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Scenario

When pulling up to our home the garage door opener only works sometimes - roughly 1/10 clicks. Our Lift Master was installed in 2011.

Troubleshooting

  • tried new batteries in all remotes
  • tried removing / disabling lights in the garage (potential interference)
  • remote works every time from INSIDE the garage
  • wall button wired to motor works every time
  • keypad remote outside the garage almost never works

Question

What could be going on here? I initially thought it might be a logic board on the motor assembly but since the remotes work inside every time maybe this is all caused because of old tx/rx parts ?

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    Is this a new problem or has it been this way since you bought the place?
    – FreeMan
    Aug 19, 2022 at 15:59
  • @FreeMan We noticed it last winter and assumed it was something with the severe cold but it's continued now for months.
    – Jacksonkr
    Aug 19, 2022 at 16:33
  • Check for a broken door lift spring.
    – QTX
    Aug 19, 2022 at 19:22
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    It sounds like the electronics in the receiver have drifted with time. Playing with the antenna length may help resolve the problem by changing the receiver tuning a bit. Expect to purchase a new control board in the not to distant future.
    – Gil
    Aug 20, 2022 at 5:23
  • @Gil My best guess at this point is a weak receiver since the openers work from inside the garage every time and I assume the signal is weakened with the aluminum door is closed. Just to be certain, I would start with a liftmaster receiver replacement ya ?
    – Jacksonkr
    Aug 21, 2022 at 22:47

7 Answers 7

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It sounds like the electronics in the receiver have drifted with time. The Receiver/logic board has some frequency sensitive parts. The ambient conditions such as temperature and humidity tend to age the parts. The primary but not the only parts are the capacitors. These values will drift with time causing the circuit to change. As these parts change so do the receiver/transmitter parameters. The filters and the oscillators change, this in turns affects sensitivity and frequency. Considering the average lifespan of a garage door opener is about 12 years you have gotten a good life. Playing with the antenna length may help resolve the problem by changing the receiver tuning a bit. One of the early signs is the sensitive (range) slowly decrease over time. You could get one of these china wireless remotes with a relay output and use it as an additional button but do not expect it to last very long or be immune to false trips. Expect to purchase a new control board in the not to distant future.

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One possibility is your receiver antennas are not extended properly. Usually a thin wire drooping from the motor unit ... if it's coiled up or broken or not extended properly you might have VERY limited distance for the remotes.

If that's not the problem, maybe something about your home construction, e.g. all-metal garage door combined with metal lath wall construction above the door. If you want to test this theory you can try the remote with the door open 10%, 20%, etc ... at some point, with the door open not very much, the remotes and keypad should work.

If that is the case you need to look into extenders for the motor unit. Some motors allow you to replace the antenna with an external one using a longer cable. I don't think most residential ones do though. Liftmaster makes a remote radio receiver where you wire the receiver to your motor using bell wire and mount the receiver in the front of your garage with the antenna sticking out through the wall.

The keypad is probably wireless and having the same issue. If you fix the problem for the remotes it should start working too.

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Chamberlain remotes made after 2005 transmit at 315MHz - very far away from any of the ISM radio bands (900M, 2.4G, 5.8G, etc) so interference from microwaves, Wi-Fi, Cell phones, etc. is unlikely to be an issue unless someone is running a highly modified radio running at WAY over legal power.

You mentioned that you changed the batteries, but did you test the batteries you used? I maintain gate openers at our office campus and they happen to use the same remotes and receivers as Chamberlain garage door openers. For the C-level mucky-mucks, we usually offer to give them a remote or program their existing compatible garage door remotes so they don't have to stop and open the window upon arriving at the office.

All that background serves to say: check the voltage on those batteries. Out of a sleeve of new A23 batteries (nominal voltage 12V) purchased from a giganto retailer named after a rainforest, more than half tested less than 10V at no load, straight out of the package. I've found that those little remotes lose most of their transmit power when the battery voltage is less than perfect, so definitely try another battery before you resort to adding remote receivers, etc.

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Remotes and keypads wear out. This is a very common problem. The conductive coating on the push buttons gradually loses it's conductivity and sends a weak signal. You should be able to get new remotes from Lift Master or compatible ones from other vendors and program them to your opener. Also check to make sure the antenna for your opener is stretched out if your unit has one.

