As you pull up to your house, your headlights reflect off your garage door. It’s been a long day at work, and all you want to do is make dinner and enjoy a relaxing evening. You reach up and push a button on your garage remote, but nothing happens. Your garage door won’t open.
Electric garage doors save us money, time and energy — we can quickly and easily open, close or adjust the height of our doors with the push of a button. Sometimes, however, you click your remote, and the door remains closed. Whether due to external factors like a power outage or internal ones like broken springs, a garage door that stays shut is daunting. How will you access your garage if you can’t open the door?
At Marvin’s Garage Doors, we understand a stubborn garage door is often confusing and always inconvenient. We’ve created this guide to give you practical ways to get in and out of a closed garage — the next time your garage door acts up, you’ll know what to do.
How to Manually Open and Close Your Electric Garage Door
When your garage door doesn’t open, you’re either locked in or out of your garage. If your garage connects to your home through an interior door, you’re in luck — manually opening a garage door from the inside is easier than opening it from the outside. However, if your garage door is the only way to access your garage, you may need to contact a professional to open your garage door. A garage door repair service will be able to access the emergency latch from the outside of the garage to safely override the electric mechanism. Opening a garage door from the outside can be tricky, so it is best to call a professional to avoid harming yourself or damaging your garage door.
If you can access the interior of your garage, follow these steps for how to manually open your garage door from the inside:
1. Closing and Opening Your Garage Door Manually From the Inside
Sometimes, the problem isn’t about being locked out — your garage door could malfunction while you and your vehicles are still inside your garage.
If you can’t open your garage door from the outside, but you still have access to your garage through your home, don’t panic — it is typically much easier to open a garage door from the inside than from the outside. Many electronic garage doors come with a bypass switch, allowing you to override the system and manually lift it open when needed.
To locate the bypass switch, look for a red rope hanging down from your garage mechanisms. This emergency release cord will be attached to the trolley in the center of the garage door. When the cord is pulled, the automated opener carriage that normally opens and closes the door is released from the trolley. This allows the door to slide freely on the trolley without the help of the electric mechanism.
Before pulling the release rope, make sure the garage door is fully closed. If your garage door is stuck partially open and the spring inside the door is broken, the garage door will fall when the cord is released. This could cause damage to the garage door and anything that may be underneath the door when it falls. If your garage door is stuck open, contact a repair service to fix the door safely.
To disconnect the opener, pull the rope down and towards the door. Many garage door release cords come prepared with a handle for easy gripping. Depending on the length of the cord and the height of your garage, you may need a ladder to safely reach the rope.
When you’ve successfully disengaged the mechanism, you will hear a “pop” which means the motor is no longer connected to the door. You should then be able to easily lift the garage door. Using both hands, grip and raise the door from the bottom.
If you feel any resistance when trying to lift your garage door, stop and contact a professional. If your garage door does not open smoothly after pulling the release cord, this could mean the door is off of its track, or the springs are broken. In either case, trying to force the door open will only cause more damage.
Keep lifting the garage door until it is fully overhead. Without the automated lifting mechanism, the door can slide back down if it is not open entirely. When closing the garage door, lower it slowly and manually lock it by sliding the lock bar.
2. Resetting the Garage Door Opener
When you manually open your garage door, it will remain in manual mode until you reengage the door opener. As soon as you can fix the underlying issue or your home’s power comes back on, you will have to reset the door back to its automatic mode.
Fortunately, reengaging a garage door opener is fairly simple, although the exact method depends on the model of your door. One common method has three quick steps — first, while the door is in a manual setting, raise it fully overhead. Next, pull straight down on the red emergency release cord to connect the trolley to the carriage. For some garage doors, you may need to pull the cord down and towards the garage door. When the trolley is successfully reconnected to the opener carriage, you should hear a loud click. Finally, push the control button on either the wall panel or the remote to operate the door.
If your garage door shut off because of a power outage, it may not start working automatically when the electricity comes back on, and you may need to use another method. To allow the system to reset, try unplugging your opener. Let the system rest for 30 seconds, then plug the opener back into the socket. If your door still doesn’t work, a power surge might have damaged the motor head — contact a garage door repair company for a thorough examination.
While manually opening your garage door is a relatively low-risk process, take a few safety measures to prevent any accidents.
- Avoid muscle strains: Your garage door may weigh too much for you to open. If you are having difficulty lifting the door, avoid straining your back, knees or shoulders by contacting a garage door repair company to help you open your door.
- Prevent electrical shock: If you are planning to work on the carriage assembly or the motor head while the electricity is out, unplug the unit before you begin. This precaution will prevent injury if the power unexpectedly turns on as you’re working.
