How to Open Your Garage Door Manually: Inside & Outside

Nothing feels worse than pulling into your home at the end of a long door, driving up to your garage, and feeling that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as it stubbornly refuses to open.  

Perhaps the power is out. Maybe the motor has failed. The reason doesn’t matter. You just need to know how to get it open so that you can safely park your car inside.  

Safety Precautions

The first step is always to stay calm because almost any modern garage is going to come with a manual release system that makes it relatively simple to open in the event of a power outage. 

Always unplug the door opener before you do anything else. If your power comes back on, or there’s a temporary issue preventing your motor from operating, the door could start trying to reopen as you’re working on it, which is a major health hazard. 

If the door is already open, never pull on the emergency release cord. This could bring the full weight of the door downwards unopposed, damaging the mechanism and risking anything and anyone close by. 

Do not leave your garage door unattended once it has been opened. With the power off and the emergency cord pulled, the door has nothing holding it in place, meaning it can easily run back down its railings and slam closed. 

Once you’re removed your car from the garage and closed your garage door, remember to manually lock it to protect your home and family.  

Finally, if you’re struggling to move your garage door, or you’re having any issues, it’s always better to call a professional. Powered garage doors can be dangerous, especially if the power comes back on during the process. This might cause the door to try and raise or lower itself, which would be catastrophic if you or anyone else is nearby.  

How to Open Your Garage Door Manually Without Power

The most common reason that an automatic garage door stops working is a power outage. If your garage door doesn’t automatically open, check the power to the rest of your property to see if that’s the issue before proceeding with the steps below. 

Opening from the Inside

Step 1: You’ll need to start by unlocking the door from the outside, otherwise the manual bolt will hold the door in place and prevent you from opening it. 

Step 2: From inside, find the power cord that connects to the automatic door opening motor, and make sure that it’s disconnected or unplugged before taking any further steps. 

Step 3: Look for an emergency release cord. It should be connected to the center rail of the door track, with a red handle that makes it highly visible. When pulled, the emergency release will disconnect the sliding trolley from the automated carriage so that you can move the door by hand. 

Step 4: Pull the emergency release cord away and down from the door to disengage the door carriage, then manually lift your garage door up until it’s fully back and locked in place. Make sure that the garage door has completely stopped moving and is secure before you drive your car out of your garage. 

Step 5: Once outside, close the door again by hand. Remember to manually lock your garage door for increased security. 

Opening from the Outside

Step 1: Your garage door will have an emergency release kit, which should be found at the top center of the garage door and looks like a small lock and keyhole. This will be locked and needs to be unlocked with the release key that came with the door when you first purchased it. 

Step 2: Unlock the emergency release kit with the key and remove the drum barrel, Inside the emergency release kit will be a cable that links to your door’s emergency release system. 

Step 3: Pull on this cable until it no longer moves. This will disengage the garage door from the automatic motor system and let you move it by hand. 

Step 4: Unlock the garage door itself using the main door lock. 

Step 5: Once unlocked, open the garage door by lifting it straight up by hand. When the door is up and in place, make sure that it’s safe and secure before driving your car inside. 

Step 6: Once you’re safely inside, lower the garage door behind you, and remember to manually lock it again.  

Resetting Your Garage Door Opener with the Emergency Release Cord

Once your power comes back on, you’re going to need to reset your garage door by reconnecting the disconnected trolley back onto the carriage in order for it to work again. There are two ways to do this. 

First is manual, by sliding the door along the track, which should automatically re-engage the carriage when it reconnects. 

The second method is by turning on your automatic door opener once it’s working again, which should connect the carriage as the motor drives it down the track.   

In either case, when the carriage reconnects, you should hear an audible click, which means that your door is reconnected and the emergency cord has been reset, ready to be used again in case of another issue.  

If you notice anything out of place after reconnecting the carriage mechanism, for example, slow traverse upwards or downwards, the door sticking as it moves, or any juddering or shaking from the door during operation, immediately stop using your garage door and contact a professional, as any obstruction or other issue could cause long term damage to the mechanism.  

Final Tips

If you’re concerned about losing power to your garage door, it’s possible to install a backup battery system that will keep the motor powered in the event of a problem. 

Keeping your owner’s manual on hand can help you identify the working parts of your garage door. 

If you struggle at any point, it’s recommended to contact the experts. Most garage door repair services should have a 24-hour emergency call outnumber. If you figure out your keypad isn’t working, find the best garage door keypad for you.

Losing power to any part of your home might feel like a daunting prospect, but it doesn’t have to be a problem. By staying calm and following the simple instructions laid out here, you’ll quickly be able to deal with the issue and get your garage open.

About Roy Cohen

I'm Roy, founder of Hack My Garage. I started out like most not knowing how to hammer a nail, but now I know more than most people about home improvement and DIY. I want to spread my wealth of knowledge with the world and hope to make it a better place.