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Handyman: Ghost in The Garage?

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DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

December 30, 2008
1:51 AM

Post #5941744

I just saw a bit on the news about a family that found a guy [that they didn't know] living in their attic, so that may put a whole new spin on my garage question (esp since there is attic access via the garage).

I've lived in this house for 7+ years. This only started happening within the past 2 weeks or so. Twice now I've gone out to my car and found the garage door open. Now, I know, you're probably thinking I forgot to close it, but, no, that's not possible. I'm not keeping the car in the garage right now, mostly because I can't get it in there until I clean the thing out - the garage, not the car. ; )
The car is sitting in the driveway and facing the garage. I have no reason to open the garage door right now much less forget to close it.

There is no indication that anyone was trying to steal anything. I have a very nice, large, virtually new Huskvarna (sp?) lawn tractor sitting just inside the door, and it is still there as are all of my hand tools and other lawn equipment. The 1st time, the door was only up about 2ft or so; the 2nd and last time it was all the way up. I know that in the past there was a problem sometime where various remotes would operate garage doors, and people would sometimes drive along streets pressing remote buttons just to see how many doors would open - as a joke of sorts. However, most systems today, mine included, change the operating code sudo-randomly with each access just to minimize the chances of something like this. Still, I could see it happening once accidentally, but twice seems a bit much.

So, my question is: does anyone know of any other reason why this might be happening all of a sudden? Is there something else about garage door opener technology that I should know, perhaps some reason why one might 'fail' in this manner with age or something like that? Something I should do to prevent a recurrence before something in there walks off and/or the HOA sends me a nasty gram and bill for having the thing open all day?

The one other possibly noteworthy thing here is that within maybe the last month or so I relocated my garage door opener remote control (specifically the one for that door as I have 2) from the sun visor of my car to the [hard, molded] pocket inside the drivers side car door. I suppose it is possible that the thing could sometimes get jostled around in there as I am backing out of the driveway and the button might be depressed in this manner. Seems like a lot of 'stars' would have to line up for this to happen, but it might be possible. After the last incident a few days ago, I put the remote back on the visor where it belongs.

Garage ghost? Homeless family living in the attic? Really smart wildlife seeking shelter from the cold? (It's been in the 60's here at night lately) Garage door opener with a sense of humor?
Doe41
(Audrey) Dyersburg, TN
(Zone 7a)

December 30, 2008
1:55 AM

Post #5941756

Racoons looking for a warm winter's bed?

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

December 30, 2008
2:08 AM

Post #5941821

Audrey, ROTFLOL!!!

Awhhh. If that's it, I'd better put a tiny doggy door in at the bottom and get them a few dozen pet beds...some water bowls, toys, snacks, a tv tuned to Animal Planet...

It really is a small world. I never expected to run into anyone from 'Heidi Land' over here. : )
Bubba_MoCity
Missouri City, TX

January 2, 2009
7:22 PM

Post #5957119

You might want to try turning the opener off all together - the wait and see if "the ghost" open it.
We unplugged ours in CA to prevent any "outside electronic influence".

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

January 2, 2009
7:38 PM

Post #5957181

Thanks, Bubba,

Very good idea and one I probably would never have considered since I am pretty much garage door challenged. I know how to push the button and/or flip the switch and that's about it. So far 'the ghost' hasn't left it open since I moved the remote back to the visor where it was designed to fit - instead of the door pocket. If I find it open again, I will definitely try your idea of turning it off altogether to see if that 'fixes' the problem.

If it comes to that, and I find that it works, I'm not quite sure what I will do then. I sure would hate to have to give up the option of being able to open it with the remote, especially since I still persist in believing that someday I will be able to get the car back in there. I guess if I find that 'the ghost' really is 'outside elex influence' I may have to go shopping to see if there is some newer/better type of unit that will eliminate the problem.

Thanks for the excellent idea on how to troubleshoot the problem and/or prevent further access.
ClanCampbell
(Chris) Des Moines, IA
(Zone 5a)

January 10, 2009
3:31 PM

Post #5988701

I'm curious.. did you turn off the opener? Have you had any more problems?

If you have..maybe installing a camera to catch the "ghost" in action might be an idea.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

January 11, 2009
4:35 AM

Post #5991435

Hmm. ClanCampbell,

That is a very good idea for future reference - I mean if the ghost should return. So far, since I moved the remote back to the visor, I haven't 'heard from' the ghost again. I'm still keeping an eye out and collecting these great ideas in case he returns. Will definitely post here to let you guys know if I see any signs of such a return.

