When the power goes out, or there’s a malfunction with your garage door, you may feel panicked. But, disengaging a garage door from the opener is a relatively simple procedure. By following these steps from the American Garage Doors team, it can be done quickly and safely.

How to Disengage Your Garage Door

Knowing how to disengage your garage door will go a long way toward keeping you and your family safe if trouble arises. It’s also an important part of homeownership.

1. Ensure The Garage Door To The Closed Position

To disengage the garage door opener, the door must be in the down position. 

Why? If it’s stuck in the up position, disengaging the opener releases the trolley — a piece of the opener that moves with the door when it goes up and down — and it could come crashing down. At the very least, this could damage the door. If someone else is standing under the door when this happens, it could injure them as the lack of power prevents the motion sensors from working properly.

Although it’s possible to close the door manually if it’s stuck in the open position, it can be dangerous to attempt it yourself. The best approach is to let a professional garage door company take over.

2. Pull The Red Cord Towards The Garage Door & Listen For A Click

What happens when you pull the red string on a garage door? Everyone has seen the cord hanging down and wondered what would happen if they pulled it. Here’s the scoop.

Once you’ve confirmed the door is in the down position, locate the red cord hanging from the trolley. It doesn’t matter what brand of garage door opener you have, they all have a red pull cord connected to the trolley. You’ill most likely need a ladder to access this cord. Take proper safety precautions when using the ladder, and have someone nearby to spot you or steady the ladder.

The red cord is connected to the trolley which is connected to the opener carriage — the part of the garage door opener that moves the door up and down. The opener carriage contains a spring that’s deactivated — and later reactivated — by the red pull cord.

To release the garage door opener, pull down on the cord. You’ll hear a click when the garage door opener disengages. When you hear the click, it means that the trolley has disconnected from the opener carriage. The garage door should be able to slide along the track without assistance from the opener.

3. Pull The Cord Towards The Garage Interior

Once you hear the click, the garage door is disengaged, but you’ll want to check to make sure it disconnected correctly. To do this, pull the cord back toward you and the home interior. You’ll be able to see that the spring inside of the opener carriage is elongated. This means the opener is disengaged, and it’s safe to operate the door manually. You can also pull the cord toward the home interior to verify that the spring is, in fact, elongated.

Don’t skip this step — verify the spring and the opener have disengaged before moving your car out of the garage.

4. Lift The Door Manually If You Need To Move A Vehicle

Once the garage door opener has disengaged, step down from the ladder and use the handle to lift the door. On some garage doors, it’s located in the middle of the door. Other doors have the handle on the side.

Once you pull the door up a little, the momentum should carry it up to the track.

If the door was stuck because of a power outage, you should be able to lift it safely without issue. However, if you aren’t sure why it was stuck, then practice extreme caution when lifting the door. If it was stuck due to problems with the spring or other parts of the door, there’s a risk of the door crashing down. If someone is in the path of the door, it could cause an injury.

Once the door is up, safely back your car out of the garage and park it in your driveway.

5. Close the Garage Door

Once the car is out of the garage, use the handle to pull the garage door shut again. Then, engage the door’s manual lock to ensure that no one can gain entry to your house through the garage. Garage doors can be a vulnerable spot in your home when it comes to break-ins.

If your garage door isn’t opening because of a power outage, it’s a good idea to leave the door in manual mode for the duration of the outage. That way, your vehicle is accessible without the hassle of disengaging and re-engaging the garage door opener each time. It’s inconvenient if you’re facing blizzard conditions or a downpour, but it’s better than messing with a garage door over and over.

If you suspect the door isn’t working because of mechanical failure, leave the opener disengaged until a garage door repair specialist assesses the situation. When it comes to garage doors, always err on the side of caution. These doors are heavy and can cause serious injury in cases of malfunction.

Once the power comes back on, you’ll want to put the car back in the garage and the garage door back on automatic mode. So, how can you re-engage the garage door?

How to Re-Engage Your Garage Door

1. Return The Garage Door To The Closed Position

Before you re-engage the garage door, make sure the door is down. Never attempt to re-engage a garage door if it’s in the open position. If it’s stuck, leave the door where it is and call a garage door repair company to assess the problem. If you’ve opened it to remove your car, close it before attempting these next steps.

2. Pull The Red Cord Towards The Garage Door & Listen For A Click

To do this, use a ladder to reach the red cord, grab the red handle, and pull it toward the garage door and away from the motor. You’ll hear a click and see the spring retract back into place. At this point, you can either re-engage the trolley manually or remotely. When pulling the red cord toward the garage door, it’s essential to listen for the “click.” This sound says the spring is no longer extended and the garage door opener is again engaged. To engage remotely, press the button on the remote control so the door moves back into place. To engage manually, slide the garage door along the track until the trolley re-engages. You’ll know the trolley is re-engaged when the door goes up and down on its own.

3. The Garage Door Is Now Re-Engaged

At this point, your garage door is re-engaged. It’s a good idea to use the remote to test and make sure it’s functioning correctly. If the door was stuck for any reason other than a power outage, you’ll also want to call a reputable garage door repair company. They can figure out the cause of the problem and prevent it from happening again. If there’s reason to believe a mechanical failure is to blame or another power outage may happen, wait to move a car back into the garage. Although opening and closing the garage door manually is a relatively simple procedure, it’s not one we recommend doing any more than necessary.