Why Your Garage Door Reverses When Closing? How to Fix?

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Having your garage door reverse direction when trying to close it can be a frustrating issue. Sometimes the cause is obvious, like an obstruction blocking the door’s path. Other times, the problem is more subtle and requires a bit of troubleshooting to pinpoint the cause. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the typical reasons why garage doors reverse course while closing and the steps you can take as a homeowner to correct the problem.

Garage Door Reverses When Closing -  Photo of a garage door midway in the process of closing, showing a sudden stop or reversal. The environment should be well-lit, and the garage should

The Basic Components of A Garage Door

To understand what may cause your garage door to reverse, it helps to first review the basic components that allow a garage door to open and close:

Understanding the Door And Opener

The garage door itself consists of multiple horizontal sections connected by hinges that allow the door to roll up and down along a track on either side. The door sections connect to a bracket on each side that attaches to the vertical track.

The garage door opener is the motorized mechanism that automates the opening and closing of the door. The opener features a motor that turns a drive and chain or belt system that connects to a trolley along the horizontal track. The trolley connects to the door bracket and pulls the door up or pushes it down when the opener is activated.

The opener has an electronic logic board that controls the motor and various safety mechanisms, which we’ll discuss shortly. The logic board can be programmed with settings for travel limits, auto-reverse sensitivity, and more.

Common Issues with Garage Door Openers

Some of the most common problems with garage door openers include:

  • Obstructions triggering the safety sensors – Objects breaking the electronic eyes beam can cause the door to reverse.
  • Misaligned tracks – If the door is binding in the tracks, this can overload the motor and activate the auto-reverse.
  • Broken springs – Weak or broken springs make the door unbalanced, which can also lead to reversing.
  • Wall switch miswiring – Incorrect wiring between the wall button and logic board can result in unexpected reversing.
  • Limit switch problems – Adjustments needed if the travel limits that control how far the door opens or closes are off.
  • Sensitivity issues – Auto-reverse sensitivity may need adjustment if the door is reversing unexpectedly.

Many issues with garage door openers can be corrected with minor adjustments or repairs. But troubleshooting is often required to properly diagnose the specific reason for the unwanted reversing of the door.

Reasons Why A Garage Door May Reverse

There are a handful of typical reasons why a garage door may suddenly reverse direction while trying to close:

  • Safety sensors triggered – Most garage door openers have an electronic eye safety sensor system near the floor that detects obstructions and will cause the door to reverse direction if something breaks the beam between the sensors.
  • Auto-reverse mechanism activated – Garage door openers have a force-sensing auto-reverse function that will quickly stop then reverse the door if the motor is overloading due to an obstruction, improperly balanced door, or other factor.
  • Improperly set travel limits – The electronic logic board maintains travel limit settings that control how far the door goes up and down. If these become misadjusted, it can cause unexpected reversing.
  • Problems with wall switch or remote – Issues with the handheld remote, wall switch, or wires between these components and the logic board can lead to reversing.
  • Broken door springs – Weak or broken torsion springs can prevent the door from moving smoothly, leading the opener to trigger a reversal.
  • Safety sensors misaligned – If the electronic eyes are knocked out of alignment, the beam can be broken, fooling the opener into thinking there’s an obstruction.

While reversing is often just an annoyance for homeowners, it can also be a helpful warning sign of issues needing attention before a more serious failure or safety concern arises. Paying attention when a garage door reverses and making necessary corrections can prevent future problems and keep your system operating properly for years.

Troubleshooting Steps to Fix the Issue

If your garage door has started reversing while trying to close, here are some helpful troubleshooting steps you can take to diagnose and fix the issue:

Checking for Obstructions in the Door’s Path

The most obvious reason a garage door reverses when closing is because something is blocking its path. As a first step, with the garage door open, take a few minutes to survey the door’s travel path. Look to see if there are any objects, structures, or debris that interfere with the door closing fully.

Pay particular attention to the gaps on either side of the door as well as the sections where the vertical tracks meet the horizontal tracks. These are prime locations for obstructions. Remove anything that encroaches on the door’s range of motion in either direction.

After checking for obstructions, run the door through a few open and close cycles. Most of the time, this alone will solve instances of unexpected reversing since something was obstructing the door.

Testing the Safety Sensors

Garage door openers have what is known as a safety reverse system that includes sensors installed near the floor on both sides of the door opening. These sensors project an invisible infrared light beam across the doorway. If something breaks the beam while the door is closing, it signals the opener to stop and reverse direction immediately.

Safety sensors help prevent serious injury or damage if a person, pet, bike, toolbox or other object were to be caught under the closing door. However, misaligned sensors that mistakenly break the beam can also cause the door to reverse unnecessarily.

To test the sensors, close the garage door using either the wall-mounted button or remote control. As the door is closing, wave your hand in front of one of the sensors. The door should stop and reverse direction. Repeat on the other side.

If the door continues closing without reversing, the sensors are misaligned or non-functional. They will need to be adjusted or replaced. Refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions on properly aligning your safety sensors.

Examining the Logic Board

The logic board is the “brains” of your garage door opener system. It controls the motor as well as processes signals from the safety sensors, wall switch/remote, and limit switches. Problems with the logic board circuits or settings can manifest as unexpected reversing of the door.

