5 Reasons Why Your Garage Door Is Opening by Itself—And What to Do About It

Lawrence Bonk
Written by Lawrence Bonk
Updated February 17, 2022
Garage door open
JodiJacobson / E+ via Getty Images

We get it—it’s a little unsettling

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Automatic garage door openers are a convenient way to access your garage, but sometimes they go on the fritz. Even with routine garage inspections and maintenance, some garage openers may close and open all by themselves. Let’s troubleshoot some reasons, so you know how to solve this common garage door problem.

1. Overlapping Signals

Your garage door opener could be picking up wireless signals from your neighbor, or even a wireless radio. Talk to your neighbors and ask them to open and close their garage door, keeping an eye on yours as they do so.

How to Fix It

If you suspect your neighbor has an identical garage door opener frequency, try changing your garage opener’s code or frequency. Changing these can also stop interference from CB radios, police radios, radio stations, and radio towers.

The process will vary depending on your garage door opener’s make and model, so read the instructions or contact the manufacturer directly if you have questions.

2. Blocked Safety Sensors

Modern garage door openers usually feature safety sensors in the motor, on each side of the garage door, and mounted on the tracks. These sensors tell the garage door to open when they detect an obstacle in its path.

They typically operate by shooting a light beam across the door. If the beam is interrupted, the door will not shut. It’s a great feature to have for protecting darting pets or wandering children, but several disruptions can trigger the garage door’s auto-reverse mechanism to kick in. 

How to Fix It

Clean your garage thoroughly, removing any items that could get in the way of the safety sensors. Move any boxes that may be in the sensors’ line of sight and dispose of accumulated leaves, snow, or ice around the door. These safety sensors are extremely sensitive and can be activated by the slightest detection.

If you suspect that the sensor or affiliated wires are bent or damaged, you may need to replace them.

3. Stuck Control Buttons

Most modern garage doors feature a control button mounted inside. This button could be the cause of your garage door issue, especially if it’s old, dirty, or just plain stuck.

It’s all too common for a garage door button to become stuck in the “pushed” position, causing the door to open and shut continuously. If your door seems to be in constant motion, it is likely being caused by a stuck control button or loose wire connections inside the button housing.

How to Fix It

Clean the button of any debris and dust, and check on its overall responsiveness. If that doesn’t fix the problem, grab a screwdriver and open it up. 

Make sure there are no issues with the wiring surrounding the button. Look for bare spots in the insulation and anywhere along the run of the wire. If the wire looks iffy, you will likely need to replace the control button or contact a professional electrician near you.

Partially open garage door
Photo: Tarasenko Andrey / Shutterstock

4. Incorrect Limit Settings

Garage door openers often include many tweakable options that can be adjusted. Two settings that could stop your garage door from properly functioning are the open limit setting and the closed limit setting.

These settings tell your garage door how far up the track it needs to go before it’s fully open and how far down it needs to go before it’s closed. When the door reaches one of these limit settings, it stops. Incorrect limits can be the culprit behind any mysterious garage door issues you’re experiencing, especially if you’ve noticed the door stopping before it reaches the floor or ceiling. 

How to Fix It

Adjust your limit settings. The process will vary depending on your garage door opener’s make and model, but you will typically encounter a pair of limit switch adjustment screws next to the garage door opener’s motor mechanism. Grab a flathead screwdriver and turn the up limit screw clockwise to raise it at a rate of three inches per turn. Perform the same action to the down limit screw. Keep adjusting these limit screws until the garage door operates normally.

5. Malfunctioning Circuit Board

Garage openers and remotes are fantastic pieces of technology with expertly designed circuit boards and logic boards. But these circuit boards can malfunction over time, resulting in a garage door that closes all on its own. 

If your garage door is closing on its own but doesn’t seem to be opening on its own, that could indicate a problem with the opener’s logic board or the circuitry inside of the motor. Another clue the circuitry is to blame is when the door’s lights begin flashing for no reason. 

How to Fix It

In theory, you could repair minor circuit board problems without the aid of a professional. Resoldering a loose connection, as an example, would not be too difficult. However, it may prove frustrating for a casual DIYer to diagnose the issue within the circuitry.

If you are not well-versed in the inner workings of logic boards, your best bet will be to simply replace the garage door opener itself. The cost of replacing a garage door opener is in line with hiring a local garage professional to troubleshoot and fix the board, at around $150 to $500. Installing a new garage door opener will be a snap for any moderately handy person.

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