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How to Repair a Garage Door Opener

Electric garage doors are a great convenience -- until, of course, they break. The bad news: a dozen things could be to blame. The good news: many are easy to fix yourself.


  • : Working with electricity is very dangerous — be extremely careful and, if you have any doubts, contact a professional.
  • Step 1: Check plug See if the opener’s cord is plugged into a working outlet. Of course it’s a 'duh' — but it’s also the most common reason electric garage doors don’t open.
  • Step 2: See if lock is on Now check the second most-common stupid reason that an electric garage door won’t open—the owner inadvertently activated the 'lock' feature. Many people aren’t even aware of this feature—consult your owner’s manual.
  • Step 3: Turn off and on Try unplugging the garage door opener and then plugging it in again; this sometimes does the trick by resetting the sensors.
  • Step 4: Try new batteries See if dead batteries in your remote control opener are the problem.
  • Step 5: Reprogram the remote If the batteries are fine, the remote might have become deprogrammed. Consult your manual for instructions on resetting it.
  • Step 6: Check beam Next, make sure the beam sensor is plugged in.
  • Step 7: Clean the sensor Clean the sensor’s eyes—usually located in front of the on/off button—with a wet cloth. When these eyes get dusty, it can block the signal that turns on the motor.
  • TIP: Cleaning the sensor every season can reduce problems.
  • Step 8: Check the chain Next, check to see if the chain is broken or loose. Unfortunately, if it needs to be tightened or replaced, you’ll need to contact an electrician.
  • Step 9: Open manually If none of your quick fixes have worked, pull the red release cord to free the door so that it can be opened and closed manually.
  • TIP: Consult your owner’s manual — older systems may not have a red release cord. They can be opened by pulling down a handle or a spring-loaded clip, or by unbolting the arm between the door and opener.
  • Step 10: Get help Operate your door by hand until you can have the unit fixed. Contact either an electrician or the service department of the store where you bought your unit.
  • FACT: The overhead garage door was invented in 1921, and the first electric door opener was installed in 1926.

You Will Need

  • Batteries for your remote control
  • Your owner's manual
  • A wet cloth
  • An electrician (optional)

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