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Garage Door Opener Makes Noise but Won't Work

Matt Smolsky
Even single garage doors can be too heavy for one person to lift.

Garage door openers are a modern convenience that most homeowners now consider a necessity. When they malfunction, it can mean headaches and repair bills. If your garage door is making a noise but not operating correctly, there are troubleshooting steps you can take to determine the problem and perhaps fix it yourself. At the very least, you'll have a better understanding of the problem when you call the technician.

Check the Rails

A garage door raises and lowers on rails. There are small wheels on the doors that fit snugly inside the rails. Even the smallest obstruction can cause the garage door to get stuck. It can happen at any point in the cycle. The door could be all the way up, down or even halfway open. Unplug the garage door, then do a visual inspection of the rails and remove any debris. You'll need a ladder and perhaps a flashlight.

Check the Lift Mechanism

The most common lift mechanisms for garage doors are chain, belt or screw drives. If you have a belt or chain drive unit, the belt or chain may have slipped, become loose or broken. The lift mechanism may also be obstructed. Unplug the garage door and stand on a ladder to inspect the drive. Again, a flashlight will be helpful. A problem with the belt will probably mean a visit from a repair technician, unless you see a simple obstruction.

Springs and Lift Cables

A garage door opener uses spring tension to help lift and lower the door. The springs or lift cables on your door may need to be adjusted. Also, if your door uses two springs, one may have broken. Look for a break in the spring's coils. While a garage door can open and close with just one spring, over time this will burn out the motor on the opener. It may sound like your garage door opener is working, when in fact the motor is no longer able to lift the door. Any adjustment or installation of springs or lift cables is best left to a professional technician. Springs need to be tightened to a very high tension, and a snapped spring can cause serious injury.

Cut the Power

One way to identify a hard to find problem is to eliminate the garage door opener. With the garage door in the down position, pull the emergency release handle hanging from along the lift rail. Then try to lift and lower the door manually. It would be a good idea to have a helper since a garage door is heavy, and serious injury can result if it slams shut. Also, you both can look for signs of trouble, such as a broken spring, malfunctioning wheels, loose lift cables or obstructed rails.