What Causes Phantom Garage Door Operation?

Waking up or coming home to a wide-open garage door is never a good feeling. After all, you're supposed to be in control of how your garage door opener works. Unfortunately, phantom garage door operation is real and it can happen for a variety of reasons. The following explains how phantom garage door operation can occur and what you can do to stop it from happening.

Electrical Malfunction

Electric malfunctions are among the most common causes of phantom garage door operation. In most cases, the malfunction is often caused by a short somewhere within the garage door opener's wiring. Malfunctions caused by wiring shorts can happen if the wiring is pinched, stripped, corroded or otherwise physically damaged. Shorts can also occur in the opener's circuit board, especially if the board was exposed to the elements and allowed to corrode. It's a good idea to inspect your garage door opener's wiring for any signs of damage or wear and make repairs or replacements as needed.

An electrical surge caused by lightning storms can also cause strange behavior in a garage door opener. Electromagnetic pulses generated by an indirect strike can short out portions of the garage door opener's circuit board, causing erratic operation. Using a surge protector can help prevent most lightning-related malfunctions from occurring.

Neighbors with Similar Garage Door Openers

There's also a chance that your garage door opener can be activated accidentally by a neighbor with the same brand and model of garage door opener. This is especially common with older units and it has a lot to do with the transmitters they use.

Older garage door opener models often rely on transmitters whose codes are controlled via dip switches. Since there are only a limited number of dip switches available, the potential pool of code combinations generated is also limited. This increases the possibility of two garage door openers sharing the same code, meaning your neighbor can open your garage door and possibly vice-versa.

These days, modern garage door openers rely on "rolling code" technology that generates millions of unique code combinations, making the possibility of your neighbor opening your garage door by mistake a relatively rare one. If you own an older garage door opener, then now is a good time to consider replacing it with something a bit more up-to-date.

Accidental Remote Use

Keeping your garage door opener remote in your pocket or tossing it in a junk drawer sounds convenient, but it can put your garage door at risk of phantom operation. In many cases, you can accidentally trigger the door into action by sitting on the remote or tossing other and sometimes heavier objects into an already-full junk drawer.

The best way to prevent accidental remote use is to keep your remote in a safe place where accidental button presses can be avoided.

Dying Batteries

Believe it or not, a garage door opener remote that's low on battery power can send random signals to your opener by accident. If you've ruled out other causes so far, you can try replacing the battery with a brand-new one. The vast majority of remotes use a 3-volt 2032 coin-cell battery, although there are some that use common AA-size or AAA-size batteries.

Other Equipment That's in Use

If you live near a construction site or a military base, then chances are your garage door opener is being triggered by other equipment that's operating on the same frequency as your garage door opener remote. Isolating the offending equipment can be a next-to-impossible task, in many cases, which is why it's usually best to disable the remote function on the opener until the interference passes or replace the garage door opener with a more robust unit.

If you need help figuring out what's causing your phantom garage door operation, contact a company like Crawford Door Company.