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How to Fix a Garage Door that Won't Close

January 16, 2024

Struggling with a garage door that won't close? A new, comprehensive guide from Safety Garage Door offers simple but effective steps to solve this problem.

Before we dive into the depths of garage door troubleshooting, let's take a quick look at a short list of steps:

  • Inspect the garage door for obstructions;
  • Power up the remote;
  • Check if the safety sensors are aligned;
  • Reset the opener;
  • Lubricate moving parts;
  • Check and adjust limit switches;
  • Tighten loose hardware;
  • Check if the garage door rollers are worn out;
  • Inspect garage door tracks for damage;
  • Ensure the garage door is not manually locked;
  • Inspect the garage door springs;
  • Check and replace worn-out cables;
  • Resolve travel limits errors;
  • Reattach the cord switch if pulled;
  • Examine the gears in the garage door.

You can easily navigate to the section you are interested in and explore the problem and solutions in more detail, or explore all possible causes step by step.

Why Won't My Garage Door Close All the Way?

Why Won't My Garage Door Close All the Way?

1. Something Is Blocking the Garage Door

One of the first things you should do when your garage door won't close is to check for any obstructions in its path. Objects such as tools, debris, or even small rocks can prevent or block the door from closing correctly.

  • Carefully inspect the area around the garage door tracks, bottom seal, and floor to ensure there are no items hindering the door's movement.
  • Remove any obstructions that you find and test the door again.

In case there's a damaged or severely worn-out garage door that's causing repeated obstruction issues, it might be time to consider replacing it with a new one.

2. Remote Control Batteries Ran Out

When your garage door won't close with the remote control, it could be due to weak or dead batteries. Inspect the remote control and check the battery compartment. If the batteries are low or dead, replace them with new ones.

Ensure that the batteries are properly inserted and have a good connection. After replacing the batteries, try operating the door again using the remote control.

3. Misaligned Safety Sensors

Modern garage doors are equipped with safety sensors near the bottom of the tracks to prevent accidents and ensure safe operation. If these sensors are misaligned, dirty, or obstructed, they can prevent the door from closing.

  • Start by checking if the garage door sensors are properly aligned and facing each other.
  • Clean the sensors with a soft cloth to remove any dirt or debris that might be blocking the sensor's signal.

If the safety sensors are damaged or non-functional, it's highly recommended to install new ones, as broken garage door sensors directly impact your safety and the safety of your family members.

4. Garage Door Opener Issue

If your garage door opener isn't functioning properly and you see light flashes coming from the sensor, resetting it can often resolve the issue and it can save money on repairs.

  • Start by locating the reset button on the opener unit, which is usually a small, red, or yellow button.
  • Press and hold the reset button for a few seconds until the lights on the opener blink or the unit makes a beeping sound.
  • This action will reset the opener's settings and clear any temporary glitches.

After resetting the opener, test the door to see if it closes properly. If the light flashes continue or the garage door still won't close, there might be another issue like dead batteries in the opener itself, disconnected wires, or a faulty circuit board. In that case, consult your owner's manual.

5. Moving Parts Need Lubrication

Moving Parts Need Lubrication

Regular lubrication of the moving parts is essential to ensure the smooth and efficient operation of your garage door.

  • Using a silicone-based lubricant, apply a thin coat to the hinges, rollers, springs, and tracks. If you don't have silicone-based lubricant, a light application of lithium grease or Teflon spray can work in a pinch.
  • It's important to avoid using WD-40 or oil-based lubricants as they can attract dirt and debris, causing more harm than good.

Keeping your garage door's moving parts lubricated extends their lifespan and ensures quiet, smooth operation. Check out our helpful schema showing the different moving parts of a garage door and where to apply lubricant.

6. Something Is Wrong with the Limit Switches

The limit switches on your garage door opener control the door's travel distance and ensure it stops in the correct position. If your garage door won't close all the way, the limit switches may need adjustment.

  • Find the limit switch adjustment screws on the opener unit.
  • Turn these screws incrementally to modify the open and close limits of the garage door.
  • Carefully adjust the switches until the door closes completely and stays closed without reversing or leaving a gap.

If the garage door limit settings are malfunctioning or cannot be adjusted properly, consider replacing the garage door opener or even consult a garage door service expert. A new garage door opener with advanced limit switch technology gives you precise control over the door's movement and ensures accurate closing.

7. Loose Hardware

Loose Hardware

Over time, the constant movement of your garage door can cause the hardware to become loose. Loose bolts, nuts, screws, and brackets can affect the alignment and smooth operation of the door. Be sure to inspect all the hardware components, including hinges, brackets, and tracks.

  • Using a wrench or screwdriver, tighten any loose hardware that you find. Be cautious not to overtighten, as it can strain the components.

If you notice that the hardware is severely damaged or stripped, you might need to replace specific parts. Upgrading to new, sturdy hardware ensures a secure and properly aligned garage door, preventing future issues.

8. Worn-Out Garage Door Rollers

The rollers on your garage door facilitate smooth movement along the garage door tracks. Over time, these rollers can wear out, become misaligned, or develop flat spots, causing the door to operate unevenly or make excessive noise.

  • Inspect the rollers carefully, looking for signs of wear or damage.
  • If you notice cracks, chips, or significant wear, you'll want to replace the worn-out rollers.

Upgrading to high-quality nylon or steel rollers can greatly improve the performance and lifespan of your garage door. These rollers provide smoother and quieter operation while reducing the strain on other garage doors' components. Consider replacing the rollers with new ones to ensure optimal functionality and minimize future repairs.

9. Damaged Garage Door Tracks

The tracks guide the movement of your garage door and play a crucial role in its smooth operation. Inspect the tracks for any signs of damage, such as bends, dents, or misalignment. Damaged tracks can hinder the door's movement and prevent it from closing correctly.

