Our LiftMaster Gate Controller From Hell

Gate Controller From Hell

Gate Controller From Hell

Note:  The latest updates will always be at the bottom.  In January 2019 I started documenting every single thing our recalcitrant gate did.  It also has its own YouTube playlist.

Last September (2017) we committed approximately $14,000 to replacing our aging fence and adding the electric sliding gate we had always wanted. This was a good sized project that included removing an old fence and putting in all new board on board 8′ high cedar. We got 3 quotes and went with a recommendation from our housekeeper. The other two companies both recommended the LiftMaster controller and the CSL24 series seemed to be the most popular model.

So when we had the gate put in we went with the CSL24U and a full Solar power system so we wouldn’t have issues of being stuck in the driveway (or in the alley) during a power outage.

I’m pretty sure our fence builder had never seen one of these controllers before. He bought it along with all the other components for our fence and gave us a package price for the entire job. This is typical. He spent probably an entire day getting the controller tweaked to proper functioning and replaced the tiny dual 12 volt batteries with a single 35VA massive battery. For 3 days we couldn’t get the gate to budge. Our cars were on the street and Halloween was rapidly approaching. Halloween day, it’s still not working and he’s not returning phone calls. That’s when I open the manual, read the error codes and realize it’s setting an alarm for not enough voltage.

It turns out the system needs 24 volts, but at 23.5 volts it will not operate and will generate a pattern of 3 beeps. Kinda picky design, LiftMaster. Seems like you could have given this design a little more tolerance than half a volt.

This is a 24 volt system, hence the “24” in the model number. That should be obvious, right? So upon opening the controller cabinet and looking, I find our fence builder has jettisoned the dual 12 volt batteries provided with the controller and added ONE 35VA 12 volt battery as opposed to a deep cycle 24 volt battery. It turns out those are pretty hard to come by.

So after looking at the manual and seeing it requires two 12 volt batteries in series to produce the required 24 volts, I look up the closest big battery store and scurry out, buy an identical twin to the the one in the controller now (+ a jumper cable) – and wire the two in series. Like magic the gate now opens and we can get our cars in the garage before dark.


And then the fun started.

The first time it rained, the gate would not open. It turns out the Entrapment Protection, which consists of an optical transceiver and a reflector fails to work when wet. So even though there is a hood (a pathetic, inadequate hood) over each end, when water splashes up from the ground onto either end, the light does not accurately return to the transceiver. And the controller throws a “93” error code and screams bloody murder for 5 minutes.

This has continued to be a problem whenever the weather is anything but fair, i.e.:

  • Warm and dry, basically.
  • If it gets somewhat cold it’s probably not going to work.
  • Sub-freezing? Definitely not.
  • Raining? Who knows. Depends on the temperature more than the rain, because I have the entrapment sensor bypassed
    (reflector taped to the transceiver)
  • Cold AND Wet – absolutely no way in hell will it reliably function.
  • 40º ? Probably not.
  • 49º ? Maybe yes, maybe not-so yes. You never know.
  • 53º ? Probably, but don’t bet on it.
  • 90º+ ? Summer is the LiftMaster’s favorite season. It works just fine (until it rains).

So when we REALLY need the gate to work is exactly when it fails us.

It usually displays a 93 (entrapment sensor) error now and opens when it feels like it – which is rarely. It is common for it to open 6″ with each remote activation. Sometimes it is more like 12″. Other times as much as 18″. Sometimes it opens 6″, then reverses and sounds the alarm. This is SO much fun. And if our dog happened to dart though the opening he would be killed or critically injured.

When it does this it also exhibits the characteristic of starting the gate motion at full speed instead of slowly accelerating as is normal.

Then other times it opens normally.

It will also exhibit all these characteristics when closing sometimes. The colder it is, the more likely it is to fail. We even have a warmer wrapped around the batteries to keep the temperature up, therefore the voltage, as this thing won’t function if it’s even .5 volt below 24 vdc.

Also, yes, I have upgraded the batteries. Two 35VA batteries in series and the system continuously displays overcurrent (code 41).

LiftMaster’s Position on This is:


CSL24U Controller

I have spent HOURS on the phone trying to reach anyone at LiftMaster that gives a damn. Their position is that it was not installed by a certified Liftmaster tech and therefore not under warranty.

I have spoken at length with two different local LiftMaster techs. Both have informed me that they and LiftMaster KNOW the optical entrapment system is finicky and does not work in the rain. Any water on the surface of either assembly causes it to fail, as it blurs the light beam. Excuse me but last time I looked, ALL gates are installed OUTDOORS. Anywhere but maybe the Sahara Desert will have RAIN – and perhaps some COLD in the weather pattern.

  • If LiftMaster knows the entrapment sensor is broken, why isn’t it fixed by now?
  • Their manual makes no mention of requiring a LiftMaster licensed tech to do the install in their warranty (see insert)
  • All it says (on the cover) is the following:
  • There is no mention that this affects the warranty.
  • How would we know this until after it is installed and we get the manual?
  • Why would they knowingly sell this product to an untrained installer, KNOWING this voids their warranty? (even though it says this NOWHERE in their documentation).


January 2018 update:

One way or another this information came to the attention of Chamberlain / LiftMaster and they contacted me via email. We had a telephone conversation and they agreed a local certified technician would be coming out to troubleshoot / fix any warranty related issues. This caused us to be cautiously optimistic.

January 10, 2019:

The tech (Randy) arrives as scheduled and evaluates the problem along with my explanation of the various conditions I have observed and documented over the last year. He is pretty sure a replacement entrapment eye is the solution. This makes sense, as typically when the gate fails, it displays an error code 93, which means an entrapment event. The new eye assemblies apparently have an internal heater added to the mechanism, so my guess is this problem is not unique to us. He cannot get one in Dallas the day he’s here, so schedules January 16 to come out and replace it. While he is here, he makes a minor adjustment to the gate opening. This provides an additional 6″ or so of total opening through which to thread my Tahoe, so that makes my life easier.


This reinforces my position that LiftMaster has KNOWN the old entrapment sensor design was faulty and far too sensitive to low temperatures. Given that the new version has internal heating (according to Randy our LiftMaster assigned tech). Therefore, LiftMaster should have replaced this for us as soon as I brought up the issue over a year ago.

