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How to Open Garage Door Manually

How to Release and Reset Garage Door Emergency Cord

Red Emergency Release / June 30, 2024
featured image

A Guide by
Overhead Door Company
of Huntsville/North Alabama™

Let’s Begin Here!

Quick Summary 

The red cord is connected to the trolley, which is attached to the opener carriage—the mechanism that moves the garage door up and down. When you pull the red cord, it disengages the spring in the opener carriage, allowing you to operate the door manually. To re-engage, simply pull the cord again to reactivate the spring.

Keep reading more details!

What to Do When Your Automatic Garage Door Won’t Open

There’s nothing more frustrating than a garage door that won’t open when you’re rushing to work or exhausted after a long day. Common issues range from power outages to dead remote batteries, but most problems can be solved with a bit of know-how. Use this guide to learn how to open your garage door manually by using the red emergency release cord.

Troubleshooting a Stuck Garage Door

If you’d like to schedule a service or repair with Overhead Door Company of Huntsville/North Alabama™ please follow the link below.

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Find the red emergency cord.

You may or may not have noticed the bright red emergency cord hanging from your garage door operational system. Most garage doors have one; if you do, keep reading. If not, consult your owner’s manual.

Now we can get started!

There may be times when you need to manually operate your automatic garage door, such as during a power outage or if the motor fails. While you can usually open and close your garage door manually, it’s important to know how. Understanding how to disengage and re-engage your garage door is crucial for safety and effective homeownership.

Pulling the emergency release engages a quick-release mechanism, allowing you to operate the garage door manually. Be prepared to open and close the door manually, ensuring you are physically capable of handling this task before starting.

Consult your user manual for your garage door operating system. The guidelines below may only work for some garage doors.

How to Disengage Your Garage Door

Unplug the Garage Door Opener

Ensure the garage door opener is unplugged to eliminate any power to the mechanism. Even during a power outage, it’s essential to unplug the opener. If the motor activates while the garage door is disconnected, it could cause significant damage. Keep the opener unplugged until you have fully reconnected the garage door.

Ensure the Garage Door is in the Closed Position

Before disengaging the garage door opener, ensure the door is down.

Disengaging an open door can cause it to crash down, potentially causing damage or injury.

Ensure the Garage Door Isn’t Locked

If your garage door has a manual lock, check if it’s engaged. If the lock is in place, remove it to avoid damaging it when opening the door.

Pull the Red Cord Towards the Garage Door and Listen for a Click

Locate the red cord hanging from the trolley of your garage door opener. The rope should be positioned at the front when the door is closed. Use a ladder if needed, and ensure safety precautions are in place. Pull the cord down until you hear a click, indicating the trolley has disconnected from the opener carriage.

Pull the Cord Towards the Garage Interior

Pull the cord towards your garage’s interior to ensure the opener is fully disengaged. This action elongates the spring inside the opener carriage, confirming the disconnection.


Lift the Door Manually if Needed

If you need to move a vehicle or find that you need to exit the garage door through the door itself, use the handle on the garage door to lift it manually. Be cautious, especially if the door is stuck due to mechanical issues. If the garage door feels too heavy or won’t move, there might be a broken spring, so call a professional immediately.

Garage doors are equipped with springs to assist in lifting, allowing you to easily open them manually. To do this safely, get into a low position, grasp the bottom of the door, and lift using your legs rather than your back.

Close the Garage Door

Closing your garage door is strongly recommended to maintain security and safety. Close the garage door manually and engage the door’s manual lock to secure your home. An open garage door provides easy access for burglars, posing a significant security risk. Additionally, strong winds can cause an open door to slam shut with enough force to cause damage and potentially injure anyone nearby.

If the power outage persists, keep the door in manual mode for easy access.


Troubleshooting a Garage Door That Won’t Open After Pulling the Red Emergency Release

Several issues could be at play if your garage door remains impossible or hard to open after pulling the red emergency release cord and trying the steps above. The red emergency release cord is an essential feature designed to disengage the door from the opener, allowing manual operation during power outages, malfunctions, or emergencies. However, if the door doesn’t open after using this cord, it might indicate one of several potential problems.

If the door is difficult to lift or opens unevenly, it may indicate a broken tension spring or a broken garage door cable that needs professional attention. Do not attempt to open the door.

Understanding Issues With the Red Emergency Release Chord 


How to Re-engage Your Garage Door

While many believe reconnecting the door after pulling the release cord should be straightforward, some people encounter difficulties reattaching the door to the automated opener and getting it back on track.

Return the Garage Door to the Closed Position

Ensure the garage door is down before attempting to re-engage the opener. If the door is stuck, seek professional assistance.

Plug the Opener Back In

If you still have the automatic opener unplugged, you must plug it back in to reconnect the opener to the door.

Pull the Red Cord Towards the Garage Door and Listen for a Click

Using a ladder, pull the red cord towards the garage door and away from the motor until you hear a click, indicating the spring has retracted. You can then re-engage the trolley either manually or remotely.

Some newer garage doors will automatically re-engage after pulling the emergency release cord.

If your garage door did not re-engage automatically, continue reading.

Alternatively, you can reattach the garage door by pressing the down button on the remote after power has been restored. The carriage will move and reconnect with the door when it reaches it, engaging the opener and allowing it to reconnect.

Please note: While the remote will still send signals to the opener, it will not move the garage door until the door and opener are reconnected.

Watch It Reconnect

Wait for the reconnection process to complete. The chain should move the trolley into place and connect it to the garage door arm.

Ensure you hear a click to confirm they are securely reconnected, preparing the system for automated use again. Some garage door openers may need a reset after this process. Refer to your opener’s manual for specific instructions, which usually involve unplugging the opener for a few seconds or pressing a reset button.

Test the Garage Door

Once re-engaged, use the remote to test the garage door’s functionality. If it was stuck due to mechanical issues, contact a professional to prevent future problems.

If these steps do not work, refer to your garage door opener’s manual for troubleshooting suggestions. 

Knowing How to Operate Your Garage Door Manually

Following these guidelines from Overhead Door Company of Huntsville/North Alabama™ ensures your garage door operates safely and efficiently, even during power outages or malfunctions.

Safety First

Garage door systems can be hazardous to work with. Allow our trained professionals to handle any repairs or maintenance, ensuring your and your family’s safety.

Caution: Will a Garage Door Open with a Broken Spring?

Garage doors with broken springs should not be opened. The springs act as counterweights, stabilizing and balancing the door as the opener lifts and lowers it. With this support, the door becomes extremely heavy and easier to lift.

While we don’t recommend opening a garage door with a broken spring, emergencies may arise. If you must open the door before a technician arrives, follow these steps carefully and get assistance if possible:

First, disengage the opener by pulling the rope to disconnect it. Next, lift the door from the center, keeping it level. Ensure your back, fingers, and feet are safe throughout the process. Finally, close the door immediately after moving your car.

Exercise extreme caution and seek professional help as soon as possible.

Read More About Opening a Garage Door with Broken Spring

Garage Door Experts Committed to Your Safety

At Overhead Door Company of Huntsville/North Alabama™, we prioritize our customers’ convenience and well-being. We are also dedicated to educating others about garage door safety. If you have any questions or need to schedule an appointment, feel free to contact us.

Garage door systems can be hazardous to work with. Allow our trained professionals to handle any repairs or maintenance, ensuring your and your family’s safety.


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