Garage Door Opener Repair: 10 Things You Need to Know

Someday…maybe someday soon…you’re going to try to open your garage door and nothing will happen.

When the inevitable happens, you’re going to have a lot of questions about repairing your garage door opener.

What broke? Is it cheaper to repair or replace your garage door opener? Who should I call to fix it?

In this article, we’re going to cover ten of the most popular questions about garage door repair.

Once you know what you’re up against, a broken garage door might now feel like the end of the world.

What Causes Garage Door Openers to Stop Working?

Let’s start with a loaded question.

There are dozens of things that could go wrong with your garage door. However, the most common reasons why your garage door won’t open are simple to fix.

Start by testing both the remote control and the wired door switch inside your garage. If the remote doesn’t work, but the wall switch does, that means the battery in your opener remote has died.

In that case, a new battery will get you fixed up and on your way.

If both the wall-switch and the battery don’t work, then we have to dig a little deeper.

First, check the fuse on your breaker box and the GFCI outlet for your garage door opener. If either have tripped, that will shut down the entire system.

The next place to check is the wireless antenna. Many older garage door openers have an external antenna on the back of the garage door opener. If it’s not connected properly, not even a fresh set of batteries can send a signal strong enough.

Then, take the cover off the unit and see if anything has come undone and reattach the antenna as necessary.

If that’s not the issue, your garage door opener may need to be reset. You can do this by either unplugging the unit for about 30 seconds, then plugging it back in, or by hitting the reset button.

The reset button will be in a different place on every garage door opener. Check your product manual for more information.

If none of these solutions work, you may have a more serious issue on your hands. If that’s the case, you may need to call a professional to repair it, or replace your garage door opener entirely.

How Long Do Garage Door Openers Last?

In general, garage door openers will last between 10 and 15 years, however that will depend on the specific garage door opener manufacturer and what type of garage door opener you have.

Some will last longer than others, just like some will be better built.

You can extend the lifespan of your garage door opener, however. Regular inspection and maintenance will keep it running, potentially adding years to your garage door opener’s life.

Remember, just because most garage door openers last 15 years doesn’t mean that yours will abruptly fail on that anniversary. Taking care of your opener will help it last longer and make yours the above-average garage door opener in the neighborhood.

How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Garage Door Opener?

No matter the issue, many garage door opener repair services have a minimum $85 charge. Depending on where you live, you may get a small discount on that. However, most garage door repair businesses have rates that are tied to an electrician’s hourly rate. That usually runs between $65 and $86 per hour.

That’s just the beginning though.

Beyond that, the cost depends on how much labor the job requires and any parts they need to fix your garage door opener. A national average figure for garage door opener repair sits at about $225.

Yours could be more or less. We’re always hoping for less.

Is It Cheaper to Repair or Replace a Garage Door Opener?

If your garage door opener is still under the low-end of the 10 to 15 year lifespan, it’s usually worth repairing it before replacing it outright.

The principle here is similar to that of your car repairs. When the cost of repairing your car is more than it’s worth, you generally don’t fix it, right?

Most garage door openers cost between $150 and $350, depending on how much horsepower it has. Major retailers like Home Depot charge around $100 to install a brand new garage door opener.

That puts the cost of a new garage door opener (installed) at between $250 and $450.

We learned above that the average cost of a garage door opener repair at around $225. So in most cases, it’s better to repair your old garage door opener than replace it.

However, this decision will hinge on several factors.

  1. Do you have an older garage door opener? It’s difficult to find parts for an older unit, especially if it’s no longer sold.
  2. Can you repair it yourself? Your costs will be significantly lower if you can, since you won’t pay an hourly rate. Otherwise, fixing the unit will get costlier.
  3. Can you install a new garage door opener yourself? If so, then save money on labor and you only pay for the price of a new garage door opener.

Before you make a decision, do your research first.

First, take a look at new garage door openers to find out how much they cost. Then, contact a repairman or electrician to get a ballpark figure on what a repair might run you.

If those prices are similar, and your garage door opener is on the older side, go ahead and replace it. Then you know that you’ll have fewer short-term issues with a new one.

Garage door opener repair

Who Can Repair Garage Door Openers?

Hopefully you can!

Sure, everyone thinks they’re an expert just because they can pull up YouTube on their smartphone. However, that doesn’t mean doing it yourself is a bad idea.

