Garage Door Opener Remote Control Troubleshooting

For many of us, the most frequently used door in our home is the garage door. Some of us don’t even carry keys to the front door anymore. We often overlook our dependence on garage door openers until we pull into the driveway one day and realize that our remote control doesn’t work. Below you’ll find a few things to try before you panic and call that expensive service company.

If you are looking to fix your garage door, read this article here.

Check These Things First if Your Garage Remote is Not Working

  1. Make sure the power is on! Many people quickly resort to blaming the garage door opener as the cause of the problem without realizing that their home or neighborhood is experiencing a power outage. If you experience power outages often, it may be worth looking into a garage door opener that has a built-in battery backup. Certain Liftmaster, Chamberlain, and Craftsman branded garage door openers have this feature.
  2. If you have another remote control, try it next. If neither one of them work, the problem may not be related to the remote control.
  3. Try the wall switch. If the garage door opener works properly when you use the wall switch in your garage, proceed with the steps below to troubleshoot your remote control(s).
  4. If the wall switch also fails to open the garage door, consider calling your local service technician. The problem may be related to a defective control board in the opener or could be related to radio interference. Both of these problems require special tools to troubleshoot.

A Note on Range: The distance at which your remote control is effective can change from day to day. Current battery level, radio interference, and believe it or not, even the weather, can contribute to how far away you need to be from your garage door opener before the remote will work. Try getting out of your vehicle with the remote and get as close to the door as you can while pressing the button. If the problem turns out to be a simple range issue, try again tomorrow, things may change. If the problem doesn’t go away, follow the steps below.

Batteries are Important When Using Garage Remotes

Every garage remote has a radio transmitter in it, while the garage door opener has a matched radio receiver. In order for the remote to be able to open the garage door, the signal from the radio transmitter must be strong enough to reach the radio receiver in the garage. As if that weren’t enough, the radio receiver also has to be able to pick out the signal through all the other radio frequency noise in the area. The radio transmitter requires a certain amount of power to send its signal at full strength, which is the point at which the receiver has the best opportunity of “hearing” the signal.

Batteries lose their charge over time and use, and as this happens, the remote begins to lose the ability to transmit at full strength. A good example of this would be as follows: imagine you’re standing in a large room full of people talking. On the opposite side of the room is a radio you’re trying to listen to. As long as it is kept at full volume, you can hear it. At this point, someone in the room turns the radio volume down and it becomes difficult for you to hear it over all the people talking.

However, if you begin to walk closer to the radio, you start to be able to hear it again. Every time the volume is lowered, you have to walk closer to hear it, until the volume is finally turned all the way down and you can’t hear it no matter where you stand. In this scenario, the remaining battery power affects the remote’s potential signal strength, just like the volume on the radio. As battery power drops, you must move the radio receiver and the transmitter closer together so that the receiver can hear the transmitter over the other radio frequency noise in the immediate area.

You may ultimately find that you need to stand right underneath the garage door opener in order for the remote to work, then find that it no longer works at all when the battery completely dies. This would ultimately allude to the volume being turned all the way down in the example.

If you’ve stayed with it so far, remember one more thing: in the radio example above, you were in an open room filled with people talking. Now imagine the radio being two rooms down the hall, each filled with people talking. This is what the remote and receiver deal with when having to go through the walls of the car you’re driving, then across the open driveway, then through the garage door. So what was the point of all this? That good batteries are always needed for the best possible operation of your garage door remote.

  • Replace the battery first! Old batteries cause a large percentage of the problems experienced with garage door remotes. Many remotes use standard 9-volt batteries or round watch-style batteries that can often be found around the house.
  •  Even if the remote is relatively new, it is still important to try replacing the battery. Some remotes sit on store or warehouse shelves for a lot longer than the battery was intended to last.
  • To access the battery on some remotes, you may have to split the case in half. This is typically the case if you notice a small round indentation on the edges of the remote. (Example) The attached visor clip can usually be removed and works great for this. If the clip is not available, or the remote is not a visor-style remote, a dime or a penny usually works fine. Place the end of the visor clip or the coin into the indentation and twist. The case should snap apart. (Example)
  • Other remotes have a small sliding door to access the battery, similar to a TV remote control. (Example)
  • Lastly, a small percentage of remotes have one or more screws on the back that will need to be removed.

Reprogram the Remote

  • If the remote has a row of small switches inside (Example), make sure the position of the switches match the position of the switches on the back of the garage door opener.
  • If the remote is programmable, follow the programming steps found in the owner’s manual for the garage door opener.
  • If you cannot locate your owner’s manual, check the manufacturer’s website. Most garage door openers manufactured in the last five to10 years have manuals that can be found online.

Replace the Remote Control

If the above steps did not resolve your problem, you may need a new remote control.

  • Locate the model number and frequency on the back of the remote control. The frequency can be identified by a number followed by the letters “Mhz”. This number is generally between 280 and 433.
  • The replacement remote MUST be the same frequency as the original. Some manufacturers have kept model numbers the same over the years but have changed the frequencies. If the frequencies do not match, the new remote will not work.
  • Universal remotes are sometimes found at local hardware stores. Quite a few manufacturers have changed frequencies over the last five years. Be sure the frequency you need is supported by the universal remote.
  •  You can prevent a lot of headaches by buying an exact replacement. They can be found on many different websites.

Final Steps

If a brand new remote still fails to solve your problem, please consult your local licensed garage door service company. They should be able to check for faulty circuit boards and possible radio interference. Read also my review about the best garage door openers here.