If adjusting the safety sensors fails to solve your reverse closing issues, inspect the logic board for any loose wires, damage, or signs of wear. Refer to your opener manual to check for diagnostic flashing light patterns on the board that may point to issues.

Try resetting the board by disconnecting the opener power for 30 seconds. This can clear any faulty settings causing reversing. The logic board may also need firmware updates from the manufacturer to fix bugs.

For starters, double check your owner’s manual to make sure you have the correct logic board settings dialed in for your particular garage door, including travel limits and force adjustment. Programming errors are sometimes the culprit for inexplicable reversing.

When to Seek Professional Garage Door Service

Photo of a professional garage door technician wearing safety gear, inspecting a garage door's components with a flashlight. The environment suggests

While DIY troubleshooting can resolve many common issues causing garage doors to reverse, there are times when it’s best to contact a professional garage door company:

Signs That Indicate the Need for Professional Help

  • The door reverses every time it’s operated, even with no obstructions present.
  • Adjusting sensors, opener settings and general troubleshooting fails to solve the problem.
  • The door makes grinding noises or binds/sticks while opening or closing.
  • Significant sagging or damage to the door panels.
  • Frayed, broken or loose cables, springs and pulleys.

Potential Repairs or Replacements That Might Be Necessary

Depending on the age and condition of your system, a reversing garage door may require new roller assemblies, cables, bearings, pulleys, springs, sensors or an opener logic board. Severely warped or damaged door panels may need professional straightening or replacement.

If the opener motor itself is worn out, repair technicians can determine if just the motor needs replacement or the entire opener unit. Installing a new garage door opener can be a worthwhile upgrade for older openers with reversing issues.

Preventive Maintenance to Keep Your Garage Door in Good Working Condition

While periodic troubleshooting of specific issues is needed at times, following regular preventive maintenance procedures for your garage door is the best way to prevent operational problems like reversing before they arise.

Regular Lubrication of Moving Parts

Lubricating the door’s rollers, hinges, pulleys and bearings allows smooth, low-friction operation that avoids binding and sticking. Lightly lubricate these moving components every 3-6 months using white lithium grease or lubricant spray designed for garage doors.

Checking and Adjusting the Garage Door Springs

Torsion and extension springs on garage doors are under high tension and will weaken and break over time through daily use. Have the door springs inspected and adjusted by a professional technician at least once a year or immediately if you suspect damage. Properly tensioned springs are crucial to balancing the door for smooth reversing-free operation.

Ensuring the Limit Switch is Properly Aligned

The limit switch stops the opener travel at the fully open and fully closed door positions. Sometimes vibration can knock this switch out of adjustment. Double check that open/closed limits are set properly per the owner’s manual to avoid unintended reversing from over-travel.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my garage door drop when I close it?

There are a few possible reasons why your garage door may drop or fall when trying to close it:

  • Worn or broken extension springs – Extension springs provide lifting force to counterbalance the door’s weight. If they become too weak or break, the door can fall rapidly.
  • Broken cables – The cables running through the springs can snap from fatigue. This will cause the door to fall since the cables support its weight.
  • Unbalanced door – If the door is improperly balanced, the opener may not be able to lift it smoothly. This can cause the door to abruptly drop when closing.
  • Misaligned tracks – Bent or misaligned tracks can bind the rollers, causing the door to stick and fall when closing.
  • Malfunctioning opener – Issues with the opener motor, gear assembly or electronics can lead to a lack of lifting force, resulting in the door dropping.

What makes a garage door opener reverse?

There are several safety mechanisms that will trigger a garage door opener to reverse direction while closing:

  • Obstruction detection – Force sensors detect abnormally high resistance to closing, signaling the opener to reverse.
  • Safety eye sensors – An infrared beam between sensors is broken by an obstruction, triggering immediate reversal.
  • Travel limits – Exceeding the pre-set fully open or closed positions initiates reversal.
  • Overload protection – Internal circuits detect motor overheating from an imbalance or jam and reverse.
  • Automatic timer – Some openers will reverse automatically after 30 seconds or if there’s no change to door position.

When should a garage door reverse?

Ideally, garage door openers should only reverse direction when closing if:

  • An object or person obstructs the door – This could damage or injure what’s obstructing.
  • The door exceeds its normal range of travel – Going too far up or down can damage the opener.
  • The safety sensor beam is broken – This means something is in the door’s path.
  • The motor is overloading – Reversing prevents opener overheating or damage.

Reversing at other times usually indicates a problem needing repair, such as a misalignment, unbalanced door or faulty sensor. Troubleshooting can determine the cause.

Conclusion

Having your garage door suddenly stop and reverse direction when closing can definitely be an annoyance. In some cases, it may simply be an object obstructing the door’s path that needs to be removed. But reversing issues can also be an early sign of opener problems that will likely get worse if left unattended.

Following the troubleshooting tips provided above to inspect your door, test sensors, check opener settings and electronics, and verify proper operation of all moving parts can help pinpoint the source of the problem. Fixing it promptly improves convenience and prevents expensive damage down the road.

If the reversing persists after basic troubleshooting, don’t hesitate to call in a professional garage door service company. Their expertise can accurately diagnose issues with safety sensors, misaligned tracks, worn opener parts and more. They have the know-how to get your garage door operating safely and reliably once again. Investing in regular professional maintenance is smart prevention to avoid having your door reverse unnecessarily.

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