In 1926 C.G. Johnson invented an electronic garage door opener to assist people who had a hard time lifting the heavy doors. As with anything that makes our life easy, there is always the potential for problems. If you hear yourself asking “Why does my garage door open by itself randomly?” you are not alone.
There is a burglary committed every 22.6 seconds in the United States. A poorly secured garage door makes your home an easy target.
Why Does My Garage Door Open By Itself
If you come home to find your garage door standing open, or if you try to close the door and find it reopens on its own, there are several possibilities on why this happens.
Remote Contol and Wall Opener Button
Check the buttons on both the remote control and the wall opener to make sure the button is not sticking in the on position. This would cause the signal to continue sending and cause the door to open and/or close. You should also check where the remote is located to make sure the button is not hitting an object, causing the door to activate.
Make sure the button is clean and free of dirt and dust. Sticky buttons may stick without appearing to be pushed in. Clean both the button and the connections in the housing.
Make sure the wiring around the opener button is not damaged. If there are bare spots in the wiring insulation it could short circuit and cause the door to move.
Try changing the batteries in your remote control. Worn batteries have been responsible for sending random signals that cause the garage door to open and close randomly.
Debris or Weather
Garage door openers built after 1993 have an automatic reversing mechanism. The mechanical version is activated if there is any debris where the door drops to the floor.
If the door bumps something it will automatically reverse and reopen. This is a safety feature that prevents items and people from being caught under the door and crushed. Debris, even what is seemingly minor such as leaves, snow, and ice are often the culprit. The door senses these items on the floor of the ground and reverses.
Check for bent tracks, look at the condition of the wires at the sensors and connections. It is also possible that a sensor has gone bad, causing it to not operate correctly.
Misaligned Safety Sensors
Garage doors manufactured after 1993 may be equipped with a photoelectric reversal system. This s done by two sensor housings that emit a beam. If the beam is cut off the sensor reads that there is something obstructing the path and raises the door.
If you have checked for debris and the automatic reversal sensors are still activating, you may have misaligned sensors. These sensors operate by sending a beam of light across the garage door. The sensors must be aligned for the door to operate properly.
If the sensors are not properly aligned the beam of light is broken and sends a signal that there is something in the way. This activates the automatic door reversal.
To check for this problem, look for an amber LED light on the sending sensor. This light glows regardless of whether the sensors are in alignment or if there is an obstruction.
Next check the receiving sensor, which has a green light. If the green light is off, dim, or flickering and there are no obstructions, the sensors need to be realigned. This adjustment should be done by an experienced garage door repair technician.
Control Board and Transformer
If none of the above solve the problem, there could be a problem with the control board of the garage door opener. Power surges and electrical problems can cause a board or transformer to go bad. Check the voltage going in and out of the circuit board and transformer with a multimeter.
For future safety, consider installing a surge protector where the operator plugs into the receptacle.
Check if on Same Frequency as Neighbors
If your garage door opener was manufactured prior to 1993 you may have a problem with a neighbors garage door opener operating on the same code as yours. Openers made in the earlier time period were programmed with position clips.
Before changing the clips, visit your neighbors and ask each of them to operate their garage door. If your door goes up at the same time as theirs, then your remote will need to be reprogrammed.
After 1993 LiftMaster began using a rotating code with millions of programming combinations. This made it less likely that a neighbor would have the same programming code as you.
If you have a newer model garage door opener with an LCD panel, you can probably see the transmitters programmed to operate your door. If there are more transmitters than the ones you use, you have found the problem. If this happens you will need to clear the history and reprogram your transmitters.
Damaged Electrical Circuits
Thunderstorms and windstorms can cause power outages and surges that may damage the electrical circuits that open and close the garage door. This damage can cause the door to open and close on its own.
If you suspect there is a problem with your circuit board, you will want to contact a professional garage door repairman to diagnose the problem. You may need to have an electrician examine the circuit board for damage and do the repair.
Damaged Control Wiring
There is a wire that runs from the motor unit in the ceiling to the opener mounted on the wall. There are also wires that run from each sensor by the garage door to the motor unit. If any of these wires have developed a bare spot or short circuit it could cause the garage door to move on its own.
Bare spots on a wire can be caused by a staple or nail. Other causes of damage may be rodents such as mice chewing on the wire, or lawn and garden equipment hitting the wire.
The limit settings on a garage door opener determine how long the motor needs to run before the door reaches the proper stopping point. These are used in both raising and lowering the door.