January 16, 2019:

Entrapment Eye Replacement Day!
Yippeeeeeee! (we hope)

Randy arrives as scheduled and replaces the entrapment eye, relocating above the controller so it will detect our vehicle bodies, but not short critters. This makes a lot of sense and should eliminate the problem of rain water splashing up from the pavement onto the optical surface. This is a very different assembly from the original with a larger reflector and adjustable transceiver. It looks like a lot of thought went into the redesign. I imagine this is due to other users having similar problems.

It worked great when it was installed yesterday, but the temperature was around 60º and clear, so I would expect the gate to work even with the old sensor system. Now we wait and see how it does day-to-day. Follow my YouTube channel and specifically the LiftMasterFAIL playlist to see how all this turns out.

January 17, 2019:

Our weather has been clear and moderate. As expected, our gate is behaving itself with the new entrapment eye system installed. Video on the playlist shows appropriate function, including entrapment response. This is what we had hoped for. The acid test, however is this weekend when we will have sub-freezing temperatures.

January 19, 2019:

Well, hell.

Everything was working great for two days. But today, under conditions when we really need the gate to open reliably, it fails.

And our gate goes back to its old tricks of opening 6″ with each remote activation. Then I have to release the maglock and drag it closed.

So under fairly normal conditions it works fine now. Just not under very cold / wet (both) conditions (when we really need it).

We have an art show all day today, so my Tahoe is loaded to the gills with art and we have to coax the gate open 6″ at a time, then leave the gate open all day (security breach as the entire house is accessible) because dragging it closed means then:

  1. I would have to drag the gate closed
  2. go through the house to the front
  3. loop around back the car in the alley
  4. Then after getting home in the dark (and COLD) I would have to park in the front
  5. go through the house to the back
  6. coax the gate open 6″ at a time again
  7. then go back through the house
  8. and drive around back to the alley entrance
  9. then drag the gate closed again
  10. all in near freezing weather
  11. when we really need the gate to do its job…

So getting home after dark in 34º windy conditions, I once again have to drag the gate closed and enable the maglock.


Thanks for the effort LiftMaster, but we aren’t out of the woods yet.

I suspect a faulty component on the main board or a bad solder that fails in the cold.

Note: When opening the gate, The CLOSE entrapment sensor (the only one installed) maintains a blue light, indicating it is working correctly with no light beam interruption, even in the cold.
Also: When the gate is opening stops every 6″ it indicates error code 93 (entrapment) .

Logic indicates:
  1. An error 93 means the controller is getting information that the current gate path (opening) is blocked.
  2. Therefore it should take corrective measures.
  3. So the opening process is halted and it the gate stops.
  4. We do not have an OPEN sensor installed.
  5. This should be impossible.

Tomorrow I will open the housing to document the error codes (if any) during the failure process.

January 20, 2019:

Today we start at 26º with 81% humidity and clear.

I have zero expectations the gate will work.

Well, no surprise, our gate controller failed miserably again this morning.

LiftMaster CSL24U gate controller acid test redux.

This morning we started at 26º temps with a clear and sunny sky.

Roughly 9:00 AM:

Well, as I expected, at 28º our prissy LiftMaster CSL24U controller would not function. In spite of replacing the entrapment sensor system with the newest version, the circuit board still gives an error 93 and opens only 6″ at a time. So while it seemed to be working properly in the 50º range, freezing range temperatures (still) yield a non-functional gate.


See the video (along with all the rest) in my YouTube #LiftMasterFAIL playlist.

January 21, 2019:

This morning we came back from walking our dog.

I did not expect this infernal gate to open, as it was all kinds of crazy yesterday in higher temperatures. But to my surprise, it opened and closed perfectly at 43º ! Wow! You could have knocked me over with a feather.

But hold on there a minute, speedy. Let’s rinse and repeat 45 minutes later after a shower when we need to get out of here and unload a mess of art at our studio.

This time… Nope. It opens 6″ at a time. Up to its old tricks. I didn’t video it because I figured if it opened and closed OK before, at 2º higher everything should be okey dokey, right?

Not so much. So here we go again.

Every single day is a whole new experience.

It’s like playing the Lotto. Except you get more exercise and fresh (freezing – sometimes wet) air.



Later the same day, the temperatures climb to our advantage.

Not surprisingly, at 57º the afternoon of January 21, 2019, the gate opens correctly. This is after it failing miserably in the morning and opening only 6″ on each remote activation.

I submit @LiftMaster could have replaced the controller A YEAR AGO when I first brought this up to them. But no. Now they want to talk to their lawyers before doing any more work. I’m about ready to pick up the phone and call MY lawyer. What it did in this video is what we expect it to to EVERY SINGLE TIME.

It does not. It is completely unreliable, unpredictable – and dangerous.

LiftMaster? Are you listening?

Around dinnertime I receive an email from my contact at LiftMaster:

Good afternoon Paul;

I am sorry to hear you continue to experience difficulty with your LiftMaster gate. I will reach out to our legal folks to see how best to move forward. I suspect they will approve further repairs and/or replacements at no charge contingent upon your signature on a non-disparagement agreement. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have questions or concerns.


David Franklin
Quality Assurance Lead

Tucson Support Center

My response:

I’m not signing any contract that my attorney does not approve. And LiftMaster is paying my attorney’s fees for this. LiftMaster could have solved this problem A YEAR AGO. Should I just call my attorney and approach this problem differently?

LiftMaster response:


January 22, 2019:

It’s a mild day. Temperatures start out at 37º but rise quickly. We walk our dog around 8:15 and when we get back it’s 56º or 57º -ish.

Not surprisingly the gate opens and closes normally this morning. Around 11:00 or so it starts to drizzle and stays like this most of the day. This is a coin toss sort of situation. The temperature peaks at 60º but it’s wet – so who knows. But the gate continues to function normally throughout the day. Through a steady drizzle it is just fine.

Tomorrow will likely be another matter with temperatures dipping below freezing.

Stay tuned. And see the YouTube playlist for video of all these events.