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  • If signal does turn out to be the problem, I purchased a LiftMaster 850LM to use with another brand opener to work with several existing remotes that we have. It has the option to mount elsewhere or remote mount the antenna. We were having similar issues and that greatly improved our range. Aug 18, 2022 at 21:21
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    If the button contacts are wearing out, one would think that would impact whether the remote sends a signal in response to the button push, not the strength of the signal sent (that would be determined by battery charge). The OP stated that the remotes work 100% of the time when inside the garage, but only 10% of the time when outside the garage. Therefore, the theory that the button contacts are failing seems to be out the window. Either that or I totally missed your point. (This wouldn't be the first time I've missed it.)
    – FreeMan
    Aug 19, 2022 at 16:03
  • @FreeMan Most of the remotes I've taken apart have some sort of carbon ink on the buttons that conduct and complete or weakly complete a circuit. this stuff isn't an excellent conductor like metal. This could explain a weak signal strong enough for indoor use but not strong for greater distances. It's the same for car keypads and TV remotes.
    – JACK
    Aug 19, 2022 at 16:34
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    I understand that part, @JACK, but that carbon ink on the button contact only closes the circuit to make the remote transmit its signal, it's not actually part of the signal sending circuitry, is it? i.e. if the carbon ink fails then the button itself fails to send a signal. If you were to take it apart and short the contacts with a piece of wire (or a wet finger :D) it would still send a full-strength signal (or with as much power as the battery was then able to provide).
    – FreeMan
    Aug 19, 2022 at 16:40
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    @FreeMan I tried fixing a TV remote that only worked right next to the TV. I got some of that conductive paint used to fix car windshield heaters/defoggers and painted the bottoms of the buttons. worked like a champ.. until the paint cracked off. I'm thinking that it's part of the signal sending unit.
    – JACK
    Aug 19, 2022 at 17:08
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It's possible that there is RF interference coming from somewhere outside your house.

WiFi routers use 2.4GHz signals and that happens to be a publicly accessible band that is used for a broad range of consumer RF devices from cordless phones to microwave output and, I believe, garage door openers.

Someone in your neighborhood may have installed a new router or repositioned an existing one and it's now emitting enough signal to stomp on the signal from your garage door opener remote. Heck, if you installed or moved a router, you might be stepping on yourself.

Yes, newer WiFi routers often include 5GHz radios, but they also include 2.4GHz radios for backwards compatibility and for increased range (albeit at lower speeds). Many routers allow one or both radios to be turned off, but most people don't ever adjust any of their router's settings. (This was the reason that so many home networks were so easily "hacked" in the early days of WiFi - the UID/PWD for each manufacturer was the same and well known. It was expected to be changed by the user, but most didn't. This is why newer ones come with the UID/PWD printed on the back and they're randomized at the factory.)

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  • It might just be that someone techy like me simply turned up the power on his router and is now stepping on your signal. There are legal limits (in the US), but at least one of my routers allowed turning up the power beyond that (to levels allowed in other countries) as well as accessing the WiFi channels that are available in other countries but not, for some reason(s), in the US.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 19, 2022 at 16:23
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    I was real excited about this answer but I'm getting no results. I unplugged all my routers with no luck. I also tested the remote from inside the "router room" with everything back on and the garage door heard 6/7 remote clicks. I suppose a neighbor's wifi is the best explanation. The search continues..
    – Jacksonkr
    Aug 19, 2022 at 17:18
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    Entirely possible that it's a neighbors, especially since it's from outside your house that you're having problems. I'd suggest getting a WiFi analyzer app for your phone. You'll be shocked at the number of networks around you and the signal strength of the different channels.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 19, 2022 at 17:24
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    Also, as you noted it started last winter, it could be that a neighbor kid got a new router for Christmas and that's what's causing your issues.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 19, 2022 at 17:25
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Here is a response that I have not seen or heard, but happened to me. My remotes both quit working unless I was right up against the garage door. For a couple of weeks I attempted different things... new batteries, different vehicle, no vehicle, etc. Finally, I thought, what changed around the time the remotes became nearly ineffective? I had changed light bulbs in the openers as my wife had been systematically moving all of our bulbs to LED.

I pulled the bulbs and went back to conventional bulbs and the issue subsided. Returned the LEDs and the problem reappeared. I am 100% sure that not all LED bulbs would emit interference, but the bulbs I installed idd.

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  • Based on my experiments on leds when they came out in the 70s, I would expect that the manufacturers may be multiplexing them to reduce power consumption. If one cycles the power to them, the perceivable intensity remains the same, but one can save power. And dimmable ones would almost certainly be powered like this. Oct 30, 2023 at 1:15
  • This is a very common and known problem. Head to your local home improvement store and take a look at the garage door openers for sale. It'll say right there on the box that you should only use "garage door opener approved" LED bulbs. "Regular" LEDs can emit some RF that interferes with the receiver in the opener. I believe the "approved" bulbs either have electronics that emit different frequency RF or are shielded to emit little/none.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 30, 2023 at 17:04
  • Do note, though, that the OP mentioned removing/disabling his lights, one might presume in an attempt to eliminate this as a possible cause.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 30, 2023 at 17:05
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We found that new LED light strips we had installed in the garage were causing interference. Once I brought the antenna forward to the front of the garage, the remotes worked from outside the garage again.

Note—it wasn’t just the LED lights in the openers themselves but other LED strips that were between the openers and the garage door that caused the problem.

With the antenna extended further, I think you’d be able to get away with LED bulbs in the opener. I haven’t tried this yet.

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