks are straight and free of obstruction.
You can also make sure that the tracks are well-lubricated. While WD-40 might be your first thought, it’s not advisable to use it on your garage door. Instead, opt for a designated garage door lubricant for maximum efficiency and to prevent leakage and mess.
Have a Look at the Torsion Springs
If there’s anything to which you apply the rule, “Look, but don’t touch,” it should be the torsion springs in your garage. Located horizontally on the inside above the garage door, the torsion springs contain a lot of built-up tension – which is usually a good thing, because that stored energy helps take the burden off of the garage door opener itself, thus prolonging its lifespan. But they can also be quite dangerous if broken, and a snapped torsion spring can cause severe injury.
If you happened to hear a loud bang from your garage, or if your garage door isn’t opening and closing properly, have a quick look at the torsion springs to see if there’s any warping, or if there’s a gap in the spring where it may have snapped completely.
If you do see spaces or full-on breakages in the torsion springs, it is highly recommended that you call a service professional to get them repaired.
Check the Motor
For automatic garage doors, which is most units these days, the garage door motor does a lot of the thinking, as well as the lifting, in the operation of your garage door. If you’ve got a ladder handy, you can climb up and examine the garage door motor – after unplugging it, of course – by carefully removing the back panel to access the inside.
Take a gander at the logic board to make sure the connections are solid and that there is no sign of burn-outs – like many other computer boards, occasionally the logic board may need a little re-soldering.
You’ll also want to look at the capacitor – a white cylinder which acts both as a battery and a regulator, providing the power to get your garage door up and down. A bloated or misshaped capacitor means it needs to be replaced.
Finally, check out the gears in the motor unit, which are connected to the sprocket sticking out of the top. Black crumbs on the inside gears indicate that the sprocket is starting to come apart, which in turn means a weaker pull on the chain that drives the garage door.
Staying Safe Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank
Your garage door is a door to your home just like any other, and as such, is essential to your home security. If your garage door isn’t working properly, not only can intruders have access to the valuables inside the garage itself, but easier access to your home.
Fortunately, the average garage door repair is less than $200, and many repairs run much lower than that. With garage door inspections and basic tune-ups available for as little as $79, it’s easier than ever to make sure that your garage door is doing its job keeping the bad guys out, and protecting your most valuable assets by letting you – and your car – get inside quickly and easily.
Benjamin Feldman is the Head of Content at Puls.com, a company that provides same-day garage door repair and other in-home technical services throughout the U.S. He enjoys writing about home improvement, installation, and appliance repair tips at the Puls Blog. Check out their garage door resource center here.