Ghost in the Machine: Why Your Garage Door Opens By Itself
If you have a garage door that’s operated by an automatic opener, you may have experienced this scenario: Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, your garage door opener activated and opened or closed your door.
You didn’t give it the command (via the remote) to open or close. It just did it. Kind of spooky, isn’t it?
According to garage door maintenance experts, this doesn’t happen often. But it does happen. And though it’s spooky (garage door manufacturers call it “phantom operation”), a ghost in the machine isn’t the cause of the problem. You’ll probably need to call a maintenance professional to fix the problem, not an exorcist.
These are the most common reasons you might experience this decidedly eerie problem:
Short in the Circuit
Instead of a ghost in the machine, you might have a short in the circuit. That could happen in any number of components: the opener itself, the wall button circuitry, keypad circuitry, etc.
Sometimes remote controls that are failing will send out random signals during their death throes. Though quite rare, it’s also possible that a failing battery can be the cause.
An Electrical Surge
A sudden surge of electrical current can cause the phantom operation of a garage door opener. That can sometimes happen during an electrical storm. And if an electrical surge caused the phantom operation, it’s also likely that the electronics of your opener were severely damaged. Instead of phantom operation, your next concern will probably be no operation.
It’s also possible that someone was operating equipment in your vicinity that uses the same frequency as your opener. That most often happens in proximity to a military installation. Police radios, CB radios, and even radio broadcast towers have also been known to occasionally be the cause of phantom operations.
Is it possible that a bad guy somehow managed to hack your garage door opener? Unfortunately yes, that is possible. In fact, that’s happening more frequently these days.
One way to make your door more difficult to hack is to upgrade to an opener that uses “rolling code” technology. These openers require that a new code be generated every time the opener is activated. And that means that the common garage door hacking method of capturing the code when your door is activated will no longer work.
It could be that you hacked your own garage door opener. Do you have a spare remote lying around your home somewhere? It might have been accidentally activated – perhaps when someone opened or closed the drawer in which that spare remote is stored.
A Nearby Neighbor
It’s possible that a close neighbor has an opener that operates on the same code as yours. It’s been known to happen. The odds, though, are extremely remote – something akin to winning the lottery. (But of course, people do win the lottery!)