Garage Door Only Opens A Few Inches? (Why & How to Fix)
For the most part, the door to our garage does its job, and we think nothing more of it. But when it suddenly stops after only opening a few inches, it can create more than a few questions. Namely, “Why is this happening, and how do I fix it?”
If your garage door only opens a few inches, the culprit could be blocked sensors or low garage remote batteries. Defective springs, track alignment issues, binding problems, or a faulty logic control board could also be to blame. Broken springs and cold weather effects, such as shrinking and contraction, can also cause the door not to open fully.
As you can see, there could be a number of issues at play here. It could be as simple as something triggering the safety mechanism. It could be that the sensor eye is off alignment as well. You may also be dealing with an internal component like the extension springs.
Read on to learn more about each potential cause of this issue and how to address it. With a little time and troubleshooting, your garage door should open normally once again!
10 Reasons Why The Garage Door Only Opens A Few Inches
The key is to troubleshoot the issue, locate the problem, and address it accordingly.
1. Blocked Or Dirty Sensors
The most likely explanation is usually the correct one. Most modern garage doors have a built-in reversing mechanism. That mechanism is what keeps the door from potentially crashing into something that happens to be in the way.
Check the sensors. The obstruction does not have to be particularly large. It could be a small toy, for instance. If you think that there is something in the way, simply check out the sensors. If you don’t notice any apparent obstruction, it could be that the lenses of the sensors are dirty. Give them a good wipe and try again.
Clean regularly. In order to save yourself a bit of trouble, try wiping down the lenses once in a while. Dust, dirt, and even spiderwebs can accumulate over time. Use a damp cloth or cleaning wipe to gently wipe the lens free of any potential obstruction.
2. Low Or Dead Batteries In Garage Remote
Another simple explanation is that the garage remote’s batteries need to be replaced. Low batteries can interfere with the signal sent to the receiver. As a result, the garage door opens a few inches, and then stops.
Replace the batteries. The easy solution here is to replace the batteries in the garage remote, being sure to use high-quality batteries. Then, try to open the garage door again to see if the problem is resolved.
3. Loss Of Power
In some cases, a recent loss of power can cause your garage door to only open a few inches. Losing power can lead to a broken connection between the garage door opener and the garage door itself. Luckily, there’s a very simple fix to this issue.
Disconnect and reconnect power to the garage door opener. If a loss of power is the problem, then this will fix it immediately. Be sure to disconnect power, wait for 30 seconds or so, and then reconnect it.
4. Defective Or Broken Springs
Sometimes an internal component can cause the garage door to only open a few inches. The tricky part in this case is you may not readily notice the issue without a little bit of troubleshooting. Thankfully, there is one fairly easy method to check for broken or defective springs.
Disconnect the cord. One sure-fire way to check the continuity of the internal components is to try to open the door manually. Disconnect the cord from the opener and lift up the door manually. It should move fairly easily. If it does not or feels heavy, then the problem is with the opening mechanism.
Whenever there are issues with the opening mechanism, it is best left to a professional. Not only is it better for getting your garage door working once again, but there is danger as well.
Garage door springs are quite dangerous to handle. If something goes wrong, it can lead to serious injury or even death. Leave the garage door spring repairs to the pros.
5. Track Alignment Issues
Yet another common culprit is the garage door track. When the rails get bent or out of shape, it can keep the garage door from opening fully.
Use a rubber mallet to adjust the track rails. This is usually an easy DIY repair. In most cases, you can use a rubber mallet and a level to fix the track alignment. Then, tighten the screws to ensure it stays in place.
If you’re hesitant to attempt to fix the track yourself, call in a professional. You may want to watch their method of repair. This way, you’ll know how to do it yourself should the issue ever reoccur.
6. Binding Problems
You can also check to see if something is binding the door when it opens and closes manually. A bound door will be difficult or even impossible to move up and down. If you notice any binding, then you may need to adjust the force limit or simple travel limit.
Travel limit. The travel limit is what controls how far the door opens and closes while it is in operation.
Force limit. Meanwhile, the force limit controls dictate how much pull is required to bring the door to a completely open position.
It is wise to check out the owner’s manual to see how to make these adjustments. Depending on the model or brand of your garage door, there are one of two methods.
You will either turn the screws or push in on the colored buttons. If you can’t find the owner’s manual, a cursory Google search should accomplish what you need.
When you are done making your adjustments, it is imperative to make sure that the reverse mechanism is properly functioning. That reverse mechanism is what keeps the door from hitting something or damaging itself.
