Having the power go out can be stressful enough but not being able to open your garage door afterward is even worse. Using a garage door is so common that the thought of going without it is unimaginable.
If you have found yourself after a storm with a garage door that won’t open, here are a few tools of the trade to help.
The electricity released by lightning can interfere with many electronic devices, including garage door openers and central units. Without power, electric garage door units won’t work at all.
How to manually open garage door after a power outage
Pull the Emergency Release Cord
The emergency release cord works even with no power available. You can use this cord if your garage door doesn’t open. Engaging this cord is what will allow you to use to garage door manually, overriding the automatic opener. You can identify this cord by its bright red color. To utilize this cord, pull it directly down.
Pulling this cord will disconnect the door from the trolley. In order to open the door you will have to utilize a handle on the door.
Manually move the garage door
Garage doors move due to the springs, not the motor itself. If the springs are broken, lifting the door will be very challenging. Finding a broken spring will usually result in calling a service company for repairs.
Pull the release cord toward the door
Pulling the release cord toward the door will reengage the trolly to the door. The act of pulling the cord compresses the springs, permitting the two devices to reconnect.
Run the opener for a complete cycle
To run the complete cycle, you want to open and close the door using the automatic opener system. When the trolley passes by the door, it will connect with a loud “click.” Now your electronic opener will be ready to use.
Important Safety Tips
When operating a garage door manually, there is an increase in safety risks. Garage doors are heavy and can cause injury to adults and children. The usual safety precautions will not be in place when your door is being operated manually.
Ensure the door is in down position
Ensuring the door is in a down position is a safety MUST. Pulling the emergency cord while the door is open will result in the door crashing down. This is dangerous. It can cause further damage to the garage door or bodily harm.
Unplug the automatic door opener
Unplugging the automatic door is a simple safety precaution. Power may be restored while working on your garage door, which can override your efforts causing a dangerous situation.
Avoid pulling the emergency release cord when the door is open
Avoid pulling the emergency release cord if your garage door is stuck in an open position without power. Detaching the door from the trolly eliminates any safety mechanism, and the door will slam down. This can cause serious injuries.
Use manual lock
The manual lock will lock your door in a down position. This can prevent unnecessary injury from unknowing individuals opening the door. It will also deter anyone from getting into your garage without permission.
Keep children away from an open garage door
Despite technological advances with automatic garage doors, severe injuries occur with children and garage doors. Severe injuries can include brain damage or amputation. When working on a garage door, automatic or manual, use an abundance of caution to prevent injury.
Quick ways to reset garage door after power outage
There are a few quick tricks to help get your garage door back on track after a storm or power outage. If these tricks don’t work, consider consulting a technician to assist with your garage door repairs.
Opener with automatic trolley
Today many garages have an automatic trolley. If you need to reconnect the trolley to the door, follow the process below. If it doesn’t work, you might not have an automatic trolley.
- Begin with the door in a CLOSED position. The door should sit flat on the ground.
- Ensure the automatic opener is plugged in, especially if you previously had it unplugged to open the door.
- Using the remote, select the button to CLOSE the garage door. Some remotes only have one button, but others might have a button for opening and a sperate button for closing the door.
- Listen for a “click” and watch the door reconnect to the trolley. The trolley should reconnect to the arm on the door via the chain.
- Complete a cycle of opening and closing the garage door to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Opener without automatic trolley
If you don’t have an automatic trolley for your garage door, you will need to reconnect the trolley to the door manually. This method will also work if you want to reconnect the trolley to your garage door before power returns.
- Begin with the door in a CLOSED position, the same as your would with an automatic trolley.
- Pull the emergency release to the front, toward the garage door. You should see the spring lever move and hear a “click” sound when the engagement occurs.
- To connect the garage door arm to the trolley, you will need to lift the door 1 or 2 feet. When the arm hits the trolley, there should be another click. The springs may have an issue if you cannot lift the door. This is grounds for professional help as the springs can be hazardous.
- You can now test the door. Ensure it is plugged in, and use your garage door opener to go through the process of opening and closing the door.
How to check if a garage door is damaged after a storm
Storms can cause unexpected damage to garage door openers. Check these three components if you have power, but your garage door isn’t working.
If your opener is acting erratically, opening the door part of the way, opening, and closing without being prompted, etc., it might be damaged. Nearby lightning strikes can interfere with the circuit.
Remote controls and keypads can be damaged by local storms. You will need functioning circuits to detect activity from remotes and keypads. If these circuits are damaged, it can result in the remotes or keypads not working.
