Garage Door Won’t Close When Cold: Causes & Fixes

Cold weather can wreak havoc with your garage door, causing malfunctions that may leave you stranded inside or stuck with a door that won’t close.

We’ve found the most common reasons why your garage door won’t close when cold. After we discuss each cause, we will list our recommendations on how to fix the issue. Never deal with a malfunctioning garage door again by knowing the common problems and how to prevent or reverse them. 

Condensation

One of the most common causes of a garage door that won’t close during the wintertime is condensation on the safety sensors. 

If your garage door refuses to close when you push your remote control or the wired switch mounted to your wall, your first check should be the safety sensors. 

These sensors mount on both sides of the door, located a few inches above floor level. When it’s cold, these sensors tend to fog up, which can then confuse the sensor into thinking there’s an obstruction under the door so it won’t close.

Wiping the condensation away with a soft cloth and a mild streak-free cleaner should be all it takes to make your sensors work properly again. 

Expansion/Contraction of the Metal

Metal reacts to temperature changes, expanding when it’s hot and contracting when it’s cold. This expansion and contraction can cause misalignment of the sensors over time.

When your sensors are out of alignment, they cannot correctly determine when there is an obstruction versus when there isn’t. So they frequently fail to close. 

Examine your sensors to see their positioning. They should point directly at each other so that the beams can hit the sensors. Also, check the exterior LED. If they are blinking, it means the sensor needs realignment. 

To determine if your sensors are correctly aligned, turn your phone camera on and hold it in front of your sensor to see if the red infrared laser hits the center. Repeat this process for both sensors and adjust the screw at the bracket if there’s misalignment.

Sensor Light has Dimmed

Sometimes, the problem is that the sensor light has dimmed too low that it can’t reach across the span of your door to connect to the other sensor. 

While holding your phone in front of the sensors, pay attention to the laser light intensity. If it’s dim or barely any light, it may be time to replace the LED emitter or replace the whole sensor entirely. 

Sensor Needs to Be Reset

Sometimes, an undetermined issue may occur that causes a malfunction with the sensors. If all else fails and you can’t figure out the problem, attempt resetting your sensors. 

Many times, a hard reset can put things back in order. To form a hard reset, unplug the door opener, wait a few seconds (10 to 30) and then plug it back up. 

Once restarted, test your garage door again to see if it will now close. If not, continue with our diagnostics. If so, bookmark this article for future use. You never know when your garage door will quit.

Frozen Garage Door Lubricant

Garage doors need lubrication to work properly. But many times, homeowners or door installers use the wrong lubricant, which doesn’t stand up well to cold weather. 

And lubrication can also start breaking down over time, so if it’s been a while (if ever) since you’ve lubed your garage doors, you may notice closing problems once it gets cold outside.

There is lube made just for garage doors, but you could also use a silicone-based lubricant spray. Both of these options hold up well during cold or hot seasons. 

Hardened or Not Enough Grease

Many garage doors use grease as added lubrication to help the doors glide along the tracks. But when the weather gets cold, it can cause grease to congeal.

When grease congeals, it can cause the garage door to get stuck. Add a space heater or other heat source to your garage so the lubricant stays soft and pliable. 

If there’s no grease, you’ll face major issues with your garage door raising and closing. When the temperatures are cold, an ungreased garage door will malfunction more than in warm weather. Adding grease to your bearings can reverse the issues with your garage door.

Warped or Misaligned Tracks

When metal tracks contract and swell from temperature changes, it can sometimes cause the tracks to become warped or misaligned. 

Warped and misaligned tracks can cause your garage door to halt when opening or closing, getting stuck at a specific point. A physical examination of your tracks could show signs of damage. 

You may be able to realign your track yourself, but you may have to replace the whole thing if there is a significant warp. For many people, this job will need the expertise of a professional installer. 

Frozen Door Threshold

A common cause of a garage door that won’t close or open during cold weather is a frozen threshold. This event happens when the ground is wet, usually from rain, and it freezes. 

If you believe that your garage door is stuck due to being frozen, it’s important not to try opening it until you’ve cleared the area. 

