Automatic Garage door opener problem

So we moved into this house 4 years ago and although the garage door opener has never been stellar, it has deteriorated to the point where I have to push the button 5-10 times in order to get the door to open all of the way and 3-6 times to have it close.

It is a Stanley and probably >20 years old. There is no obstacle detector at the bottom of the door but it does stop if the door pushes onto anything like a garbage can, etc. The door is incredibly light and should really be much of a challenge to the opener- my 7 year old can lift the door easily. There are just the two remote controls as well as a “doorbell” switch to open it from the inside and a key switch for the outside. All of the remotes, doorbell, and key options have the similar problem- they start when pushed and go for some short time before stopping. The fact that it closes better than opens suggests that it is a resistance problem, I lubricated the middle rail as well as oiling the wheels/bearings on the outside but this has had no improvement and the steady decline (or increase in needed number of button pushes) continues. Lubricating the motor doesn’t seem easy or obvious with no indication of “add oil hear”.

So any ideas about what may be going wrong or any suggestions before I just plunk down the money for a new opener?

Mine was the same age and symptoms. I messed with rollers and track alignment. I also adjusted the setting and things only got worse. Bite the bullet and replace it. Sears has good half horse power model for less than $200. Wish I had done it sooner.

Unfortunately I think that is where I think I am going to end up… amusingly the two times I’ve used it since I posted, it has worked perfectly. So I think the fact that it is so random/erratic does not bode well for its longevity.

On most openers there are settings for “opening force” and “closing force”. They may be located on the top or bottom of the drive unit. Don’t confuse these with the settings for up and down travel distance. If the force settings are not right the unit thinks there’s an obstruction and stops. That sounds like it may be your issue.

If you disconnect the opener from the door and lift the door to waist height and let go, it should stay right there and not drop nor go up. If it drops your springs are weak or too slack. If it goes up, too tight.

A new opener with the safety sensors might be a good idea anyway.

We had exactly this issue and it turned out the tracks had gotten out of alignment. Sometimes it worked fine and it tended to get worse in cold weather. The service call was a lot less than a new opener and it’s been working fine ever since.

Yea, I say call an overhead door company and schedule a service call. They see this stuff every day and can diagnose it in a minute. Even if you get a new opener there is still the installation problem.

The opener for my garage door was fixed in about a minute by the technician who was installing a new one in the next apartment over. So yes, you might be able to fix it for much less than a new one would cost.

Expanding on this… If you disconnect the door from the opener, the door needs to open and close easily with human power. Any binding (bent tracks, bent rollers, etc., or hard to open and all too eager to slam shut (weak or broken springs) needs to be fixed before trying to force an opener to overcome the problem.

On re-read… A seven year old kid can easily open the door? New openers are not expensive or outrageously difficult to install.

How does it know when to stop?

Are there physical switches along it’s track? Old units had limit switches. Newer units are programmed for run time - does it run for the same number of seconds with each button push?

You may have limit switches shorting.

If there are no switches, do you (slim chance here) still have the programming instructions?
Can you get them online?

When you clear its memory, it will have you push the button to close/open and will run until you tell it to stop, whereupon you tell it to remember that run.
At least try to re-program it before scrapping it.

A lot of good information and questions:
Upon disconnection from the chain, the door smoothly travels up and down by hand (no binding or significant rattling). I don’t know how it senses down or up- this thing is fairly old and as far as adjustments, the only thing I can find on it are two turn knobs: one that says up and the other that says down. I imagine they are for the distance measurement settings. There does not seem to be any sort of timing device or strategy and the fact that all of the switches behave similarly suggests to me that wiring is probably not the issue.

So time for a new opener with all of the modern safety features as the original inspection noted.


My garage door opener had similar issues. It started getting very jerky going up and down and finally wouldn’t open or close all the way as the binding got to be too much.

Knew the door and track were okay so figured had to be something in the motor assembly.

When I took the case off, (4 screws if I recall) could see the plastic grindings from the gears having shredded.

Ordered a repair kit from the manufacturer (Chamberlain in this case) for about $30. Took about 2-3 hours as you have to drop the motor assembly from the track to work on it. No special tools needed.

That was about 3 years ago and door still works great.

The garage door opener that came with our new house was crap.
It was really loud from day one - sounded like a jumbo jet landing in the garage every time it opened. After about 5 years, the spring snapped and I couldn’t get the cars out of the garage. Not a happy day and had to call work and let them know my cars were being held hostage. Seriously - crow bar and help of neighbors could not get that damned door to open a crack!

A new one isn’t wildly expensive (got ours at Home Depot) and they are much better now in terms of design and warranty. Plus, much quieter!

We recently had a problem but I was smart enough to think about new batteries for the remotes - that solved the problem real quick!