Opening the Garage Door When You Don’t Have Power: What You Need to Know

It doesn’t matter where you happen to live. Power outages happen from time to time. It might be due to a storm, someone hitting a power line, heavy snow, or any other number of reasons. Regardless of what caused the problem, we all know that power outages aren’t typically a good time. If you are stuck inside, you can try to make the best of things, but sometimes you need to get out. However, if you have an electric garage door opener, you might be wondering how to do that. After all, doesn’t the opener need power to run?

Houses with garage doors. Thunder and strike storm

Think of just how much of an inconvenience it would be if you couldn’t open up your garage door. You might end up being late for work or to take your children to school. You might have an emergency and need to get out and drive to the doctor’s office. Even when the power is out, you still have things to do and places you need to go. So, if you have an electric garage door opener, you need to know how to open and close it even without power. It’s easier than you might think.

Safety First

Always remember the importance of safety. The garage door can be very dangerous, so you want to make sure that everyone is out of the garage except for you. This includes your pets.

The springs on the garage door are under a lot of pressure. If you aren’t careful, they could be dangerous and cause serious injuries. Always be careful.

Unplug the Garage Door Opener

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

Even though there is a power outage and there shouldn’t be any power in the system, you will still want to unplug the opener just in case. What would happen if the power suddenly came back on when you were in the middle of fiddling with the garage door opener? You could be in for the shock of your life, and you won’t like it. The door might even start moving, which would cause an injury. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.

Have Plenty of Light

You should always make sure that you have plenty of light, so you can see what you are doing. This means getting a flashlight or an LED headlamp. One of the benefits of using one of these headlamps is that it will free up your hands. If you are in a pinch and don’t have a flashlight handy, you could always use a flashlight app on your phone.

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

It’s a good idea to pick up one of these headlamps that you can keep in the garage just in case you need it. Even if you don’t have to use it to open your garage door, you might still need it for other work in the garage, such as finding your stash of candles when the power is out.

Having it handy in the garage also means you can get to work faster if you do need to get the garage door open. You won’t have to run around the rest of the house trying to remember where you put the headlamp. You will be glad that you have put it in a safe place when you need it, especially if it is an emergency and you need to get out of the house quickly.

What would you do if you had a power outage that lasts for days rather than a few hours? Consumer Reports has great tips.

Manually Opening the Garage Door from Indoors

Step 1. The Garage Door Needs to Be Closed

This step might seem strange since you wouldn’t need to open your door if it is already open but bear with us. If you were to disconnect the garage door opener when the door is open—even if it is only partially open—the results can be dangerous.

For example, if you are not in a power outage but the garage door won’t open, it might be due to a problem with the way the door is balanced. It might also be that a spring is broken. If you were to undo the opener when the door is open, the entire weight of the door could slam into the ground. This could cause injuries, and it could bust the door.

Image of closed garage door from the inside

If you find that your garage door is stuck in the open position, or if it’s partway up, don’t try to fix it on your own. Instead, you should be sure to call the local garage door professionals at once.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. Do not go into manual mode unless you have no other choice during a power outage when the door is open. Sometimes, wait for a little while and see what happens. Consider your other options. If there isn’t a serious need to get out, or if you can’t take another car that’s not stuck in the garage, give it some time. Quite often, the power outage will be fixed, and the door will start to work normally again.

If you went through all of the trouble of disconnecting the garage door opener and the power comes back on, you then have to go through the trouble of setting it up again. A little patience can go a long way.

Step 2. Find the Bypass Handle

If you do need to open the door, and you have a relatively new door from the last several decades, you should be able to locate a rope that hangs down near the rail that goes from the opener to the door. This is the bypass handle, which can be used for manual release.

Go into your garage right now, even though you have power, and locate the handle. This way, you will know exactly where to find it when you need it, even if there is no other lighting in the garage except your phone.

Image of a garage door opener bypass release handle

Typically the handle is red, which should make it easy to see. Red is for emergencies, after all. However, it could be a different color in your garage.

Step 3. Use the Emergency Release Rope

The trolley connects to the garage door and the opener motor. It will move when the door opens or closes electronically. When you pull the emergency release rope, it will disable the trolley operator.

One of our garage door installer testing the emergency release cord

After the trolley has been disconnected, slide it back about an inch away from the door.

Step 4. Use the Lifting Handle to Pull Up the Garage Door

Your garage door will have a manual lifting handle. Typically, this is found at the bottom center of your garage door. However, some doors might have it in a different place. When you verify the position of the emergency rope, check the position of the garage door handle, as well.

Hopefully, you have a well‑balanced spring system for your garage door. If it is, you will find that it’s easy to open up your garage door using just one hand. This is true whether you have a single garage door (which usually measures 9’ x 7’ft. approx) or a double garage door (which is about 14’-16’ x 7’ft.).

What if the door is too heavy to lift using the handle? STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING. This means there you have another problem with the door and operating it could be dangerous.

What you need to do now is close the garage door as carefully as possible. Make sure no one goes into the garage until you have the professionals check it out. It will need to undergo maintenance or be repaired.

Call your local garage door specialists pronto!

