Opening Your Garage Door When You Lose Power

Many people don’t realize how precious some of their commodities are until they lose them. Simple things like having fresh water, air conditioning, and electricity are taken for granted until we lose them. Luckily, we have strong sources for these things, so incidents where we lose them don’t happen very often. However, when they do, it can be incredibly inconvenient. Losing electricity usually means losing the ability to flush your toilet, access hot water, and even prepare a simple meal.

Houses with garage doors. Thunder and strike storm

People always think that losing the ability to do something isn’t a big deal. That is until they lose that ability. What about opening your garage door? The majority of homeowners have an electric garage door, so when the Power goes out, opening the door can end up being a real challenge.

While it can be difficult, opening your garage door without Power isn’t impossible. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but a situation could arise where you need to open that door in an emergency. You may not think about it now, but what if you need to get to your car quickly because of an intruder? What if you need to take a loved one to the hospital? The extra time you take to figure out how to open the door could mean life or death.

You Don’t NEED Power

Your garage door is connected to an electric, automatic opener. When the Power goes out, this link no longer works because it’s an electrical connection.

Things to Know First

Move everyone in the house out of the garage area before you do anything. This means the kids, your wife, the dog, and everyone else who stays in the home.

Proceed with Caution

Remember that your garage door is attached to springs that are under an immense amount of pressure. If these springs somehow break loose, it could spell disaster or death for you or anyone else close to them. Please be careful when taking the following steps.

Disconnect the Garage Door Opener

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

This might seem like a useless step since you don’t have power, but you should unplug your garage door opener. Why should you unplug the garage door opener when the electricity is out? Let’s say something unfortunate happens, like the power returning when you’re in the middle of opening the door manually. You could be shocked, or one of the moving parts could cause serious injury if they just suddenly begin working again.

Let There be Light

When there is no power, there is no light. Using an LED headlamp is your best bet because it will allow your hands to remain free while you’re doing your work.

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

It’s not a bad idea to have a headlamp somewhere in your garage in case of an emergency. When you do loser power, you can easily grab the headlamp and at least have one light source that is hands-free.

Something as simple as having a headlamp in the garage can make all the difference in the world. We know you’ve seen people scrambling for a flashlight when the power goes out in the dark. Well, maybe you can’t see them, but you’ve heard them. They fumble everywhere, opening drawers and closets and possibly falling over everything until they finally find a light source.

Consumer Reports has great tips on how to prepare your home in the event of an emergency.

Steps to Manually Open Your Garage Door from the Inside

Step 1. The Door Must be Fully Closed

If I want to open the door, shouldn’t it already be closed?

Image of closed garage door from the inside

Disconnecting the garage door when it’s not closed completely is incredibly dangerous!

If a spring is broken on your garage door or it’s not balanced properly, these would both be reasons to cause your door not to open. These can both happen if there’s not a power outage.

If you release the garage door when it is even open just slightly, the full weight could come crashing down on you.

Don’t force your garage door open if it won’t budge. If you’re having trouble, you should contact garage door specialists at once. It could save your life.

The next step seems simple, but it’s very important.

Don’t switch your garage door into manual mode unless it’s absolutely necessary. Try to figure out other options before exhausting this one.

This process takes a substantial amount of time. Normally, power outages are over before you can finish the disconnecting and reconnecting.

If it’s not an urgent matter, or you have the option of using someone else’s car, you might want to choose one of these instead. If you go through all the trouble of disconnecting the door, and then the power comes back on, and you don’t even need to manually open it, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Now there’s more work to do, and you didn’t even need to reap the benefits of your labor.

Step 2. Where’s the Bypass Handle?

There should be a rope hanging down from your garage door opener somewhere near the rail. We’re not talking about the outer door tracks; we’re talking about the trolley rail.

Assuming your door is closed, which it most likely is, the rope should be somewhere right in the middle of the 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 this Rope

When you pull the rope, it disengages the trolley operator , which is the piece that works to open the garage door. In situations when the electricity is on, this trolley moves back and forth along the rail we talked about.

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 and Pull Up

The manual lifting handle is at the bottom of your garage door, right in the middle, most of the time. Look to the bottom panel of your garage door, and you should see it.

Assuming the spring for your garage door is well-balanced, opening the door should come with relative ease. This is true whether you own a normal, single garage door or have a double garage door.

If your garage door is heavy or hard to lift AT ALL, STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING IMMEDIATELY. There is most likely another issue you need to deal with.

If you WERE able to open the door even slightly, close it the rest of the way, but be careful. Slowly get away from the door and make sure nobody else is in the are. DO NOT let anyone near the door until it’s fixed or has a chance to undergo maintenance.

Call your local garage door specialists IMMEDIATELY!