January 23, 2019:

Let’s set the stage. This morning the temperature is 28º with a 24º windchill. Now the gate doesn’t care about windchill. But I can tell you I sure as hell do when I’m standing around in it coaxing our recalcitrant gate to open 6″ at a time. And that is precisely what is going on this morning. Am I surprised? No. Actually I would have bet good money on this outcome. The interesting thing today, is that the sheer logic fail of a Close Eye sensor somehow affecting Opening travel got me to thinking… What happens if I interrupt the Close Eye sensor during opening.

This video documents exactly that. Initially the gate is doing everything we have come to expect. It opens the gate 6″ for every remote button push. This triggers an error code 93 (entrapment). However… When I interrupt the beam, each button press generates roughly 24″ of travel before stopping with the error code 93.

Neither of these conditions should be possible.

But wait. There’s More…

So all afternoon the gate was fine opening and closing at 47º.

We go out to dinner with friends in Dallas and come back around 9:30 PM to find the gate is back up to its old tricks of opening 6″ at a time. We open it just enough for me to be able to get through it so I can go in the house and get my key fob controller.
Using the technique I discovered the other day of interrupting the beam, I get it open enough for the one car to get through.
Then I have to drag the blasted thing closed in 32º.

And of course no response from LiftMaster since Monday.

It is now Thursday morning.


January 24, 2019:

So this morning starts out at 28º and by the time I need to get the gate open it is 35º.

Not surprisingly the gate does exactly what it always has done at this temperature. It moves about 6″ and comes to an abrupt halt. Fortunately I have recently discovered that if I interrupt the entrapment beam (defies all logic), it travels about 24″ before coming to a jarring halt. This does take less time to open the gate. But NONE of this should be necessary. The whole idea of an electric gate with remote control is so we don’t have to play games with the damnable thing in freezing cold / wet weather. And it has NEVER been reliable.

So today’s adventure in gate coaxing is up on YouTube for y’all to enjoy.

And nothing from our LiftMaster contact since Monday.




But wait… There’s More.

No surprise here, but at 55º Thursday afternoon, the gate performs exactly as it should.

January 25, 2019:

We wait until the temperature is above freezing to walk our little dog, as we don’t want to freeze his little toes. Before taking our little guy out for our regular 1.2 mile walk, I have to pry the infernal gate open, because otherwise my wife won’t be able to get her car out of the driveway. So at 35º, here I am again, coaxing the gate open an little at a time, because that’s how our life is with the useless LiftMaster CSL24U gate controller we have.

The video of this is in our YouTube LiftMasterFAIL playlist.


Today is Friday and nothing from our LiftMaster contact since Monday.




Are you listening LiftMaster?

January 26, 2019:

Not surprisingly, our prissy @LiftMaster CSL24U gate controller FAILED miserably again this morning. At 38º we would expect this to happen and it has done so for the last 14 months.

In this video I leave the beam uninterrupted so you can see exactly how many times it takes activating the remote (36) and how long it takes (almost 3 minutes) to get the gate fully open.

As is not uncommon, this morning I had to go out and coax the gate open so my wife can get out of the driveway and to work on time. Then we have to leave it open all day (security breach) or until the temps reach around 45º (whichever comes first).

LiftMaster’s response?

<crickets> since Monday.
This is Saturday.



January 27, 2019:

Another day of fun and games with our bipolar / psychotic LiftMaster CSL24U gate controller.

At 42º this morning it was up to its old tricks of opening 6″ per activation. But later this morning at 52º, it works just exactly like it should.
This is a completely unreliable piece of equipment and LiftMaster knows it. If they had any clue about customer service they would just replace the entire controller and we could all go on with our lives.

But no. That would be too easy. And reasonable.


January 28, 2019:

Remarkably, the gate opens correctly in the morning. This is because we have a warm start to the day with a temperature at 52º.

But with a harsh cold front coming through in the afternoon, we expect problems later on.

It is 7:37 PM. The temperature is 44º and #WINDY with a #windchill somewhere in the mid 30s. My wife is coming home and trying to get the gate open to maneuver her car into the driveway. The gate does what we have come to expect when it is below 55º. It opens 6″ with each activation.
So I have to come out and open it with my key fob remote control while standing in the bitter cold so I can interrupt the light beam. This enables the key fob to open the gate 14″ with each activation.

After my wife gets her car in the driveway I release the mag lock (because there is no way in hell it will close on its own.)

Then I get to drag this 1,000 lb gate all the way back to close it.


Watch the fun here:

January 29, 2019:

Once again, our gate fails in the cold as I wrestle with the LiftMaster gate so my wife can get her car out of the driveway. It’s 35º and I KNOW it’s not going to open correctly. It does its usual trick of only opening 6″ per activation.

At the end of the day, when the temperature is up to 48º and we need to close the gate (5:15 PM), it does something else entertaining. Apparently it was too close to the stop, so when I activated it to close, instead it tries to open. It encounters the stop and reverses maybe 2 inches. Rinse and repeat. The only way to get it closed is to disable the maglock, pull it closed about 3 feet – then re-enable the maglock. Activating the remote now causes it to open completely (not what we want) but now activating the remote again causes it to close correctly.


Completely useless.



January 30, 2019

It is 6:15 AM and I need to get to the hospital for a procedure. The temperature is 34º. What do you think happens?

If you’ve been following this thread for any length of time, you have a pretty good idea by now. This does NOT open. It does the typical opening-six-inches-at-a-time deal. So I stand in the path of the beam to get 14″ per activation so it doesn’t take THREE MINUTES in near freezing temperatures to get the infernal gate open. Then we have to leave it open so I’m not dragging it open after my procedure. This defeats the security concept of the electric sliding gate entirely, of course.

The video is on YouTube.

But wait! There’s MORE…

1:30 PM and we have a LiftMaster gate wizard come out to tell us what’s wrong with our gate and how much it will cost to fix the damned thing.

It’s 47º and of course works perfectly when I’m trying to explain what the problem is. 47º is pretty much on the cusp of work / fail with this controller, so not really a surprise.

Our gate wizard finds a collection of installation issues and we agree to pay for correcting them. He feels this might solve all our problems. I am not convinced but willing to spend the money to find out. I’ve been unhappy with several aspects of the installation since day one (see “The Installer” below.) The repairs should correct as much of this as is feasible without building a whole new gate and ripping out / replacing part of the fence. So we shall see.

