Why Your Garage Door Opens By Itself

garage door troubleshooting

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Have you ever returned home from work or a vacation to find your garage door wide open? Although this isn’t a commonly experienced issue, sometimes garage doors do open by themselves — making for a confusing and potentially risky situation should intruders decide to let themselves in through your open garage.

There are a number of reasons why your garage door might open by itself:

Misaligned Sensor

A misaligned garage door sensor is one of the most common reasons why garage doors open on their own. Garage door openers manufactured after 1993 are equipped with a photoelectric reversal safety system, which operates with two sensors facing each other (one on each side of the garage door). Misaligned sensors result in a blocked beam, appearing to the opener as an object in the way of the descending garage door. This alerts the reversal system and raises the garage door.

You can fix this problem by simply realigning the two beams. To ensure the issue has been corrected, inspect the main panel mounted near the door leading into your home. If the indicator light has stopped blinking, the problem has been resolved.

Obstructed Sensor

Similar to the above, items stored in your garage may accidentally end up in front of your sensors. Maybe a rake falls over or a gust of wind rolls a basketball into the sensor’s path. Snow or ice might also accumulate during the winter months, causing your garage door to reverse. Removing the object or debris from the sensor’s path will prevent the garage door from reversing while attempting to close.

Activated by Accident

Your garage door might also open randomly due to an accidentally activated remote, often from its place in a junk drawer or other location in your home or vehicle. To ensure this is not the case, locate all of the remotes. If you happen to find one hidden beneath other objects, you may have located the culprit. Continue monitoring your garage door over the next few days. If the problem persists, you may require more extensive garage door troubleshooting methods.

Faulty Remote

In some instances, the button on your remote or wall mounted device may be sticking. If you are unsure if this is the case, locate the “learn” button on your opener unit. If the light next to this button flashes rapidly, you’ve got a stuck button.

To troubleshoot this problem, remove the batteries on each remote while monitoring its flashing LED. If the light stops flashing after removing the batteries, you’ve found the remote with a stuck button. Be sure to test every remote and wireless keypad.

Vacation Lock

Some models have a vacation lock on the wall station inside the garage. Once that is turned on the transmitters or remotes and outside keypad will not work. If your garage door has this feature, check to make sure the lock is turned off when you aren’t using it.

Neighbor’s Remote Is Programmed with the Same Code

While very unlikely, it certainly is possible that your neighbor’s remote uses the same code as your own — especially if you’re both operating older systems. Newer garage door openers operate on rolling codes with millions of combinations. These codes are continuously changing, making it almost impossible for this to occur. Garage door openers manufactured before 1993, however, have far fewer codes. Thus, it’s possible that one of your neighbors has a remote programmed with the same code.

If you learn this is what’s causing your garage door to open on its own, you will need to clear the memory of your garage door opener and reprogram any remotes and keyless entry systems.

Electrical Short

A thunderstorm or electrical surge can also damage the transmitter causing the opener to operate at random. If this occurs, contact your local garage door specialists to have it serviced or replaced.

As you can see, there are a variety of reasons why your garage door might be operating on its own. For added peace-of-mind, you may also consider these simple garage door tips before leaving your home:

  • Keep all doors between the garage and the home locked.
  • Make sure all remotes are free from debris that could potentially trigger the opener.
  • Watch your garage door to make certain it closes completely. Then wait 5 seconds to ensure it does not open back up.

If you plan to leave for an extended period of time and want to be absolutely sure your home won’t be vulnerable, consider unplugging your opener all together. Doing so will ensure that nothing, even faulty equipment, will open your garage door while you’re away.

Although routine garage door maintenance will help reduce the likeliness of these problems occurring, it won’t prevent them indefinitely. If you’ve attempted to troubleshoot but are still experiencing issues, it might be time to seek professional assistance. The experts at Larry Myers Garage Doors have the skills, tools, and resources to ensure your garage door operates properly, day in and day out. Visit Larry Myers Garage Doors in Portland or call us at 503-761-5674 to schedule garage door service.