Finding your garage door open when you don’t expect it or hearing it open by itself can be unsettling. It can be easy to believe someone has hacked your garage door opener and is trying to use it to break in.
However, there are many legitimate reasons why your garage door opens by itself.
It’s called “phantom operation,” and it’s more common than you might think.
Fortunately, the reasons why and (more importantly) how to fix it are usually pretty straightforward.
An electrical fault is the most frequent cause of garage doors opening independently. This can be caused by faulty wiring in your home or an electrical surge during a storm.
How To Fix It
Your garage door opener should be on its own electrical circuit and have its own surge protector.
Other devices on the same circuit may interfere with your garage door opener. Similarly, power surges may accidentally cause the garage door to open by itself.
I recently tested several garage door opener surge protectors to find out which one was best. Check out that article by clicking on the link.
Once that’s done, the next step is to perform a power cycle on the garage door opener.
Start by unplugging the opener. Wait 30 seconds, and then plug it back in.
This should fix most power-related issues.
Your Garage Remote Control
One of the main reasons your garage door opens by itself is a garage remote that needs to be fixed. If you’ve had your remote control for a while, normal wear and tear may cause it to malfunction.
You’ve probably noticed something similar on your TV’s remote control. Certain buttons get stuck on your TV remote after repeated use.
The same thing can happen with your garage remote. Often, the button you press to open your garage door can get stuck without you realizing it.
Worse, it can also click by itself without you pressing it.
Because the remote sends the signal for your garage door to open, that transmission may continue to fire if the button is stuck. When that happens, the garage door may appear to open randomly.
The problem could also be how and where you store your garage door remote when not using it. Most of us keep the garage door’s remote control in a junk drawer or pocket.
It’s common for something to inadvertently push on the button, especially if heavy items are placed on top of it where you store it.
How To Fix It
Checking your garage door opener’s remote should be part of your routine maintenance. At the very least, you should do this every time you change the batteries.
If the buttons start to stick or look worn out, it could be time to get a new remote.
However, if a button is stuck, you can usually fix that reasonably quickly. You’ll need an electronics contact cleaner, like WD-40 Specialist Contact Cleaner.
First, spray around the edge of the button. Try to get the cleaning fluid to seep underneath the button to reach where it contacts the circuit board. Depending on the design of the remote, you may need to take it apart to get to the electronics. This is often accomplished with only one or two screws.
Once you take the remote control apart, spray contact cleaner on the circuit board. This should remove any dust or other small debris that may interfere with the connections.
Next, clean the button itself with isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol, whichever you have access to. Nailpolish remover will also work in a pinch.
This will remove leftover oils from your fingers, allowing the button to move freely.
Finally, find a safe place to store your remote where nothing pushes on the button to trigger it.
Check for Wiring Faults
Anytime there’s electrical wiring, there is the possibility of it getting damaged. This can occur in the keypad, garage door control panel, garage door safety sensor, or even the garage door motor unit.
If the garage door is opening by itself, there could be a problem with one of the connections. Places to check include the sensors on either side of the garage door and on the garage door opener itself.
Although less common, it is also possible that the wiring itself may be faulty.
How To Fix It
Start by grabbing a step ladder and checking the wire connections on the garage door opener itself.
Every garage door opener is designed slightly differently. However, most will have a panel where you can adjust the stop limit or reset the remote control. In most cases, the wiring connections are also on this panel.
GENTLY pull on each wire to make sure it’s firmly connected. If it doesn’t pull out immediately, that’s a good sign. Move on to the next wire.
Next, check the wires on the garage door sensors. As before, GENTLY pull on each wire to make sure it’s secure.
Next, examine the length of the wire to look for any physical damage. This can be damage caused by a mouse chewing through the wires or an accidental cut by an X-ACTO knife.
We recommend contacting a qualified garage door repair technician to replace the wires if you find any damage.
Reprogram Your Garage Door Opener
Your garage door opener’s remote control uses radio frequencies to send signals to the motor to open and close the door. Both the garage door opener and the remote must operate on the same frequency.
Unfortunately, radio frequencies can be overpowered by stronger transmitters on the same (or similar) frequency. This could be from devices such as construction equipment, a baby monitor, radio ham, or CB, for example.
In extremely rare cases, it’s possible that a neighbor nearby has their garage door opener on the same frequency as you. This could lead to their remote control also being programmed to your garage door opener.
How To Fix It
The best way to fix these issues is to erase all the codes from your garage door opener and reprogram it.
Remember where we checked the wires on your garage door opener? Most garage door opener brands position the programming buttons on the same panel.
Each garage door opener will have specific programming instructions, so it’s best to refer to the owner’s manual if you’re unsure. However, I’ve written articles to walk you through some of the major manufacturers:
- How to program Genie garage door openers
- How to program Craftsman garage door openers
- How to program LiftMaster garage door openers
As mentioned above, it can be scary when your garage door opens by itself. If you discover your garage door is open when you know you closed it, the reasons above are why it has opened by itself. Now you know how you can ensure that it does not happen again.