Garage Door Opener Troubleshooting

Common Winter Weather Garage Door Opening Problems

By Mark J. Donovan

It’s during the winter months that I most commonly experience garage door opener problems, and find myself performing garage door opener troubleshooting and making garage door repairs.

Without fail, it always seems to be the coldest day of the year when the garage door opens only partially, and I find myself outside troubleshooting the garage door opener and the garage door itself.

Over the years I’ve come up with a pretty standard garage door opener troubleshooting routine.

The first thing I look at is the garage door opener itself. I make sure the garage door opener is plugged in and that it is attempting to at least work. I also make sure that the chain is not sagging or broken in any way.

I then make sure the garage door opener sensor lenses are clean and that the sensors themselves haven’t been knocked out of alignment. Often snow and deicing salt spray find their way onto the surfaces of the sensor lenses and create a film that prevents the sensors from working properly.

I also find that during the winter months, due to snow shoveling or snow-blowing the sensors are frequently knocked out of alignment. A simple wipe with a cloth and a realignment of the sensors is typically all that is required to fix these types of garage door opening problems.

Though once I did find that the wire to one of the garage door opener sensors had been ripped right off, courtesy of a boot I am sure.

Garage door opener troubleshooting

The next step in my garage door opener troubleshooting process is to inspect the garage door springs to make sure they haven’t been damaged or are broken in any way.

Fortunately, I’ve yet to find this as the source of my garage door opening problems. When it comes to fixing garage door springs it’s usually best to leave it to the pros. Garage door springs are under a lot of tension and if they accidentally let loose you could lose your head.

Working my way down my garage door opener troubleshooting checklist I move on to the garage door tracks and rollers.

Garage Door Opener Sensor


Garage door track


This is often the root of my garage door opening problems. Often there is either insufficient grease in them or the grease has dried out and become ineffective. As part of my normal garage door opener troubleshooting routine I typically end up greasing the tracks and rollers just to eliminate them as a possible problem.

While inspecting the garage door tracks I also look carefully at the assembly bolts that hold the sections of the garage door track together.

In some cases I have found that the bolts and nuts become loose. This may be related to the extremely cold weather. Even the smallest amount of play or looseness in these bolts can impede the movement of the garage door, or at least cause sufficient pressure on the garage door opener to cause it to stop or retract backwards.

Finally, in cases where the garage door opener problems are intermittent I take into consideration the angle of the sun.

During winter months the sun is much lower on the horizon. In a few cases I have found that when the sun shines directly onto the sensor lens it affects the performance of the garage door opener. In this situation, there is little to no garage door repair necessary. The only possible solution for this type of problem is to temporarily duct tape some type of shield over the top of the sensor to block the sunlight from shining into the lens.

With this basic garage door opener troubleshooting checklist I have yet to not find the source of my winter garage door opener problems and resolve them quickly. Good luck with your garage door opener troubleshooting!

For more information on building a garage addition see the Garage Addition Bid Sheet from The Garage Addition Bid Sheet includes an extensive questionnaire (Request for Quote) that a homeowner can provide to prospective general contractors and subcontractors for bidding the garage addition. In addition, the Garage Addition Bid Sheet also includes estimated costs and time intervals for constructing a garage addition as well as a list of key home material manufacturers. Finally, the Garage Addition Bid sheet includes an extensive set of helpful tips and advice on making sure the garage addition is built properly and on time and budget.

Garage Addition Bid Sheet

Related Information

Free Garage Addition Price Quotes with No Obligation!

Fill out our 3-5 minute quick and easy form, and receive a free price quote on a garage addition from one of our prescreened and licensed garage addition contractors. This process is free and there is no obligation to continue once you receive your garage addition price estimate.