- Keep the door closed: Before pulling the release cord, make sure the door is in the closed position. While closed, your garage door experiences the least amount of pressure. Additionally, a closed garage door cannot move, reducing the chance that it will fall and injure anyone or anything underneath.
If you can’t get your door to reset, contact a professional garage door repair service to examine your door.
If you have trouble resetting your garage door, contact a professional garage door repair service to examine your door. They will be able to make sure it is reset properly to prevent damage and avoid any future problems with your garage door.
Why Would I Need to Open My Garage Door Manually?
If you have never gotten locked in or out of your garage, you might not think this is a relevant issue — why would you ever need to manually open your garage door?
However, an unmoving garage door is more common than many people think. Below are four situations where you need to know how to open a garage door manually.
1. How to Open Your Garage Door When the Power Is Out
We rely on electricity to power almost every facet of our lives. Power failures lead to a long list of issues, ranging from minor inconveniences to more severe problems.
However, when the power goes out, life doesn’t necessarily grind to a halt. Most likely, your workplace will still expect you to show up on time, and you’ll still have errands to run and supplies to purchase. These require a vehicle, which means you have to access your garage. But when the power goes out, the garage door shuts down — if your property experiences an unexpected power outage, you will probably end up with an unresponsive garage door on your hands.
Almost everyone experiences the occasional power outage — taking the time to make sure you and your family know how to manually open your garage door without power reduces the disruption of electricity failures.
2. Checking to See If Your Garage Door Is Broken
If you’re not in the middle of a power outage and your door stops working, you might be dealing with a more serious issue.
One of the most common garage door problems is broken or faulty torsion or extension springs. Garage doors are heavy. Torsion and extension springs allow the opener to easily lift the door, reducing the amount of stress on the mechanism.
Trying to manually open your garage door is one of the best ways to troubleshoot your problem. Attempt to open your closed garage door — make sure to disconnect the automatic opener, then try to lift the door using the method we discussed earlier.
If your springs are in good condition, the door should lift easily with little resistance, and the door should stay up when you’ve raised it all the way. However, if your door is impossible or difficult to lift, or if it slides down once you’ve lifted it overhead, you are probably dealing with a springs issue.
3. When Your Electronic Remote Gets Lost
Even the best of us misplace things. Whether it’s our keys, our shoes or our wallets, it’s easy to lose track of important items, especially if they’re small.
Unfortunately, a garage door remote is both small and essential, which makes it easy to misplace. Few things are as frustrating as when you’re running late to work and can’t find your garage remote — you could have sworn it was in your car, where you always keep it. In situations like this, you don’t have the time for an extensive search of your car, garage and house, and you can’t cross-examine your family about the last time they saw the remote. You’re on a tight schedule, and you need to get out of your garage as soon as possible.
If you know how to manually operate your garage door, you can quickly jump out of your car, open the door and be on your way. You can search for your remote or order a new one when you get home, and in the meantime, a little missing box won’t disrupt your schedule.
4. In Case of an Emergency
Knowing how to manually open your garage door can be crucial during an emergency. Many natural disasters cause electrical surges and failures, including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires and heavy snow and ice storms. In any of these events, an untimely power outage could deactivate your garage door and prevent you from accessing your vehicles.
Such was the situation for many residents who experienced the 2017 California fires. During the firestorms, power grids failed across communities, effectively sealing garage doors shut. Since residents couldn’t access their vehicles, the closed garages delayed evacuations. Although many homes weren’t on fire, the broader failure of the electrical grid caused every house in the area to experience the same delay.
If your house or property catches fire, your garage door might be the only safe exit. Other doors could be too damaged or too close to the flames. However, if the fire has affected your home’s power, your door might not open. In immediate danger situations, knowing how to open and close your garage door manually is vital for you and your home’s safety.
Knowing how to manually operate your garage door does more than help you avoid inconveniences — it allows you to safely and quickly navigate emergencies.
Contact Marvin’s Garage Doors for Garage Door Repairs Near You
Once you learn how to manually open and close your garage door, you’re prepared for a wide range of situations ranging from a power outage to a lost remote. But operating your door yourself is only a temporary solution — to fix the underlying issue affecting your garage door, you need professional service.
At Marvin’s Garage Doors, we are committed to providing efficient work and expert service. Our team of highly qualified professionals is standing by to assist you in any garage door-related repairs you need —we offer 24-hour emergency service, so we’re available to help at any hour of the day.
We service all models of residential and commercial garage doors, and we include opener, spring and panel repair. Family-owned and -operated, Marvin’s Garage Doors has been a trusted provider of garage door service in the northwestern North Carolina area since 1970, and we’ve worked hard to earn a reputation of excellence.
Contact Marvin’s Garage Doors to schedule your garage door repair today.
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