How to Open a Garage Door Manually

by Michael Franco
Garage door PVC

Manual Garage Door Opening at a Glance

From outside:

  • Unlock emergency release mechanism with key
  • Pull emergency release cable
  • Unlock door itself with same key
  • Turn handle to position
  • Lift door straight up with hands

From inside:

  • Unlock both emergency release locks from outside
  • Disconnect power
  • Pull down on emergency release handle to disconnect door from trolley
  • Pull door straight up with hands

Whether from a power outage or a malfunction, if your garage door doesn’t open when you push that magic button, a feeling of alarm may come over you. How are you going to get your car in or out? You definitely don’t want to damage your garage door, but gaining access can be critically important — especially if you're late for work.

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Read on for ways you can open your garage door manually, whether from the inside or the outside.

Manually Opening Your Garage Door From the Outside

Finally home from work, pulling into your driveway, looking forward to some dinner and … the garage door won’t open. Don’t worry, you can still get in.

Your garage door should be equipped with an emergency release kit. This is typically located near the top of your garage door. It’ll resemble a small lock. You should have the corresponding key and you should always carry this key with you or leave it in your car's glove compartment. The lock will contain an emergency release cable. Unlock the lock and pull out the cable. This cable will trigger the release mechanism, which puts your door into manual mode.

Next, you need to unlock the garage door. Just below the emergency release kit, you’ll find another lock. It should be next to the handle that keeps the door itself closed. Using your key again, unlock the door and turn the handle so that it is vertical. Now you should be able to lift the door by pulling it straight up with your hands. Before driving your car into the garage, make sure the door will stay open. Once you’ve parked your car, you can then pull the garage door back down, closing it completely.

Opening Your Garage Door Manually From the Inside

Heading out to run errands and the garage door won't let you leave? Don’t panic. You can open the garage door from the inside.

First, go outside and find those locks mentioned above. You’ll want to make sure they’re open so they don’t interfere when you try to raise the garage door on your own. Next — and this is very important — disconnect the power. You don’t want any power going to your opener. Do this even if your power is out.

Inside the garage, find the emergency release cord. It has a red handle or red rope and connects to the door’s trolley, which hangs from the center rail of the garage door track. Important: Only use the emergency release handle when the garage door is closed. Pulling down on the emergency release handle should cause the garage door to disconnect from the trolley. This will allow you to open the garage door manually.

Open the garage door by pulling straight up from the bottom until the door stops moving. Again, make sure the door stays in place before pulling your car out. Once you’re outside, you can close it by pulling back down on the handle. If your door has a lock bar, you can slide it into locked position to secure the door.

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Safety Tips

  • Be sure to stay safe when opening a garage door by hand. Unplugging the automatic door opener is very important.
  • Also know when you should call a technician. If your door is very difficult to move, whether you’re trying to manually open or close it, there might be another problem.
  • Also remember to never pull the emergency release when the door is open. That’s because the weight of the door could bring it down. If the electricity has gone out and your door is open, it’s better to wait till the power comes back on to close the door, if you can.
  • It’s also important to not leave your garage door open when it’s no longer connected to the automatic opener. The door could easily slam shut, injuring people or property that may be in the area.
  • And, finally, if you’ve reconnected your automatic door opener and something doesn’t seem right, call a technician. If the door shakes or moves unevenly, there may be a problem.

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