Troubleshooting A Garage Door That Won’t Open or Close

An automatic garage door opener is a convenient feature, especially when it’s cold outside. You may be wondering if the automatic opener is broken if your garage door won’t open (or close). While this is annoying, it doesn’t necessarily mean the garage door opener malfunctioned.

The most common reason for a garage door to stop opening or closing is that either the photo eye sensor or the door track is not aligned. You can fix this problem by making sure there isn’t anything blocking the sensor. Other reasons the door may be stuck are broken torsion strings, a disconnected remote control, or an activated lock mode.

Are you trying to figure out why your garage door won’t open or close? You’ve come to the right page. Today, we’re going to discuss some of the most common reasons this happens. We’ll also cover how the experts recommend fixing this problem. Read on to learn more.

Common Reasons Your Garage Door Won’t Open Or Close

There are many reasons why a garage door opener will stop working or malfunction . To determine which fix is best for your issue, you will need to find out why the door won’t open or close. Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons that this happens.

Photo Eye Not Aligned

Have you ever wondered how the garage door opener works? There are photo eye sensors in the opener that act as video cameras. They are responsible for reversing the direction of the garage door if there’s anything in the way.

This is an important safety feature. If a person or animal were to appear in the direction that the door was going, the photo eyes prevent the garage door from hitting them. If the photo eyes aren’t able to align, the door will not move. Something obstructing the view can also stop the garage door from opening or closing.

The Garage Door Track Isn’t Aligned

Tracks are used to guide the garage door as it opens and closes. These are installed from the floor to the ceiling with one track on each side of the door. If there is any damage or wear and tear to the track, the door could get stuck.

So, how do you tell if the garage door track isn’t aligned? Inspect the tracks to see any signs of loose or damaged hardware. You may have also noticed that it may be cold and you can’t open your garage door. Or even an unusual sound or movement with the door before it got stuck.

Your Torsion Springs Are Broken

Torsion springs are responsible for providing a torque or rotary force. If the springs are broken or need to be adjusted, the garage door will not balance.

This is something you can test yourself. Turn off the garage door opener and try to open or close the garage door manually. If the door doesn’t feel balanced and gives you difficulties, then the torsion springs are most likely the issue.

It’s important that you fix the torsion springs immediately when you notice signs of a problem. If they aren’t addressed, the heavy door could cause problems for the opener.

Disconnected Remote Control

The problem might not be the garage door opener. You won’t be able to use the remote control to open or close the garage door if it’s disconnected. The remote control could also be a problem if the batteries died.

If you think this might be the problem, you should change out the batteries. If that doesn’t work, you will need to reprogram the remote.

The Batteries Are Expired

Most garage door openers require a battery for backup power. If the battery has died or expired, it will seem like the opener isn’t working or malfunctioning. For example, your garage door will open or close by itself. It’s easy to forget about this battery, which is why most homeowners are surprised when they find out it’s the culprit.

The Limit Setting Is Misadjusted

Every garage door opener has a limit setting. This setting is responsible for judging where the garage door stops when it’s opening and closing. If this setting has been misadjusted, the garage door may get stuck at a specific point.

On the same note, a limit switch can also detect if there is an object in the garage door’s path. When this happens, it will stop the garage door from moving.

Lock Mode Is Activated

Your problem may be a lot simpler than you realized. Some brands of garage door openers feature a lock mode to keep the door in a specific place. This is often used when people are working in the garage.

The thing that you may not have known is that it’s very easy to activate the lock mode. If you press the open/close button and hold it down for several seconds, the lock mode will activate. Some people activate this mode without even realizing it.

The Gears In The Opener Are Stripped

Older garage door openers are more susceptible to wear and tear. This can cause the gears to wear down and start to strip. One of the most obvious signs that the opener’s gears are stripped is finding plastic shavings in the opener.

Gears are necessary to pull the garage door up and down. There are a few things that can cause them to strip. One of the biggest culprits is a garage door that’s not balanced. It can also occur if the grease on the gears dries up.

The Motor Is Disconnected

If your garage door isn’t opening or closing, one of the first things you should check is the motor. This is because someone may have unplugged the motor. The motor for the garage door opener is on the ceiling, where the opener’s light is.

Check the power cord. If it’s not plugged into an outlet, you’ve found the problem. Plug the cord back into the outlet and test the garage door opener to see if this was the issue.

Your Garage Cables Have Snapped

Another problem homeowners run into is the garage door opener cables snapping. This happens when people use small cables with heavy doors. The weight of the door causes fraying, which leads to the cables snapping.

