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GLENDALE, AZ (CBS5) -
Strange happenings in the West Valley are keeping cars outside in the driveway instead of in the garage.
Marcella Solima said her garage door won't open when she hits the remote. Several of her Glendale neighbors are writing about the same issue.
"This is something recent," Solima said. "Something's going on."
Within just the last couple weeks, Solima and her neighbors report their garage doors have been on the fritz, even after changing the batteries, the remote controls are no longer opening the doors.
"Sometimes we're inside and the garage door will open by itself," Solima said.
A 2005 government oversight report sheds some light onto what could be causing the garage door malfunctions. According to the report, many garage door openers use a 390 megahertz (MHz) frequency which is right in the middle of the authorized spectrum range for the Department of Defense.
For decades, the DOD has used 380 MHz to 399.9 MHz in the electronic spectrum but just a few years ago, government agencies were required to use new Land Mobile Radios which would operate on that designated frequency range. The radios were sent to installations across the country.
According to Title 47 Part 15 of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations, garage door openers operate as unlicensed devices and must accept any interference from authorized spectrum users.
The Department of Defense acknowledged bases like Luke may run training exercises with a device called an electronic countermeasure (ECM). The device's main purpose is to disrupt or jam any given frequency and it's sometimes attached to aircraft for military use.
Luke Air Force Base said it has not utilized those devices on aircraft within the last two months and it is unlikely that the problem with garage door openers stems from activities conducted on-site. An Air Force spokesperson said Luke AFB is aware of situations in other parts of the country where military radio signals have interfered with garage door openers but there is no evidence that Luke AFB is a source of the interference in Glendale.
At Lodi Garage Doors & More in Phoenix, Mario Columbia says any number of wireless devices could cause a garage door to operate abnormally.
"You've got laptops, you've got tablets, you've got cell phones, all these generate frequencies can affect your opener," Columbia said.
Older garage door openers operate within the DOD spectrum range but newer devices manufactured after 2011 use different, lower, frequencies. Columbia says if you are having a problem with your door, a minor installation of a new receiver should fix the issue.
"You've got to think about what you are buying and what frequency it's at," Columbia said. "Will it work with all these new technologies that are out there?"
Although Solima and her neighbors are practically next door to Luke AFB, there are a number of devices that could disrupt the way a garage door opener operates.
For more on this story and other stories around Arizona from this author, follow Shawn Kline on Facebook and Twitter.
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