How to Open Your Garage Door When the Power’s Out

Updated May 2021

No matter where we live, we’ve all experienced a major power outage. Maybe you were returning home to a dark house after a long day at the office – or worse, from a camping trip with the kids that turned into a nightmare because of heavy rain and a thunderstorm. Maybe you were stuck inside with already bored and uncontrollable children when the outage occurred. One thing is for sure, the lack of power has consequences ranging from a minor inconvenience to your very own personal disaster.

Houses with garage doors. Thunder and strike storm

You think not being able to get the garage door to open or close is not a real problem and you shouldn’t think twice about it? Well, think again. Let’s say you are late for work or one of your kids ate a peanut while falling down the stairs (the little angel is allergic to nuts, Murphy's law in action) and you need to get the car urgently.

Life goes on. Even during a power outage. Accidents happen. Even during a power outage. That’s why if you own an electric garage door opener, you should learn how to manually operate your garage door, from inside or outside the garage. This is a “How to” that could save your life. Literally.

No Power? No Problem!

The reason you cannot open your garage door during a power break is because it’s linked to your automatic garage door opener, so the electrical connection stops you.

Before you start

First, get everyone, including your curious kids and too cute dog Buddy, out of the garage, except for you.

Be careful!

Always keep in mind that your garage door springs are under a lot of pressure – just like an exhausted boss who can get furious for the littlest things and the smallest mistakes. You should work around them extremely cautiously.

Unplug Your Garage Door Opener

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

We know. There is no power in the first place! Humor us. Let’s say you are not the luckiest person in the world, especially when you are in a hurry. You want to do this chore quickly because you’re already late. You decide not to bother with this step. Why should we live our lives in fear, right? And BAM! The power suddenly comes back on! You would get an electrical shock or be hit by the moving trolley right in the face. And it wouldn’t be a funny picture.

May the light shine in!

If it’s dark and there is no power, get a flashlight or even better a LED headlamp so your hands will be free and you will get the job done in a more efficient manner.

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

In fact, having a headlamp that stays in the garage – easy to get your hands on and always at the same place – should be your 1st step to be ready to open your garage door in case of a power outage.

When you are in a hurry and need to get out of the garage NOW, having to find something to see what you’re doing in a cluttered house, running up and down the stairs, opening every drawer of your home, will not only make you look like a crazy person, it will also make you waste precious time in case of an emergency.

Need other tips to prepare your home for a prolonged power outage? Consumer Reports has great tips.

How to Open Your Garage Door Manually From the inside

Step 1. Your garage door must be closed

We know what you’re thinking right now. Wow. If I want to open my garage door, it most certainly is because it is CLOSED.

Image of closed garage door from the inside

Disconnecting your garage door opener from your garage door when your garage door is open, even if not completely is extremely dangerous!

Let’s say you’re not experiencing a power outage, but your garage door won’t open. It might be because a spring is broken or not well balanced.

Releasing the garage door opener when your garage door is open could mean the full weight of the garage door slamming down on you.

So, not sorry for being Captain Obvious. But your life matters to us! In fact, if your garage door is stuck in the open position, you should contact GARAGA garage door experts at once.

Here is another simple tip you might not think is relevant, but it is.

Don’t go into the manual mode unless you really have to.

Just wait a bit. See what happens. Think of other the options you have.

Most power outages are not long enough to go through this process. Especially the reconnecting part.

If you don’t have an urgent reason or if you can take your spouse's car in the driveway, do not disconnect your garage door opener. You will be upset not to have listened to this grandmotherly advice when you finally finish disconnecting your garage door opener. Then oops! The power comes back on. And now you have more work to do. And you’re not quite sure you did it right in the first place because you were stressed out and wanted to be done before the task was even started.

Step 2. Locate the bypass handle

If your garage door opener is not one inherited from your grandpa, you should see a rope hanging down near the rail that runs from your opener to the door. Not the garage door tracks. The opener rails.

We know. Here comes Captain Obvious again. But when people need to get out fast, weird things happen. When the door is closed, this manual release handle and rope should be near the garage door.

Image of a garage door opener bypass release handle

This handle is often red because, you know, emergency, and it is your garage door opener emergency release handle.

Step 3. Pull the Emergency Release Cord

The trolley is connected to your garage door AND to your garage door opener motor. It moves when you open / close your garage door electrically. Pulling the emergency cord will disable the trolley operator which usually moves your garage door.

One of our garage door installer testing the emergency release cord

When the trolley is disconnected, take the time to slide it back an inch or so, away from the door.

Step 4. Locate the lifting handle on your garage door & lift it

Use the manual lifting handle on your garage door. Most of the time, it’s installed on the bottom panel, or sometimes on one above that.

If your garage door spring system is well‑balanced, it will be easy to lift your garage door with only 1 hand, whether you have a single garage door (around 16’ x 7’ft.) or a double garage door (around 16’ x 7’ft.).

If the door seems heavy and hard to lift, STOP RIGHT THERE.

You have a much bigger problem than you first thought!

