9 Reasons Your Garage Door Is Not Opening

Sometimes your garage door won't open for a simple and easy-to-fix reason, but some problems are serious and require professional service.

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No Power Replace The Batteries In Your Remote
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No Power

Loss of power is the most frequent reason for a garage door not opening. And it’s one of the easiest to diagnose, because absolutely nothing happens when you press the remote or wall switch. No lights come on and the motor makes no noise.

Here’s what to do:

  • Make sure the door opener is plugged in.
  • Check the circuit breaker and reset it if it tripped.
  • Replace the batteries in your remote.

The wires from the wall switch may also have been disconnected from the motor. You can check that by carefully climbing on a ladder and inspecting the electrical terminals. If your opener isn’t working, here are a few tips for opening your garage door manually.

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Door Is Locked
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Door Is Locked

You might have a face-palm moment if you spend a lot of time looking for the problem without checking this first.

It isn’t absolutely necessary to lock a garage door with an opener, because the opener prevents anyone from manually opening the door. But not everyone in your household may know that.

If the door is locked, you’ll hear the opener start and door begin to move. Then the opener motor will immediately stop to prevent an overload.

Simple solution: Unlock the door.

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Door Is Disconnected From The Trolley
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Door Is Disconnected From the Trolley

Another potential face-palm situation: Someone pulled the emergency cord to release the door from the trolley and forgot to re-engage it. You’ll hear the motor operating normally, the chain or belt will move back and forth along the track, but of course the door won’t move.

Some doors re-engage automatically, but not all. If yours doesn’t, pull the emergency release cord sharply toward the door or motor (depending on model) until you hear the trolley click back onto the track.

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Safety Sensors Are Blocked Or Misaligned
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Safety Sensors Are Blocked or Misaligned

Most automatic garage doors include photo eye safety sensors mounted on opposite sides, about six inches up from the floor. They prevent the door from moving when anything interrupts the beam.

Try cleaning the lenses with a clean cloth and realigning the sensors if necessary. When properly aligned, a green LED illuminates on the receiving sensor. It usually just takes a light tap on one of the sensors, but you may also have to tighten the screws holding the door track.

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Capacitor Is Corroded Or Worn Out
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Capacitor Is Corroded or Worn Out

If you hear a humming sound indicating the motor wants to start, but can’t, the problem may be the capacitor. This is a black cylindrical component you find inside the engine housing. It provides the extra “oomph” the motor needs to get going.

A capacitor is simple to replace. Unplug the motor, take a picture of the capacitor wiring, then disconnect the capacitor and remove it. Purchase an identical replacement, install and wire it just like the old one, then plug the motor back in.

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Roller Came Off The Track
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Roller Came Off the Track

If one of the rollers slipped out of the track, the door will open partway, then stop. In most cases, you can fix this by disconnecting the opener (using the emergency disconnect cord) and manipulating the door to put the roller back into the track. The door is heavy, so you’ll probably need a friend to help.

The roller may have come out because the track is loose. If so, be sure to tighten the screws holding it to the wall or ceiling.

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Overhead Track Is Misaligned
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Overhead Track Is Misaligned

The track the door trolley rides on is attached to the ceiling. If the screws work themselves loose, which can happen after many years of service, the door will open part of the way, then stop.

The solution: Realign the track and fasten it back to the ceiling. It’s best to unplug the door opener to prevent someone from operating it with the remote while you’re working.

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Torsion Spring Broke
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Torsion Spring Broke

Garage doors feature heavy-duty springs that supply extra force to lift them. If one of the torsion springs breaks, the door opener can’t raise the door and will shut off almost immediately after it starts.

Replacing a torsion spring isn’t a DIY project for most people. The springs are under really high tension and can cause serious injury if they break or unravel. Call a garage door opener repair pro for this fix.

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Motor Is Worn Out
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Motor Is Worn Out

Door opener motors can last for 20 or 30 years, but not forever. If the motor burns out, it may not start. Or if it does, it may emit smoke or sparks and fail to lift the door.

The gears can also wear out. When that happens, the motor will run, but the chain won’t move and the door won’t open. You usually hear nasty noises as the chain fails to engage with the motor shaft. Those noises are telling you it’s time for a new opener.

Chris Deziel
Chris Deziel has been active in the building trades for more than 30 years. He helped build a small city in the Oregon desert from the ground up and helped establish two landscaping companies. He has worked as a carpenter, plumber and furniture refinisher. Deziel has been writing DIY articles since 2010 and has worked as an online consultant, most recently with Home Depot's Pro Referral service. His work has been published on Landlordology, Apartments.com and Hunker. Deziel has also published science content and is an avid musician.