The Power Is Out! How Do You Open Your Garage Door?

Whether it’s a thunderstorm that batters your area or you are covered in a mountain of snow, there’s a chance that you might end up having a power outage. It might even be due to an accident with a transformer, or the power company could be doing work on the lines. Regardless, not having power is a problem. You can try to make the best of it, but that only goes so far. What happens if you have to get out of the house for work or an emergency and your garage door won’t open?

Houses with garage doors. Thunder and strike storm

Even when the power is out, you have things you need to do. Whether it’s getting to the emergency room, getting to work, or just getting out to buy some supplies, a garage door that won’t open will be a serious impediment. This how-to guide will help you learn how to manually open your garage door from the inside and the outside.

When the power is out, depending on the opener you have, you might not be able to open the garage door. This is because electric garage door openers, as the name suggests, require power to operate.

Think About Safety First

Before you attempt to open the garage door, you need to make sure the area is safe. This means getting everyone out of the garage, including your pets. Once they are in the house, you can get started.

Always Use Caution!

The springs on your garage door have the potential to be dangerous. They are under a substantial amount of pressure. This means you must always proceed with caution while working around them. If there’s a problem with the springs, calling in the professionals will be the best solution.

Start By Unplugging the Garage Door Opener

Funny picture: Someone who seemed to have received an electrical shock

Even though there might not be any power in the house, it doesn’t mean that you can just start working on the garage door opener. After all, the power could suddenly come back on, which could cause an electrical shock. It could also cause the door to start moving suddenly, which might cause an injury. Although you might think it’s fine to work on the door when the power is out without unplugging the opener, it’s not. Always be safe rather than sorry.

You Need to See What You Are Doing

When there’s no light in the garage, or perhaps limited light from the windows, it can be hard to see what you’re doing. Therefore, you will want to make sure that you have a flashlight of some type to help you. Another good option is to get a LED headlamp, which will allow you to work without needing to hold the light in one hand.

A picture of Brightest Headlamp, Super Bright 18000 Lumen 6 LED Work Headlight With Red Warning Lihgt 8 Modes Rechargeable Waterproof Flashlight

Having one of these headlamps will make things much easier for you. It’s a good idea to have one in the garage. Just make sure you put it in the same place each time you are finished using it. Keep it handy in the garage, so you don’t have to look all over the house to find it when the power goes out. This ensures you aren’t wasting any time when you have to get the garage door open.

Would you like some more tips on what you can do in case you have a power outage that lasts for a while? It’s always good to be prepared, and you will find that Consumer Reports has great tips.

Manually Opening Your Garage Door from Inside

Step 1. The Garage Door Needs to Be Closed

This step seems obvious, doesn’t it? If you need to open your garage door, it will have to be closed first. After all, if it’s open, you wouldn’t need to open it. However, you’ll soon see that this tip is very important.

Image of closed garage door from the inside

When your door is open, even partially open and stuck in position, disconnecting the opener is highly dangerous.

For example, if you aren’t having a power outage, but the door won’t move or go up all the way, it could be because you have a door that is not balanced properly, or a spring is broken.

What could happen if the garage door opener releases when it’s open? The garage door could come crashing to the ground. It could injure you or damage the door.

If you find yourself in a situation where your garage door is open and stuck, don’t try to fix it on your own. Instead, you should call garage door professionals right away.

Let’s look at another important tip you should keep in mind.

Only open the door manually when you have to. Sometimes, if you wait for a little while, the power will come back on, and things will go back to normal with your garage door.

After all, most of the time power outages last a few hours at most. Some only last a few minutes. It doesn’t make sense to go through all of the trouble of disconnecting and then reconnecting the opener.

If there isn’t a pressing need to get out of the garage with your car, just wait until the power comes back on. Otherwise, you are going to waste a lot of time and have more work to do.

Step 2. Find the Bypass Handle

Most of the garage doors will have a bypass handle, which is a rope that hangs down near the rail that runs down by the rail that goes from the door to the opener.

When the door is closed, the rope and handle should be located near the garage door.

Image of a garage door opener bypass release handle

Many times, the rope will be red. This makes it easy to see and red is also typically a signifier for emergencies.

Step 3. Grasp and Pull the Rope

The trolley connects to the opener’s motor and the garage door. When the door opens and closes, it moves the door. By pulling on the rope handle, it disables the trolley operator that typically moves the door.

One of our garage door installer testing the emergency release cord

After disconnecting the trolley, slide it back about an inch from the door.

Step 4. Use the Lifting Handle on the Garage Door

There is a manual lifting handle on your garage door. This will often be installed near the middle of the bottom panel of the door. Sometimes, it might be on the next panel up.

When you have a garage door that’s in good working order and it is well‑balanced, you will find that lifting the garage door should be easy with just one hand. This is true whether you have a single door or a double garage door.

For those who notice that the door seems heavy and difficult to move, it indicates a serious problem. Don’t try to keep opening the door. It means there is a far bigger issue with your garage door than just the power being out.

What you need to do is close the garage door carefully. Make sure that no one goes into the door until it is checked out by a professional. It might need to be repaired or undergo maintenance.

Call your local garage door specialists now!

If this is happening with your garage door, it likely means that one of the springs is busted or is not operating optimally. They will usually last for five to seven years before they need to be repaired or replaced.

