Garage door goes back up? Try this

It’s annoying when you push the button on your garage door opener to close it, and the door comes down a bit, seems to change its mind, and then the garage door goes back up on its own. There’s a workaround for this and there is also a fix. Fortunately this is usually something you can fix yourself.

Your garage door goes back up on its own because its sensors can’t see each other. Holding down the opener’s button usually overrides this, and for a permanent fix, make sure the sensors near the door are aligned and clear of debris.

The reason your garage door goes back up on its own

garage door goes back up
If your garage door goes back up, it’s the safety feature malfunctioning. Holding down the button on the opener will force the door to go down regardless of what the sensors say. When you’re not in a hurry, you can fix it by clearing the area around the sensors and/or aligning them.

The door is going back up on its own because of a safety feature. Your garage door is the heaviest moving object in your home, ranging from 80 pounds on the low end to over 300 pounds on the high end. Its weight depends on its size and whether it’s made of metal or wood and whether it has windows. Between its weight and the speed it travels, it is more than heavy enough to cause serious injury or death, or significant damage to any inanimate object it comes in contact with.

For this reason, garage doors have sensors to detect something in the garage door’s path so they can reverse the garage door in the event of someone or something being in harm’s way.

To put it simply, your garage door is going back up because it thinks there is something in harm’s way.

Fortunately, fixing it is usually pretty straightforward. And it’s usually something you can do yourself.

Fixing the sensors that cause your garage door to go back up

The sensors that cause your garage door to go back up are just optical sensors on either side of your garage door, usually just behind the track. If the sensors can see each other, they let the garage door operate normally. If the sensors cannot see each other, that’s what causes the door to malfunction and misbehave.

Look for blocked sensors

So the first thing to check is to make sure there is nothing near the garage door. Sometimes when this happens to me, it’s just because something fell off the shelf next to the door and caused the sensor to be blocked.

Also look for leaves or grass clippings. I try to make a habit of keeping the area near my sensors clear, but it’s easy to forget. The better job you do of clearing out grass clippings and leaves after you finished your yard work, the less frequent problem becomes, and the more likely you are to forget a couple of times, and then the problem happens again. It makes it easy to forget why you perform that ritual, so you lose the importance of it. And then when the problem happens again, you don’t connect the malfunction with the time you were in a hurry and forgot to sweep when you were putting the lawn mower away.

Check the lenses

If there isn’t any lawn debris near the sensors, make sure the lenses look relatively clean. Cleaning them with a paper towel and a bit of window cleaner isn’t a bad idea. If you’ve done any spray painting or woodworking in your garage over the winter, it’s possible that dirtied up the lenses.

Check the alignment

The last thing to check is the alignment. Sometimes one of the sensors gets bumped and that causes it to not see the other sensor because it’s not looking in the right direction. The two sensors need line of sight with each other. If they don’t look like they have line of sight, that’s a good indicator they don’t. Frequently the sensors will have LED indicators that light up or change color when the two sensors have line of sight. If the LEDs on the sensors change color or you hear a click as you swivel one of them around, that’s a good indicator that they are trying to tell you when they can see each other or not.

The workaround

If you’ve tried everything and your garage door still goes back up on its own, there is a temporary workaround you can try. Most openers will override the sensor if you hold the button down rather than just pushing the button. The garage door will usually go back down. So if you are in a hurry and you have made absolutely certain there is nothing in harm’s way, try holding the button down until the door closes completely.

Usually you have to do this from the hardwired button connected to the garage door opener, not with the remote. It’s the opener’s way of asking if you’re sure, then asking if you’re sure you’re sure.

Sometimes the problem is that one or both of the sensors have gone bad or a wire has come disconnected from the garage door opener. If the problem is wiring, putting the wire back will fix the issue. If the sensor has gone bad, replacements are available. A hardware or home improvement store that carries your brand of garage door opener will also carry replacement sensors.

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