Elevator Door Won’t Close All the Way – Here’s Why

When the elevator doors don’t close, it can be quite scary. You’re just sitting there, waiting for the elevator to start moving up or down with the doors wide open and hoping it doesn’t.

Of course, that’s what the doors are designed for, keeping people in so they don’t fall down the shaft.

Obstructions, wiring issues, and corrosion are the most common reasons elevator doors do not close. Pressing the emergency button or the “close door” button will often help, assuming there’s no obstruction. 

It might be a little creepy but the elevator shouldn’t move up or down with the door open. If it does, step back and stay away from the opening until the elevator reaches the next floor.

Standing near the opening while the elevator is on the move is risky and it’s best to stay back. 

Possible Reasons The Elevator Door Won’t Close All The Way

Elevator Door Sensor

The door sensor on an elevator is that little strip on the top, bottom, or both that looks like it’s emitting a tiny little light.

It’s actually an infrared sensor and if someone steps up to the elevator doorframe suddenly, inside or out, the elevator doors are designed to open. 

Of course, the problem here is not getting them to close. The sensors may have something to do with that as well, especially if they’re filthy.

If you’re standing in the elevator and the doors won’t close all of a sudden, you can try wiping these sensors, even if it’s just with your hands, to clear away any dust. 

Just remember to wash your hands afterward. Those things need to stay clean regardless. Otherwise, the elevator may not be able to detect that someone is standing in the doorframe and might close on them.

Elevator Controller

This is the brain of the entire outfit, designed to respond to whatever input you give it, such as floor choice, close doors, open doors, lobby, etc.

If there is an issue going on with the brains of the elevator, it’s possible that the elevator doors won’t close, depending on what is tied into this “brain.”

In any case, unless you are an electrician, qualified to work on elevators, and in the employ of the company that owns the elevator, there really isn’t much you can do about it. However, that’s not the same as you can’t do anything about it. 

Most elevators have emergency numbers stamped onto the frame, near the controls, along with repair contact information. Whip out your and start calling the phone numbers. 

If there is an intercom system in the elevator, you can quickly notify someone that something is wrong with the elevator and the doors won’t close. 


One of the most common problems with elevator doors not shutting is obstructions.

Elevator doors are designed to both detect people through infrared and detect them through resistance to the door closing. An obstruction can easily fool the door into thinking it’s trying to close on a person.

In some cases, the obstruction may be somewhere that you can’t see without disassembling portions of the elevator.

If you do find an obstruction (and it can be something as small as a pencil), remove it and press the “Close Doors” button to try again. 

If The Elevator Starts Moving

If the doors are still open and the elevator stops moving, you need to move away from the open doors, as we mentioned above. However, you also need to start pressing that Emergency stop button. 

Keep in mind, the emergency stop button will halt the elevator but you may be stuck between floors when it stops.

Elevators move too fast in between floors to time it very well. But even if you do, there is no sense in crawling out of an elevator that is halfway on the right food and halfway down the shaft. 

You’ve probably seen the horror movies. Don’t do it. If you press the emergency button and stop the elevator, wait for the techs to arrive.

Play a game on your phone. Take care of your business on your phone, text message, play games, just don’t climb out of the elevator until it’s safe. 

Doors are No Longer Level

The older elevators get, the more they depreciate physically. There’s a small chance that the elevator doors are no longer exactly level.

This is another instance where there is little you can do outside of contacting a repair tech unless you are the repair tech. 

Bottom Line

It happens from time to time. If your elevator doors aren’t closing like they’re supposed to, it’s likely one of the above scenarios and not something nefarious.

If you are on the elevator when it happens, don’t be afraid to use that emergency button.

And absolutely never try to climb out of an elevator situated between two floors with the doors partly open.

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