When you have this type of problem with your garage door, it means that it’s not working properly and is dangerous. It could be because there is a broken spring, for example. It might be at the end of its life and need to be replaced.

The springs are what do all of the grunt work of opening up and closing your garage doors, not the opener. Your opener is just the way it gets started. The springs are what make it open and close the door and when they are not working properly, it’s bad news.

Understanding the Springs

Garage doors are heavy and often weigh more than 300 lbs. The springs will therefore need to be capable of exerting a minimum of 300 lbs of force to open and close the garage door. The springs are under a significant amount of pressure.

When those springs aren’t working right, it means that the garage door opener is not going to be capable of moving the door up and down. You wouldn’t be able to handle the full weight of the garage door either. Long story short, if you run into this problem, you need to have the professionals come out and check the springs.

When All Goes Well

Hopefully, you don’t have problems with your springs. If everything is working as it should, you can simply open up the garage door and get your car out.

Step 5. Reconnecting

You will want to leave your opener disconnected until the power comes back on. Otherwise, you will have to disconnect and reconnect each time you leave the house through your garage.

Once the power has been restored, you can reconnect your garage door opener. It’s easy to do.

First, make sure the garage door is closed. Then, using your hand or a broom handle, pull on the emergency release handle on the door opener. Manually life the door until you hear it connect or feel it connect.

When you need to reconnect the trolley to the opener, just run the opener through an open and close cycle. As they pass one another, there should be an audible click that lets you know that they have been reconnected. Then, you shouldn’t have any trouble using your electric opener to open and close your door again.

Manually Opening the Garage Door from the Outside

If your garage has an access door, you can simply use that to get inside and then follow the instructions above. However, if you don’t have a way of getting into the garage, you should consider getting an outside quick release.

Picture of an Outside quick release 1702LM

These quick releases ensure you have more than one way into the garage when the power is out. Here’s what you need to do once you have it installed.

First, find the location of your outside quick release and use the key to engage the release mechanism on the garage door opener carriage. You should then be able to open the door manually until it stops moving. Drive the car into or out of the garage and then lower the door manually.

When the door is closed again, you can reengage the release by pushing up on the lever using a broom handle. You could also do this by pulling the release cord up and toward the door or motor until you hear an audible click.

What’s a Better Option?

There are quite a few steps you need to consider when it comes to opening and closing your garage door during a power outage. There is a better option available, and it’s something you should seriously consider. Get a new garage door opener.

Picture of an included battery backup 485LM

Today, there are much better options available for garage door openers. When you get a new opener, it will typically have an included battery backup. This means that even if there is a power outage, you will be ready to handle anything since the battery will supply the power your garage door needs to open and close.

Today, you can choose from many models of garage door openers. There are options for all types of doors, and you should be able to find something that works with your budget.

Some of the most popular options today come from LiftMaster. These can be operated from your smartphone. This gives you more control over your garage door, saves you time, and you can operate it from anywhere.

One of the major improvements made by the company was adding MyQ technology, which connects it to the web. You will have complete control of your garage door right through your phone.

What you can see on your smart phone when you have an integrated camera on your garage door opener

Consider adding a camera to the garage door opener.

When you choose the LiftMaster 87504-267, you will find that it has a camera already integrated into the system, along with 2-way audio. You can see and hear what’s happening in the garage, and even communicate with people through the system.

Of course, not everyone needs a camera. If that’s the case, the LiftMaster 87802 automatic opener could be the best option for you.

An image of a MyQ alert sent on a smart phone

In the image above, you can see an alert example.

The opener has the MyQ app. This lets you monitor what’s happening to your garage door right through your phone. The notifications and alerts let you know if there are any issues. This also features a battery backup.

Openers come in different styles and can be installed in different locations.

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

Perhaps a wall-mounted option will work better for you. The LiftMaster 8500W is installed on the side of the door, which means you have more overhead space if needed. It could be added to the right or the left side of the door. This option also has Wi-Fi, the MyQ app, an automatic garage door lock, and battery backup.

What Opener Is Right for You?

Need some help figuring it out? Get in touch with our experts.

Etobicoke: 416-239-7777

Guelph: 519-829-3777

Here at Automated Door Systems, we know and understand garage doors and openers.

Maybe you already own a great opener from LiftMaster, but you want to have a battery backup installed. We can help provide you with the answers you need. Maybe you want to bring in some more technology, such as an integrated camera. We can help with that, too, and can help to keep you within your budget.

If you would like, we can provide you with a free quotation through email. We can also offer a checkup service on your door or your opener.

What If You Want a New Garage Door?

These garage doors are Princeton P 12, in 9'x7' size, doors and overlays in Ice White Color, 8 lite Panoramic windows. Perfect for the farmhouse and the modern farmhouse styles!

What do you think of these garage doors? They are the Princeton P‑12, in 9' x 7' size, and feature overlays in Ice White, 8 lite Panoramic windows.

Use our 3 Styles as a means to help you figure out the best type of garage door for your home. Be sure to check through our photo album for some more inspiration. You can also have fun with the Design Centre where you can virtually add garage doors to your garage and see what they look like. Experiment with colors, styles, windows, etc. to find the look that’s right for you.

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