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Garage Door Opener

March 13, 2016

When I had a new garage built a few years ago, I had a garage door opener installed.  The installer left me two manuals, one for the door itself and one for the opener.  It came with two remote controls.  I keep one in my car, and the other I keep by the kitchen window, which overlooks the garage.  Lately, the side door has been sticking, so that when I park my car in the garage, I operate the overhead door from inside the house.

About a month ago, we had a rather unpleasant day, with low temperatures, high winds, and blowing snow.  When I arrived home, I put my car in the garage and went inside where it was pleasantly warm.  I clicked on the remote at the kitchen window, but turned away without watching the garage door close.  A bit later, I happened to look out, and noticed that the door was still open.  Had I forgotten to close it, or was something else wrong?  I tried the remote again.  The door still didn’t close.  Now I knew I’d have to go outside to find out what was going on.

I put on my winter coat, and went out to the garage through blowing snow.  This time, I tried the button on the wall near the side door.  The door moved across the ceiling a bit and then reversed.  That was all it would do.  I tried several things to get it to move further, but nothing worked.  Finally, I pulled the red handle to disconnect the door from the closing mechanism, and closed it by hand.  I left it that way all night.  I thought I’d have to call a repair company to fix the door opener.

Tomorrow is always another day.  I thought I’d better check the manual before I called a repair company.  The manual described the exact symptoms I was seeing!  It said that this would happen before the sensors were installed at the bottom of the door, and also if they were out of alignment.  They pass an invisible light beam across the bottom of the opening to prevent the door from closing if anything was blocking the beam.  I knew that the sensors were installed; I’d seen them before.  Maybe they had gone out of alignment, although that seemed unlikely to me.  According to the manual, there was a yellow light on the transmitter that was always on, and a green light on the receiver when it was receiving a signal from the transmitter.  You aligned them if the green light had gone out.

I went out and took a look at the sensors.  The blowing snow had stopped by then.  The receiver was covered in snow.  It wasn’t a snow drift, though.  It had grains of snow all over it, including in the hole that the light beam passed through.  Could that be the problem?  I brushed off all the snow.  The green light came on.  It went off when I blocked the beam with my broom.  That looked good to me.  When I reconnected the door, and tried the button on the wall, the door opened and closed just like it used to.  That was all it took.  I didn’t need to call a repair company after all.

It was only a few days later that I noticed that the light on the end of the door opener was not working.  It certainly was working when I’d had that problem with the sensors.  Something else must have gone wrong.  It couldn’t be as simple as a burned out bulb, could it?  The easiest way for me to tell was to replace the bulb.  Like all garage door openers, it took a special incandescent bulb.  It had to cope with the vibration of the opener, and be able to turn on and off quickly.  The manual said that a CF or LED bulb was not recommended.  It had to be incandescent.  I had bought bulbs before that were made specifically for garage door openers, but I didn’t have any of those left.  I couldn’t find them in the stores, either.  I did find one that was made to withstand vibration, but intended for a fan or an opener.  That would have to do.  It was only a few dollars for two, anyway.  When I replaced the bulb in my garage door opener, the light came on immediately, and turned off a few minutes later.  That’s how it’s supposed to be.  Everything was back to normal.  How long will this bulb last?  I had no idea.

I learned a few things from this experience.  Don’t be too hasty in calling a repair service.  Take time to read the manual.  The solution may be easier than you think.


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