Completely unpredictable gate.



January 31, 2019:

First thing this morning I need to get the gate open so my wife can get her car out of the driveway. It is 44º, so it’s a coin toss as to whether it will open or not. I would bet No on this. And I’m right. Once again I’m coaxing our infernal, aggravating, useless LiftMaster gate open inches at a time while standing out in the cold.

But wait. There’s more.

So later on, around 3:45 PM and 55º, a temperature that usually equates to a successful gate experience, I decide it would be nice to have the gate closed. This should be successful. But not so fast, Speedy! That’s not what our LiftMaster CSL24U controller has in mind today. Oh NO. When I press the remote button, rather than close the gate, it tries to open it, hits the stop and reverses a couple of inches. I try this several time with the same results.

So then I release the maglock, drag the gate closed about six feet, re-engage the maglock and try it again. This usually works. It opens all the way, then figures out it is all the way open and then I can get it closed.

But not today.

  1. I press the button and it does, in fact open all the way.
  2. I press the button again and it starts to close exactly as it should.
  3. For about six feet or so.
  4. Then it reverses all the way.
  5. I press the button again.
  6. it starts to close normally, but suddenly stops, backs up about a foot and the alarm sounds with it screaming bloody murder.
  7. I reset the controller and try again.
  8. Same results. Partial close, sudden reversal and the alarm screams. And it is NOT going to close.

It is 55º. It should actually work.

But no.

Worthless POS





And… We’re not done yet.

We get home a little after 8:00 PM and do you think the gate will do anything remotely normal? It’s still 55º and any other day we would be pretty confident of it actually doing its job. But not tonight. I press the remote button and it starts to close – then starts backing up.

So once again I’m dragging this infernal 1,000 lb gate closed at the end of the day because LiftMaster’s useless CSL24U controller does something psychotic. Hello LiftMaster? Do I need an exorcist for this damned thing? How about pestering the Texas Attorney General? Should that be my next step?




February 1, 2019:

After yesterday’s debacle and having to drag the gate closed after dark, I was skeptical as to the likelihood of our psychotic gate opening when coming back from our morning walk. The temperature was exactly the same as last night. 55º. Under typical conditions we would expect the gate to work properly – but…

And just as if to prove “everything you know is wrong” our LiftMaster gate actually does exactly what it is supposed to do. It opens – and closes – and then opens again. And closes again. Just as if it were not possessed by some demon from the nether regions.

Go figure.

And now for the pièce de résistance

Today Joe the Gate Guy shows up to correct all the installation inconsistencies created by Santiago, our fence builder. We fork over $450.00 to get all the weirdness corrected, which also gives me almost another two feet of gate opening to get through. This will be a real thrill after threading a 4WD Tahoe through a damned needle every day for over a year. And so far, so good. To be fair, though, it is much warmer today and will be over the weekend too. So next week will be the big acid test. When the temps get back into the 40s is when we will actually know if all this was worth it.

Among the problems corrected:

  1. Disconnect the solar panels because the 120VAC connection charges the batteries all the time anyway
    (wish I had known that)
  2. Replace the dual 35VA batteries with original spec batteries
  3. Remove the battery warmer
  4. Remove the trickle charger
  5. Relocate the gate drive chain mount lower so the chain is parallel to the ground.
    The end nearest the inside of the gate was several inches too high.
    This prevented the gate from opening to its maximum.
  6. Replacing the track stop with the correct kind, moved about 24″ farther out
  7. Replacing the “catch” bracket that keeps the gate aligned when it closes
  8. Disconnecting the accessory board.
    According to Joe these can be defective and cause other problems in the main board.

So now we wait (and hope) and see what happens with the next cold snap.

Fingers crossed.

Not impressed with LiftMaster AT ALL


February 2, 2019:

And the fun continues…

This morning around 6:35 AM we open the gate so my wife can get to work. It is 55º with 94% humidity and no measurable precipitation overnight. The gate starts opening normally, gets about halfway, produces 4 beeps, pauses, then opens the rest of the way. This is the first time for this particular sequence of events (lest we become complacent) and who knows what is next…

So I decide to record closing the gate.

Oh Joy!

Closing starts out normally (but I am not lulled into a sense of well-being at this point) and it gets to within about four feet of fully closed, suddenly accelerates slightly – then STOPS. Reverses. Then comes to a complete stop and sounds the alarm (normally associated with it encountering an obstacle.) And then I have to drag the damned gate close. AGAIN. Watch the video for all the fun.

Worthless POS @LiftMaster gate controller




After texting the video of this to our Gate Guy, I receive a phone call in a matter of minutes. Hello, LiftMaster? This is what customer service looks like. He is very dismayed that all the other work did not solve the problem and is out to look at it in short order. We decide to have the motherboard removed and replaced. Unfortunately, this means we are without any way at all to open the gate for a few days.

I guess I can use the exercise…

And now for (hopefully) some good news…

February 4, 2019:

Our savior (newfound gate tech) shows up with a replacement motherboard. We had to drag the gate open and closed all weekend and Monday (see YouTube channel) while waiting for the replacement, but he showed up and installed the new board as promised. He also programmed the gate to close automatically after a minute. We didn’t even know this was an option. It seems it is required in Dallas if you have a pool (this makes perfect sense.) It’s also a great feature. If we happen to accidentally open it (I use a key fob) then it just shuts itself automatically.


(so far…)

This is what happens when you hire the right person for the job.

So far, so good. Since the board was replaced, the gate has worked perfectly. AND It now opens another two feet or so. This borders on downright exciting, as I’m no longer trying to thread a 4WD Chevy Tahoe through the eye of a friggin’ needle every day. That was my big problem from day one.

The acid test will be this week when the temps drop. I expect some issues during the rain today, as water on the reflector can cause problems. That’s easy enough to fix though. I see a modified hood project in the near future.

