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Repair & Maintenance

4 Reasons Your Garage Door is Opening by Itself

Your garage door is meant to open and close on your command, but what do you do when your garage door starts opening on its own. Here are identified a few reasons and fixes.

Car in front of opening garage door

Does your furniture move across the floor by itself in the middle of the night? Are lights in your house coming on and going off with no explanation? Do you hear chains rattling and voices moaning in your attic? If so, sorry about that … we can’t help you there. However, if your garage door opens by itself, we may be able to explain that one and give you some tips to troubleshoot your garage door operator to prevent it from happening again. Before calling on a professional, follow these steps.

1. Scan the safety sensors.

In garage door operators made after 1993, there are required safety features that open the door during the close cycle when they detect something blocking the door. This is done with the help of sensors in the motor and on each side of the opening, near the floor and mounted on the tracks. Simply put, if the descending door hits an object, the motor detects the resistance, and the door opens. Likewise, if the beam of light between the floor sensors is broken, the door will not shut.

The slightest detection, such as accumulated leaves, snow or ice around the garage door, can cause the door to not shut completely. In addition, misalignment of the floor sensors can cause them to not work properly. Carefully examine the space around the door as well as the door tracks, as the sensors can be misaligned if the tracks are bumped or bent. Also, check the condition of the wires at the sensors and the connections. Fortunately, there is usually a blinking light on the opener or at the door operator button that indicates a blockage at the door, but if you don’t see any blockages, it’s also possible that a sensor has just gone bad and needs to be replaced.

2. Examine the garage door opener button.

The door operator button is similar to a door bell. It all depends on the configuration, but you likely have a button that activates the door operator. To troubleshoot the garage door opener button, make sure it’s clean and free of debris. The button can easily get dirty and stuck in the “pushed” position. This will cause the door to open and close until the button becomes unstuck. Clean the button, as well as the connections in the housing, if this is the case. And, again, make sure the wiring around the opener button is not compromised. If there are bare spots in the wiring insulation, anywhere along the run of wire, it could short circuit and operate the door.

3. Consider the control board and transformer.

If the safety sensors and operator button are working correctly, and no bad wiring or connections are found, your issue may be with the control board in the garage door opener itself. A power surge from a lightning strike or other electrical problem can cause the board to go bad, as well as the transformer. If you are handy with a multimeter, you can check the voltage into and out of the circuit board and transformer. This will confirm if one or both of them are bad and need replacing. Fortunately, if you find that you do need a replacement and you’re already an American Home Shield® customer, your opener may be covered — meaning you thought ahead and protected your budget from this unexpected repair.

Bonus Tip: While we’re on the subject, consider installing a surge protector where the operator plugs into the receptacle, to be on the safe side in the future.

4. Get your neighbors involved.

Another possible solution to your garage door problems: Someone else is living close to you with a remote that is programmed with the same code that yours is. This is pretty unlikely, but it is possible. If you have an old operator, made before 1993, it is programmed by positioning clips. You can go ahead and reposition the clips and see if that works. But before you do, visit all your close neighbors with garage door operators, ask them to open their doors and see if yours opens, too. If it happens, case solved.


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