Learn how to open a garage door manually in the event the garage door opener motor is not working.

Automatic garage doors are a nearly ubiquitous convenience. However, when the power goes out or if you lose your remote, they can go from a helpful amenity to a headache. Luckily there are simple ways to disconnect the door from its powered mechanism and allow for free movement as well as easy reattachment later.

Disconnecting the door from the powered carriage

This sounds more intimidating than it is: all you need to do to disconnect the door from its powered mechanism is locate the emergency release cord. First, make sure your garage door is completely closed. Disconnecting it from its automated mechanism in an open position will cause the door to crash to the ground, causing damage to it and anything underneath.

Once it’s closed, use a ladder or stand under your garage if it’s short enough and look for a cord with a handle on the end hanging from the center rail of the garage. The cord is almost always red but if it’s another color and you don’t see any others around, it’s almost certainly what you’re looking for. 

Pull down on the cord. This will disengage the release level and allow the garage to move freely along the rail.

Opening the garage door

This next step seems simple: open the garage door. However you want to make sure not to overexert yourself as well as stay safe around a garage door that is no longer automated.

First, make sure there’s nothing obstructing the rail or any reason the door wouldn’t be able to run freely along it. If you don’t notice anything unusual, try lifting the door from the bottom with both hands. The door should be light and move easily. If it doesn’t budge, ask a friend for help.

If you’re still having trouble or if the door moves in starts and stops along the rail, you should try lubricating the door’s chain and rollers. This makes manual opening easier as well as increases the longevity of the door itself.

Once you’ve got it off the ground, don’t let go. Because your garage door is moving freely along the center rail, it could easily fall. Have someone hold the door open for you or prop it up using a sturdy object like a two-by-four if you have one handy.

Reattaching the release lever

Once you’ve driven your car or moved whatever objects you need into or out of the garage, let the door down easily. If your remote is still lost or power is not working, you might keep your garage door disconnected from its automation and lock the door. When power is back on or you’ve found your remote, it’s time to reconnect the release level.

Locate the same emergency cord you pulled to disengage the release lever. To reengage it, pull down on the cord in the same way. The lever will reconnect to the trolley that pulls your garage door up and down.

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