One moment, your garage door is operating fine. You start your car, back out of the garage, and as you go to leave, the door refuses to budge. After several frustrating attempts to lower the door, you soon find that the only way to get it to move is with the wall switch or button. What does it mean when the garage door won’t close without holding the button?
Most of the time, the safety sensors on the bottom of the door are to blame. How do you fix this problem?
You’re about to find out.
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Reasons Your Garage Door Won’t Close Without Holding The Button
When your garage door fails to shut, you need to figure out the reason. Depending on the cause, you may be able to repair the issue on your own.
Did you know that since 1990 most garage doors have been built with sensors for safety? Garage doors have several sensors that are designed to prevent the door from crushing whatever is in its path. Each time the door begins to move, the sensor activates, scanning the surroundings for any obstructions.
When a garage door fails to close without holding down the button, it could be because a sensor is blocked. If there is anything close to the door when it goes to descend, the sensor will trigger and keep the door in place.
The blockage may not be immediately visible either. Check for spider webs, small rocks, and other debris that could be in the way of the sensor. Also, any sunlight shining directly on the sensors could cause them to malfunction. If your garage door is refusing to close during the day, wait until nighttime to see if it works then (or if you want something quicker, try and make a shadow cover the sensors).
Similar to blocked sensors stopping garage doors from opening or closing is the dirty sensor eye. Sometimes the sensors will become scratched or covered in grime. By cleaning them carefully, you can remove the film and get it working again.
Keep in mind that sensor eyes are built like camera lenses and must be cleaned the same way. Use a soft cloth and a mild, streak-free cleaner. Do not make the sensor overly wet, since that will only cause dirt and dust to stick to the sensor again. Be careful not to knock the sensors out of position.
Where there are loose wires, there are poor connections. Look for loose wires around the sensors and motor unit. Sometimes the wires around the sensors are not connected completely. Also, look for kinks or tape. There may be a chance that whoever installed the door twisted wires together and then covered that connection with electrical tape.
If this is the issue, connect the wires with wire twist connectors. That should solve the problem.
You should also look for cables that have come off, among other damages.
Garage Door Opener Adjustment
Garage doors have sensitivity settings. Take a look at your owner’s manual to see if there is a way to conduct a sensitivity test. If you are not comfortable doing this on your own, you can call a professional for assistance. Should the sensitivity settings be off, they will need to be adjusted. This is done by pulling an emergency release to disconnect the door.
As the door begins to close, watch and see if both sides move evenly. Any side that lags will need to be adjusted by a professional. Should the garage door move correctly, then sensitivity is not the problem.
Garage Door Lock-Out Button
One of the more common reasons your garage door is refusing to move is the lock-out button. When the lock-out button has been engaged, it will stop the garage door from responding to the hand-held remote. This means that any time you push up or down on the remote, the door won’t move.
How do you know if this is the issue? Head over to the wall button. Look for a lit up section that designates whether the lock-out function is active. If you see that the light is on, disengage it. Each garage door model is different, so double check with the owner’s manual before turning the lock-out on or off.
Sensors Are Misaligned
If you have cleaned away all debris and removed dirt from the sensor eye to find that your door still doesn’t work, there is one more option. The sensors may be misaligned. All sensors should be pointing in the same direction and set to the same angle. In the event that a sensor becomes misaligned, the door will sense that something is off and not move.
To fix this issue, you must manually realign the sensors. Start by measuring the height of the sensor from the ground. Use a level to ensure that the sensors are positioned directly across from one another and set to the same angle. Once you have realigned the sensors, test the door to see if it moves.
The other possibility is that your sensors have gone bad, which happens. Replacing the sensors is not difficult, and you can even use the existing wires.
Other Common Issues That Stop Garage Doors From Moving
There are also some problems that cause a garage door to go unresponsive.
Does the garage door only move when you hit the wall switch but not the wireless remote? It could be caused by one of the following:
- You are out of range of the garage door. Try moving closer to the door to see if the antenna picks up the signal.
- Check if the antenna on the motor unit is hanging down and is not damaged.
- Check if the wall switch works. If it does, the remote battery may be dead. Try replacing the battery.
- If all else fails, you may need to reprogram the remote control. There are instances when the remote can lose its programming. Check the manual for the correct process.
Wall Switch Problems
When the garage door does not respond to the wall switch, you can assume that the connection is disrupted somehow. Try checking the following:
- Unplug then plug in the motor unit to see if it is functional. If you must, try another power outlet to see if there is electricity going to the motor.
- Are other garage lights and appliances functional? If you notice other devices are no longer working, it is possible that the circuit breaker tripped or a fuse burned out.
- Perhaps the door’s motor has burned out. If you believe that the motor is damaged, be sure to call a repairman as soon as possible. You will need to have the motor unit replaced.
- You may have to replace some of the wires. Unscrew the switch to see if the wires are active by touching them together (you are safe from shocks). If the operator turns on, the switch is bad. Fortunately, replacing the wall switch is relatively cheap.
Hopefully, you now have some idea about what is going on with your garage door. When a garage door won’t close without holding the button down on the remote or wall, it usually means that something is wrong with the sensors, sensitivity, or alignment. While some of these issues can be remedied at home, there are some problems, such as sensitivity, that require the assistance of a professional. If you’re garage door still won’t close check out our guide on how to open and close a garage door manually.
If it looks like you’re needing a new garage door we highly recommend Chamberlain to see our review of their products check out our detailed article here.