How to Fix a Handicap Door Opener?

Handicap door openers are great options for making your business more accessible. You need to be sure that your automatic door opener is operating properly at all times. In this article, we’ll give you some basic troubleshooting and repair tactics for identifying and rectifying any problems with your handicap door operator.

How Does a Handicap Door Opener Work?

Before you can repair something, you need a basic knowledge of how it works. Therefore, we’ll start with an explanation of handicap door openers. We’ll talk about the most common type of handicap doors – push-button handicap doors. These doors enable those with mobility issues to enter public areas by pressing a button. It allows the door to swing open and stay open long enough for them to enter before closing behind them.

Handicap doors are operated via a push-button. The button must be installed in an area that is accessible to those with mobility issues and those in wheelchairs. When the button is pressed, it triggers a mechanism attached to the door (usually a mechanical arm installed at the top of the automatic door). The mechanism is triggered to open the door and keep it open long enough for someone to enter.

In order for door openers to work properly, the button needs to send a signal to the mechanism that opens the door. This means the electronic and mechanical sections of the device must work properly.

How to Fix a Handicap Door Opener: Identifying and Solving the Issue

Handicap door openers are complicated devices. There are a number of things that can go wrong. Your first step to solving an issue with your automatic handicap door opener is identifying it. In this section, we’ll give you several common problems to look out for and what you should do about each of them. Let’s get started:

Identifying the Issue

  • Step 1: Check the Power – We’ll start with the most obvious issue/solution. Check to make sure the power button is in the “on” position. The power button is generally affixed to the header box and has options to turn the door off or hold the door open. Make this the first thing you check, because it’s also the easiest fix. Alternatively, if the power is already on, try to reset the door. Turn off & on again to see if this fixes the issues.
  • Step 2: Check the Switches – Once the power is turned on, you need to narrow down the issue. Do this by checking each switch that is meant to operate the door. There will generally be one on the outside and inside of the door. Press each button and see if it works. This may let you know whether the problem is with the mechanical door opener header box or with the transmitter inside one of the switches.

Switch Problem

If you’ve identified that the problem is one of the switches on your handicap door opener, you still have work to do. The issue could be with the transmitter inside the automatic door operator, or it could be a mechanical issue with the button itself. If there are activation or safety sensors present on the door, check for a visible led when in view of sensors. Things to look for…

  1. If LED is present it is a good indication that automation has power (voltage present). If sensors do not illuminate, the  breaker will need to be checked.
  2. Check the toggle switch (normally located on the side of the header package) for on/off position. Flip toggle switch to see if activation will then allow automation to open.
  3. If the door has push plates that are surface mounted (black box mounted to wall with distance from automation) more than likely they will be wirelessly operated. At this point you can check and test the 9 volt battery. 

If the issue isn’t mechanical, then there is likely a problem with the transmitter. In this case, there are a few things you should check. First, make sure the battery isn’t running low or has run out completely (more on this process below). Also, check to make sure the electronic components haven’t been damaged. Sometimes, they are damaged by rainfall, vandalism, etc. Openers should be installed in a sheltered area and can become water damaged if not. If this is the case, you’ll need your door opener replaced.

Header Box Problem

If your problem isn’t with the door openers but with the mechanical header box, then there is likely more of a technical issue that requires a certified technician on site. 

  • The technician will open the header box and see that the control board is functional. There are various settings he/she will run through during the site visit.
  • Many header boxes operate via fuses. If these fuses have blown, they will be replaced.

A header box problem requires professional knowledge of a handicap door system, as well as any other issues beyond the ones mentioned above. Whether you need components to be replaced, or you need any components to be reinstalled, a professional can solve the issue in an efficient manner.

How do you open a handicap door with a button? How do I change the battery?

Above, we mentioned that a common issue with a handicap door button is a low or dead battery. Replacing the battery can be difficult and will differ depending on the specific model of door opener you have. Here’s a general guide for replacing the battery:

  • You will see screws on the front of the faceplate. Identify the screws and the type of screwdriver/Allen Key required to remove them. These are usually either allen screws or phillips’s head screws.
    • You might also see a screw affixed to the base of the mounting box (the box the button is attached to). Check for a screw there and remove it. The faceplate should pop off once all screws are removed.
  • From there, you should see where the battery is housed. You may also need to remove the backplate, which is situated underneath the faceplate. The backplate is removable via screws or allen wrench, just like the faceplate. Once both components are removed, replace the battery with the appropriate type (found in the instruction manual) and you’re good to go!


As you can see, handicap door openers are complicated devices and are part of a larger mechanical system that opens the door. If you are having trouble identifying and solving the problem, contact a professional. Handicap doors need to be installed properly and in accordance with ADA Regulations. You can face legal repercussions if it’s not properly installed, so you don’t want to risk doing this yourself if you lack the expertise.