If the limit is set beyond where the door should stop moving, even though the door reaches the floor the motor keeps running. This causes the door to reverse and raise until it reaches the limit stop.
The same can be true if the door reaches the full open position but has not reached the limit stop. The motor will keep running, which will cause the door to reverse and lower part way until the stop is reached. Resetting of limit stops needs to be handled by a professional repair technician.
Springs are a key point in the operation of your garage door. If a spring breaks the operation of the door stops completely. Garage doors are very heavy and attempting to replace a spring on your own can be dangerous. It is important to call a professional garage repair technician to have the spring replaced.
Garage Door Hackers
Garage door openers that use an insecure fixed code can be easily hacked and opened. Samy Kamkar created a device called OpenSesame using an old Mattel toy.
This device can try every possible combination for the fixed code openers in seconds. Once it locates the code the user is able to open your garage door. Garage door openers that do not use a fixed code wireless transmission and instead use a rolling code are not vulnerable to this type of hacking.
There is a video that shows how to check your garage door remote. If your garage door opener is vulnerable you can change the type of opener you have.
Radio Frequency Interference
If you have an older model garage door opener, they were prone to radio frequency interference. There is an extensive list of things that have the ability to cause interference with older garage door openers.
Items that could cause radio frequency problems include airports, TV, and radio transmission towers, military installations, cruise ships, power lines, cell phone towers, appliances located within 10 feet of the receiver, plug-in transformers for security systems, sprinkler controls, cordless power chargers, wireless doorbells, computers, wireless networks, yard lights and timers, cordless phones and more.
LED Christmas tree lights could even cause interference. Other items that posed a problem were air conditioning and heating system thermostats, fluorescent light fixtures, halogen light fixtures, ham radio transmitters, and battery chargers.
If you suspect RFI is creating a problem with your garage door opener, you will need to locate and eliminate the source. Filters are sold that can reduce or eliminate the RFI from power or telephone lines.
Trouble Shoot RFI Signal
Radiofrequency interference occurs when two or more signals come into conflict with each other. Troubleshooting this type of interference must be done on a trial-and-error basis.
Start with easy to identify possible sources that are closest to the garage door opener. Remove or unplug each suspected item. As you move to another device leave the prior item unplugged or removed. If this step reveals the cause of the problem you can work on a resolution. If it does not reveal the problem you must proceed.
Look at the back of your garage door opener unit for a “learn” button. Push the learn button without pushing the button on the remote. If the LED light flickers it is detecting a radio frequency. This means the problem is not with any of the devices you removed or unplugged.
If the LED light does not flicker, the problem is with one of your removed devices. To determine which device is the problem you will need to reintroduce each device in the reverse order it was removed. As you reintroduce each device push the “learn” button on the garage opener unit. If it flickers than the last item you reintroduced is the source of the RFI.
Resolve RFI Problem
If the source of the RFI signal is inside the garage, consider moving the item to another location farther from the receiver or completely out of the garage. If the problem is outside the garage, you can add RF shielding to wiring or circuit breakers.
Surge protectors can also help resolve the problem. You might try upgrading your remote to a higher quality model with a narrower radio frequency band.
If the RFI causing interference is outside the home, you can purchase and install an RFI filter. There are also coaxial antennae that can be installed away from the interfering source and connected to the receiver by a heavy RF shielded coaxial cable.
Garage door openers sold today do not have the radio frequency problems. If yours is an older model with this issue, you may want to consider purchasing a new garage door opener system.
There are some basic safety precautions you can take to alleviate harm to your garage door opening system. The first would be to install a surge protector to prevent damage from lightning or power surges.
Make sure your door has security stopped in the down position before driving away from your home. You do not want to watch it activate and drive away only to have the automatic reversal activate and leave it standing open in your absence.
You can install a garage door monitor that when installed in your home will indicate if your garage door is completely closed or not. MyQ technology by LiftMaster allows you to open and close your garage door from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. You can also receive an email each time your garage door is opened.
You must have a garage door opener with built-in MyQ technology for this to work. If you have a LiftMaster opener manufactured after 1998 you can purchase an 888LM wall station with 828LM internet gateway to equip your existing opener with MyQ technology. LiftMaster garage door openers built between 1993 and 1998 can be equipped with 821LM universal door controller.
If Your Garage Door Opener Needs Repair
If after all the troubleshooting you are still asking “Why does my garage door open by itself?” then you need to call a garage door and installation company that can troubleshoot and repair your problem. Contact Texas Garage Door Repair and Installation today.