It can be incredibly frustrating when you press the button to open your garage door, only to have it start opening and then stop partway. There are several possible reasons why your garage door is opens partially then stops. Understanding the most common causes can help you troubleshoot the issue and get your garage door working properly again.
Common Reasons Garage Door opens partially Then Stops
There are a few common things that can cause a garage door opens a little and then stop:
One of the most common reasons a garage door will only opens part way is because there is some kind of obstruction in the way. This could be something inside the garage like a bicycle, ladder, or other items that are blocking the door’s path. It could also be something outside like a branch, debris, or even an accumulation of snow or ice.
If there is something obstructing the garage door’s opening path, the door will hit that obstruction and stop when trying to open all the way. You’ll want to thoroughly inspect the full range of motion of the door and remove anything that could be preventing the door from fully opening.
The torsion springs on garage doors play a critical role in counterbalancing the weight of the door to allow it to open and close smoothly. However, garage door springs wear out over time. A broken garage door spring prevents the door from opening all the way, because the spring assembly is not working.
When a torsion spring breaks, the door loses the counterbalance force needed to fully open. This causes the garage door to partially open then stop when the opener runs into resistance from the imbalance. May need to replace the door spring is the only way to fix this issue and allow normal operation.
Improperly Adjusted Garage Door Opener
Another possibility is that the garage door opener force or limit settings need adjustment. The force adjustment controls the amount of power the opener motor applies to open and close the door. If this is set too low, the opener won’t have enough force to lift the full weight of the door, resulting in the door only opening partially before stopping.
The limit settings control how far down and up the door will travel. If either the open or close limit is set incorrectly, this restricts how far the door can move in that direction. For example, if the open limit is set too low, the door will hit the limit and stop before reaching the fully open position. Adjusting the force and limit settings correctly should allow full travel.
Malfunctioning Garage Door Sensor
Safety sensors are an important component for garage door openers. These sensors project invisible beams across the doorway and signal the opener to stop and reverse if something breaks the beam while the door is closing. However, problems with misaligned sensors or sensor malfunctions can also cause issues with opening.
If the sensors are obstructed or knocked out of alignment, the opener may misread that as an obstruction and stop the door while it’s opening. Inspect the sensors to make sure they are clean, aligned properly, and operating correctly. Realigning or replacing faulty sensors can get your garage door opening fully again.
Travel Limit Issue
In addition to force limits, most garage door openers have travel limits that control how far up or down the door will move. If the travel limit that controls how far the door can open is mistakenly set too low, it will prevent the door from fully opening.
This limit setting needs to be adjusted upward to allow the needed door travel to open completely. Refer to your garage door opener manual to learn how to adjust the open travel limit to match the height your door needs to fully open.
Outdoor temperature fluctuations and weather events can also impact garage door operation and cause a door to only open partially before stopping.
Cold Weather Effects
In cold weather, the contraction of garage door components due to shrinking in frigid temperatures can cause issues with opening. The metal parts of the door and opener can contract and tighten up, increasing friction and resistance as the door tries to open.
Lubricating rollers, hinges, pulleys, and tracks can help combat the increased friction from cold temperatures. But extreme cold causes more significant interference and may prevent the door from fully opening until temperatures warm up again. Operating an obstructed door in cold weather can also overload and damage opener parts.
Force Limit Adjustments in Cold Weather
Many garage door openers have a separate cold weather or winter force setting. This increases the opener motor’s power to account for the increased resistance from extreme cold.
If your opener has this feature, adjusting the force limit to the higher cold weather setting may provide the extra boost needed to overcome the increased friction and open the door fully. Whenever temperatures return to normal, be sure to switch the force back to standard mode.
Garage Door Components
When troubleshooting a garage door that only opens partially, it helps to understand the basic components and operation of the door. Here are the main parts that work together to open and close the door:
Garage Door Opener
The opener consists of a motorized unit with a rail, trolley, and arm that connects to the top of the door. The motor provides the lifting force to open and close the heavy door. If the opener motor is underpowered or there are issues with the mechanism, it can cause problems with door travel.
Garage Door Springs
Torsion springs are mounted on a metal shaft running above the door. The tension of these springs helps lift the weight of the door, offsetting the door’s weight to allow smooth operation. Broken or damaged springs will prevent the door from opening fully.
Garage Door Tracks
Rollers on the sides of the door move along vertical and horizontal tracks to guide the door up and down. Bent, misaligned, or obstructed tracks can restrict the travel and cause the door to bind up when opening or closing.
Proper installation and alignment of these components is needed for the door to move through its full operating range without obstruction. Now let’s look at the steps for inspecting and adjusting these parts of the garage door system.
Steps to Fix a Garage Door Only Opening Partially
If your garage door is opening a few feet or part way then stopping, here are some steps you can take to diagnose and fix the issue:
Inspect the Garage Door
The first step is to visually inspect the door to see if you can spot any obvious problems. Look at the door panels and hardware. Are there any broken, damaged, or loose parts? Are the door panels dented or warped? Any separated or cracked areas?
A damaged panel or hardware that is causing an obstruction could be preventing the door from making its full upward travel. If you spot any damage, try lifting the door manually to isolate the problem area. The inspection can help narrow down the cause.
Check for Obstructions
With the garage door closed, visually inspect the surrounding driveway, walls, tracks, springs, and opener hardware. Look for anything that sticks out or is in the path of the door that it could be hitting against during operation.
