Programming and Troubleshooting Garage Door Openers

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

If a remote or keypad to your garage door opener stops working, you can find yourself with an unintentional open invitation for passersby to check out your garage and its contents. Worse, you and your car could end up being trapped on the wrong side of your garage door. Fortunately, most motor unit garage door openers can quickly be restored to working order with a new remote or by reprogramming the keypad.


Programming and Troubleshooting Garage Door Openers
Image Credit: mokee81/iStock/GettyImages

Video of the Day

Replacing a Garage Door Opener Remote

If your remote has been lost or broken, you have several options. If the garage door is fairly new, you can obtain a replacement remote from the manufacturer or the dealer. If it is an older garage door opener, but less than 20 years old, you can purchase a universal remote and program it to work with your unit.


Universal Garage Door Remote Openers

There are two main types of remote garage door openers: One has a smart switch that will automatically sync with the main controller unit, and the other has a series of switches that must be set in a certain patter to activate the remote. (These DIP switch units were primarily used in door openers prior to the 1990s.)

To program a new remote or a universal remote, locate the controller. This is normally found in the motor unit housing situated on the ceiling of your garage, close to one of the garage door tracks. Pop the exterior panel off and look for a button that is black, red or purple. If it says "Learn" or something similar next to it, you have a smart switch unit.


If there is no learn button, examine the inside of the old remote by popping the back off of it. If there is a series of small switches, only big enough to be slid one way or another by the end of a pencil, you have a DIP switch unit. Make sure you purchase a universal remote with internal DIP switches.

Programming a Smart Switch Garage Door Remote

Press and hold the smart switch controller button for 15 seconds. This will clear the controller's memory. You now have 30 seconds to program the remote. Quickly move yourself and the ladder away from the motor unit housing, and press the button on the remote you want to program. Depending on the garage door model, the controller light will flash or glow steadily when the remote is set or the remote will flash or click.


Programming a DIP Switch Garage Door Remote

Open both remotes and place them on a level surface facing the same direction as each other. There may be only two positions for each switch (right and left or up and down) or three (+, 0 and -). Using the tip of a pencil, slide the switches on the new remote to match the configuration of the switches on the old remote. Replace the back of the remote and test it. The garage door should operate correctly.

If you don't have the old remote, there may be a DIP switch assembly on the exterior of the main controller unit or in the keypad. Draw the configuration or take a photo to aid you in setting the switch configuration on your new remote.


Programming Garage Door Keypads

Most keypads can be programmed in much the same way as a remote. For smart switch units, clear the code on the controller. Use the keypad to input your preferred Personal Identification Number (PIN), then press the "Enter" button and watch for the controller or the keypad light to flash or glow. Test the keypad PIN to see if the garage door opener operates correctly. For DIP switch units, match the DIP switch settings to the ones in the remote or on the main controller unit.

Troubleshooting Garage Door Openers

If your garage door still doesn't open and shut with the handheld remote or keypad, attempt the function again and watch the main controller. If the light doesn't flash, try changing the batteries in the remote. If the light flashes in a pattern, it is an error code. You can look up error codes in the manual or online on the manufacturer's website and seek answers.


Having a garage door that doesn't open or shut can be the ultimate frustration. By resetting the keypad or adding a new remote, you can return to using your garage as a place to safely park your car or store your tools, with full accessibility for your household members and no one else.



Grace Alexander specializes in jumping off of metaphorical cliffs. Over the past 10 years she has quit her job as an executive chef, started her own copywriting company, moved her family to a Uruguayan ranch and adopted 11 dogs, two doe goats and the fruit bat who lives in the barn. She spends her spare time mending fences, indulging in the odd Netflix binge and baking her grandmother's legendary pie recipes.