Thanks again for the great idea.
newhobby
Tolleson, AZ
(Zone 9a)

February 12, 2009
12:03 AM

Post #6125995

Yikes! Just found this thread before posting a question- I am going to keep the danged door between the house and garage locked from now on! So naive at times here!

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

February 12, 2009
2:06 AM

Post #6126549

Definitely a good idea. You can't always trust those automatic doors to do what you expect them to do.

BTW, still no reappearance of the 'ghost' so far since I moved that remote back to the visor.
Dyson
Rocky Mount, VA
(Zone 7a)

May 4, 2009
5:08 PM

Post #6502754

scutler I would suspect that the tit mouse family has reappeared! (not to worry I think they are just messing with your head a bit, but at least they have not started in on your windows).

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

May 4, 2009
7:19 PM

Post #6503377

ROTFLMAO, Dyson!

Perhaps you may be right. Just the other day as I was getting into my car I saw a Tufted Titmouse in the tree beside the garage and thought 'fondly' of our Mr T.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

June 4, 2009
3:16 AM

Post #6639372

He's Ba-aa-ck!

Yep, that's right. The garage ghost is back.

Recently, I began finding the door open again at all manner of odd times. Went out last night to run and errand and found the garage door open, the door opener light one (which means it had only been open a minute or so before I walked out), and my shiny new lawn tractor with the name I can't spell or pronounce sitting right there in the open for all the world to see - and borrow. I scratched my head, closed the door, and ran my errand.

This evening I returned home from work to find, you guessed it, the garage door wide open, light off this time, and, once again, my new lawn tractor sitting right there with the imaginary "take me" sign on it. Aside from all the other reasons why this is very, very bad, I'm sure to hear from the HOA about this since one may not leave the garage door open except while moving the car in and out. Argh!

But, I think the mystery is solved now, because when I pulled in the drive and used my remote to close the door, it opened back again before could even get my things out of the car! Hmm. It opens by itself and whenever it feels like it. How convenient is that? So, I closed it again. This time it stayed closed - at least, that is, until I decided I needed to pull the car up closer to the garage for ease in taking in the groceries (it won't fit IN the 2 car garage even though it's just an Accord and there is no other car in there, but that's a different problem. We can tackle that one another day. Besides, the ghost in the garage needs some living space, after all.)

So, I started the engine again in order to pull the car up closer to the garage, and 'boom', instantly the door started to open again all on its on and seemingly in perfect time with the starting of the car. Ok, so my ignition switch is also a garage door opener. Cool. A two-fer. Makes sense. When you start the car, you need to open the garage door to back out, right? Argh!

After that the garage door and I went through a few rounds something you might have expected from the 3 Stooges. I put it down. It went back up. I put it back down, only this time it stopped 1/2 way and stubbornly refused to go any farther. So then I had to put it back up a ways and then down and then up an then down...When I last saw it, the door was almost closed - 1 foot from the bottom roughly speaking. I decided to leave it there because every time I put it all the way down, it opened all the way up again, yet for some reason it seemed reasonably happy to stay almost closed. I hate the garage door.

So, here's the plan - because right now I'm exhausted from a day at work and an evening running errands and I just want to go to sleep - after I rest for a few minutes, I'm going out there to the garage to see if I can find a way to disable the thing, hopefully, when it's in the closed position. I guess I'll look for a way to unplug it or kill a breaker or something like that. If that works, I can sleep tonight and work tomorrow without worrying about the stupid garage door. Then I can figure out a better long term plan on the weekend.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

June 4, 2009
4:10 AM

Post #6639535

See, now occasionally things work out for the best after all. After a brief rest to read the paper, I went out to the garage. My plan was to 1st close the garage door because, as you may recall, I had left it about 1ft from the bottom earlier this evening. However, when I went out to the garage, the door was closed - all the way. Apparently, it activated again after I left, and since it was ajar (i.e. open), it closed (instead of opening as it usually does). Great.

Since the receptacles are some 14ft up in the air - curses to the idiot who thought high ceiling would feel so spacious - I decided to kill the breaker. Then I tested the controls to be sure the doors were, indeed, dead.