To recap:

From the very beginning I knew the controller board was the problem. I have been an electronics troubleshooter for around 50 years. The sheer logic failures of the gate controller pointed to component failure or assembly inconsistencies (bad solder joint or defective trace somewhere.) I told this to LiftMaster over A YEAR AGO. Their response: Go to a dealer and contract them to fix it. This was a warranty issue all along. LiftMaster could have (SHOULD HAVE) fixed this problem OVER A YEAR AGO.

And from LiftMaster…




Here’s what it looks like to push the gate open…

Sisyphus Revisited…

February 7, 2019:


The infernal gate actually did everything it was supposed to do.

  • At 42º
  • After .52″ of #rain in the last 3 hours.
  • With water droplets on the reflector.

I hope y’all appreciate me standing out in the cold (and in the wind) to document all this.

So at about 7:20 AM in nasty conditions, our gate does exactly what we always wanted (expected) it to do. It opened and closed perfectly in adverse conditions. Prior to repairs it would have opened approximately 6″ at a time and I would have to disengage the maglock to drag the blasted thing closed.



Problem finally solved. (NOPE – See below)

No thanks to LiftMaster.


This morning’s video:

February 7, 2019 Redux:

Well, I was afraid this was too good to be true.

Sure enough, our gate went completely out of whack 2 hours after the last post.

It did completely crazy nonsense again and I had to coax it all the way open and leave it there.

Up until we went out to a concert after dinner. Then I had to drag the gate closed and engage the maglock.

And then we get home from our concert to find…

Well swell.

Getting home from a Lee Ann Womack concert a little after 11 PM and the gate, of course, opens it’s typical 6″ per activation.

So whoopee.

Here I am after coaxing the infernal gate open, then dragging it closed in 30º with a 27º #windchill.


I really don’t need this much exercise, LiftMaster. I already get 30 minutes of cardio and walk our dog 2 miles every damned day.

This gate controller is POSSESSED. Even our Gate Whisperer thinks so.




February 8, 2019:

Morning Madness…

Well hell

Last night we came back from a Lee Ann Womack concert that was excellent. The temperature was something below freezing and – no surprise – the gate opened 6″ at a time. So as per usual I’m standing out in the freezing cold coaxing this infernal gate open.

This morning, here we go again. Same foolishness at 24º with a #windchill in the sub 20º range. Only this time it does something a little different. I interrupt the sensor beam so it will move farther with each activation. Towards the end of its travel, all of a sudden the sensor LED goes BRIGHT RED. It’s never done this before.

I’m pretty sure the gate controller is NOT located above an Indian burial ground, but just in case it is, can anyone recommend a good exorcist? Preferably cheap. Thx.



Doing it in the Dark…

So today I am on the phone with our Gate Whisperer (because our gate SUCKS.)

The gate refused to open this morning in sub-freezing weather. So at our tech’s urging, around 6PM, I reset the limits and try to configure them, as he feels it doesn’t recognize defined limits anymore. Well that was as counterproductive as it can possibly be. When pressing the Move Gate buttons for either direction, the gate moves about 12″ and abruptly halts. Rinse and repeat to get the gate all the way open. Set the open limit, then do the same thing for the close limit. Except it won’t remember the close limit. So now our already USELESS LiftMaster gate controller does NOTHING. NOTHING at all.

So now I’m stuck Pushing it Open and Dragging it Closed. I have to complete the process from the alley side, as I cannot get a good angle on it to completely close the gate from the inside. Then I have to walk all the way around the house, ring the doorbell and wait for my wife to figure out its me and come let me in. At 36º.

Here I am dragging it closed at 36º in the dark at 7:54PM




This all could have been fixed A YEAR AGO if LiftMaster had just replaced this clearly defective product.

February 9, 2019:

It is 36º and we have to get out early for an all-day popup art show. Since our recalcitrant gate is not remotely functional (thanks to our gate tech suggesting a reset of the limits), now I have to drag the damnable thing open – and closed every single time we need to leave – or return to our home.

Today’s set of videos show both procedures taken with my Samsung Galaxy S9 and our dashcam combined. The dashcam makes this process a bit easier, but all this requires a lot more editing. I never thought I would be this proficient in video editing. That, my dears, is the ONLY upside to this trainwreck of a gate.

The first video is me getting the gate open and closed so we can leave – at 36º. Then off to unload the Tahoe full of art for an all-day art show.

The second video is my bride and I getting back after 7 PM at 32º in the #RAIN – after all day at an art show AND unloading the Tahoe of all the art products at our studio. And THEN we get to A: Drag this ridiculous gate OPEN – and B: Drag the infernal gate CLOSED – after which I get to walk all the way back around the house (did I mention the freezing rain?) afterward. Naturally, on the way home we have only steady drizzle at 32º. As soon as we get home and have to open the gate, it shifts to actual RAIN. You do know Murphy was an optimist, right?

Oh HOT Damn! I think if this was any more fun at all, I’d puke.

So for some cheap thrills (brownie points if you can tell me who recorded that album) go check out the YouTube playlist for today’s festivities so you can revel in my misery.
Someone should be having fun with all this. And since it sure as hell isn’t me – it might as well be you.

You’re welcome.

February 11, 2019:

Here we go again.

It’s been raining overnight and a total of .29″ of rain has fallen since yesterday. So it’s nice and damp, but for now, at around 8:38 AM, the #rain has slowed to a light drizzle. The temperature is 48º and it’s time to open our eternally frustrating LiftMaster controlled gate.

This is Monday.

The gate has not moved an inch on its own since Friday, when I’m out changing the settings on the gate controller while on the phone with our gate whisperer. He felt the controller did not understand the limits of its travel and convinced me (outside at 36º with bare hands) to reset the limits.
The limits would never fully set. So since then, the albatross we call a gate had required that I push it open and drag it shut at least once a day.


February 12, 2019:

Another day of fun and games courtesy of LiftMaster and this monumentally defective CSL24U controller.

Today’s #EpicFAIL video starts with a comparison of our 1,000 lb gate and a bag of fresh dog poop. What do you think the comparison means? Well, one is a useless sack of sh!t and the other is a bag of dog poop.
See what I”m doing here? Making an attempt to give y’all some entertainment and laughter at my pain. I really think I should get some kind of award for this, knowwattamean?

