How to Adjust a Garage Door Opener: A Simple Guide To Save The Day

Picture this, you are in a hurry, probably late for a work meeting. You press the open button on your remote controller and the door opens at an extremely slow speed around 3 inches per second. 

Worst scenario, the garage door opens for a few inches and then immediately stops. It’s frustrating, right? 

Well, I don’t have to imagine it, it happened to me once. The garage door opened halfway and stopped. I couldn’t get my car out of the garage. 

After doing some inspection, I found out that the travel limit in my garage door opener wasn’t well set. I then sought to adjust it and it worked well for me. 

I wrote this article to highlight how to adjust a garage door opener when such an incident happens to you- the chances are high. Keep on reading to find out how to correctly set your garage door opener’s limits.

Garage door opener limit switches and how they work

Your garage door opener is made up of several components that work together to facilitate optimal functioning. Among these components is the limit switch

A travel limit switch is a switch in your garage door opener that controls the distance the garage door can travel while opening and closing. 

There is also a force adjustment switch that controls and regulates the amount of force to raise and lower the garage door. 

When these two switches are set incorrectly, or malfunction, the garage door may move erratically. It may fail to open, open halfway, or open and automatically reverse. 

Garage door opener switches are a safety measure. They prevent the door from accidentally closing down on someone. Your garage door opener may work without them. It is therefore important that you figure out how to adjust the switches yourself. 

Why your garage door opener might not be performing optimally 

Your garage door opener is an unsung hero. It does most of the heavy lifting and without it, life would be pretty hard. We’d surely miss the convenience and comfort brought by garage door openers.  

Garage door openers are a great invention. However, just like any other mechanical system, they sometimes fail. When this happens, you are forced to open your door manually. 

No one likes to manually open their garage door. Garage doors are often dirty and heavy. Some are extremely heavy and lifting them manually could pose a great risk to your back. 

What causes the garage door opener to malfunction?

Malfunctions in garage door openers can be attributed to either component failures or setting issues. 

One of the many components in the garage door opener might fail therefore causing a breakdown of the entire system. Fortunately, you can easily fix this by buying replacement parts and installing them. 

The second possible cause of garage door malfunction is an incorrect limit switch setting. To fix this, you need to adjust the switches and set them correctly.

Garage door openers have a similar working mechanism and system. You can easily adjust the switches on any garage door opener model by following the steps below. 

How to adjust the travel limit

The travel limit regulates the distance the door travels while opening and closing. If your garage door opens a little and then stops, it is probably a travel limit setting issue.  

Check the limit switches when your garage door fails to open and close fully, or if the door reverses itself after reaching the ground. 

The garage door opener has two limit switches – the up-limit and the down-limit. The up limit needs adjustment when the door opens halfway and then stops while the down limit is adjusted when the garage door doesn’t close entirely. 

To adjust the travel limit, you’ll first need to measure the gap when the door opens or closes halfway. Climb up to the garage door opener and locate the travel limit knob. 

Turn the up limit switch clockwise to increase the opening distance and anticlockwise to reduce the distance. Do the same for the down limit switch and adjust accordingly. 

How to adjust a garage door opener force limit

The force limit is also known and labeled as strength in several garage door opener models. It regulates the power released by the motor to open and close the door. 

Increasing the force limit increases the power applied to the whole system, making the door open quicker. A lower force limit on the other hand reduces the power applied to the system making it open up slower or fail to open at all. 

The garage opener has an open force knob and a close force knob. The open force knob regulates the force applied when the door is opening while the close force knob regulates the force applied when closing the door.   

Adjusting the force limit is a simple step that only involves turning one of the two knobs. 

Both knobs have directional stickers to guide you on what happens when you turn them on either side. Normally, a clockwise turn increases the force limit. It is however important that you confirm with the directional sticker attached to the garage door opener. 

Do not set the force limit too high as it could cause your door to break or get damaged by hitting the floor too hard. 

Test to see whether the adjustments are working and adjust further if need be.

Check out the video below on how to easily adjust the Force limit in a LiftMaster garage door opener.  

Check the travel module and logic board

Adjusting the limit switch might not solve your problem if the logic board and the travel module have worn out. 

The travel module in the garage door opener communicates the position of the door to the logic board. The logic board is the brain of the garage door opener. It receives signals and commands from sensors and remote controllers. 

Over time and with continuous usage, both the logic board and the travel module are bound to wear out. When this happens, the travel module can no longer communicate with the logic board causing door malfunction. 

Carry out frequent maintenance and check for parts that have malfunctioned. You can easily replace parts of the garage door opener rather than buying a new one. 

How to adjust auto reverse on garage door openers

Garage door openers are made with safety in mind. The auto-reverse feature is a safety feature that keeps you and your family safe while in the garage. 

This feature immediately stops the garage door and reverses it back to its initial position once it maps or encounters an obstacle on the door’s path. This safety feature prevents the garage door from shutting down on you, your pets or any other object in the garage space.

An incorrectly adjusted garage door opener can cause detrimental damage to the garage door opener, the door or worse – a person or pet. To adjust the auto-reverse safety feature, you must first set the travel limit and force limit correctly. 

