How to Manually Open and Close a Garage Door

Like many homeowners, you assume your garage door will open and close on command. However, a power outage or a malfunctioning motor can lead to a stuck door. Still, you’ll need to go to work or come home, and knowing how to open and close a garage door manually can limit the interruptions to your daily routine.

Every garage door model features a failsafe, allowing you to open the door without using your garage door opener. This built-in process will work whether you’re inside or outside your garage, ensuring you can still go to work or school and return your car safely to your garage when you come back home. Whether your system needs maintenance or severe weather causes a power outage, knowing how to open or close your garage door manually from the inside or outside can save you time and prevent frustration when things don’t go as planned.


When you click your remote and nothing happens, there could be a few reasons for the issue:

  • The power cord is unplugged.
  • A power surge or power outage has tripped the breaker.
  • The trolley is disconnected.
  • The garage door is off its track. 
  • The motor is malfunctioning. 
  • A torsion spring is broken.

Some of these problems are easy to fix, and you can be back to using your garage door normally in seconds. However, others require repair, which means you’ll need a professional. While you wait for assistance, you can follow our tips to manually open and close your garage door without your remote or opener.


Follow these steps if you can’t open the door when you’re inside your garage:

  1. Locate any locks or latches and ensure they’re in the open position. Otherwise, you won’t be able to raise the door.
  2. Unplug the power cord to your automatic garage door opener.
  3. Find the emergency release cord, a red-handled object hanging from the door center track.
  4. Pull the emergency release cord downward to disconnect the trolley — the rail that connects the opener to the door. You should only attempt to operate the cable if the door is completely closed. 
  5. Raise the door by lifting the handle located at the bottom’s center upward. Lift the door as far as possible, then wait a few moments to ensure it stays in place without sliding back down. Never stand directly under an open overhead door. 
  6. Upon exiting the garage or backing your vehicle out, close the door by grasping the handle and lowering it to the ground. Slide the lock bar into place to secure the door until you’re ready to open it again or have it repaired. 


If you’re having difficulty getting into your garage, you can follow these steps to gain access:

  1. If you don’t have another exterior door for accessing your garage, there might be an emergency release kit (also called an outside disconnect kit) at the top center of the opening. You should also have a compatible key to unlock the kit. Outside disconnect kits aren’t standard on all doors, so it may be a good idea to call a professional and have one installed if you don’t have one.
  2. Insert and turn the key and pull out the lock tumbler. Pull the cable to engage the door opener carriage’s release mechanism, putting the door in manual mode. 
  3. You should see another lock at the bottom of the door next to the handle. Use your key to unlock the door.
  4. Open the door by grasping the handle and pulling straight upward. 
  5. Upon entering the garage, re-engage the release mechanism by pushing the lever upward with a broom handle or similar object. Use a ladder to gain easier access to the lever if necessary. 
  6. Close the door by lowering it to the down position.


If you opened your garage door normally but it will not close, follow these steps to secure it for your peace of mind:

  1. Unplug the power cord and disengage any locks or latches used for automatic mode.
  2. Use the handle to lower the door until it is completely closed.
  3. Find the emergency release cord, which should hang from the door system’s center track and have a red handle.
  4. Pull the cord to disconnect the trolley and use the handle to ensure you can reopen your garage door if you need to.
  5. Lower the door again, and lock it to keep everything in your garage safe.

If a spring is broken, your door will likely be too heavy to lift on your own. In any circumstance, the larger and heavier your garage door is, the harder and faster it will fall when you release your emergency pull in the open position. Always find someone to help you before you release your emergency pull so you can protect yourself, your property, your door and other people.

Even if your garage door seems sturdy, you should never stand under it, especially after using the emergency release cord. Your garage door is a heavy fixture and could cause serious injury if it falls. Keep people and objects out of the way, and contact a professional right away if you’re unsure whether it’s safe to use your garage door.


If you’re in or near Gallatin, TN, and need assistance with a malfunctioning garage door, the experienced professionals at EXL Garage Doors can help. Our team leverages more than 25 years of experience to provide full-service garage door solutions, so contact us online to request service today.