But I digress…

To recap: Friday our gate whisperer talked me through resetting the limits on the gate. By phone. Easy for him, as it was not him out in 36º messing with this infernal gate controller and freezing my nutz off. The end result is the controller refused to accept the Close Limit setting and after that – nada – zip – zilch. It would do absolutely nothing.

Today is Tuesday, so since Friday it has been necessary to PUSH the gate open – then DRAG this sonofabitch shut. Every.Single.Day. Sometimes more than once. Frequently in the cold. Sometimes in the rain. But at least once a day.

Frankly I don’t need the exercise, OK?



This afternoon our gate whisperer showed up, spent probably an hour on the phone with LiftMaster support, successfully reset the limits and had it working perfectly again. At 57º we would expect that. We shall see…

February 13, 2019:

Well, at 48º our gate did everything it was supposed to do. Opened. Closed. Perfectly. Of course, yesterday our gate whisperer reset all the limits and it worked perfectly then as well. It was around 57º though. So go figure. Today is a good day to buy a lottery ticket I guess.

February 14, 2019:

Happy Valentines Day Y’all

Well Happy Friggin’ Valentines Day Y’all. Our finicky gate opened and closed appropriately. Of course at 54º this is what we have come to expect. In a perfect world there would never be weather in Dallas Texas (when the wind isn’t spinning) that would prevent any modern electric gate from functioning.

Our gate, however, is a prissy gate (We’ve named it Cody) and we are so excited we can’t stand it every time it opens. So YAY!



February 15, 2019

Well kiddies, Cody the prissy gate opened and closed perfectly again today. At 54º this is what we would certainly hope so.

Yippee Ki Yay Ki Yo, Motherf*&%$er!
What movie is that from?

(no, there are no points if you Google it)

In a perfect world (or just a normal world with a perfect gate) there would never be weather in Dallas Texas (when the wind isn’t spinning) that would prevent any modern electric gate from functioning.

And Just When You Think It’s Safe to Use the Gate…

February 15, 2019 1930 hrs:

We are leaving for a friend’s birthday party nearby. It is 49º so we figure the gate will probably be OK.

But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo F#$%ing Way!

I press the remote button and the gate moves 6″.

I press it again and now is slowly accelerates, goes partway, then SPEEDS UP and comes to an abrupt halt.

Then it reverses and STOPS – and sounds the alarm.


So I try to reproduce this for video.

And amazingly it does pretty much the exact same thing AGAIN.

Watch the video.

But wait! There’s MORE!

We come home at 2130 hours. it is now 39º and I’m pretty sure our gate will be up to some fresh hell variety of hijinks.

I am not disappointed.

At first it appears to open normally. Until it gets about 5 feet from being completely open. Then it chirps a few times, stops – then continues to open all the way.

But closing it is a completely different matter.

Again – At first it seems fine, closing normally until it gets about 2 feet from being closed. Then it accelerates and SLAMS into the post. Then it backs up – stops and sounds the alarm, screaming bloody murder.

Watch the Video

  • There is quite literally NO WAY to predict what this gate will do.
  • It is literally DANGEROUS.
  • What do I hear from LiftMaster? <crickets>

#WorthlessPOS gate controller

January 16, 2019 0700 hours:

Okey Dokey boys and girls, the fun starts at around 0700 hours and a brisk 33º today. After our thoroughly defective LiftMaster gate controller’s hijinks last night around 2130 hours I am expecting nothing less than an EPIC FAIL.

…And I am not disappointed.

This morning’s fun starts with the gate closed. After re-engaging the maglock (effectively placing the gate in “operate mode”) pressing the remote button results in the gate opening? Oh NO. First it tries to CLOSE, putting pressure on the fence post, then backing up a little less than 2 feet, coming to an abrupt halt and sounding the ear-splitting alarm, which I am sure our neighbors appreciate all to hell. <insert sarcasm here>

Rinse and repeat just to be sure of our gate’s intentions and it is (predictably) completely useless this morning.

Then I get to push the infernal gate open so my wife can get her car out. Again. All this is being undertaken at 33º.

Oh JOY! <insert additional sarcasm here>

And I have to leave the gate open all day unless i want to drag this 1,000 lb albatross open and closed every time I want to get in / out of our driveway.

Thanks ever so much LiftMaster.

LiftMaster. When you absolutely positively have nothing better to do than battle a recalcitrant gate.


But if you think you have a handle on what to expect from this morning’s festivities… Not so fast, Speedy.

At 1306 hrs (and now 38º), our gate whisperer arrives to replace the encoder (plastic box full of magical wheels / gears) that tells the computer where the gate is in reference to the limit points. And what does our lovely gate do when he gets here? Why it behaves perfectly of course. At 38º it just runs back and forth forever, doing exactly what it is supposed to do. It does this every time our gate whisperer shows up. Clearly it LIKES him. And apparently loathes me. I’m not sure why — unless it’s the endless stream of disparaging remarks and expletives.

But I digress…

So our gate whisperer replaces the magical box of wheels, cogs, gears and fairy dust that makes a gate behave, resets the limits and buttons everything back up. And the gate just cruises back and forth as happy as it can be – just like it did before replacing the encoder.

I offered to build him a tiny house right by the gate controller complete with a nice new recliner and unlimited access to our pool.

He’s considering it.

Crazy Gate.

February 16, 2019 19:07 hours:

After our gate whisperer did a rebuild (and collected a not inconsequential check for his work) today, our incredibly annoying LiftMaster gate actually opens and then closes perfectly tonight. It is 40º and misting lightly, so everything is damp.
If I could have jumped up and down for joy and recorded this at the same time I would have.
But alas.
You will have to see me jumping for joy in your mind’s eye.

So for now…

Things are looking up.

After 15 months of grief perhaps we have a reliable gate controller.
But let’s not get all giddy and excited about this just yet.
Let’s all just hope for the best, plan for the worst and see how this all shakes out over time.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s festivities.

February 17, 2019:

Roughly 08:00 hours:

It is 40º and it’s been misting / drizzling all night.  We have accumulated .03″ of precipitation overnight.

And our gate does everything we have ever wanted it to do.

But let’s not get all excited just yet.  If the past few days have shown us anything, it is that there is absolutely no way in hell to predict what this ridiculous gate controller will do.