When you install a garage door opener it’s very important to pay attention to the size of the cables and drums you use. Since garage doors are big, they require you to use longer cables and large-size drums.

Common Fixes For Garage Doors

Now that you’re aware of some of the main problems causing garage doors to stay open/closed, it’s time for a solution. Let’s take a look at how you can fix the garage door so it will move again.

Clean The Photo Eye Sensor

Cleaning the photo eye sensor is very easy. If you think this could be your problem, you should clean it. You won’t need any specific cleaning agents are a whole day to get this done. All you need is a dry microfiber cloth.

Use the dry cloth to thoroughly wipe down the photo eye sensor. This will remove any dust, smudges, and debris. If you notice that the photo eye sensor still has noticeable dirt on it, you can lightly dampen the cloth with water to get it off.

Remove Any Obstruction From The Sensor

The garage door opener uses an infra-red radio signal to trigger the door to open and close. It also detects when something is in the garage door’s path. When this happens, the garage door will not open or close.

This is why it’s important to thoroughly inspect the garage door’s path. If you were moving things around in the garage recently, you may have put something too close to the garage door’s path. Make sure everything has been moved out of the way.

Adjust The Garage Door Track

You will need to adjust the garage door track if part of it is bent in or out. Carefully inspect the tracks to find which track needs to be adjusted. Once you find the track that needs to be adjusted, use a hammer to get it back in position.

Fixing the problem isn’t complicated. If the track is bent out, hit it from the outside gently with the hammer to align it with the other tracks. Hit the track with the hammer from the inside if the track is bent in.

Pick up the strength of your hit as needed to get it in place. Don’t hit too hard, or else it will bend in. Check the fasteners around the track after to make sure they are tight enough. Tighten them as needed.

Replace The Torsion Spring

When you find a broken torsion spring, you will need to replace it immediately. If you’re not comfortable or experienced with the mechanics of a garage door, you should contact a professional. There is a lot of tension on the torsion springs, and if you’re not careful it could result in an injury.

If you decide to replace the torsion spring on your own, this is what you need to do.

  1. Unplug the garage door opener’s power cord.
  2. Detach the arm from the garage door by pulling the cord loose.
  3. Measure the new springs to ensure you have the correct size.
  4. Unwind the broken torsion spring. Make sure you use a winding bar that is at least 18″ long.
  5. Loosen the bolts that secure the torsion hardware.
  6. Replace the old springs with the new ones.
  7. Fasten the torsion hardware back in place.
  8. Wind the new springs.
  9. Check the garage door before plugging the opener back in.

Replace The Garage Cables

You will be able to replace cables without having to touch the torsion hardware. If your garage door opener has broken cables, you will need to replace them with the correct cables. Measure the size of your garage door to ensure you get the right-sized cables.

  1. Manually open the door. Make sure it’s open enough so you can get to the old cables and lock the door in place.
  2. Find where the cable connects to the door and unhook it. Pull the cable off of the drum.
  3. Stick the end of the new cable into the notch opening of the drum. Tug it to make sure it’s secure.
  4. Wrap the new cable around the drum.
  5. Once the cable is all the way around the drum, connect the hoop at the end to the door.
  6. Repeat the steps above on the other side of the garage door.

Adjust The Garage Door Remote Settings

You may need to adjust the travel limits on the remote settings to fix the garage door. These are typically located on the left side of the garage door opener (if you’re facing the garage door). They will be labeled with an “up” and “down” arrow.

You will need to use the up option to increase the door’s up travel. Choose this option if the door won’t open. The down option is to increase the door’s down travel, which you should choose if the door won’t close.

Use a screwdriver to manually adjust the travel limits as needed. One full turn changes the travel limit by 2 inches.

Replace The Garage Door Opener

The garage door opener will need to be replaced if it’s malfunctioned or damaged. Once you purchase a replacement garage door opener, you can replace it on your own. Make sure you unplug the old opener before you begin.

You will need to unfasten every screw that’s holding the opener in place to fully remove it from the ceiling and garage door. Before installing the new garage door opener, make sure you fully review the manufacturer’s instructions. Follow each step accurately to install the new opener.


There are several things that can prevent a garage door from opening or closing. If your door is stuck, the first thing you should do is make sure there’s nothing in the way. You should also make sure the opener is plugged in and there’s no dirt on the photo eye sensor. If these aren’t the problem, you will need to further inspect the garage door opener to find out what the culprit is.

Most of the fixes we discussed today can be fixed DIY. However, for more extensive repairs, you should contact a professional.