How To Stop Your Garage Door From Opening On Its Own

When your garage door is opening on its own, it’s called “phantom operation”.  This is a normal issue with automatic garage doors because of the stress placed on garage doors with frequent usage during the day.

When any part of a garage door fails, it can affect the entire door.  The complex mechanism of automatic garage doors makes a single failure on the mechanism to cause the whole garage door to not work at all.

Fortunately, the causes of garage door “ghosting”, opening on its own, are usually fairly simple that you can troubleshoot without calling for a professional unless you really don’t have the time to do it.  Here are scenarios that can tell you why your door is opening by itself and possible ways you can deal with them:

    Something is Blocking the Door

When a descending garage door hits an object, the motor detects the resistance, and it automatically opens.  The same thing happens when the beam of light between the floor sensors is broken and your door will not shut.  

This is because of the sensors in the motor of your garage door and on each side of the opening, near the floor, and mounted on the tracks.  These sensors are safety features that open the door during the close cycle when they detect something blocking the door.

The safety sensors will cause the door to not shut completely or open back up on its own with the slightest detection of debris like accumulated leaves, snow, or ice, around the garage door.  

How to fix it:

  • Carefully examine the space around the door and the door tracks for any debris and remove them.  There is usually a blinking light on the opener or at the door operator button that will indicate a blockage at the door.
  • Check for misaligned tracks that are bent or bumped.
  • Check the condition of the wires at the sensors and the connections.
  • If there are no blockages, the sensor might need to be replaced.

    A Malfunctioning Garage Door Opener Button

Depending on the configuration of your door operator, you will most likely have a button that activates it.  A garage door opener button, that is similar to a doorbell can easily get dirty and stuck in the “pushed” position causing your garage door to open on its own.  

Sometimes, the wiring may also be compromised.  If there are bare spots anywhere along the run of the wiring insulation of your garage door opener button, it could short circuit and cause your door to open by itself.

How to fix it:

  • Clean the garage door opener button to make sure it’s free of debris to make the button unstuck. Include the connections in the housing in your cleaning.
  • Check the wiring around the opener button and replace it if there are bare spots.

    The Control Board and Transformer Have Malfunctioned

The control board and transformer of your garage door opener can go bad from a power surge of a lightning strike or from other electrical problems like a loose connection.  There may also be wirings on the board that are exposed and prone to damage, causing issues in the overall circuit.

How to fix it:

  • This may not be a project for most casual DIYers, but trained service technicians can do the fix faster and in a more precise manner.  
  • Check the voltage into and out of the circuit board and transformer to confirm which or if both have gone bad and need replacing.
  • Consider installing a surge protector where the operator plugs into the receptacle, for your safety.

    The Same Code With a Neighbor

If you have an old garage door operator, made before 1993, it is pretty unlikely, but it is possible that your neighbor can have a garage door opener remote that has the same code as yours.  

How to fix it:

  • Reprogram your garage door openers by repositioning the clips and see if it works.
  • Visit all your close neighbors and check if your garage door opens when they open theirs.

When You Can’t Fix It

If you’ve done all that you can in troubleshooting the possible issues of your phantom garage door operation and your garage door is still opening on its own, it’s time to call a qualified professional to fix the problem.