Keep in mind that it’s the springs that are doing the heavy lifting for your garage door, not the opener. Problems with the springs need to be taken care of quickly.

Physics and Function of the Door

Garage doors weigh a lot. Often, they are more than 300 lbs. This means that the torsion springs are required to be powerful enough that they can open and close the door. The springs are naturally under a lot of pressure because of this.

When the springs in the garage door system are not functioning correctly, it puts pressure on the opener, or you if you are trying to open the door manually, to lift the door. This just isn’t possible with heavy doors. Most of the time, the opener will not be able to do it without the springs helping to counterbalance the weight.

Step 5. The Reconnection

If you don’t have a problem with the springs and were able to lift the door as instructed, that’s great! Now, you just need to reconnect the opener.

After the power is back on, it’s time to get things back in order. You will find that getting it reset is just as simple as opening the door.

First, make sure the door is closed. Then, you can pull on the emergency release handle. Use a broom handle to make it easier to reach if needed. Lift the door manually, and you should hear or feel it connect.

To ensure that the trolley is connected to the opener, all you need to do is run the opener for an open/close cycle. As the carriage and trolley pass, there should be a clicking sound that indicates they are reconnected. Now, you should be able to open and close the door just as you could before the power outage.

Manually Opening Your Garage Door from Outside

What if you have a garage that doesn’t have an access door so you can get inside when the door doesn’t work? You should take the time to get and install an outside quick release now.

Picture of an Outside quick release 1702LM

If you don’t get a quick release, it will mean that you only have one entryway into and out of the garage. This is not practical and is something you should remedy sooner rather than later. Once you have this installed, the process of getting into the garage when the opener doesn’t have power is easy.

First, you will locate the quick release and use your key to unlock it. Pull out the lock tumbler from the lock, which will engage the release mechanism on the opener carriage. Then, you can manually open up the door from the outside, simple as that. Drive the car out of the garage and then lower the door. You can reengage the release mechanism by pushing up on the lever using a broom handle, or by pulling the release cord up and toward the motor or door until there is an audible click.

Why Not Just Make Things Easier?

Disconnecting and reconnecting the system to get in and out of your garage door takes time that you don’t have. There’s a much easier solution that you will want to consider. This is true whether you have an older, out-of-date system or a garage door opener that has seen better days. Getting a modern garage door opener is the solution.

Picture of an included battery backup 485LM

Replace it with a new opener that features a battery backup. This will be more beneficial than you realize. Not only will you have a new system that’s in great shape, but even when the power is out, you can open and close the door.

You can find different residential garage door openers on the market that could work well for your garage.

Some of the new options from LiftMaster, for example, can be operated through an app you can download to your smartphone. This will save time and will give you more control over your garage door.

LiftMaster, by Chamberlain, has made some big changes to the garage door openers they make. They have more technological advancements than you might realize. It’s possible to connect some of them to Wi-Fi. The integration of MyQ technology is included in many of the products they offer. Control the door using your tablet or smartphone.

What you can see on your smart phone when you have an integrated camera on your garage door opener

You can even get some models with cameras, or have cameras added on later. This will let you see what’s happening in the garage when you aren’t there.

One of the options that have a camera, along with 2-way audio, is the LiftMaster 87504-267. You will have real-time eyes-on in your garage, and you can converse with the people who are there. Another benefit of this system is that it is so quiet.

What if you don’t need a camera? You might want to consider the LiftMaster 87802.

An image of a MyQ alert sent on a smart phone

Above is an example of what an alert would look like on your phone.

The system has the MyQ app to make monitoring and operating the garage door opener simple no matter where you are. Like other options, this also has a battery backup included.

Don’t Have Much Space Above the Garage Door? No worries.

A picture of a wall-mounted LiftMaster 8500W with included side lock 841LM and LED light 827LM

A wall-mounted option could be perfect. Check out the LiftMaster 8500W. It can be installed on either side of the garage door, freeing up space above. Additionally, this system has the MyQ app and integrated Wi-Fi. It also has an automatic garage door lock and battery backup.

Find the Right Garage Door Opener

Contact us today and let our experts help you. You can reach us on the phone at 781-270-5066.

Here at Middlesex Door Systems, we’ve spent a long time learning about garage door systems. Our experts can help you with all of your needs whether you need something brand new or simply want to add a battery backup. We strive to help you find just what you need on your budget. To make matters easier, you can get a free quote through email. Maybe you only need our tune-up service. We’re happy to help.

What If You Need a New Door?

These garage doors are Princeton P 12, in 9'x7' size, doors and overlays in Ice White Color, 8 lite Panoramic windows. Perfect for the farmhouse and the modern farmhouse styles!

How do you feel about this look? Princeton P‑12 Design, in 9' x 7' size. The doors and overlays are in Ice White, 8 lite Panoramic windows. This garage door could work well for many homes.

Use our 3 Styles to find some added inspiration and to guide you in choosing the doors for your garage. You should also check out the photo album to see some other options you might find appealing.

Be sure to use the Design Centre, too. It’s mobile-friendly, and you can virtually put on different types of doors, windows, hardware, choose different colors, and more. You can see what it would look like on your garage. It’s a lot of fun.

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