Picture this: You’re sitting at home, enjoying a sandwich, when suddenly you can feel the tell-tale rumble of garage door opening. Yay! You spouse must have just gotten home… except your spouse is actually sitting on the couch, and you’re the only two people who have openers to your garage. You stare at each other in concerned silence as the garage door finishes its climb.
Your garage door is a vitally important part of your property. Aside from affecting your home’s overall aesthetic, it provides convenient street access to a secure, protected shelter where you can store your vehicle safe from dangers associated with weather, theft, or vandalism. And as a major factor in that convenience, modern garage doors are designed to be opened remotely. All you have to do is press a button, drive the car into the garage, and close the door behind you. Simple right?
Unfortunately, sometimes things get a little bit more complex. After all, a garage door is a heavy thing to have to move, and considering that most people use their garage doors multiple times per day, every day of the year, it’s not surprising that the mechanism might eventually develop some problems. And yes, that could even mean a situation where the garage door opens on its own.
Asking yourself “Why does my garage door open by itself?” Well, don’t worry! If your garage door opens randomly, you might be able to fix the problem on your own without having to schedule a repair job. Here are some things to try when your garage door seems to have developed a mind of its own:
Check the safety sensors
Unless you have an older home that predates modern safety regulations, your garage door should have a built-in safety sensor. This sensor uses an infrared beam of light projected across the garage-door opening near the floor. If something interrupts the beam, the sensor registers the obstruction and prevents the garage door from closing. Additionally, most garage doors also incorporate safety sensors into the motors that move the door; so that if the door encounters any resistance on its way down, it will automatically reverse direction and return to the open position.
These safety features help ensure that a several-hundred pound garage door doesn’t end up crushing anything that might be blocking its path. But the sensors aren’t intelligent, and they have no way of distinguishing between a car, a person, a pet… or even just a small bit of debris.
If your garage seems to not want to close, or if it starts to close and then reopens on its own, take a few minutes and check around for obstructions, and be thorough. Sometimes something as small as a leaf or drifted snow may be able to interrupt the beam and set off the sensor.
If there are no obstructions, you still might have a sensor issue. Because the sensors rely on an unbroken beam of light between the two receptors, bumping one of the sensors can cause a misalignment. Check the sensors to make sure that they’re pointed directly at one another. While you’re at it, do a quick inspection of any wiring and connector points attached to the sensors — just make sure to cut the power the garage before you attempt to fix any electrical issues yourself.
If everything looks alright, that still doesn’t necessarily let the sensors off the hook; iit just might mean that you need to purchase and install a replacement.
Take a look at the opener
Not every possessed garage door is the fault of the sensors. That small, unassuming device that clips so snuggly to you driver-side visor or hangs on the wall near the garage entrance may be the real problem.
The garage door opener is a fairly straightforward piece of equipment. It usually consists of a single button that when pressed sends a short-range radio signal to your garage-door motor and tells it to activate. But should grim accumulate around the button, it can become stuck, sending the open/close signal when you don’t want it to. Cleaning the area around the button should sort it out. Unfortunately, that’s not the only thing that can go wrong with the opener.
If the opener (either the remote one that stays in your car or the one attached to your garage) has any shorts in its electronics, it could be randomly sending the open signal when you don’t want it to. This could mean repair work.
Ask your neighbors
Your garage door operates on a specific radio frequency, and it’s not the only one. There’s a chance that someone who lives close by may have a garage door that operates on the same frequency that yours does. If that’s the case, then whenever they push the button to open their own garage door, your garage door may be opening too.
To test this theory, simply ask your neighbors if they’ve been having a similar problem (your remote would be opening their garage door too), and whether they’d be willing to try to use their openers on your garage. If they agree and your garage door opens, then you’ve found your answer. And don’t feel like you have to ask everyone on your block; most remote garage door openers are designed to operate at a distance of about four or five car lengths, so you should be fine just checking with the people who live closest to you.
If you discover that you share a garage opener frequency with one of your neighbors, you’ll have to reprogram the door opener to use a different frequency. Your garage door opener owner’s manuals should be able to instruct you on how to do this.