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Need to Manually Open Your Garage Door? A How-to Guide


We tend to take our automatic garage door openers for granted — like running water out of the tap until the well runs dry. When our garage doors stop working, it can suddenly feel like we’re back to shed doors and carriage houses. Do you even know how to open a garage door manually?

The Classic Manual Garage Door Opener: You

All automatic garage door openers have an option to open manually. This needs to be done if you’ve lost the remote, the garage door opener has a problem and needs repaired, or another part of the garage door needs repaired. The good news is it’s very easy to disconnect your garage door opener so you can open the door manually.

A Word of Warning

Before you start to disconnect the garage door from the garage door opener (by disengaging the garage door trolley), keep in mind you only want to do this if the garage door is closed. If it is still open, the garage door will come crashing down. Considering the door weighs hundreds of pounds, this can be a serious safety hazard. Tread carefully.

Is your garage door stuck open? (Perhaps the garage door has come off track?) It’s not the best idea to disengage the garage door opener. Instead call a garage door repair professional to come have a look.

How to Manually Open the Garage Door

First, find the cord that disengages the garage door from the opener — usually a red cord hanging down from the overhead trolley. You may need to place a ladder underneath it to reach it properly.

Make sure there is nothing in the path of the garage door and the garage door is safely closed. Pull on the cord. It’s likely attached to a small level.

Once the cord is released, you need to manually lift the door. You might want to have someone help you with this step. Hopefully the door will lift as you pull it off of the ground. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to pull on the cord again until it totally locks into place.

Next, lift up the door. It should raise up. If it doesn’t, the door is stuck — perhaps your garage door has come off track.

I’ve Managed to Disconnect the Garage Door Opener and Get the Door Moving: Now What?

Keep in mind that the door is now running free on its tracks. Don’t let go of the door once you’ve completely raised it up — otherwise it will come crashing down. Perhaps you can prop the door open, say with a 2×4. You could also have someone hold open the door as you drive your car out.

Once your car is moved, you’ll need to gently lower the garage door back to the ground. (You might want two people to do this job as well.)

How Do I Get My Automatic Garage Door Opener Connected Again?

You can re-engage the garage door opener by running it through an opening cycle. The door will automatically catch and raise the door as it normally would.

If your garage door opener is broken, however, you’re best simply locking the door once your vehicle is out. Call a garage door repair professional to repair either the garage door opener, the garage door itself, or get the garage door back on track if it has come off the track.

3 Common Types of Garage Door Openers

When choosing a new opener for your garage door, there are 3 types of drives to consider: Chain drive, belt drive, and screw drive. Chain drives are the most economical. These run on a chain that looks and functions much like a bicycle chain. The catch with these openers is they are loud — not the best choice if your garage door is attached to the house, especially near a living area or bedroom. Belt drives are a little more expensive but super quiet. These are great garage door openers if you want peace of mind. Screw drives work off a screw connected to a shaft. The beauty of these doors is they require very little maintenance because they have no moving parts. They tend to last a long time.