Opening a Garage Door When the Power Goes Out

You’re at home getting ready to leave and all-of-a-sudden the power goes out.  You have to head out, but the garage door won’t open so you can’t get your car out of the garage.  What do you do?  Wait until the power comes back on?  Cancel your plans?  No need for either idea because, fortunately, you can likely open your garage door manually.  The article below provides step by step instructions on how to do it, so give it a read and remember these tips if this ever happens to you.

How to Open a Garage Door Manually

All electronic or automatic garage doors have a bypass that will allow you to open it manually. This becomes necessary when there is a power failure or, for some reason, you lose your remote. The bypass disconnects the door from the powered carriage, but it stays on the track. Once you disconnect it, you can then lift it manually. When the power comes back on or you locate your lost remote, you can lock the bypass and use the door normally again.

1 Place a ladder under the chain that operates the garage door. Locate a red cord hanging from a bracket on the chain. These cords are almost always red, but if there is only one cord and it’s not red, it’s probably the right one. The cord will have a plastic red knob on the end. Most often, the cord is located close to the door.

2 Jerk on the cord using the knob. The cord is hooked onto a small lever. The lever may be tilted at a 15-degree angle or pointing straight down. You will feel that the lever is spring-loaded; pull the cord until the lever locks in the down position. Step down from the ladder.

3 Grab the door with both hands and lift it. If the door will not budge, pull the cord harder until it locks open. If the door is too heavy for you to lift, don’t hurt yourself. Get an assistant to help you lift it.

4 Do not let go of the door once it’s off the ground. It is free on the track and it will fall if you let go. Prop the door open using a two-by-four or have someone hold the door open for you while you drive your car in or out. When you’re finished with the door, ease it down by hand.

5 Pull down on the cord hard to lock it in place again after the power comes back on or you find your remote. Pull on the cord and watch as the bracket slips back into the chain bracket, locking the door into the powered carriage. Try the remote. If the door won’t open, but the chain is moving, pull on the chain again until the bracket locks. Test and pull the cord again if necessary to lock it.

Things You Will Need

  • Ladder


  • Keep the rollers and chain lubricated on your garage door. It makes the door operate quiet, and makes the chain and all moving parts last longer because they operate with less friction.
  • Keep your owner’s manual on hand. Consult it first before tinkering with your door.


  • Never pull the bypass cord if the door is stuck in the open position. The door will come crashing down with enough force to damage anything that gets in its way.


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