  • If you notice minor bends or misalignment, you can attempt to gently straighten the tracks using a rubber mallet or a piece of wood.
  • If the tracks are severely damaged or misaligned beyond repair, it's ideal to replace them.

Installing new tracks can restore the right alignment and improve the operation of your garage door. Upgrading to high-quality tracks can provide enhanced durability and reduce the risk of future track-related issues.

10. Garage Door Is Manually Locked

Garage Door Is Manually Locked

One common yet often overlooked reason your garage door won't close could be as simple as a garage door manually locked. Many garage doors are equipped with a manual locking mechanism, typically a handle in the center or a slide lock on the side, used for added security. This feature is particularly useful when you're away for an extended period, but it can be mistakenly engaged or forgotten about, preventing the door from closing.

This issue is straightforward to fix: Locate the lock, and if it's engaged, unlock it to allow free movement of the door. Remembering to check this simple aspect can save you time and the potential cost of unnecessary garage door repair & replacements.

11. Broken Springs

Broken garage door springs are a common and significant reason why a garage door won't close properly. Garage doors typically operate using one of two types of springs: torsion springs, which are located above the door, and extension springs, which run along the tracks on either side. These springs are under constant tension and play a crucial role in the opening and closing mechanism by counterbalancing the weight of the door.

When garage door springs break, this balance is disrupted, making it difficult or even impossible for the garage door to move smoothly along its tracks. You might notice a loud snap or see a visible gap in the torsion springs when it breaks.

If a spring is broken, your garage door becomes highly unstable and unsafe. Given the severe risk of injury, as most serious garage door accidents involve springs, we strongly urge against DIY repairs. Always contact a garage door service expert for safe and professional spring replacement or adjustment!

12. Cables Are Worn Out

Garage door cables, integral to the garage door system, work in tandem with the springs to facilitate the opening and closing of the door. Over time, due to regular use and exposure to various elements, these cables can fray, become loose, or even snap. Such wear and tear impacts the door's ability to operate smoothly.

When cables are significantly worn or damaged, they can cause the door to hang unevenly, get stuck, or refuse to move at all. It's vital to regularly inspect these cables for signs of wear and address any issues promptly.

If you notice frayed or damaged cables, it's crucial to seek assistance from a professional garage door service. Handling these high-tension cables can be hazardous, so having experienced technicians take care of the repairs is recommended to ensure both safety and the proper functionality of your garage door.

13. Travel Limits Error

Travel Limits Error

The travel limits are settings that tell the garage door opener how far the door should move before it's fully open or closed. If these settings are incorrect, the door might stop before it reaches the ground or reverse upon touching the floor, giving the impression that it's malfunctioning.

This issue can arise due to gradual shifts over time or after a power outage, which can reset or disrupt the garage door opener's memory.

Adjusting the travel limits is typically a straightforward process: Most garage door openers have screws or knobs that can be turned to set the correct open and garage door close limits.

14. The Cord Switch Was Pulled

The cord switch, usually red and hanging from the garage door opener's motor, disengages the door from the powered opener. This feature is designed for use during power outages or emergencies when manual operation of the door is necessary.

However, if the cord is pulled accidentally or deliberately and not re-engaged, the door won't close using the automatic opener.

To resolve this:

  • Locate the cord and its lever.
  • Pull the cord towards the motor to re-engage the lever.

You might need to do this while the door is in the down position for proper alignment. After re-engaging, test the garage door with the automatic opener.

15. Stripped Garage Door Gears

The gears, usually made of plastic, are a crucial component in the motor assembly that drives the chain or belt to open and close the door. Over time, due to normal wear and tear, these gears can wear out or strip, particularly if the door is heavy or not properly balanced. When the gears are stripped, the motor will run, but it will not engage the mechanism to move the door.

You might hear a humming or grinding noise from the garage door opener unit when this happens. Fixing stripped gears is not typically a DIY task, as it involves disassembling the motor unit and replacing the gears. For safety and proper functionality, it’s recommended to seek garage door experts' help!

DIY Garage Door Repair vs. Calling an Expert

DIY Garage Door Repair vs. Calling an Expert

Troubleshooting a garage door that won't close can range from simple fixes like removing obstructions or re-engaging the emergency release cord to more complex issues such as adjusting travel limits, or dealing with stripped gears.

While some problems can be resolved with a bit of DIY effort, others require the expertise of a professional.

At Safety Garage Door, we're committed to ensuring your garage door operates smoothly and safely. If you're facing persistent issues or prefer professional assistance, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

Ammar Hanafieh

Ammar Hanafieh

Following the family's trade, Ammar has been working in the garage door repair and installation industry since 2010. He brings his expertise via the excellent service and industry insights.
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How frequently should I replace the rollers on my garage door?

The frequency of replacing rollers on a garage door depends on their condition and usage. On average, it's recommended to replace them every 5 to 7 years or if you notice signs of wear, such as cracks, flat spots, or excessive noise during operation. We recommend regular inspection and maintenance to help identify when the rollers must be replaced.

What type of lubricant should I use to lubricate the moving parts of my garage door?

For lubricating the moving parts of your garage door, we recommend using a silicone-based lubricant. Silicone lubricants are effective in reducing friction and preventing rust on metal components. Avoid using oil-based lubricants, which can attract dust and debris, leading to potential issues.

What should I do if my garage door starts closing but then reverses?

If your garage door starts closing but then reverses, you can try adjusting the sensitivity of the safety feature on the garage door opener. Look for adjustment screws or knobs on the opener unit and make minor adjustments until the door closes without reversing. You may also need to inspect the safety sensors and ensure they're aligned and free from obstructions so they work properly.

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