You were just about to leave the house when you noticed a problem in the garage – your garage door won’t open all the way!
This problem can be particularly frustrating because it’s not always clear if the problem is something minor you can resolve quickly or something major that requires a trained professional. There are a few things you should check before picking up the phone.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you troubleshoot the problem.
Garage Door Won’t Open All the Way (Troubleshooting Checklist)
This checklist will help you identify the reason why your garage door won’t open all the way, which in turn will reveal whether or not it’s time to call in a professional garage door repair service.
- Close the door
- Unplug the garage door opener
- Disengage the garage door
- Test the door manually
- Secure the door if necessary
- Check the tracks
- Check the rollers
- Check the limit switch
Let’s take a closer look …
1. Close the door completely
In order to figure out why your garage door won’t open all the way, you first need to make sure it’s secure.
You don’t want the door to come crashing down on you or anyone else, once you begin disengaging your garage door opener.
If you can, close it completely to ground level.
2. Unplug the garage door opener unit
You may not have even noticed it before, but the main garage door opener unit will be plugged into an electrical outlet that is located on the garage ceiling near the unit.
Using a ladder to reach the unit, unplug the cord from the outlet.
3. Disengage the garage door
You will want to disengage the emergency release for the door. It is usually hanging from the center rail that the opener sits on, close to the garage door.
Often, it is red and is marked. You may also need your ladder to reach it.
Pull the lever down – you’ll feel the spring-loaded lever disconnect, and it will stay down.
4. Test the door manually
Now that the opener is offline, try moving the door up and down yourself.
If it seems to be operating smoothly with just human power, the problem is with the garage door opener itself.
5. Secure the door if necessary
If it has stopped and stuck fairly high up on the tracks – enough to cause a problem if it suddenly comes down – you’ll want to prevent it from dropping.
Use C-Clamps tightened onto the tracks just below the bottom of the garage door, or insert a 2×4 or similar piece of sturdy lumber below the door.
6. The tracks
The tracks are the metal guides at each end of the garage door.
The door itself moves on rollers along these tracks as it opens and closes.
It’s possible that the tracks themselves have gotten debris or dirt in them, which is preventing the rollers from moving. Since you know how far up the door is rising, start your search from that point. Look for gravel, pieces of wood, or other things that could stop a roller – and remove them. You’ll want to use your ladder to help you examine the upper parts of the track. If your tracks are dirty, clean and lubricate them.
The tracks themselves may have become bent or uneven – this can happen when there is an issue with the pulleys, or the torsion springs need adjustment. The misalignment issue is one that that will need to be addressed by a professional.
7. The rollers
These are the wheels that roll along the tracks, making your garage door easy to operate – when they’re working right.
Like any other parts, they can also become damaged or rusty. Check each one for rust or damage – you may need to have one or more rollers replaced.
It’s also possible that they have become sticky and need to be lubricated. If you take care of this problem yourself, be sure to use a lithium-based grease or a product that is labeled for use on garage doors. Spray it inside each roller so that the bearings inside are treated.
Do not spray lubricants on nylon rollers, if you have them.
8. The limit switch
If everything is working with your garage door when operated by hand, the problem lies somewhere within the process that your garage door opener utilizes.
This switch tells the garage door opener when to stop – and if the adjustment is wrong, it can cause your unit to continually stop at the same (wrong) point every time it opens.
If you think this is the problem, you’ll need to mark off the point that it opens to, and then measure the distance between the bottom of the garage door and the ground. This will give you the amount of adjustment needed in the unit.
The adjustments can be made by turning the screws on the garage door opener unit near the motor. You can refer to your owner’s manual for their location. This can be a tricky and frustrating process, as you must keep setting and testing the adjustment to see if your door is working properly. It may well be worth your sanity to call a professional to deal with this issue.
If there are no obvious reasons for your garage door opener to give up partway through lifting your door, you likely have a failure somewhere within the unit and will need a professional to evaluate the problem, and/or replace the entire unit.
Keep everything secure
If you must wait for a repair, don’t forget to lock your garage door for security.
Normally, your garage door opener takes care of this for you, by keeping the door pushed down to the bottom of the garage floor. If you have disconnected the opener, locate your garage door lock. If you have one, it will be operated with either a slide bar or a T-handle mechanism.
The slide bar can be secured with a padlock, and the T-handle style is locked with a key. Slide bars are located inside the garage door, and T-handle locks are located on the outside of the door.
Be sure to unlock the door before you try to use the door again, and don’t misplace the key in the interim.
Using this troubleshooting checklist will help you identify why your garage door won’t open all the way. Once you’ve identified the problem, you will know whether or not it’s time to call in a professional.
Garage doors involve a number of moving parts and require regular maintenance in order to function properly for the full lifespan of the door. Please let us know if you have any questions or if you need help fixing your door.