How To Open An Electric Garage Door (Without Power From The Outside)

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

Whether you’ve just arrived home during a bad storm or you’re waiting it out from the comfort of your living room, inclement weather conditions can be unnerving. This is especially true if the storm has caused a power outage. In addition to the inconvenience of having no cable or light, you face some other issues when the electricity goes out, such as the inability to open your garage door.

Automatic garage doors, powered by our home’s electricity, are a convenience that we often take for granted – especially when they are rendered useless. Without power, unless your garage door opener has a backup battery, your garage door will not be accessible, as the door itself is powered by your home’s electricity.

While most automatic garage doors cannot be opened without a power supply, electric garage doors can be manually opened from inside and outside. Make sure the door is in the down position to ensure security. Next, release the emergency cord, hanging from the trolley. Unlock and life the door upwards until it is fully open.

Whether you’ve just pulled up to your home and cannot pull into your garage or your car is trapped inside of it, an electric garage door without power should be no cause for concern. In this case, your garage door can be manually opened from both the outside and inside. We’ll explore all of the necessary steps to open your electric garage door during even the most extensive power outage.

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How to Open a Garage Door Manually From the Outside

If your garage door has been rendered useless after a power outage, do not worry. Virtually every modern garage door comes equipped with an emergency release kit. This system is installed inside of your garage and allows you to manually open the door from both the outside or inside. Next time you and your family find yourself without power, you can follow a series of very simple steps to successfully pull open the garage door.

Step One: Locate the Emergency Release Kit

The first step in opening an electric garage door without power is to locate the emergency release kit. Look near the center of the top of your garage door. This is where you will find a small lock that stores an emergency release cable. In order to access this lock, you’ll need to have the corresponding key.

Step Two: Unlock the Emergency Release Cord

After you’ve located the emergency release kit on the outside of your garage door and the key that goes with it, place the key into the lock. Turn the key and pull out the tumbler to reveal the emergency release cable. Pulling this cord will trigger the release mechanism that is installed inside your garage, effectively putting your door into manual mode.

Step Three: Unlock the Garage Door

With the garage door placed in manual mode, you still need to unlock the door itself. Positioned slightly lower from the emergency release kit you’ll find another lock next to a horizontal handle. The handle and lock work together to keep your garage door closed. Using the same key you used previously, unlock the door and turn the handle so that it is vertical.

Step Four: Lift the Door

Now that the emergency release mode has been initiated and the garage door unlocked, you can lift the door. Slowly and carefully lift the garage door straight up with your hands. Continue lifting until the door is fully open and does not attempt to fall back down. Wait until you’re certain that the door is completely open before you drive your car into or out of the garage. Once inside, you can simply pull the garage door down to close it all the way.

How to Open a Garage Door Manually From the Inside

If, instead, you prefer to open your garage door manually from the inside, this can also be done. The process is relatively similar except for a few additional steps, outlined below.

  • Unlock the garage door. While inside your garage, locate any locks or latches that could interfere with you manually opening the door. Make sure that they are all in the open position.
  • Unplug the opener. Disconnect the automatic door opener by unplugging it from the wall.
  • Locate the emergency release cord. When inside the garage, the emergency release cord will appear as a red handle that hangs from the center rail of the garage door track. The red cord is also attached to the trolley, which attaches the garage door arm to the center track.
  • Pull the release cord. Pull down on the red emergency handle to initiate the cord. This cord should detach the garage door from the trolley and allow you to manually handle the door.
  • Lift the garage door. Pulling straight from the bottom, lift up the garage door until it stops moving. Make sure that it stays in place before you let go and consider backing your car out of the garage.

How to Reset Garage Door After Power Outage

After the power outage is over, or once the garage door is placed out of manual mode, the reset process is fairly simple. The solution may be as easy as reconnecting your garage door to the automatic opener. However, the process ultimately depends on whether or not your particular garage door opener has an automatic trolley.

How to Reconnect Garage Door Opener With an Automatic Trolley

Most residential garage door openers have an automatic trolley. If this is the case for you, relinking your opener to your garage door is an easy process. Follow these steps:

  • Close the garage door. First, make sure that your garage door is completely shut. You should not have any gaps between the floor and the door.
  • Plug the opener back in. If your automatic opener is still unplugged, automatically reconnect it by plugging it back in.
  • Initiate the remote. If your particular garage door has two separate buttons for open and close, press the button that will close it. Doing this should activate the opener and cause it to reconnect by itself.
  • Examine the reconnection. Before you proceed any further, wait for the reconnection process to be complete. In order to be sure that it is finished, the chain will move the trolley into place and attach it to the arm on the garage door.
  • Test the door. Once the door has been successfully reconnected, open and close the door a few times to check that everything is running smoothly.

How to Reconnect Garage Door Opener Without an Automatic Trolley

If you’ve tried the steps outlined above and were unsuccessfully, you may not have an automatic trolley on your garage door opener. Therefore, connecting your garage door automatically will simply not work. Instead, you’ll need to manually attach the arm of your garage door to the trolley. Follow these steps to reconnect an opener that does not have an automatic trolley:

  • Close the garage door. Just as you would with an automatic trolley, make sure that the garage door is completely closed before proceeding any further.
  • Engage the emergency release cord. Locate the emergency release cord again and pull on it in the direction of the garage door. If done properly, you will see a switch move into place and hear a ‘click’ sound as the switch re-engages.
  • Lead the arm toward the trolley. Now, you can manually attach the arm of your garage door to the opener’s trolley. In order to achieve this, raise the door one or two feet until you hear the arm click into place.
  • Test the door. After you’ve manually reconnected the garage door, plug the opener back in and check that it is functioning as expected. Open the door with the remote, while watching for any jerky movement and listening for any signs of buckling. Then, close the door to complete.

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Safety Tips for Manually Opening Your Garage Door

Although manually opening a garage door is a relatively safe task, you should still practice some general safety precautions. For example, it is always recommended that the release cord only be pulled when the door is in the closed position. When closed, the system is under the least amount of pressure and the door cannot move, which prevents any pinch or fall hazards.

If you are going to perform any work on the carriage assembly or motorhead, unplug the unit first. Should the power return suddenly while you’re working, you could get shocked or suffer injury from the moving carriage. Finally, if at any point you feel uncomfortable with the weight of the garage door, request assistance or contact a professional.

Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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