After the encoder replacement yesterday, we may have solved the problem that has plagued this gate installation for the last 15 months.

Maybe yes or maybe not-so yes.  Time will tell.

We remain cautiously optimistic, but the acid test will be this week when the temperatures hover near freezing.  In the past this has always been a guarantee of a malfunctioning gate.

Stay tuned!

09:45 hours update:

I just came back from our usual 1.25 mile walk with Slick.The.Dog and it is 39º with a #windchill hovering somewhere between #OMFG and #WhatTheHell.  Of course wind chill has no effect on a piece of electronics, but I can tell you my hands were ice cold even in winter gloves.  So it was great to get in our usual walk and even better to be back indoors.  And…  It was EVEN BETTER when our usually unpredictable gate performed as it should.

So…  Yay!

in keeping with one of my favorite stories originally told by Steve McQueen in The Great Escape:

An optimist fell from his 40th story balcony.  On the way down at each floor people heard him say “so far, so good.”

So far, so good.

February 18, 2019:

07:55 hours 33º with a 31º #windchill

And…  Our erstwhile completely possessed gate does exactly what it was designed to do.  It opens and closes flawlessly.  Quite literally for the first time since it was installed in October 2017, it actually functions reliably at 33º.  It appears our gate whisperer has finally solved the problem LiftMaster SHOULD have addressed over A YEAR AGO.  So…  No thanks to LiftMaster / Chamberlain customer service and support.  And ALL thanks to our gate whisperer, our CSL24U controller seems to be content.  And fully functional.  I’m chalking this up to our gate whisperer blessing the controller during the last modification.  Making the sign of the cross over it is when he dispelled the demons plaguing this infernal gate for the last fourteen months.

Thanks Joe!

Just when you think it’s safe to close your gate…

July 12, 2019 18:00 hours:

Looking out the garage I notice our gate is open.

My wife had left about 15 minutes before and the gate should have closed itself as usual.

Well…  Apparently at this time of day (and this time of year) the angle of the sun around 6 PM is exactly right to glare directly into our optical sensor.  Thus overwhelming the input circuit – AND overheating the mechanism.  It is 95º outside with a 105º heat index.  So even if you take your cowboy hat (y’all DO wear a cowboy hat, right?) and block the sun, you still get the red LED indicator light and not the blue one.  So the gate still doesn’t respond to a “close” command.  This is because it’s too hot and can’t get rid of the excess heat with good ol’ Sol pummeling it from the west.


The temporary solution was to fold a couple of layers of heavy aluminum foil into an L-shaped protective roof for the sensor until I could cobble together a permanent solution.  This, BTW, works perfectly because the reflective aluminum foil repel heat as well as shielding the sensor from direct sunlight.

Fast forward to the next day…

I am sure that somewhere in my shop I must have some sheet metal I can fabricate into what I need.  But no.  Nothing substantial enough.  Lots of diamond plate of varying thicknesses, but this would require TIG welding up an L-shape and I don’t want to weld at 98º.  Rooting around in one of the storage closets I spy exactly what I need.  An old propane torch toolbox that must be at least 40 years old.  So drilling out the rivets for the lid and latch – and taking a pair of bolt cutters to the handle, I now have half a red metal box.  Realizing the red metal will absorb far too much heat, I apply a layer of aluminum ductwork tape to the upper surface so it will reflect heat.  Then I get out my trusty pop riveter and reconnect one of the corners that had the top riveted in place and drill out the rivets on the other end to extend the coverage.  Drill 2 mounting holes and a pair of drain holes for rain water and we are ready to screw it in place.

Not exactly elegant – but completely functional.

I think we’re done now.
(I sure hope so…)

Here’s the video:

Our Gate Whisperer

On a recommendation we contacted Joe Torres, who we have come to refer to as The Gate Whisperer.  He specializes in gates.  Only electric gates.  He by his own account, has installed about 200 of this particular gate controller and has never seen the kind of bizarre, unpredictable and erratic behavior exhibited by our LiftMaster CSL24U controller.  So for Joe, this gate project was not only a paying gig, but a personal challenge.  He’s been shaking his head in disbelief probably more in the last month than in his many decades of life prior to this time.  Before he replaced the encoder on February 16, 2019, he made the sign of the cross over the controller.  I asked him if we needed a priest.  His reply was essentially “It wouldn’t hurt.”

Joe started out by correcting all the mistakes our original installer made.  There were some pretty glaring mistakes and things overlooked + options he clearly didn’t even know about that Joe corrected.  The theory was, we needed to correct all the installation problems to make sure that wasn’t the problem.  They were not the the main problem but correcting them made my life a lot easier by getting another 24″ or more of opening through which to thread my 4WD Chevy Tahoe.  That alone was worth the cost.

Then he replaced the motherboard.  This was where I thought the problem was all along, as we had total logic failures.  It was OK for 2 days and then on Mars again.  Joe really went the extra mile in troubleshooting this problem and spent a lot of time on the phone with Chamberlain / LiftMaster support.  In the final analysis we collectively felt it was the encoder because the gate was exhibiting characteristics that indicated it did not know its actual location.  It did not know the limits.  At one point I literally could not configure the limits, as the system would not accept the Closed limit, rendering the gate non-operational for 3 days.  Support tried to convince Joe it could be the rectifier bridge or even the toroidal transformer causing the problem.  And they also postulated that it could be the motor (between $400 and $500 to replace).  To all of these I said “nonsense.”  Logic indicates the problem is somewhere in the controller circuitry.  Not the power supply and most certainly not in a high current motor with two wires.  A positive and a negative.  The motor is not capable of making decisions on its own.  It cannot change speed or direction without directions / voltage / polarity / current changes applied by the control circuits.  So we collectively decided to replace the encoder.  This is the only part not yet replaced that is capable of influencing controller behavior.

And so far, so good.

If you live in the Dallas area and need a great electric gate installer / troubleshooter / tech.  Send me a message and I’ll get you Joe’s information.

I highly recommend him.

The Gate Installer

Another matter altogether and not LiftMaster’s fault, but here’s the story.