The auto-reverse safety feature highly depends on safety sensors mounted on the door poles. The sensors must be clean and well-aligned. 

Check the safety sensors and ensure they are powered up and aligned. Ensure the emitter and receiver parts of the sensors are on the same level and well aligned. 

The LED on the emitter maintains a solid green light when the sensors are properly aligned and blinks when they are slightly misaligned. 

Make sure the photo-eye is clean and there’s no dust or debris obstructing it. Regularly clean the photo-eye lens as it is easily covered with dust and debris. Inspect and replace sensors that might have malfunctioned.  

Test the automatic reversal feature by placing a small log of wood on the tracks of the door. The door should automatically bounce back upon mapping or encountering the log.

After all is done…

Adjusting the limit switch is an iterative process with several trial-and-error attempts. You’ll have to adjust and test the limits severally to fine-tune the controls correctly. 

After adjusting the limit switch to a satisfactory level, run the garage door one complete cycle. Open and close it completely to ensure you’ve correctly done the settings. 

Ensure you also test the automatic reversal safety feature. Your garage door should automatically reverse upon encountering obstructions along its path. This is a safety feature that prevents the door from accidentally shutting down on you and your pets.  

Test the automatic reversal feature by placing a small log of wood on the tracks of the door. The door should automatically bounce back upon mapping or encountering the log. 

How do I prolong the lifespan of my garage door opener?

Garage door openers do fail sometimes. After all, they are just like any other mechanical system. 

A simple adjustment of the limit switch might be your only problem at the moment, but more problems are bound to come along. 

Garage door openers typically last for 10 to 12 years. However, with good maintenance and some other best practices, you can prolong the lifespan of your garage door opener by up to 18 years. 

Here are some of the measures to prolong the lifespan of your garage door opener:

Ensure proper installation and configuration 

One of the most common reasons for garage door opener failure originates from improper installation. Garage door openers are easy systems to install – but you still may get it wrong. 

Ensure that the garage door opener is correctly installed and all components are correctly fitted. Ensure that all the settings are done right and every configuration is as recommended by the manufacturer. 

Always refer to the manual that comes with the garage door opener. This guides you through the installation process and guides you on how to use the opener just as the manufacturer intended.  

If the installation and configuration process seems complicated, you might try seeking the services of a garage door professional. 

Frequent maintenance

Maintenance can easily prolong the lifespan of your garage door opener by 3 to 6 years. With proper maintenance, your garage door opener can last for up to 18 to 20 years. 

Maintenance should be done frequently. Ensure to thoroughly inspect your system from time to time. Check for sensors that might have malfunctioned, broken springs, and any other components that don’t work as they should. Ensure you replace components that have malfunctioned.  

Frequent lubrication is very essential for your system. It reduces system wear and tear therefore prolonging system’s lifespan. Ensure to use the right lubricant for your garage door opener as well. 

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many questions about how to adjust a garage door opener. Here are some of the frequently asked questions.

Q: How long do garage door openers last?

A garage door opener typically lasts 12 to 15 years. However, with a frequent maintenance routine, your garage door can easily last up to 20 years. 

Q: How fast should the garage door open?

The average speed of a garage door opener is 7 inches per second. Your garage door should therefore move about 7 inches every second. It normally takes about 12 seconds to completely open the door. 

Q: Why does my garage door open a little and then stop?

Your garage door opens a little and then stops when the travel limit is inaccurately set. Another reason could be obstruction along the rails of the door. The garage door is programmed to immediately stop when it encounters objects along its path. 

Q: What to do when my garage door opens then reverses

Your garage door is set to automatically reverse when there are obstructions along its tracks. Check to ensure that there are no obstructions along the path of the door. Also, ensure that the photo eye sensor is functional and aligned. 

Q: Why does my garage door close then open?

The garage door is programmed to travel a certain distance while opening and closing. If your garage door closes before covering that distance, it senses that something is wrong and therefore reopens. Adjust the down travel limit switch to sort this issue. 

Wrap Up

The garage door is the largest opening and entry to your home. It is designed to keep you, your family, and your possessions safe. Having it working perfectly guarantees you peace of mind. 

However, sometimes your garage door system fails. This failure includes erratic operations such as opening halfway, opening, and immediately reversing or failing to open at all.  

This may be the result of settings that are not correct. Adjusting multiple garage door opener settings can help keep your opener performing well. 

So how do you adjust a garage door opener? All you need to do is climb up to the garage door opener and turn a few knobs. You however need to know the right knobs to turn. 

If adjusting the knobs doesn’t work, the problem might be beyond a setting issue. Consider seeking the services of a garage doors professional in such a situation. 

Well, that’s it. I hope this article will help you figure out how to adjust a garage door opener so that you don’t get locked out of your garage. Seek the services of a professional if adjusting the opener yourself seems like a complicated task.  

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I'm a construction management expert, a former hotelier, blogger and the founder of this website. My goal is to teach you how to make your garage more functional, fun and homely when you need it to be. Enjoy learning.

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