Sears 1/3 HP Garage Door Opener - will not open door beyond a foot

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Old 02-16-12, 09:18 AM
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Sears 1/3 HP Garage Door Opener - will not open door beyond a foot

Hi,

I began getting this problem recently. The Opener is probably 30 years old, but has been working without an issue until now.

When I open the garage door (#1), the door rises may be a foot off the ground and then stops. If I hit the switch again, it closes. I am able to disengage the pull arm and open and close the door.

I initially thought that something was obstructing the rollers, so I cleaned and sprayed wd-40 on all the rollers. I also cleaned and sprayed where the pull arm connects to the trolley as well as the chain. No change.

I then disengaged the pull arm, and tried opening the garage door to see if the trolley moves as normal. It does not. It stops at the same place as when the garage door is engaged.

I wanted to check if the trolley not moving when disengaged was normal. To verify this, I disengaged my working garage door (#2) (which I think is an identical model and age) and hit its switch. The trolley moved fine as if it was opening the door, but I saw smoke coming out of the opener. I reengaged the trolley, and after allowing a couple of hours, tried this door again. It opens and closes fine. (My wife suspects the door #1 had a similar problem, she could smell the smoke, but we did not see any smoke with that one.)

My questions:

1. What would you suggest I do to diagnose the problem with door #1?
2. What do you think might be happening inside door #2's opener?

Thanks,
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Old 02-16-12, 10:11 AM
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Well, most likely the capacitors have gone bad...but with an opener that old the motors could have failed. You might also take the covers off and look for plastic "snow" inside. Personally I'd get new units. The ones you have don't have any of the safety features that are now standard.

One thing....never ever spray WD40 or similar on your tracks or rollers.

Here's my standard blub on lubing a door.....

Chain....bicycle chain lube is what I use...since I have a big can of it. Wipe old off, spray on new.

Track.....keep it clean, wipe it down with a rag damp with paint thinner or mineral spirits. You can give it a light spray of silicone...but wipe it down after. You don't want a buildup or any pooling.

Wheels...keep the actual rolling surfaces clean. You want them to roll, not slide. Exposed ball bearings (not many of those left out there) can get 1 drop of light oil. 1 drop of light oil can also be applied to the shaft where it goes in the hinge.

Each hinge should get 1 drop of oil in the pivoting area.

Torsion springs should have a bead of light oil run across their length on top, then the door should be cycled up and down.

Extension springs get a drop at any pivot points or where cable is attached.

Wipe down any lift cables, but no oil except at attachments.

Pulleys and rollers should be checked yearly for proper rolling operation or damage. Hardware (like hinge bolts, track hangers, etc) should be checked for tightness yearly also.

No grease anywhere except for screw drive openers or the gears in the power head unit. Grease is for enclosed gears, used anywhere else it just attracts dirt and grit.
 
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Old 02-16-12, 10:34 AM
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Thanks Gunguy.

Yeah, using WD40 wasn't the best thing to do. But thanks for the standard advice - it is nice to see it all in one place.

I don't want to get a new unit unless I have to. We may be moving, and this is just another expense I'd rather not have.

The motor seems to sound fine. And very rarely, it does seem to open the door completely and close it fine. (It happened once yesterday, but then it started doing the open only up to one foot off the ground thing again.)

Also, if the capacitor has failed, the unit would not work at all right? I don't get how it would work only partially. But I am not an expert.

Do you have any suggestions for a step-by-step on how to go about this problem?

Thanks,
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Old 02-16-12, 11:20 AM
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Well, there's only a few things that will smoke. Did you smell an acrid or electrical smell when it smoked? Kinda like burning cooking oil? If so, the cap or motor would be suspect.

If the trolley doesn't move fully with the door disconnected.....all I can think is that the gear is stripped on that portion.

Gonna have to get up there and take the cover off.

I don't know whether an opener that old would do the auto reverse thing. You may have a force adjustment issue. Does the door move easily and smoothly when it's disconnected?
 
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Old 02-16-12, 12:40 PM
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Okay, I will take the cover off today and report what I find.

I unfortunately can't describe the smell. My wife thinks on door #1, it was like burnt oil - but she may have smelled the WD40 that I had sprayed. On door #2, when it smoked yesterday she thought it was more of an electrical smell. I can't tell - because my sinuses are shot.

By "auto reverse" do you mean the door reversing if something obstructs it from closing fully? Then yes, this one does that.

I will also try out adjusting the force. I am assuming I need to increase the "up" force? There is also a "limit" (flat screw head) type adjustor there. Should I muck with that?

Thanks again Gunguy,
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Old 02-16-12, 12:49 PM
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Yes...the up force is what I meant...not the limit.

Still gotta say...smoking electrical items are a big deal.

What about the operation of the door manually? Let us know what the results of that are.
 
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Old 02-17-12, 07:23 AM
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Gunguy,

I did not get a chance to take the cover off the opener yesterday. Will try and get back over the weekend. Thanks for all your help.

I missed answering your question about the manual operation of the door. That is as easy and smooth as I ever remember.

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Old 02-18-12, 09:29 AM
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Okay, I took the cover off the opener and looked inside. There is nothing in there that looks like white snow.

I also played with the "up" force and that did not help. It is turned to the maximum now.

But the interesting thing was while I was checking out the various things, the door suddenly started working. It closed fully, then opened fully again. I tried two more times to make sure it was not a fluke, and sure enough it seemed to work normally.

That was last night. This morning, it is back to its old behavior. Does not open beyond a foot off the ground.

Any suggestions?
 
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Old 02-18-12, 10:07 AM
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That sounds like a loose or intermittent connection. Check all wiring at the opener and if it has any circuit boards, remove and re seat them.
 
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Old 02-18-12, 01:39 PM
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Hi goldstar,

I opened up the opener again. There was one set of wires going to the motherboard that I disconnected, I cleaned out the dust near the contacts and there was another set of wires that I could easily remove and reconnect. I did that too. I checked the other connections as well as I could and they all seemed okay to me.

And after I put it all together, the door seems to work again. I don't know if that fixed it for good.

I will check again tomorrow, and report.

Thank you for your help.

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Old 02-21-12, 08:19 AM
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Looks like the problem is fixed for good! It has been three days, and the garage door still functions fine. Thank you Gunguy and goldstar for your help.

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