Look South

By Dave South

A wet rag fixes the garage door

Our garage door wouldn’t close. We’d hit the button, it would start closing, then stop, then roll the door back the little bit it had moved down, and the light on the opener would flash 10 times. I think it was trying to say something. After careful research over the next few weeks, a lot of thought, and a clean wet rag — we fixed it.

We could close the door manually by holding the button down on the house controller. Once the door was halfway down, we could release the button and the door would do the rest.

To start fixing the door opener, I needed to know more about it. I climbed up a ladder and wrote down the manufacturer and model number.

Do you realize how many different garage door openers there are? And did you know that for every model from a certain manufacturer, there may be dozens of variations?

I didn’t.

I finally found the user guide on the manufacturer’s website. It said that 10 flashes meant the electronic eye at the base of the door was misaligned. The eye is used to detect if a kid is standing in the way. The sender is on the right side of the garage door. The receiver is on the left. Both are set about six inches above the ground. When someone or something blocks that beam, the door will not close.

I checked the sender. It was working fine. I checked the receiver. Everything was okay.

I scratched my head.

Could the logic board on the door opener itself be bad? Was there a short in the cables? I couldn’t figure it out. I had visions of a repairman coming out, fixing it in one minute, and charging me a $100 for the deed. It was something I wanted to avoid.

So we left it alone, foolishly hoping it would fix itself.

Sometimes a problem takes time to digest. The answer doesn’t present itself immediately because the real root of the problem is not known.

One day, while working on other problems at work, I had a thought — what if the problem is that not enough light is reaching the receiver? What if the lenses are dirty?


I told Jen about my theory and immediately she grabbed a rag, ran it under the kitchen faucet, ran out to the door and cleaned the lenses. One click on the closer and it was fixed. No $100 bill needed.