Known as the Door Operator Guru, Roy Bardowell is one of the most respected and knowledgeable men in the garage door and operator industry. His special passion for residential garage door, commercial door and gate operators leaves an impression on everyone he meets. Roy's training sessions at IDA Expos are always the one of the most widely attended sessions. He has been recognized by IDEA with the "Commitment to Excellence Award" and is an IDEA Certified Door Dealer Consultant. Roy was Operations Manager at Guardian until 2012. We hope that you find Roy's articles informative and entertaining. Feel free to leave your comments for Roy.


My Strangest Service Call

The Case of the Spider Web

by Roy Bardowell, CDDC

In May, 1978 I relocated from New Jersey to Montreal, Canada.

Prior to my relocation, I had worked at Automatic Doorman in Paterson, New Jersey for more than seven years. During that time, I worked every task in every department and became an expert in every facet of the business. Lynx Industries of Canada had been selling and distributing Automatic Doorman commercial door operators to local Canadian installing door companies for many years. In 1977 the spread between the American and Canadian dollar grew to an all-time record, making American goods more expensive. To offset the difference a drastic solution was needed. When the time came to duplicate the manufacturing plant in Canada, I was the first choice to get it started.

After getting a temporary Canadian work permit and getting set up in St. Leonard, Quebec, I joined the team at Lynx Industries to build an operator production department. The plan was to start producing commercial operators and then move on to producing residential door operators for the Canadian market. First, we had to certify the operators with CSA. The national safety testing agency of Canada. This took 6 months.

About 35 miles North of Montreal is the town of Saint Therese. In St. Therese there was a General Motors production plant that built Camaros and Firebirds. Years before my move, a Lynx Industries gearhead commercial door operator was installed and wired to an existing panel that GM had contracted to be built from their own specifications.

I found out later, I knew everything about the motor, gearbox, and limit assembly, but had NO information on the special panel. Since I was missing the most important information, it made it difficult to trouble shoot the overall system. The GM engineers were very adamant the problem had to be within the motor operator, because they had the same separate panel throughout Ontario, Canada and had no other problems elsewhere. Even so, I was sure the problem was within the GM factory in their panel, because they’re main complaint was phantom operation.

Basically, any operator that moves without an intended input has what we call--Phantom Operation. And 99% of the time it is due to a faulty control or pushbutton. This is not up for debate. It’s FACT!

Plain & Simple, no motor can start on its own. It has to be told to go by connecting electricity to the motor. This is the same for all motors. Think about it. It’s like claiming the light turned on, even though nobody threw the switch. In theory, only a component in the panel could be guilty.

An operator cannot just select to move. The input to go must come from somewhere such as a PB, radio control or another device. If the door opens, then you must investigate all the devices that can command the operator to open. This could simply be the open button, a loop module, or a defective key switch.

On residential installations, most phantom operation will be from a staple shorting out the bell wire. Most techs focus on a radio control being the issue. Many will change the code and think they solved the issue, only to get another call just days later. I have seen this a hundred times. A short in the wire or P/B is the problem most of the time. If the phantom operation to open is occurring while you are present, you can start by removing the control wires that connect to the operator and see if the problem goes away or disconnect the receiver and test the operation. Most technicians have trouble grasping the idea that a push button or other defective device can alone command an operator to go. But that is what happens when a control fails.

BACK TO THE GM plant…after many months and hours of phone calls from the GM engineering dept. I was so sure the problem was homemade, so eventually one Saturday I was forced to go see the job. I drove up to the GM plant with only a voltmeter and some basic tools. I met with the building supervisor, Ronald Gagnon. This is the guy I spent months talking to over the phone. He showed me the door that had closed on two new Camaro’s and I opened the panel to look inside. There were added loop detector modules and many timers in the panel. The wiring was totally disorganized and looked like a huge bowl of colored spaghetti.