Carefully close the garage door, get away from it, and make sure nobody goes into the garage – not even Buddy, your clumsy dog – until you have your door checked, repaired or undergo maintenance.

Call your local garage door specialists pronto!

It is a clear sign that you have a broken spring or that it is not functional anymore. Maybe it has reached the end of its useful life, which is usually 5 to 7 years.

Many people think that the garage door openers lift their garage door up. They do not. Your garage door springs are doing the real work of lifting the door. If you think we are pushing the Panic Button too quickly, consider what follows.

Basic Physics

If your garage door weighs 300 lb, its torsion springs need to exert a force of 300 lb so your door is easy to open or close. Because they exert a huge amount of force, your garage door torsion springs are also under a huge amount of pressure.

Basic Functioning

If your garage door springs are not functioning properly, your garage door opener – or you – have to take your garage door’s full weight. But without the counterbalance of well-functioning springs, the chances are your garage door opener is not strong enough to do it. Its capacity was not designed for it.

Step 5. Reconnect your garage door opener

Step 4 went like a charm? Good for you!

Once the power comes back for good, and you are ready to re-engage your garage door with your garage door opener. The reset process is pretty simple. Here’s how you do it

  1. Make sure your garage door is closed.
  2. Pull on the red emergency release handle on the door opener with a broom handle.
  3. Manually lift the door until you hear or feel it connect again:

    To reconnect the trolley to the opener, simply run the opener for a complete cycle. That means all of the way up and all of the way down. When the trolley and carriage pass one another, you should hear a loud click. They are now connected, and you can open and close your garage door electrically again.

How to Open Your Garage Door Manually - From the Outside

If your garage does not have an access door, we highly recommend you to get an outside quick release.

Picture of an Outside quick release 1702LM

Otherwise, you only have one access in and out of the garage and that’s pretty dangerous in case of a fire, not to mention absolutely not practical at all.

  1. Locate the outside quick release and insert the appropriate key into the lock socket.
  2. Turn the key and pull the lock tumbler out of the lock to engage the release mechanism on the garage door opener carriage.
  3. Open the garage door manually until it stops moving.
  4. Drive the car inside the garage and lower the garage door manually.
  5. Re-engage the release mechanism by pushing upward on the lever with a broom handle. You can also re-engage the mechanism by pulling the release cord upward and toward the motor or door until you hear a click.
  6. Before leaving the garage, make sure that you have another access point to your home.

Want something better?

Avoid all of this AND get out of or in your garage anytime, even when the power is out.

Doing all these steps doesn’t seem to be a walk in the park for you? Your garage door opener is a bit old, never got any kind of care and maintenance? Perhaps you were already thinking of changing your garage door opener?

Picture of an included battery backup 485LM

Get into the 21st century and replace your old garage door opener with a new one with a battery backup included. This way, you’ll be ready for any kind of weather or situation without even doing a thing.

There are many models of garage door openers depending on what you want to accomplish with it and your garage space.

Love your smart phone, saving time, and operating your home from anywhere in the world through apps? Then you’ll love the new generation of LiftMaster garage door openers!

A few years ago, LiftMaster, by Chamberlain, made improvements and advancements with their garage door opener equipment. That included adding the ability for the devices to be connected to Wi-Fi. Their MyQ technology is now incorporated into most LiftMaster products, which means complete control of your garage door opener from a smart phone or tablet.

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

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

The LiftMaster 87504-267 even offers an integrated camera with 2-way audio so you can see what’s happening in your garage in real time and even have a conversation with people in your garage. It is also the quietest garage door opener from LiftMaster.

Don’t feel the need to have a camera on your garage door opener? Then the LiftMaster 87802 automatic opener may be your perfect match!

An image of a MyQ alert sent on a smart phone

Here is an example of the alert you would receive on your smart phone.

It includes the MyQ app so you can monitor and operate your garage door opener from your smart phone since you get notifications and alerts. Of course, it also includes a battery backup.

Your garage ceiling is very low, cathedral, obstructed by a beam, or you want to keep it for storage?

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

The LiftMaster 8500W wall-mounted electric garage door opener is the one for you. This model optimizes garage ceiling space overhead with its siding installation. It mounts easily on the wall (right or left side) beside the garage door.

It is also fully equipped with must-have features including built-in Wi-Fi and the MyQ app for smart phone control, an Integrated Battery Backup and the Automatic Garage Door Lock.

Need help choosing the best garage door opener for your needs?

Contact your local GARAGA Dealer right away.

Garage door systems have been his passion and his expertise for quite a while. If you already own a LiftMaster or Chamberlain garage door opener and simply want to add a battery backup, he will be able to answer you in a blink.

If you want to replace your automatic door opener with a quieter and more high-tech model, he is the one to call to guide you within your budget. Already know what you want? Get a quote by email.

Ready for a total garage makeover and want to change your garage door too?

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Love this look? This style is the Princeton P‑12 Design in 9' x 7' size, doors and overlays in Ice White, 8 lite Panoramic windows. Perfect for farmhouse and modern farmhouse styles!

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