Have the recent summer storms around Charlotte been raining on your parade? Not only have we been experiencing severe storms and torrential rainfall, but of course these storms are accompanied by thunder and lightning. Lightning in particular can be dangerous, to people and possessions. Many families know to unplug their valuable electronics from the wall outlets or to use surge protectors, in order to protect these appliances and computers, but your garage door opener is also at risk. If you’ve been experiencing strange problems from your opener, a lightning strike may be the cause. We’re experts in garage door repair and we’ve collected a list of ways to identify if your garage door opener may have been damaged by a power surge, so read on to see if this applies to you!

Even if your home wasn’t struck directly, lightning can still damage your electronics. Each bolt of lightning is an electrostatic discharge between the charged clouds overhead and whatever the bolt strikes. Some lighting runs between clouds, but any bolt that hits the earth has enough energy to do some serious damage. Lightning is usually miles long and each bolt is about a foot in diameter by the time it reaches the ground. Although 90% of humans struck by lightning survive, electronics are more sensitive. Some estimates state that one out of every 200 homes is struck by lightning in every given year.

If you’re protecting all of your electronics are protected by surge protectors, don’t forget your garage door opener! The energy produced by lightning can travel through any wiring, but even if your system is run off a battery or generator, the electromagnetic pulse produced by every strike can damage appliances. Surge protectors are very inexpensive compared to the cost of replacing a door opener or damaged components of an existing opener.

Of course, these preventative measures aren’t very helpful if you think that your door has already been struck. It can be hard to determine if the problem you’re experiencing was caused by lightning damage, but there are some signs to look for:

  • If your opener is functioning in an unusual or erratic way. For example, if a remote operates a different door than it did before, or if your door only opens part of the way. These behaviors suggest that the logic circuit inside your opener is damaged.
  • If your warning light is on or flashing. Especially in the case of a flashing light, an opener that has no visually observable problem may be flashing its indicator light to let you know that it has been shocked.
  • If your remote or keypad does not work as intended. Malfunctioning equipment can be difficult to troubleshoot since problems can be caused by multiple things. If your remotes or keypads are not working like you’re used to, replace their batteries. If they still do not work, the problem may be with the opener’s internal function.
  • If your door opens by itself. This is an unusual problem but can be caused by a malfunctioning logic board incorrectly receiving signals to open.
  • If your opener seems to have no power even when plugged in. Once you’ve made sure that a system should be receiving power by checking the outlet and cables, you might find that the opener is not correctly receiving power.
  • If your photo-eye sensor’s LEDs aren’t lit or blinking. If your photo-eye sensors (the beam sensors on both sides of your door’s tracks, located near the bottom) have an LED light to indicate that they are powered and this light is out, you might be experiencing electrical problems.
  • If your photo eyes aren’t receiving power. Put something in the way of your photo eyes and see if they detect it. If not, your system’s electronics may be faulty.

In the event of a power surge, capacitors and circuit boards are the most easily-damaged parts of the system. If your circuit board is damaged badly enough, there might be some evidence on the board, such as blackening or melted solder. Even if nothing looks out of place, the board may still have been damaged.

Damaged Garage Door Opener Circuit Board

An example of the blackening that a power surge causes to a circuit board.

Replacing the circuit board in a garage door opener is a complicated decision to make. Most of the time, a circuit board will cost ~$50 less than what a new opener costs. Either way, unless you can install the new part of opener yourself, you will have to pay a professional a similar service charge. Because of this, replacing the board in an older opener is often times not a cost-effective decision, because you are investing more than a hundred dollars in an old machine that will, in time, need to be replaced.

If you do determine that your garage door opener has been damaged by a power surge, do your research or ask a professional to help you decide if it is better for you to install a new machine or replace a damaged part. Electrical matters can be complicated and, unless you have the required electrical engineering skills, you might end up replacing an expensive part only to find that your opener still does not work. Make the decision that is best for you, but if you want a one-time reliable fix, a professional replacement is your best option.

If any of the above malfunctions apply to you, call a garage door repair company today and see if you may need to have your opener repaired or replaced. We carry a range of different garage door openers perfect for any situation and have over twenty five years installing garage door systems, so when you need an expeditious and professional installation or repair, look no further than A Plus Garage Doors!

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