Most people rely on their power garage door opener to gain access to the interior. However, you may find yourself seemingly stuck if the power goes out or the opener fails. But, there’s no need to fret! You can still get in and out of your garage even if the power isn’t on or there’s an issue with the motor. Here’s what you need to do.
You’ll need to disconnect the garage door from the opener to close the door manually. While this sounds complicated on the surface, it’s actually very simple. Most garage doors have an emergency release handle, and it’s normally connected to a bright red rope that hangs from the garage door rail. It’s near the top of the door itself and should be fairly obvious once you start looking for it. If you don’t see a rope there, you may have a residential jackshaft opener. In this case, you’ll find the emergency release handle near the bottom of the motor.
Clear the Garage Door Area
Begin the process by making sure everyone is clear of the door, especially if the garage door is in the open position. When you release the door, allowing it to be closed manually, it can come falling down at a fairly rapid pace. If someone is in the way of the door, there is a chance of injury, so make sure everyone is clear before you begin.
Similarly, make sure no objects are under the door. When the door closes, it can potentially damage anything underneath it. That means you want to ensure your car or other items are clear of the space directly beneath the door. Otherwise, they may be crushed.
Disconnect the Garage Door Opener
For residential jackshaft openers, you’ll need to disengage the door lock first. Everyone else can proceed straight to the emergency release handle. Then, pull down on the handle with slow, steady pressure. If you have a T-rail, you may need to also pull the emergency handle back up after you’ve pulled it down. Avoid jerking on the rope or handle whenever possible. First, the jarring motion can potentially damage the handle and shake the attached mechanisms and railings. This can cause damage to the garage door’s structure.
Second, depending on how long you’ve had that particular garage door, the rope may break. If this happens, you could actually injure yourself when the line unexpectedly snaps (and may even “punch” yourself in the face when your hand comes down if you are standing directly beneath the rope when it happens).
Lower the Garage Door
In some cases, the garage door will come down automatically once the opener is disengaged. Since there can be a substantial amount of force when it comes down on its own, it is important to have everyone stay clear during the disconnection process. If the garage door doesn’t come down on its, manual pressure may be required. This means you’ll need to get your hands dirty to get the door down.
Begin by walking up toward the door and positioning yourself next to the opening. At no time should you stand directly under the garage door! Place your hands on the door (or the door handle, if one is available) and apply steady, downward pressure, being mindful not to wrap your fingers under the bottom of the door and place them near any moving components or potential pinch areas. Once the door begins to move, it may come all of the way down on its own. If not, continue applying pressure and bring it to the ground. Make sure to bend your knees as you bring it lower as making the entire motion using your back could result in injury.
Secure the Door
Since the motor isn’t connected, the door can now be opened and closed manually. While this is convenient for you, it also leaves you vulnerable to intruders or thieves. Until you are able to repair your door or power is restored, you need to secure it. Some garage doors come with various locks designed to prevent them from opening. If that’s the case, you can use the mechanisms to prevent the door from opening. However, if something isn’t available, you’ll need to get a little creative.
Often, there is a round hole on the rail that attaches to the door, located near one of the wheels. You can loop some high-tension cable or chain, similar to what is used to secure bicycles to bike racks (in fact, a bike lock may be perfect for this task!), and wrap it around another part of the railing that is attached to the building. Then, secure the ends together. Make sure it is looped through enough time to prevent the door from opening more than an inch or two. Otherwise, someone might be able to squeeze under the door if there’s a large enough gap.
Now, you can open and close your door manually until power is restored or a repair is completed. Just make sure to unlock the cable or chain before you try to open it, and always make sure the door is fully open and stable before you attempt to cross under it. If the door doesn’t want to stay open on its own, then you may want to avoid using the door until a repair can be made, as this is the safest approach. But, at least you can rest assured that your belongings are secure in the mean time.