My old Craftsman 1/2 hp garage door opener was abused by previous owners who tried to operate it with a poorly adjusted door. Now, the door operates smoothly and the opener travel limits have been properly adjusted along with the safety stop. The problem now appears to be that the door closed limit doesn't seem to operate at the same place each time. It is a chain drive and sometimes when the door closes you can tell the stop limit has not operated because you can see slack in the chain just before the torque safety switch causes the door to open. At other times the door doesn't close far enough to compress the rubber door seal.

The opener does have up/down force adjustments and they work fine. The problem seems to be related to unreliability of the down travel limit adjustment. There has been some unreliability in the up travel limit too, but the primary problem is down. After each adjustment it may work fine 2 to 5 times before it again closes too far stretching one side of the chain very tight and causing the bar to bow, (unless I properly adjust the down force safety in which case the door reopens). I plan to open it up and look for anything loose, like chain sprocket to shaft or loose limit actuators. If I don't find anything I will take the advice below and buy another opener.

  • My opener has both up/down limits and up/down force adjustments... maybe the force is set too low, if you have such a setting?
    – Hank
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 18:50
  • I have a craftsman from early 70s. It does kind of the same thing about twice a year. I simply have to unplug for 10 mins and then it is fine - completely cut off electricity.
    – DMoore
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 19:10

3 Answers 3


Many times the most cost effective and time effective (and "time is money" cost effective) solution to strange problems with an old opener is a new opener.

You can, of course, replace parts; but you can quickly exceed the cost of a new opener, and parts often come with no guarantee, while a new opener generally has one. Since you KNOW your opener has been abused, that's another tick in the "reasons to just replace it" column. Recall that it is a device that can kill people if it malfunctions in certain ways.

I will also suggest (from experience) that you provide a surge suppressor on the outlet serving the opener.

  • I agree that replacing the opener might be the most time- and cost-effective solution. I replaced one recently and it was actually pretty easy since I could reuse the brackets mounted to the door and ceiling. Probably took me about a hour.
    – Hank
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 18:49

Before you chuck it, check the tension on the chain. I've seen where they've become slack, and jumped gears. This is more common with belt drive openers, but could happen with chain drive as well.

Also, check the torsion springs (if applicable). If they are not adjusted properly, it can cause all types of problems.

  1. With the door in the closed position, pull the release cord.
  2. Try lifting the door by hand, making sure to keep the door from slamming open.

It should be fairly easy to open, and about half way up should want to lift itself. If it's too hard to open, or opens too easy (fast). Have it adjusted by a trained professional.

Checking the springs is something you'll have to do anyway, even if you replace the unit.


You're drive gear assembly is worn. If you look at the top of the unit, were the chain is attached, you probably see a bunch of black dust. What's happening is the gear starts to fall forward and the limit gear, which is attached to the drive gear at the very bottom, doesn't always keep splined with each other.
You need to get, what is called, a chain drive gear kit. They are like 40$ on Amazon.

  • 1
    Or, since this is an 8 year old question and the GDO was already old then, it may well be a better bet to just replace the thing. I replaced some gears in my old Craftsman, just to have the whole thing fail a few months later. Sometimes, trying to limp an old thing along just isn't worth it.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Dec 13, 2023 at 19:19

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