Once I saw the loop modules, I immediately thought there was a shorted or open underground loop that had failed. It is normal for the ground to move or shift in colder regions and the loop wire can be broken and shorted out to Earth. Before going out to check the underground loops, something else caught my eye. There was also a circuit board with 4 relays on the board which I couldn’t figure out why it was there. To determine the purpose of the relay board, I had to study every wire connected to it. There was no diagram available, so I had no idea what was the circuit boards purpose and what I was looking at.

I asked Ronald if I could start the door open and he said yes. I opened the door with the open button and thought to leave it open for a minute, except almost Immediately I saw an LED flicker on the relay circuit board and the door started closing. I did this, two more times, with similar results. I knew a relay was sending power to the motor, but why was the relay and contactor engaging?? I quickly determined which terminal was for the close command and disconnected all the inputs to this terminal. I opened the door, but the door still closed. WTF? I was confused and a little upset with myself. I never was stumped before and usually found the problem within the first five minutes.

I asked Ronald if he had a flashlight and he got one for me. I thought maybe I should look under the unknown circuit board to check the tracing was intact or if other wires were connected to it. I carefully removed the circuit board and got the scare of my life when a fat black spider nesting between two relays jumped on my hand.

You can always find some creepy insects in the motor portion of an operator, but I never saw any in a Nema 4 sealed panel before. However, this panel had many holes drilled in the side walls where I suspected the spider gained entry. Only by dumb luck I shined the flashlight on the back of the circuit board and noticed the entire board was covered with spider webs. I took a towel and wiped off the webs. My next test opened the door and it did not close. Voilà, I said! I carefully reinstalled the circuit board and ran the door 10 times open without it closing. If you follow the Occam's Razor theory*, then the first conclusion must be the spider webs were somehow involved.

*For those interested--- “OCCAM'S RAZOR” simply states that of any given set of explanations for an occurring event, the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one.

Thinking I had found the final solution, I grabbed my tools and got ready to leave. I left Ronald my card and asked him to call me if anything else came up. One week went by, then a second without hearing from Ronald. I thought, great…another happy customer. But it was short-lived because one Monday morning I got a call from Ronald explaining the problem returned. I suddenly had a stomach ache. How in the world did this happen?

Anyway, I told Ronald I would come to him on Tuesday after work. This time I carried more tools, and a pair of gloves in case the spider jumped out again. Driving around the huge building, I saw Ronald standing outside the door and parked nearby. I grabbed my tools and walked by Ronald, but was too weak to make eye contact. At first, I looked at the relay board, where the spider had nested before. He wasn’t in there. Then I started the door closed.

As soon as I pulled the back plate toward me, thousands of tiny red spiders came running out from behind and ran over the entire plate. I asked Ronald if he had any insect repellant, but he did not. I instructed him to get some and give the insides of the panel a good dose, but even then, Ronald was NOT convinced. All alone Ronald had a very difficult time, but I had his respect since I was the only one that actually made the visit to him and he liked the fact I was teaching him about door operation. Even the people in Michigan who made the specialized GM panel wouldn’t speak with him.

After brushing away all the webs, I asked Ronald to wait and see. I also asked him to place a strip of duct tape over the holes in the panel to keep other critters out and to be patient. A week later, I got a call from Ronald saying everything has been good so far. His call gave me the biggest relief. I wasn’t 100% sure the spider and its webs were the perpetrator until Ronald’s call.

That week was the longest stretch without a problem. I had a huge sigh of relief and hoped I had finally resolved the weird issue. I literally lost sleep over this one, because I was worried of being sued by the big corporation. To date, I had never been spoofed and always found the best and sometimes the only solution.

To truly be a great troubleshooter, you must be able to think outside the box—as they say. In 2012, I found a mouse dead in the electrical enclosure. The poor thing was trying to build a nest and bit through a 460 Volt power line. Its jaw was stuck shut on the wire and I had to pry him off with a screwdriver. The poor thing was completely dehydrated and looked like an over-done chicken wing. Electrocution will do that. All the liquids in your body boil and evaporate within seconds. When a tree is struck by lightning, the sap quickly turns to steam, and will split a tree wide open.