Our fence builder was recommended by our housekeeper. His name is Santiago and if you see the little weasel, SLAP him for me. He swore up and down if there was a problem HE would be there in no time to straighten it out. The sleazy little Guatemalan (I know because he offered his passport so I could make out a check for his correct name) vanished like a puff of smoke after he cashed the last check and we haven’t heard from him since. He doesn’t answer or return phone calls and I hope ICE snatches him up and hauls him off to prison. I wish I had taken a picture of his passport, as the embassy would have gotten a nastygram from me a long time ago.

The fence he built is very nice. For the most part, with a couple of exceptions (I would have these fixed if I could FIND him) he did a good job. The one thing he FAILED miserably at was the gate controller location. It is about 2 feet too close to the driveway, so I have VERY LITTLE ROOM to get my Tahoe in and out of the driveway. Had he moved the controller 2 feet east, the gate would open another 24″ and life would be a LOT easier. Unfortunately, to rectify this we would have to:

  1. Remove the existing controller
  2. Modify and shorten a section of fence
  3. Move a 3″ steel gate support post
  4. Jackhammer out a concrete pad
  5. Pour a new concrete pad
  6. Reinstall the controller

So we are stuck with this annoying problem forever.

Last I heard he had taken off to Austin to do shoddy work for Austinites.

Again, if you see Santiago, SLAP him. Then slap handcuffs on him and drag him back here. I’d very much like to chain him to this gate and when I want it open just yell “Santiago you little @#$%& &$%Q#@! *^&*$#%@# worthless ^%$&#Q@* Guatemalan! Open my damned GATE. Pronto!”

That sounds SO good to me every time I’m bundled up like Nanook of the Freakin’ North fighting with this infernal gate in freezing weather.


I cannot count the number of times I have been hunched over at the controller in rain, sub-freezing weather, etc, cycling the controller and the reset switch to get the gate open.

Here’s the scenario:

  • Press the remote button.
  • Gate moves 6 inches and stops (sometimes 12 or 18 inches – occasionally 3 feet)
  • Turn the reset switch OFF – then ON.
  • Press the remote button
  • Gate moves 6 inches and stops
  • Rinse and repeat until the gate is all the way open, which is roughly 19 feet.

That’s 38 of these cycles to go through in the COLD and WET, hunched over the controller using the reset switch.

Did I mention that:

  1. I am 68 years old
  2. I have rheumatoid arthritis
  3. My spine from T12 to my pelvis is steel rods
  4. I’ve had FIVE shoulder surgeries
  5. I have a plate in one foot and another in my neck?
  6. October 2018 I had my right knee replace (for the 2nd time)
This gate is literally a hazard to my health.

Opening it manually is NOT easy. It goes UP a slight grade to open and weighs somewhere around 1,000 lbs.

You need really good leg strength and shoes / boots with GREAT traction. Seriously.

Dragging it closed is manageable, but it is getting VERY tiresome to do so.

Yeah. This is gate is SO much fun.

Did I mention the reset switch doesn’t reset everything?

It doesn’t. There are numerous situations when the controller can FREAK OUT and the only way to reset it is to take the housing off the controller, remove the plastic shroud over the circuit board and unplug the power from the circuit board for about 30 seconds. Then put it all back together again and hope you don’t have to do this again.

Seriously LiftMaster?

No REAL reset switch that actually RESETS the circuits?

Who the hell designed this trainwreck?

I now have a growing YouTube Playlist of videos associated with trying to get this damnable gate open and closed under various conditions.

I feel like a modern day Sisyphus pushing this 1,000 lb gate open and closed.

See the latest video here:


I submit LiftMaster owes us one of the following:
  1. Replacement components that RELIABLY work in ANY weather
  2. A replacement model that is known NOT to have these problems
  3. A full refund and reimbursement for a reputable company to install a product that actually WORKS.

Any one of these three solutions is fine with me.


Credentials blather.

For the record, I have been designing and building electronic systems since 1960.

  • I was ten years old when I started studying electronics and when I built from scratch my first code practice system so I could practice and learn Morse Code for my ham radio license.
  • I was on the design team for the first computerized house in 1981.
  • I owned and operated Precision Technical Services in California for several years. I serviced recording studio.
  • In conjunction with Stan Axelrod, we founded the service center at Bananas At Large in San Rafael California, servicing music and recording gear.
  • I owned and operated AudioCraft Engineering in California for 6 years, service pro audio, musical instruments and recording studio gear.
  • I founded Harris Computer Services in California, operating it for 5 years.
  • I founded and operated The Computer Wizard in Plano, Texas from 1999 to 2010, when I sold it to downsize and concentrate on photography.
  • I still service computers full-time and troubleshoot electronics / design circuits from time to time. I track down network wiring / performance problems full-time.

#LiftMasterFAIL #CSL24U #LiftMaster #weather #YouTube




Liftmaster Manual Front Cover

LiftMaster Manual Front Cover

2 thoughts on “Our LiftMaster Gate Controller From Hell”

  1. Having read your entire blog, I just want to ask so I’m perfectly clear on the outcome: Aside from various other installation issues that weren’t really the root cause of the controller malfunctions, was it the encoder and the encoder alone that ultimately proved to be the source of your gate control issues? Do you believe that the encoder behaved badly primarily when it was cold and/or wet? And that a replacement encoder ultimately fixed your problem?

    I ask because I’ve got the RSL12VDC running a sliding gate across our driveway and it’s given me grief a few times over the 8 or so years since we had it installed, almost always during cold wet weather. I remember pulling the encoder and looking inside it a few years ago but can’t recall if I did anything to it because my memory of that event is dominated by the fact that I broke the belt putting it back together and it took a couple weeks to get my hands on a new one. But it did work OK 99% of the time since then up until the last week, when it has been behaving very erratically, working fine about half the time and exhibiting symptoms like yours about half the time.

    So I’m tempted to pull the encoder again, halfway expecting to find moisture and/or evidence of spiders or snails or something having gotten inside the enclosure. But I don’t want to do that without a spare belt on hand because it’s difficult to get it all back together without stretching the belt and this one is already a few years old now.

    In any event, thanks for your blog. If I run across one more forum post or YouTube video telling me to remove the obstruction from my gate I might go postal. Yours is the only website I’ve found that even possibly points to my actual issue.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.