7. Faulty Logic Control Board
The last thing to check, should your garage door open and then suddenly stop, is the logic board. The role of the logic board is to receive and then respond to signals. These signals can be sent by connected remotes or keypads that may be connected to the garage itself.
What if your door is not working properly, but there are no obstructions, and you can open and close it manually? In that case, the logic control board is the most likely explanation.
You can try replacing the opener, but the more likely solution is to replace the logic control board. If you buy a new opener and it works, that could save you quite a bit of cash.
Reboot. You can also try to reboot the logic control board to see if that works. Like any other electronic component, a simple refresh can work wonders. Try to reboot it a time or two and see if that solves the problem. The last resort should be to replace the logic control board.
8. Effects Of Cold Weather
Cold weather can wreak havoc on a lot of things. It is possible for the aforementioned issues to creep up from time to time. But when the weather turns frigid, it can further aggravate the issue.
Keep up with winter maintenance. To keep your garage door opening smoothly in the wintertime, there are several things you can do.
- Wipe down all garage door components. If any hinges or rollers appear to be stuck, soak them in a solvent and use a stiff brush to clean them more thoroughly.
- Lubricate the bearings and pulleys.
- Apply a spray solvent to the track, hinges, and rollers.
- Apply lubricant to the springs, roller bearings, torsion bar bearings, shuttle, and screw drive. Silicone-based lubricant is best for this purpose.
Open the garage door manually. Sometimes it may be necessary to manually open and close your garage door until the weather warms up. If the cold weather is the only reason your door isn’t opening properly, the issue should resolve itself once the weather changes.
9. Contraction And Shrinking
Perhaps the most common reason that your garage door stops working properly in the winter is contraction. Simply put, the metal will shrink or contract due to the cold. When it is cold, the space between molecules reduces, ultimately shrinking the metal in the process.
If you feel confident that shrinking and contraction is the cause behind your issues, lubricant is key. Try lubricating the hinges, springs, and any other metal components. In most cases, this should free up those components, allowing your garage door to open normally once again.
Speaking of lubrication, the grease that is in your door’s components can compact and harden in the cold weather. When that happens, it makes smooth operation a difficult thing to achieve. And if it goes ignored long enough, one of those components can break, requiring repairs.
Proper Maintenance. If your garage door is only opening a little or maybe not at all, check the joints and tracks. Make sure that they are properly greased and lubricated. Should they be lacking, wipe out any of the old grease using a grease solvent and apply new lubricant.
Proper maintenance is essential to keep your garage door working properly. This is especially true come wintertime, when the freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on the various components. Start by making sure they all have enough grease to function properly.
10. Broken Springs
The springs play an integral role in the functionality of the garage door. Should any of them break, your garage door won’t function properly. At the very least, it may not open all the way. In the worst case, it may not function at all.
Unfortunately, garage springs can be somewhat rigid and frail. When the temperature gets low enough, it can cause those already frail pieces to become nearly brittle.
If you feel that the issue is with the springs, only a professional should handle the job. Dealing with the springs can be potentially dangerous for an amateur to deal with.
Preventative maintenance. No matter what issue you are facing, the simplest plan is to apply preventative maintenance. Keep the problem from happening rather than fixing it, and you will save yourself a lot of difficulty and inconvenience. Moreover, it saves you from spending a lot of money on repairs.
Fixing a Garage Door That Won’t Open All The Way
When In Doubt, Contact A Professional
If you’ve attempted the troubleshooting tips above but haven’t been able to diagnose the issue, contact a professional. While this solution isn’t free, it’s the best option to avoid causing further damage to your garage door. Plus, you can speak with the professional about the cause of the problem and how to avoid it in the future.
To find a qualified professional, contact your garage door supplier or search for “garage door repair professional near me” online. If possible, read through reviews and check the professional’s qualifications to ensure they have the necessary knowledge and experience.
A garage door that only opens a few inches might be the result of low garage remote batteries, blocked sensors, or defective springs. Other common reasons for garage doors not opening completely include track alignment issues and the effects of cold weather.
It can definitely be frustrating to deal with a garage door that doesn’t open fully. Unfortunately, it’s something that’s likely to happen to all of us at some point or another. That’s why knowing how to troubleshoot and identify the problem is so valuable.
In many cases, the problem is simple and only requires a little effort on the part of the homeowner to address. But in other cases, the underlying problem can be more of a challenge to fix.
That’s when it’s great to call in your trusted garage door repair professional to take a look. Often, they’ll be able to help you avoid encountering the same issue in the future.
Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.
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