After the case of the spider webs, I said to myself…Wow! that is one to remember. And I did, even though it happened over 40 years ago. Who would have suspected a simple spider web could cause so much wasted time, damage to two new cars, and so much aggravation? Honestly, I expect to never come across a weird one like this one ever again and after 40 plus years I have not, although I have seen other insignificant problems at times, excluding insects.

In 1987 the St. Therese GM plant was repurposed and began assembling the Pontiac Grand Prix and Cutlass Supreme. In 2002 the plant was closed and demolished. I was happy to never need to visit that factory again, but since I had moved to Arizona, I would never need to go to Quebec again. Next time someone says we have to work out the bugs, think of the Spider case.

If you found an outrageous situation and want to share it with me, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to hear from you. Maybe I’ll include your case in a future article.

Roy. Email: roythedoorman@gmail.com

NOW GO GET EM!


Roy Bardowell, CDDC, served as Operations Manager at Guardian Access & Door Hardware until 2012. He has been in the door and operator industry since 1973 and is known as one of the industry’s most experienced operator technicians and trainers. Roy received the IDEA Commitment to Excellence award in 2008 and IDA’s Jerry R. Reynolds Volunteer Service Award in 2017. Contact him at roythedoorman@gmail.com

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37 Comments
  1. Steve's picture
    Jan 30, 2018

    I recently posted complaining about the motor. I found a number for Guardian technical services online and as a last effort I called them. Technical services was great and helped me fix the problem fairly easily with directions over the phone. I’m impressed with corporate but still disappointed in the local installer as since the day they installed the opener they come across as more interested in generating charges than doing what’s right for the customer.

    Thanks to Technical Services!

  1. Shirley Rankin's picture
    Feb 05, 2018

    I'm in New Zealand. If I can't source this for my Guardian 21230DL, I'll have to discard an entire garage door opener which works perfectly well just because it can't receive the signal from the remote.

    I looked for an internet sale on your website but couldn't find it.

    Considering that it will cost $800 to replace the whole door opener unnecessarily, I would really appreciate your help.

    Regards
    Shirley

  1. Brian's picture
    Feb 11, 2018

    Guardian products can be found in New Zealand at Windsor Doors

    Windsor Doors Auckland

    347 Great South Rd.

    Takanini 2112, Auckland

    P: 09 298 8655

    F: 09 298 0626

     

    Windsor Doors Christchurch

    Doric Way, Waterloo Business Park

    Christchurch

    P: 03 343 3276

    F: 03 343 3761

    sales@windsorsouth.co.nz

     

    Windsor Doors Wellington

    (Incorporating Castle Doors Ltd)

    95 Nelson Street,

    Petone, Wellington

    P: 0800 020 785

    F: 04 589 3986

    wellington@windsordoors.co.nz

    Windsor Doors Hamilton Unit 8

    170 Maui Street

    Te Rapa, Hamilton

    P: 07 850 6140

    F: 09 298 0626

  1. Marty Marias's picture
    Mar 01, 2018

    Roy, I have six two button remotes, the black rubber inserts fall out and I have to use a small object to activate the opener. Would it be possible to send me five or six replacements. I would happily pay for them.
    Marty Marias
    310 328-6278
    201 Ruth Ave.
    Venice CA 90291
    martymarias@yahoo.com

  1. Jamie's picture
    Mar 24, 2018

    Hello,

    My garage door motor is beeping every 15 minutes. Is this due to my remote battery being low or the motor being low? I'm having trouble locating a batter on the actual motor.

  1. Brian's picture
    Mar 25, 2018

    Hi Jamie,

    A good answer can't be provided without more information.  Please call 1-424-272-6998 and a tech will be able to assess the issue and provide a solution. 

  1. smith's picture
    May 01, 2018

    I read the comment on how a clicker is not universal and will not work on guardian garage doors. Specifically could you please suggest one that will work? Your tech phone number is useless! I've left two messages and not received a return call yet and its been three days. No one ever answers either.

  1. Brian's picture
    May 06, 2018

    Any Guardian remote control listed on the remote controls page on this website will work with any Guardian operator.