Start by examining the weather stripping. If it’s covered with ice, you can cause rips if you try to force the door open. From the inside of your garage, use a piece of wood and a hammer to knock along the bottom. This will break the ice-free from the bottom so the door can open. 

Drive Problems

Garage doors have electric motors that power the components to make your door open and close. While these motors are pretty reliable and rarely fail, some parts tend to wear out. 

Chain-driven systems often have problems with broken gears, as these are plastic. However, these are usually easy to replace. 

Screw-driven openers feature a carriage that moves along a screw shaft via gears and teeth. These parts commonly break and require replacing. And finally, belt-driven motors frequently experience problems with pulleys, belts, and other gears. 

Remote

Many people fail to realize that their garage door opener runs on batteries. When these run out of power, your garage door may not close or open when you push the button. 

Leaving your controller attached to the sun visor can cause condensation on the battery contacts due to humidity buildup. 

Remove the cover from your remote and wipe the contacts dry. If this doesn’t make the remote operate properly, change out the batteries and try again.

Safety System

Garage doors that close halfway then start to roll back up automatically, accompanied by flashing lights, which means something is causing the safety system to malfunction.

These symptoms may be a sign of interference with the safety system sensors that keep the doors operating safely. 

Things to check are the infrared sensors, as we explained in #2. Your sensors should have solid green lights that don’t blink. Clean your lenses and ensure all the wires are attached.

Close your door by holding down the close button and notice where the door seems to catch and roll back up. Examine this area to see if you notice signs of damage or obstruction.

Limit Switch

Limit switches control when the door stops opening or closing. When the limit isn’t correctly set to close, it can cause the opener to continue putting pressure on the door, even after it’s closed. 

This excess pressure can confuse the safety sensors and cause the door to change directions and reopen automatically. 

Some motors have limit switches that adjust with a screw or knob on the engine. Chain-driven doors have lug switches attached to the chain. To fix the limit issue, you move the lug, which adjusts the closing allowance. 

Doors Without Openers

Some garage doors may not have an automatic opener, meaning you have to get out and do the lifting and closing manually. 

Since there’s no motor operating the door, the most common cause of a malfunction will be an obstructed track or neglect. 

You may be dealing with a broken hinge or a roller missing. Both of these issues should be checked by an expert garage repair technician. 

Lift Mechanism

Your garage door has mechanisms that help it open and close. Cold weather can cause malfunctions with these pieces. 

To determine if there’s an issue with the lift parts, start by disconnecting your door from the lift mechanism so you can open the door manually. There should be a cord with a handle that attaches to the lift. Pulling this cord should disengage the door. 

Attempt to lift the door while it’s unhooked. It should roll up without much difficulty, despite the heavyweight. If the door catches, feels heavy, or won’t budge, you may be dealing with a broken lift mechanism. Check the parts listed below.

Worn or Broken Springs

Garage doors have springs made of metal, prone to cracking and breaking when the weather gets cold. Unfortunately, a broken garage spring usually requires a professional to repair.

DIY’ing is possible, although it can be challenging to find the parts or helpful guides to walk you through the process. It’s not a job for the inexperienced.

When your garage door doesn’t close due to a broken spring, there is nothing else you can do until the spring gets replaced. 

Icing

When there are frigid temperatures outside, but your garage stays warm inside, it can build condensation around the door. 

This condensation, or moisture, can freeze in between your garage door panels, causing it to stick.

Applying mild direct heat can help thaw the ice so the door can resume normal function. A hair dryer works in a pinch, although it may take a bit of time to defrost everything enough to work correctly. 

Preventive Maintenance

Garage doors and their mechanisms require regular maintenance to ensure they stay in good operating condition. Do periodic checks of pulleys, lift components, and tracks clean and free of debris. Apply lubrication to all gears twice a year (minimal) to keep things working right.

Conclusion

Cold weather can cause multiple complications with your garage door, including keeping it from closing correctly. We’ve found the most common reasons why a garage door won’t close in the cold and simple instructions for fixing these issues.