Admittedly, not every garage door opener repair job will be a DIY special. In that case, your local garage door service business likely offers repair services.

However, don’t overlook your local home improvement stores. Most have professional repair staff on hand, and often work with local contractors so you can be sure you’re getting a reputable contractor.

Finally, your electrician may be your best choice. You likely already have a relationship with the business, having had workers out to your home in the past.

While it’s not their job to rebuild garage door openers on a day-to-day basis, electricians can fix a lot of things.

How Do I Know if My Garage Door Opener Motor Is Bad?

The most obvious sign that your garage door opener motor is bad is when you push the button on your remote and nothing happens. 

Usually when your garage door opener’s motor has burned out, you’ll usually hear whirring or grinding noises. That means the unit is trying to do its job, but failing.

This is a pretty good indicator of a bad motor, but it’s not the only one.

If your garage door is moving slower than usual, your motor may be having trouble dealing with the weight of the door.

While this could also be an issue with the torsion spring, a garage door opener that suddenly is slow-to-open or slow-to-close could be on its last legs.

Excessive vibrations are also a tell-tale sign that the motor is failing.

A motor vibrating as it works (well, vibrating more than usual) presents a problem. Vibrations loosen things, and when heavy things suspended above our heads or our cars get loose, that can be dangerous.

Keep an ear out for noises, too. Squeaks, squeals, scrapes, and squawks from inside your garage door opener are indicators that not all is right inside there.

Don’t ignore those sounds, but rather, investigate and address them sooner rather than later.

How Do I Know if My Garage Door Opener Logic Board Is Bad?

Even garage door openers rely on computers to work. So if its circuit board goes bad, you’ve got problems.

Thankfully, you can recognize such an issue pretty easily.

The most obvious signal with a bad logic board is that your garage door closes or opens on its own.

If your garage door opens by itself while you’re at work, that’s a problem. But a more dangerous issue would be if it closed on its own while you’re standing under it.

Similarly, the door opener may suddenly decide to do its own thing. For example, if your garage door won’t close all the way.

You may also notice that the safety sensors don’t seem to see obstacles as they’re designed to do. If you place something in front of one of them and it doesn’t see anything, your board may be bad. You may also notice with a bad board that the LED lights on those sensors go dark.

If your door opener has power (as in, you know it’s plugged in and that the outlet works) but seems dead in spite of that, your board may have gone bad. Your opener won’t get any kind of signal from anything with a bad logic board.

Finally, your garage door opener may have a warning light that flashes at you, but investigation doesn’t reveal anything wrong. This could come from your board being bad and sending inaccurate messages.

Do Garage Door Openers Have a Fuse?

Some garage door openers have fuses, but not all of them do.

Before you open yours to look for a potentially bad fuse, check your owner’s manual to verify that it’s one of the ones that do. While many electrical appliances have fuses, and those can usually be easily replaced, some don’t. They rely on the circuit breaker to trip in the event of an electrical issue.

If yours has a fuse, you very likely face a simple process of removing and replacing a blown one. Again, it’s worth knowing whether there’s one in there ahead of time, before you go unscrewing things.

Can You Repair Garage Door Opener Sensors?

You can repair garage door opener sensors, but replacing them is usually the better option.

Garage door sensors are often brand-specific, so you’ll want to be sure you buy the right ones. You can get universal garage door sensors that are relatively inexpensive, but it’s usually only a few dollars to get the official manufacturer’s part.

Either way, it’s definitely cheaper than replacing your whole garage door opener. 

Thankfully, replacing them is very straightforward.

Once you’ve disconnected the power from the sensors, unscrew them from the wall. Then replace them with the new sensors and reconnect the wires.

Can You Replace a Garage Door Opener Without Changing the Rails?

It depends which rails you’re talking about.

The rails that your garage door rollers ride up and down are part of the garage door, not the garage door opener. You won’t need to replace these when you replace your garage door opener.

However, the rail in the center of your garage, extending from your garage door opener to the actual garage door is specific to the opener.

There is no standard garage door opener rail size. When you replace an opener, you also need to replace the center rail. If the old rail doesn’t fit with the new opener, your new opener will be useless.

Even if your new garage door opener is the same brand as the one you’re replacing, you still may encounter an issue by trying to reuse the old rail. Manufacturers change and update their models often, so even the same brand opener may not work with its predecessor’s rail.

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.