    If there are issues reaching technical service please feel free to contact a regional office (also listed on the website).

  1. Sherri's picture
    May 13, 2018

    My garage door will not work with the wall panel unit. The remote control units work and the keypad outside works. Any suggestions?

  1. Brian's picture
    May 14, 2018

    Hi Sherri,

    Is the LED back light on the panel glowing?  Check the wiring first.  The plug on the end of the wire leading from the control banel should be securely plugged into the "wall box" recepticle on the motor head.  Check for any wire shorts due to staples holding the wire to the wall.  Check the wire terminal connections on the back of the panel.. If more help is needed please call 1-424-272-6998.

  1. Robert Johnson's picture
    Jun 29, 2018

    The drive belt on my 3/4 HP Guardian executive series 600SL has broken. How do I get it fixed? I called your 800-989-8769 phone number and the phone company said the number is disconnected so no one answered

  1. Brian's picture
    Jul 04, 2018

    Robert,

    Please call Guardian Tech Service at 424-272-6998 for help.  

  1. Jada's picture
    Aug 12, 2018

    Lost power and opened the garage manually, power came back on the door opened almost completely and stopped. Beeping 20 times checked no lights on. Metered the wires for power, 21.08 tried aligning can't get any LEDs on?

  1. Brian's picture
    Aug 13, 2018

    Dear Jada,

    20 beeps signified a photo-eye misalignment or faliure.  Please call Guardian Tech Service at 1-424-272-6998 to resolve.  Thanks

  1. Clinton's picture
    Jan 05, 2019

    No lights on the photo eyes. I think the logic board is out. Can you help me?

  1. Brian's picture
    Jan 07, 2019

    Hi Clinton,

    If the operator still opens the door and a constant pressure on the push button (PE override) closes the door, then the circuit board is probably not the problem.

    1. Check at the operator head to see if wires are in the 4 photo-eye terminals.  Sometimes installers will twist wires togther and use only 2 of the terminals.  This reduces power to the photo-eyes.  It may work initially, but over time as the wire develops more resisitivity, power declines.

    2. Check the alignment of the eyes.

    3. If LEDs fail to appear, after careful alignement, then replace the phot-eyes.

    4. Call 424-272-6998 for further help.

  1. Clinton 's picture
    Jan 15, 2019

    I have no lights on my photo eyes. I have two garage door openers and tried the logic board in the other opener and the lights would come on. This tells me the logic board is good. Wondering if it might be the transformer.

  1. Brian's picture
    Jan 23, 2019

    Clinton,

    If you plug the photo-eyes that do not light-up when plugged into operator A into operator B and they light-up, the eyes are good.  Replace the logic boaed in operator A.

    Call 424-272-6998 for additonal assistance.

  1. Jim Loges's picture
    Apr 02, 2019

    Hi Roy,

    Thank you for the blog. We have a Guardian Pro Series 628 which was installed about two years ago. We have constant problems with the sensors and believe this is cause by glare from the sun since we experience the problems mostly during the day. Are there specific safety sensor sun shields (that's a mouthful) that work with these units? Also, the green light on that side blinks slowly all the time but the door still goes up/down. Is that normal? I thought both lights should be solid.

    Thanks!

  1. Brian's picture
    Apr 03, 2019

    Hi Jim,

    There are no stock sun shields for photo-eyes.  Fabricate a shiled from cardboard or an empty paper tube and tape to the red (receiver) photo-eye.  Another trick would be to reverse the position of the eyes, placing the receiver eye on the shaded side (if there is one eye in bright sun and the other in the shade). 

    You are right, both red and green LEDs should be steady.  The flashing green could be due to misalignment or a poor connection at the operator head.  First, check the PE alignment.  If necessary, remove the wing nut holding the sensor for full range of motion.  Next, check the terminal block on the back of the motor head.  The first 4 terminals (L to R) are for photo-eye wires.  Each terminal should have one wire inserted.  At times, installers twist together pairs of wires.  Not using all terminals cuts the ammoun of current avaialble to the sensor and could cause the LEDs to flash.  If these two steps do not work, call 424-272-6998.

