Having a garage door remote in your car is one of life’s purest conveniences. Press the button, and your garage door opens and closes, just like magic. But on the flip side, there are few things as frustrating as not being able to use the remote due to some unknown issue.

Having served the Salt Lake City area with garage door repair since 2005, we see all kinds of issues that can cause a garage door remote to not work properly.

If you are dealing with a non-functional garage door remote, here are some of the most common causes of the problem and what you can do about them:

1. Garage Door Remote Has Dead Batteries

It’s very common for garage door remotes to have a dead battery, especially when they are used every day. This can be easier to check if your remote has an indicator light, which will either look dimmer than usual or not blink at all when pressed.

To resolve this problem, change out the battery (or batteries) in the garage door remote. Easy!

2. Opener Has LED Light Bulb(s)

Although LED light bulbs are a good choice due to low power consumption and high brightness, they are also known to cause interference issues with garage door remotes. We get calls frequently from homeowners who are unable to get a remote to work after replacing batteries and even reprogramming the remote, all because an LED light bulb disrupts the signal to the opener. Sometimes the garage door remote will still work up close, but not farther away.

The fix here is simple: try using a CFL or incandescent bulb instead. If you don’t have any other bulbs, pull out the LED bulb to test and see if that clears up the problem. Note that openers with built-in LED light strips are not affected by this issue.

3. Issues With Safety Sensors (Eye Sensors)

Your safety sensors (also known as eye sensors, or photo eye sensors) are the small boxes about six inches from the floor on either side of the garage door that will prevent the door from closing if anything blocks the line of sight between them using infrared signals. Some old openers may not have them, but they have been required for new systems since 1993 for safety reasons (read about UL 325).

garage door safety sensor lights

Most openers will have safety sensors with LED light indicators that show whether the system is functioning. LiftMaster sensors will have one transmitter sensor (orange light) and a receiver sensor (green light), and most manufacturers have a similar setup. Both of these sensors must stay lit during operation in order for the door to close properly. If there is any interruption in the signal, the door will either back up part way while closing, or not close at all. If the LEDs are blinking or flickering at any point during operation, that is a clear sign that your garage door’s safety sensors are not working.

Here are some common causes for safety sensor issues:

  • Obstructions. Anything from a vehicle to a yard tool to cobwebs can interrupt the signal between sensors. Even a bit of dirt on the sensor lens could cause it. Clear away anything getting between the sensors, and make sure the sensors themselves are clean.
  • Misalignment. If the safety sensors are ever bumped out of place or removed from their mounts, this will also interrupt the line of sight between them. Repositioning the sensors back so the LEDs stay lit and tightening them by hand (usually done with a wingnut) should do the trick.
  • Unsecure installation. If the sensor mount or the hardware that it is attached to moves during operation, it can compromise the signal. Tracks that are not installed properly can lead to this behavior. Even a split second is enough to cause the door to reverse course. Tightening the bolts or screws holding everything in place may help.
  • Sunlight. UV light interferes with the infrared signals used by the safety sensors, which can cause the system to behave as though there is a blockage. This can be solved by swapping the transmitting and receiving sensors (LiftMaster instructions), purchasing or making a sun shield (LiftMaster part), or ordering a new sensor set.
  • Bad wiring. A severed wire will cause the sensor to not function at all, look for any cut, mangled, or chewed wires. A poor connection, on the other hand, can lead to intermittent behavior. As systems age, or if connections are not protected from the elements, they can fail over time or only work occasionally.

Note: Most openers will allow you to override the garage door safety sensors by holding the button on the wall panel for several seconds and allow the door to close. Please do this with extreme caution, as if there is anything blocking normal operation of the door, it could cause serious property damage or injury.

4. Check for Obstructions

If the door starts to close then stops and goes back, there is something blocking the door’s normal operation.

Garage door openers have an adjustable force setting, which tells the system to reverse the door if something is blocking the door while closing. Like safety sensors, this is a feature intended to avoid property damage and personal injury. However, unlike safety sensor issues, the opener doesn’t blink several times when the operation is interrupted. If you have a wall panel with a display, it will notify you of the issue:

Most obstructions will be obvious, most of us have accidentally left a rake or bike tire in the way of the garage door, causing it to stop and go back up. But in some cases, there could be something much more subtle leading to the same problem.

Be sure to check the tracks for debris or anything that could be blocking the rollers or cables, especially near the track hardware. We’ve seen all kinds of things from broom handles to stray ropes and children’s toys get in the way of the door.

5. Broken or Misadjusted Parts

If the door goes up just a foot or two when opening and then goes back down, you could be looking at a broken spring or cable, or some other issue that needs to be resolved before the door can operate properly.

The springs, torsion rod, drums, and cables in your system all work together to support the weight of the garage door, so if any part of that is compromised it can cause the opener to lift more weight than they may be designed to handle (some doors weigh hundreds of pounds). Consequently, the door is raised slightly and goes back down.

6. Reprogramming Needed

If none of the above issues apply, reprogramming the remote may help with the issue. Each unit can be different, but if you have a LiftMaster remote, we have a step-by-step article that will help walk you through the process of programming it to your opener.

7. Advanced Issues

If all else fails, it’s possible that the remote itself is broken, or the logic board in the opener no longer functions properly. In these cases, replacing the faulty equipment is the only route to getting things back up and running.

Garage Door Remote Still Not Working? Let Us Help!

If you’re stuck with a non-functioning garage door remote, A Plus garage Doors can help. We serve northern Utah with garage door repair and installation services, including Salt Lake City, Ogden, Park City, Provo, and surrounding areas.

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