How to Manually Open and Close Your Garage Door


One of modern life’s luxuries is a garage door that works on command. Thanks to the motorized garage door opener, your overhead door closes at the touch of a button. Some advanced openers — like LiftMaster models with Wi-Fi connectivity through myQ — can even close your door with an app on your phone.

When the door doesn’t open or close on its own, you may be wondering what to do. In a power outage, you might ask, “How do you open a garage door without power?” If you have a broken overhead door, you could be questioning whether it’s safe to close it by hand. We have your answers right here.

When You May Need to Manually Open Your Garage Door

Perhaps you just pulled in your driveway or are about to leave the house. You hit the garage door opener remote, and nothing happens. Now you’re asking yourself, “How do I leave the house?” or “How can I park my car?”

If you have an automatic garage opener, a power outage is one of the primary reasons your door may be stuck. Another cause might be that the opener remote has a dead battery or is otherwise malfunctioning. In either of those cases, you probably won’t hear any noise from the opener itself.

If your garage door’s mechanical components are intact and functioning correctly, it’s safe to manually open your garage door from the inside or outside. However, if the opener won’t work because the cables are loose, the door has become dislodged from the track or you have a broken spring, it’s not safe to open it manually. When mechanical issues are at play, you’ll probably hear your automatic opener come to life as it attempts to move your door.

If you suspect any damage or have ruled out a power outage or broken remote, it’s time to call a professional like Central Ohio Garage Door. We can get your overhead door moving smoothly, so you can get back to your other priorities. 

How to Manually Open and Close a Garage Door From the Outside

Many homeowners rely on their garage as the primary way to access their homes. So if the overhead door gets stuck while you’re in the driveway, or you have a detached garage, you’re probably wondering how to open your garage door from the outside. Can you manually open a garage door from the outside? Yes. However, if you have a house key and access to the garage from the inside, you might prefer to do it that way, especially if you’re unsure where the key to your emergency release cord is.

If the outside is your best bet, here’s how to manually open your garage door from the outside.

  1. Unlock the emergency release: Your garage door should have a small keyhole somewhere near the top. This lock stores the emergency release cable. Use the associated key to unlock it and reveal the cable. Pulling on the cord will activate the release, allowing you to safely open the door by hand.
  2. Unlock the door: Toward the bottom of your door, you should have another lock right next to a handle. This lock keeps the door closed, and you’ll need the key to unlock it before you can lift it by hand.
  3. Lift the door: Grab the handle at the bottom of the door and lift it. Make sure you pull it all the way up so the springs will hold it in place before you let your car or anyone pass under the threshold. Do not try to force the door open. If it’s not moving relatively smoothly along the track, it could be damaged, and you should not try to open it.
  4. Close the door: Once you and your car are safely inside, close the door by pulling it back down from the inside. The garage door is heavy, so move slowly to keep the door steady. Don’t forget to re-lock it. Once the power comes back on, you can also reset the automatic opener.

How to Manually Open and Close a Garage Door From the Inside


If you must leave your home during a power outage or while the opener is malfunctioning, you need a way to open and close it from the inside. Here’s how to open the garage door manually.

  1. Unplug the opener: Unless the power is out, unplug the opener first. This safety measure will prevent someone from getting hurt if the motor activates while you’re near the door. 
  2. Disconnect the opener: The red emergency release cord hanging from the automatic opener disconnects the garage door from the opener. Pull the cable away from the door, and you should feel and hear it disconnect. The trolley, or the moving component that connects your door to the track, should have an extended spring when the opener disconnects successfully.
  3. Lift the door: With the opener safely disconnected, you should be able to lift the door relatively easily. Though the door itself weighs hundreds of pounds, if the springs are working correctly, they should make it easy enough to lift with one arm. Do not try to force it open. Instead, contact a professional who can service the door if you encounter any resistance. 
  4. Secure the door: Once the door is open, it should stay there. If it doesn’t, you might have an issue with broken springs or pulleys. If the door doesn’t stay open on its own and you need access to the garage before the technician comes, you can prop it open with a ladder or clamp while you wait for emergency repair service. Or, you can close the door manually by guiding it downward by its handle.

How to Lock Your Garage Door After Opening It Manually

When the power is working, and your garage door connects to an automatic opener, a locking mechanism built into the motor keeps your garage door shut. However, when you operate it manually and it gets disconnected from the opener, the door will slide up and down if someone attempts to move it.

If the power is out for an extended period, and you need to continue using the door manually during that time, you’ll need to lock it through other means. To close your door and keep it secure during these situations, you can place a clamp, such as a C-clamp, on the track just above one of the rollers. This solution will keep the door closed and secure until you’re ready to use it again. You can also use a clamp to keep the door open if necessary.

After your power comes back on or the opener gets fixed, you’ll need to re-engage the automatic opener, which will also let your door lock automatically whenever it closes. Here’s how to do this.

  1. Shut the door: After you’ve manually opened the garage door, move it back to the closed position so you can safely re-engage the motor. 
  2. Pull the emergency cord: Pull the cable toward the door. Doing so brings the trolley into the connected position, which compresses the spring.
  3. Reconnect the trolley: You have two options for reconnecting the door to the trolley. One method is to manually move the door along the track until it slides into position with the automatic opener’s track. If the opener is working correctly, you can also hit the opener remote. The trolley will automatically reconnect with the attachment point. No matter how you do it, you should hear a clicking noise when the trolley reconnects with the opener track.

Contact Us About Our Garage Repair Services

If your opener isn’t working or the door won’t budge, the safest thing to do is call a professional overhead door technician. We offer timely automatic door opener repairs and fix other common issues such as broken cables, springs or hinges that may affect your door’s operation. We can get your garage back to opening and closing automatically and make the whole repair process feel effortless with our friendly, helpful technicians. To request repair service, fill out our online form today.