     

  1. Brian's picture
    Apr 30, 2019

    Hi Marty,

    We'll send you some.

  1. Susan's picture
    Jun 19, 2019

    We had a long power outage and when power was restored opener would not open. I pulled the red cord to open manually and now the opener doesn't work at all. It doesn't even seem to be connected. Do I just need to reprogram the opener? Thanks!

  1. Brian's picture
    Jun 24, 2019

    Hi Susan,

    Please call 424-272-6998 for trouble shooting assistance.

  1. THOMAS FLANNERY's picture
    Mar 13, 2020

    I bought a Guardian Garage Door opener and from day 1 it has been temperamental when using the remote to open and close. If i am too close or push the button to long or too short a time. I had the installer return and ask questions, it appears Guardian knows their problem is the RF signal being sent at too rapid a rate or something of the like.
    DOES GUARDIAN HAVE A SOLUTION TO CORRECT YOUR ISSUE? At present i would never recommend this product or ever buy another, my second door will not be replaced with a Guardian.

  1. Brian's picture
    Mar 14, 2020

    Thomas,

    Please call tech service at 424-727-6998.  A technician will help you resolve the issue you are having with your radio controls.

  1. Deep Chakraborty's picture
    Apr 25, 2020

    Garage door is stuck and not opening....beeps 10 times

  1. Brian's picture
    Apr 27, 2020

    Hi Deep,

    Please call 1-424-272-6998 and a tech will be able to assess the issue and provide a solution. 

  1. Mike's picture
    May 03, 2020

    Checked the sensors they are solid green and red. When I depress the button it beeps 5x I tried holding down the button no movement. Try resetting the limits it let me reset the up but would not the down beeps 12x any suggestion it is a ,1yr old guardian 6200sl

  1. Brian's picture
    May 03, 2020

    Hi Mike,

    The down relay on the circuit board may be stuck.  Please call 424-272-6998 for troubleshooting assistance.

  1. Rick Ulrich's picture
    May 17, 2020

    Motor is making noise only when opening door. No noise on closing. Is this a motor lube issue or a replace motor issue? Any input appreciated.

    THX,

    Rick

  1. GuardianWebAdmin's picture
    May 19, 2020

    Hi Rick,

    Please call 424-272-6998.  The noise could be better described to a tech or he can be allowed to listen to it in order to better assess the issue.  Thanks

  1. Thomas's picture
    Jun 18, 2020

    My green side is frequently blinking, so the door can't open/close. Lens are clean, no obstructions and we've tried adjusting the green side left/right, up/down with no luck. Sensor wiring appears secure. What am I missing??

  1. Brian's picture
    Jun 21, 2020

    Hi Thomas,

    First check to see whether the eyes have been properly wired into the operator head.  There are 4 terminals for photo-eyes.  All 4 must be used in order to provide full power to the eyes.  Lack of power can cause the blinking condition.

    A short in the photo-eye wires can also cause the green LED to blink.  Over time, expansion and contraction due to weather, can cause a staple to break the wire insulation. 

    See this link for more advice: https://www.adhguardianusa.com/technical-references-troubleshooting-photo-eyes

    Call Guardian Tech Service at 424-272-6998 for more advice.

  1. Paul DiModica's picture
    Oct 13, 2020

    I have the Guardian 615 opener and would like to add the MYQ Smart garage Door opener. Do you know if it is compatible?

  1. Brian's picture
    Oct 13, 2020

    Hi Paul,

    myQ is not compatible with Guardian garage door openers.  The Guardian model V2 Smart Control Kit would be your best option to use to have this feature.

  1. RON's picture
    Nov 21, 2020

    Will my hand held remote, Genie Intellicode, work with the Guardian opener? I see a lot of listed Genie remotes but not Intellicode.

  1. Brian's picture
    Dec 03, 2020

    A Genie Intellicode remote control will not work with a Guardian opener.

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