Now I can sleep in peace...And if that ghost manages to open the door NOW, I'm moving! Anybody interested in a nice house near the ocean? It comes with its own menagerie: 20 adorable raccoons, 3 opossums that will grow on you with time, a crazy titmouse that eats screens and walks on your head, and a surly copperhead who thinks he owns the backdoor - oh, and I'll throw in the Garage Ghost, too, of course. So is it a deal?
Dyson
Rocky Mount, VA
(Zone 7a)

June 4, 2009
6:05 PM

Post #6641681

Don't need the house - but you can ship the bird up here I have some unruly neighbors I'd like it to reside with, Oh and you can keep the snake also.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

June 4, 2009
6:52 PM

Post #6641848

Dyson,

Do you need the raccoon and opossums? How about the Garage Ghost? It's not everyday you get one of those.
Dyson
Rocky Mount, VA
(Zone 7a)

June 4, 2009
9:57 PM

Post #6642603

Got plenty of raccoons and opossums and quite a few rabbits and squirrels to spare, if you need a few of those let me know. I do not have a garage so the ghost is a mute point.

Let me know if you need an exterminator as I know one who charges according to the gauge required to solve the problem (mice are cheap but bears are really expensive).

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

June 5, 2009
4:24 AM

Post #6644242

ROTL, Dyson!

Well, so far I've only noticed the one rabbit out in the backyard cottage garden, but upon reflecting on the plethora of lilies and such chopped down at peak bloom and left wilted and littering the garden paths, as cute as that one bunny is, I think I have a gracious plenty of that species; and after watching the squirrels sit on the bench back to pluck 'ripe' Camellia buds off the bush and eat them like crudites, I don't guess I need any more of those wily rascals either.

I'm beginning to thing those garages are a bit overrated anyway. Once you get them filled to capacity with all the junk you don't need and can't get to anyhow, it's roughly the same as not having one. I have a 2 car garage in which I can't fit a single, compact car and in which I have just barely managed to carve out enough space for the lawn mower. I don't know what's in there. I avoid the place at all cost. I just know it's full. Judging from all the cars in the driveways around my neighborhood, my situation does not seem unusual.

Thank goodness we don't have bears around here. I'll have to keep that exterminator of yours in mind. There was a time when I would have been more than happy to pay the bear rate to get rid of a certain bird with a bad attitude. Does your exterminator do snakes?
Dyson
Rocky Mount, VA
(Zone 7a)

June 5, 2009
6:59 PM

Post #6646631

No, but for the right cake and the cost of the .410 shells I can handle that one for you! Oh yea, fuel for the trip!
Bubba_MoCity
Missouri City, TX

June 9, 2009
12:00 PM

Post #6662667

Dyson - Have you priced 410 shells recently?? Cheaper to by the bigger gauges by far.

Love this thread.

scutler - did you ever say what brand the opener is? and how old?
With luck, there might be a recall on your model.
BorderPatrol
Bryan, TX

August 4, 2009
12:56 AM

Post #6903909

i think you should just keep with the ghost story - it is much more enticing than electrical problems or other things mentioned above.
Neptunesmuse
Titusville, FL

October 6, 2011
5:26 PM

Post #8838830

I just found this thread but had the same problem. Seems in my case one of my neighbors' garage door opener was the same model and remote code was the same as mine. Every time I pushed my remote both doors would open or close and the same thing happened when he used his remote. I re-programed my remote and the problem was resolved.

DreamOfSpring

DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

October 7, 2011
9:29 AM

Post #8839522

Thanks, Neptunesmuse,

Others had suggested something similar might be the case, so it is interesting to hear that it actually happened to you. After reading your account, I realized that, as all of our homes were built around the same time and by the same builder, it's quite likely they all have the same garage controller. This would seem to increase the probability of such an occurrence.

I'm glad you were able to solve your problem. It is very frustrating to come home and find the garage door open advertising expensive tools, riding lawn mower, and so forth to all the world, not to mention infuriating the HOA. For whatever reason, my problem seems to have gone away, for now at least. I'm happy to report that I haven't found the door open in years now. If I was experiencing the same problem you were having, perhaps the neighbor who would have been experiencing it, too, solved it for us by getting a new controller. Either way, I'm good for now but do appreciate you letting us all know about your experience and how you solved it. I will definitely keep that in mind should my ghost return.

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