Why Won’t My Garage Door Opener Close the Garage Door?

By Lyle Weischwill | Oct. 04, 2022 4:54 am PST

If the garage door reverses when closing after only traveling down an inch or so, something is probably blocking the beam between the two safety sensors at the bottom of the rails, or the sensors aren’t aligned.

Other issues can also prevent the door from closing when you activate the garage door opener. Problems with the garage door rails or rollers can restrict travel and prevent the opener from shutting the garage door. Down force settings may need to be adjusted on your garage door opener.

Closing the Garage Door When the Opener Doesn’t Work

Don’t panic when your garage door opener won’t close using the garage door opener while you’re heading to work or elsewhere. Just pull the emergency release cord and shut the garage door manually to keep your garage secure while you’re away.

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You can engage the lock on the garage door to keep the door shut while you’re away.

When you get back home, you can manually open the garage door and take the troubleshooting steps shown below to fix the garage door opener.

The blinking opener lights indicate that the safety sensors are likely blocked or out of alignment. Defective safety sensors or faulty sensor wiring also cause the opener lights to blink 10 times.

Follow the troubleshooting steps in this popular Sears PartsDirect YouTube video to find and fix the problem:

Here’s a summary of the troubleshooting steps shown in the video:

1. Look For an Obstruction Blocking the Safety Sensor Beam

The safety sensors use an invisible beam of infrared light to detect obstructions in the garage door’s path. The sensors won’t allow the door to close with their infrared beam blocked.

First, look for an item blocking the door and remove it.

Rays of sunlight can trick the garage door opener sensors into thinking there’s something in the door’s path, preventing the door from closing. Sun shields are an inexpensive solution. If the opener closes the door at night but not during the day, install sun shields over the safety sensors to eliminate sunlight interference.

2. Check Safety Sensor Alignment

If there’s nothing blocking the safety sensors and sunlight isn’t causing the problem, check their alignment. You may have bumped a sensor out of position.

Each safety sensor has an indicator light. The sending sensor, which has the yellow light, transmits the infrared beam to the receiving sensor, which has a green light.

The yellow sending sensor light should always be lit. You’ll see the receiving sensor’s green light lit when the sensors are aligned and unobstructed.

Make sure that the yellow light is on and then check the green light on the receiving sensor. If the green light is off, realign the safety sensors so the green light turns on then try closing the door.

3. Check For Error Codes On the Garage Door Opener Motor Unit

If one or both sensor lights won’t turn on, check the troubleshooting LED on the motor unit for an error code. The control inside the motor unit flashes the troubleshooting LED a number of times to indicate the cause of a failure. You may see one of these error codes related to the safety sensors on a common chain-drive garage door opener:

  • 1 blink–Sensor wires are disconnected
  • 2 blinks–Sensor wires are shorted
  • 4 blinks–Sensor eyes are slightly misaligned

A belt-drive garage door opener and some newer chain drive models flash the up and down arrows to display error codes. Here’s a list of error codes related to the sensors on these models:

  • Up 1 blink, Down 1 blink–Sensors are not installed or wires are broken
  • Up 1 blink, Down 2 blinks–Wires are shorted or reversed
  • Up 1 blink, Down 4 blinks–Misaligned or obstructed sensor
  • Up 4 blinks, Down 6 blinks–Sensors were temporarily obstructed or misaligned

If you see one of the first 2 codes on either type of opener, check the wiring between your motor unit and the sensors for visible damage. You won’t be able to check all the wiring if it’s routed through the walls to the sensors. Check the wires that you can see and repair any broken or damaged wiring. Our How to Repair Broken or Damaged Wires video shows you how.

Check the safety sensor wiring connections on the motor unit. A loose wiring connection could prevent the garage door opener from closing the door, causing an error code. Reconnect any loose wires.

4. Test the Safety Sensors Directly at the Motor Unit

If the above troubleshooting tips didn’t help you resolve the safety sensor problem, test the safety sensors directly at the motor unit using short strands of sensor wire.

This test will help you determine whether you have defective sensors or a wiring break that you didn’t see when visually inspecting the wires.

Check the sending sensor first. Follow these steps to connect the sending sensor directly to the motor unit using short strands of wire:

  1. Remove the sending safety sensor with the yellow light from its door rail bracket.
  2. Disconnect or cut the sensor wire about 1 foot from the sensor end.
  3. The sensor wire has 2 strands. Separate the strands and strip 1/2-inch of insulation from the end of each strand.
  4. Take the sending sensor to the motor unit.
  5. Disconnect the existing safety sensor wires from the motor unit.
  6. Connect the short, white sending safety sensor wire strand to the white motor unit terminal. Connect the other sending safety sensor wire strand to the gray terminal.
  7. Check the yellow light on the sending safety sensor.

If the yellow light doesn’t turn on, replace the safety sensors because they are defective. Here’s a video that shows you how: Replacing the Safety Sensors On a Garage Door Opener Video.

If the yellow light turns on, then you know that the sending sensor is okay.

Next, add the receiving sensor and its wiring to the test.

  1. Remove the receiving sensor from its door rail bracket and disconnect or cut the sensor wire about 1 foot from the sensor end.
  2. Separate the sensor wire strands and strip 1/2-inch of insulation from the end of each strand.
  3. Disconnect the sending sensor wires from the motor unit terminals and twist the white sending and receiving sensor wire strands together. Repeat the process to connect the white strands with black stripes together.
  4. Connect the white sensor wire strands to the white motor unit terminal and the white and black strands to the gray motor unit terminal.
  5. Hold the sensor eyes directly together and check the sensor lights.

If one or both of the sensor lights fail to turn on, replace the safety sensors because they’re defective.

If both lights turn on, press the remote button. If the door closes, then the safety sensors are okay. Because you’ve eliminated the sensors as the cause of your failure, there must be a break in the wiring between the motor unit and the garage door.

Replace the existing safety sensor wires between the garage door opener motor unit and the garage door.

Next, connect the new sensor wires to the motor unit terminals and the safety sensors.

Reconnect the sensors to the door rail bracket and align them properly so both sensor lights turn on.

Troubleshooting Your Garage Door When It Won’t Travel Smoothly

If the garage door doesn’t travel smoothly on its tracks when you pull the emergency release cord and close it manually, check for bent rails or damaged rollers.

See our Garage door won’t move: motor and travel troubleshooting video for more repair tips for your garage door when it isn’t traveling smoothly.

Adjust the Down Force Setting on Your Garage Door Opener

If your garage door stops and reverses directions on the way down, you may need to increase the down force setting on your garage door opener.

This YouTube video from Sears PartsDirect shows how to adjust the down force setting and test the new setting to make sure the door closes safely.

Adjusting the down force, resolving travel issues or correcting safety sensor problems should help you fix any problems with your garage door opener closing. If you’re not able to solve the garage door opener problem on your own, schedule service and we’ll send a Sears Tech to your home to fix the problem for you.

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