LESLIE: Calling from my neck of the woods, Long Island, New York. Dorothy, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with?
DOROTHY: Hi, I have a garage door that, at night, opens by itself.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
DOROTHY: First time I didn’t know what time. The second time I happened to get up at 2:30, looked out the window. The garage door was closed but when I went to the garage it was open at 6:30. Now, my garage door is not hard-wired. So what I have been doing is closing the door and then walking 10 or 15 feet and unplugging the door. However, I am handicapped and this is difficult for me.
Now, I came in on one of your programs, in the middle, where you – one of you said there was something that had a whole bunch of different codes for the garage doors.
TOM: Dorothy, how old is your garage door opener?
DOROTHY: Well, I had a new unit put in four years ago.
TOM: Mm-hmm. OK.
DOROTHY: But that company, unfortunately, is out of business.
DOROTHY: Now, what gets me is I’m afraid to call somebody because I’m an old lady by myself and I’m afraid they’re going to take advantage of me.
TOM: Alright, Dorothy, let me tell you what’s going on here. If you have an older garage door opener or one that is not up to modern standards it’s not going to have the right type of encoding. The very – the old openers only had, you know, four, five, six, eight, ten different possible codes. And the new ones use something called rolling code technology. So every time the door goes up, every time you use your remote, it actually physically changes the code and there are millions of different codes. And it all is handled automatically by the opener itself; by the transmitter that’s the kind that you keep in your car.
LESLIE: And Tom, that would be bad so – because if your neighbors got a similar code and they go to open their garage, yours would open, too.
TOM: Well, exactly, and that’s what I think may be happening to Dorothy. Someone else in your neighborhood may have the same code and when the conditions are right that’s actually opening your garage door. So I think the solution here, Dorothy, is a new garage door opener and you have to specifically ask if the opener has something called rolling code technology. It is very common. It’s not hard to find. Most of the new openers have it and that’s what you need to ask; about rolling code technology. If they have that, then you will probably be absolutely fine and solve this problem and you’ll not have to unplug your garage door opener anymore.
LESLIE: There’s no way you can switch it yourself?
TOM: Well, there might be. It depends. If you look at the back of the garage door opener there’s a set of switches; they’re call dip switches.
TOM: And they’re probably going to be adjusted one will be up, one will be down and so on. And that’s going to match the pattern of the dip switches on the transmitter itself. Now, what you could do is try to change that pattern and if you do that, you know, it may be that if someone else has the same pattern then perhaps [your good fortune enough] (ph) that it doesn’t open and close automatically anymore. But even so, it’s not really smart to have a garage door opener that’s not protected by rolling code because, you know, the crooks can have a garage door opener with, you know, 10 different combinations …
LESLIE: And just try every one.
TOM: … and they can just go up and down the street and try every one. Exactly.