Obstructions like ladders, landscape debris, trash cans, bikes, tree branches, or accumulated ice/snow can all stop the door prematurely. Clear any obstructions that are in the way of the door’s range of motion.
Test the Door Manually
After removing any obstructions, disengage the opener by pulling the manual release handle. This will allow you to manually lift the door without resistance from the opener.
Gently lift the door about halfway up and see if you can easily manually raise it fully open and closed. If the door opens fully with no problems manually, it points to an issue with the opener or counterbalance system rather than binding or obstructions.
Adjust the Garage Door Opener
If the door operates fine manually, check the opener force and limit adjustments next. The force setting determines the amount of power applied by the motor. Start by setting this to maximum.
The limit adjustment sets how far the opener will open the door before stopping. Loosen the opening limit adjustment screw and slide the limiter bar farther out so it will allow full upward travel of the door if needed.
Run the opener through a full cycle and see if adjusting these settings allows the opener motor to lift the door completely without stopping partway. Make sure to reset the force back to standard mode once it is opening properly.
Inspect Garage Door Springs
It’s very common for old, worn torsion springs to break, preventing the door from opening more than a few feet before stopping.
Check the condition of the torsion springs above the closed door. Closely inspect for any broken or separated coils, cracks, or torsion shaft displacement which are all indications of broken springs. If you suspect the springs are broken, contact a garage door professional to replace the springs before using the door further to prevent damage or injury.
Check Garage Door Tracks
With the door closed, examine the vertical tracks on both sides. Make sure the tracks are straight with no kinks or bends. The tracks should be clear of debris and the rollers inside should spin freely without resistance or hang ups.
Then open the door manually about halfway and check that the horizontal tracks are straight and level. Door track problems can cause binding that prevents smooth operation. If the tracks are crooked or have obstructions, try straightening or clearing them.
Test the Garage Door Sensor
Malfunctioning safety sensors are a common cause for a garage door only opening a few feet before reversing. The sensors are located near the bottom of the door opening.
Start by visually checking that both sensors are aligned correctly. The lenses should point directly at each other without any obstruction in between. Then test the door sensor by blocking one of the sensor beams while operating the door. The opener should stop and reverse direction when the beam is interrupted.
If the sensors are dirty, misaligned or non-responsive, clean and realign them. Replace batteries if needed. Fixing sensor issues can allow the door to open fully without automatically stopping and reversing.
When to Call a Garage Door Technician
If you’ve tried all of the DIY troubleshooting steps and your garage door still only opens partially before stopping, it’s probably time to call a professional. The following are signs you may need garage door repair services:
- Broken door springs – Only garage professionals have the tools and training needed to safely replace torsion springs. Attempting spring repairs without proper preparation can result in severe injuries.
- Bent track damage – Severely misaligned horizontal or vertical tracks will need professional adjustment and straightening services.
- Opener motor problems – Grinding noises from the opener or lack of lifting force indicate a worn or malfunctioning motor that needs repair by a garage door specialist.
- Remote issues – If the remote only opens the door partway, the opener’s logic board may be faulty and need replacement.
- Sensor malfunctions – Brand new safety sensors may be needed if cleaning and realigning fails to get misbehaving sensors working again.
For garage doors that only open partway, the most likely culprits involve broken springs, opener issues, bent tracks, or broken door components. A qualified garage door technician has the expertise to diagnose and fix these types of problems and ensure safe, reliable operation.
Ignoring a partially opening door can lead to further hardware damage and risks of injury. Contact a professional whenever DIY efforts fail to get a garage door opening fully again. Proper maintenance and repairs will get your door opening smoothly once more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why won’t my garage door open more than a foot?
This issue typically occurs when there is some kind of obstruction blocking the garage door from fully opening. Potential causes include objects in the door’s path like trash cans or bicycles, broken springs that can’t lift the door, incorrectly adjusted opener force or limit settings, bent garage door tracks, or a problem with the opener motor. Inspect for obstructions, check the door balance and opener adjustments, and test the door manually. If it opens more than a foot manually, then there is likely an issue with the opener or springs that will need adjustment or repair.
How do I reset my garage door?
Resetting a garage door opener can help resolve issues with remote connectivity, force settings, and limit adjustments. First, locate the learn button on the opener motor unit and press it until the learn indicator light flashes. Then press the button on your remote to sync it with the opener again. You can also use the learn button to clear out all previous remotes if needed. Check your owner’s manual for step-by-step reset instructions for your specific garage door opener brand and model.
How do you fix a stuck garage door halfway?
If your garage door is sticking or stopping halfway, check the door tracks for any debris buildup or obstructions preventing smooth operation. Clean out the tracks and lubricate the rollers and hinges. Inspect the torsion springs for any broken coils or damage, and test the door balance. You may need to adjust the force limits or travel on the automatic opener unit. Make sure the safety sensors are clear of obstructions and aligned properly. Severe jams may require professional repair of bent tracks or broken springs.
It can certainly be a headache dealing with a garage door that only opens part of the way before stopping. But there are several things you can troubleshoot yourself to try getting it working properly again. Inspect for obstructions, check force settings, adjust limits, examine tracks and hardware, and test the sensors. If self-repair efforts fail, rely on a professional garage door technician to safely inspect, diagnose, and fix any issues with the door, springs, opener, or sensors and get your garage door opening all the way once again.