This is a great indicator that the spring in your door is broken. It’s also possible that it’s simply reached the end of its life, which is anywhere from 5 to 7 years.

Many people assume that the opener is what does the heavy lifting for your garage door. However, this is false. The springs are what make all the magic happen. If you think we are being overdramatic, consider the following.

Common Sense

If your door weighs 300 pounds, the springs need to exert an equal amount of force, so the door opens easily. This means your garage door springs are under an incredible amount of pressure to be able to exert this amount of force.

Regular Function

If the springs aren’t working the way they should, either the opener or your body has to take the door’s weight. If the springs aren’t balanced properly, the opener most likely won’t be strong enough to hold the door. It wasn’t designed to support this much weight, so the door can come crashing down on your body.

Step 5. Reconnect The Opener

Step 4 went off without a hitch? Great!

When the power turns back on, you can reconnect everything. The reset process isn’t as hard as you think it is. This is how it’s done:

  1. Remember, make sure the garage door is completely closed.
  2. Pull the red rope with the handle of a broom.
  3. Manually lift the door until you’re sure it’s connected again.

To reconnect the opener and the trolley, run the opener for a full cycle. This means making it go all the way up or all the way down. Once the trolley and carriage pass each other, there should be a really loud click. They’re connected at this point, and you can use the door electronically once again.

How to Open the Door Manually from the Outside

You need an outside quick release if your garage door doesn’t have one. This is very important.

Picture of an Outside quick release 1702LM

If you don’t, there’s only one other option to get in and out of the garage from the outside, and it’s not so easy to accomplish.

  1. Find the quick release. A key can be inserted into the lock opening. Insert the key and make sure it fits.
  2. Finally, turn the key and remove the tumbler from the lock. This engages the piece of equipment on your door opener carriage.
  3. You can then open the garage door manually until it stops rolling upward.
  4. Drive your car into the garage, then reach up to close the door in a manual way.
  5. Remember when we told you to use the broom handle to engage the rope? You’re going to do this one more time. You’ll hear a click once everything is finished.
  6. Don’t leave the garage until you’re sure that you have another way to enter your home.

Do you want something that works a little easier? There’s an option for opening and closing the garage door that doesn’t require this much work.

Completing all this work doesn’t sound too fun, does it? It could be even harder if your garage door opener isn’t maintained as it should be. It’s possible that now you’re thinking about getting a new opener completely.

Picture of an included battery backup 485LM

There are now garage door openers that include a battery backup for situations where you lose power. This will completely eliminate all the manual labor of opening the door.

There are many models of garage door openers available for purchase. Each model is different, and your selection should depend on how often you use it and the size you need.

If you like browsing and shopping from your smartphone, LiftMaster is the garage door opener for you. Most of them are complete with apps that allow you to control the door from an app on your phone.

LiftMaster decided a few years ago that they were going to make improvements to all their garage door components. They wanted everything to be wireless with the ability to connect to the internet. They developed myQ technology, which is now a part of most LiftMaster products and accessories. This means that you can control your door from your phone, tablet, or laptop.

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 has a camera with 2-way audio so you can see everything that’s going on in your garage in real-time. This is great for when you’re not home or have children home alone. You can literally see everything that’s going on in the garage and hear it.

The LiftMaster 87802 automatic opener may be better for you if you don’t require a camera on the door opener.

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.

However, myQ is still included; it just incorporates updates in a different way. You’ll get push notifications sent to your phone telling you each time the door is opened or closed. It also comes with a battery backup for your convenience.

Is your ceiling very low? Does it have beams that stretch across it? Maybe you want extra storage?

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

The LiftMaster 8500W is the perfect wall-mounted option for people who have low ceilings or want to take advantage of storage space. These openers use a completely different system to open your garage door. However, this particular model is equipped with MQ, has smartphone integration, a backup battery, and automatically locks the garage door when you leave.

Need help figuring out which one is best for you?

Contact Atlas-Coles Door Systems’s garage door opener experts now at 860-668-7991.

We’ve been in the garage door business for a long time and love helping out new customers. If you have a LiftMaster already, and you just want extra components like a backup battery or a new remote, we’ve got you covered.

If you want a full replacement, we can help guide you on which model would be your best choice. We can even send you a free quotation via e-mail. We also offer a checkup service that we can perform on your garage door opener.

Ready for a completely new garage door?

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Love this look? These garage doors are Princeton P‑12 in 9' x 7' size, doors and overlays in Ice White, 8 lite Panoramic windows. Perfect for farmhouse and modern farmhouse styles!

Use our 3 Styles to help get you started in the right direction for choosing a garage door. Then, you can browse our photo album to get more specific options. Finally, use our mobile-friendly Design Centre that allows you to build your garage door online. You can choose colors, settings, and switch sizes. This will let you see your garage door in its real setting to help you make a better choice!

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