Electric garage door openers are designed to operate seamlessly day in and day out, but they rely on power. When the power goes out, it’s important to know how to disengage the automatic opener function so you can manually open and close the door until the power comes back on. This is especially important for Bay Area homeowners in this new era of PG&Es fire season power outages.
The manual option is also important if the automatic mechanism malfunctions, in the event of an emergency, or for homeowners who have lost their garage door remote and are waiting for a replacement.
Follow Manufacturer’s Directions to Manually Open And Close Your Garage Door
Your garage door came with the manufacturer’s instruction manual. This is your best resource for learning the specifics for manually opening/closing your particular garage door make and model. If you cannot locate the garage door manual, contact your preferred garage door vendor/installer and schedule an appointment.
We also recommend searching your garage door make/model online and download a copy of the manual so you have it in the future.
Does your door have battery back-up?
Many modern garage door models have a battery back-up system to keep the mechanisms running without power. The batteries are unit-specific and cannot be replaced by the homeowner. If your garage door has a battery in the opener motor, your garage door technician will test it during routine maintenance calls and will replace it as needed.
Engaging the bypass system to manually open and close your garage door
Every automatic garage door has a bypass system some kind. This may include a key that locks/unlocks the system or it is as simple as pulling the red emergency cord. The latter option is the most common.
- Perform a quick inspection. Before disengaging the door from the automatic system, do a quick inspection to ensure the door is still aligned on its track, the springs and chain are intact, and there is no visible sign of damage.
- Locate the chain that operates the garage door. For most homeowners, this is up above towards the ceiling of the garage, along the mid-point of the garage door. Higher-end models and some heavier models use a side-opening system, which will be located along the side of the door.
- Pull the emergency cord. You’ll see a red cord or a cord with a red handle or knob at the end. This is an emergency cord. When you pull it, it disengages the door frame from the automatic system. The lever that connects the door to the chain/rail is spring-loaded. you’ll hear and feel a distinct “click” when it disengages. Do not be afraid to pull the cord firmly. You should see the lever move and lock into the disengaged position.
- Lift the door to open and close it. Most garage doors are made from light, durable material, and are professionally balanced so that they can raise/lower easily. Use both hands and begin lifting or sliding the door into the open position. If it is a struggle, do not strain yourself. Pull the emergency cord again in case you weren’t successful the first time. If you’re sure the door is disconnected from the chain, and the door won’t lift easily, contact a garage door technician.
- Never let go of the door until it’s fully open/closed. Your garage door won’t stay open on its own unless it’s completely open, or completely closed. If you need to let go of it in a partially open position, use a two-by-four or a solid item to hold it in position or lower the door until it’s firmly closed again. If your garage door is a single panel, you may need to keep a two-by-four or similar structural support to hold the door up while you move the car in and out of the garage, or have someone hold the door up for you, to keep the door from falling down again.
- Watch your fingers. If your door is comprised of multiple panels that slide up and around the curve of the track, watch your fingers. It’s easy to lose track of the door and it’s painful to have your fingers pinched between the panels.
- To re-engage the automatic function. Once the power has been restored, pull the cord again and watch the lever move back into the engaged position. Push your automatic opener button in the garage or use the remote and the garage door should be back to normal again.
Keeping the garage door properly lubricated is always a good idea, but it will definitely pay off when you need to manually open and close the door.
Make garage door safety a priority
Always keep a safety-first attitude when manually opening and closing the garage door. This is especially important if you have young children.
Read our posts, Garage Door Safety for an Accident-Free Home, and, How to Teach Your Children Garage Door Safety. They are good to review if your door is in the manual operation mode to ensure the door doesn’t close on an unsuspecting child or pet.
Would you like a licensed garage door technician to review how to manually open and close your garage door? Contact us here at R&S Erection of Vallejo, or give us a call at (707) 644-5537, to schedule an appointment. We’ll go through it with you, using the exact steps required for your garage door make/model until you feel confident you can operate it safely on your own.