With the recent storms in and around Charlotte, as well as the tropical storm headed for Florida, it is reasonable for our readers to be concerned about their house’s power. If your home loses power, your garage door opener will also run out of juice, and you might be unable to get your cars out of your garage! If your door is properly maintained, you should be able to open it manually, and we’ll explain how to do so in this article. Another simple solution would be to upgrade to a garage door opener with a battery backup, which would allow your door to keep operating even in the case of a power outage.

All electronic garage door openers have some method for manual operation. If you lose your remote, your wall keypad stops operating, or your power goes out, it is important to know how to open your door without these conveniences. Firstly, and most importantly, only follow these directions if your garage door is in the lowered position. If your door is open and not operating correctly, be very cautious and call an expert immediately, because a falling or closing door poses a huge risk to anyone caught beneath it.

Next, check any locks that you may have on your door. If you use your door regularly, you will know about any of these locks, but if this is a rare occurrence, you might have to look for locking rods or actual padlocks used to hold the door closed.

If your door is already closed, unlocked, and you need to manually open it, the first step is to locate a cord hanging from the motor’s rail. If you find your garage door opener (which is usually on the ceiling in the middle of your door’s horizontal span) and follow the metal rail from the opener to the door, along its length you should find a hanging cord. These cords are usually red, but can also come in other colors like black.

In rare cases, your garage door opener may be a more unusual device and not be set up like the openers that we’ll be exploring today. If your opener is mounted to the side of your door or if you do not see a dangling cord, look for a more specialized tutorial online. We will cover manual operation of these openers in the future. If you ever have an opener such as these installed, ask your service technician to demonstrate the manual release feature so that you can stay informed.

Once you’ve located the red cord, grab hold of the knob at the end. If your opener is very far off the ground, you might have to stand on a step stool or ladder to reach. This cord should hang fairly close to the door, attached to a trolley that fits around the metal guide rail connecting your garage door to your opener. This cord is connected to a release lever, which you should visually inspect now. After getting a good idea for how things look before you doing anything, pull on the cord until you feel or see the release lever lock into a downwards position.

Most typically, your release lever will begin angled slightly downwards or it will point straight down. The lever is spring-loaded and should offer some resistance to being adjusted, although it should be obvious once it is locked into the down position.

After you’ve released the manual release lever, you should be able to open the door. Get a firm grip on the door with both hands (preferably, grip the handles that come installed on many door panels. Avoid gripping near pinch points!) and lift your door. If the door is too heavy for you, your springs are likely not calibrated correctly and need to be serviced by a professional. Perform a visual inspection on the door and see if anything is obviously keeping it from opening, but do not interfere with the springs or cables – they are under extreme tension and very dangerous.

If you can lift your door, hoist it carefully overhead. Someone should be holding the door at all times, so get a neighbor or family member to help if you are trying to get your car out of the garage or a similar task. After you are done with the door, carefully lower it back to the down position.

Once your door opener is functioning correctly again, activate the motor. The trolley should travel along the track and automatically pick the door back up by re-engaging the release lever, but some older models of openers do not do this. If your door seems to fit this description, you may have to pull the cord in the opposite direction (diagonally towards the door) to cause it to re-engage with the release lever.

Once your door is back on track, you’re done! Congratulations – you now know how to open your door manually, which can be very helpful during a power outage or if your system becomes damaged. Throughout this whole process, treat the door with care since it is potentially dangerous, but a physically able homeowner should be able to open their door unassisted. Remember, if you find a problem with your springs or rollers, or if you garage door is too heavy to lift, these are signs of a problem better left to a professional garage door repair technician.

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