The light on the back of your opener should turn on when the opener is in use and will often flash if there is an issue closing. If this light is flashing randomly, it would indicate a more significant issue.
Easy ways to fix damaged garage door
Opener switch not working
If your opener is not working, there could be a few issues. Your garage door could be locked. If that is the case, there should be an unlock button to press before trying the opener again.
Another simple fix would be ensuring that the opener is plugged in before opening the door. There could be more significant issues, such as a circuit breaker tripping or damage to the sensor which usually effects all types of garage openers (like the Genie Garage Opener).
Keypad not responding
Your garage may or may not have a keypad. These can have a host of issues. Be sure the batteries are in working order by replacing them.
This is by far the most common issue. Many other problems can be solved by reprogramming the system. Unfortunately, each design is unique, so you will need your manual to help reprogram the keypad.
If neither of these techniques fixes your keypad, the opener’s antenna may not be picking up the signal. Start by ensuring that the antenna is pointing down toward the keypad. You will need to consult a technician if none of these techniques work.
Remote control not working
Similar to the keypad, the most common reason a remote doesn’t work is due to old batteries. Always replace these first before exploring other solutions.
Besides ensuring you are close enough to the opener, consider cleaning the light or photo sensor on the remote, as it can interfere with the communication between the remote and the opener.
Garage door not opening or closing
If your garage door is not opening after checking the batteries in your remote or keypad, check to see if there are any lights on the opener unit. This will indicate whether the unit is receiving power. If it is not receiving power, it could be due to a breaker switch or the unit is unplugged.
If you explore these options without success, it is probably time to call a professional to address any issues with your garage door.
Motor runs but door not moving
There are a few reasons the motor will run while the door is not moving. One reason might be that the limits are off. It is possible that the door isn’t attached to the chain. If the emergency cord is accidentally pulled, it may be that the door is disconnected but won’t move at all.
If the door moves but the motor continues after the door is fully open or closed, the limits may need adjusting. The limits help the opener know when the door is entirely closed or open. Adjusting these will shut the motor off when the door is in the open or closed position.
Uneven opening of garage door
Limits can also be an issue if the door opens unevenly or only partially. Check the limits to ensure they accurately depict an open or closed door. You can also check to see that the springs are in good repair and that the track is clear of any obstructions.
DIY damage garage door safety
There are plenty of quick fixes to avoid unnecessary expenses that you can take care of yourself. Replacing batteries and checking for power are easy to do and will save you a hefty service bill if they fix your garage door.
Any issues with the springs or breaker panel will require professional help unless you have experience with that particular repair. Springs, drums, and cables are under considerable pressure from the weight of the garage door, which is why they should be repaired by a professional.
Knowing when to call a technician can save you time, money, and energy. While there are cosmetic and general maintenance that homeowners can take care of, most major repairs should be done by a professional.
DIY project to safeguard garage door opener from storm damage
Every garage door is at risk of damage from a storm. Due to the photo sensors acting as lightning rods, power surges from lightning strikes can be drawn to garage door openers.
There are measures you can take to protect your garage door opener that is less expensive than the cost to repair it should the circuit board get fried.
Consider installing a surge protector. These are simple and easy to install. You will want to buy a surge protector specific to garage doors. To safely install your surge protector, unplug the unit before installation.
Once the unit is unplugged, remove the wires connecting to the wall button, and note which is negative/positive or black/red. Strip the wires and connect them to the surge protector.
Next, remove the wires that connect to the photosensor and note their polarity. Similar to the first set of wires, stip them and insert the wires into the surge protector’s terminals.
Plug in your opener. Take a minute to open and close the door to ensure everything works.
Ways to storm-proof garage door
Door braces can be installed inside your garage door to help strengthen it. These reinforcing braces are temporary and installed before extreme weather events. They can be a quick, proactive measure to protect storm-proof your garage door.
Garage door windows provide a great look, but they can be hazardous when it comes to storms. Wind or debris can knock out windows, sending them shattering. Consider upgrading your windows to impact-resistant glass and shutters to protect them during storms.
One way to prepare your garage for a storm is to evaluate its wind rating. The required rating for your garage door will change based on your location and climate.
Your garage door should be in good repair and free of rot to withstand high winds. You should check with your city for local codes and recommendations for wind load.
A backup battery will allow you to use your garage door while the power is out. It should seamlessly integrate into your system and step up to provide power when there is otherwise none available. Making sure your battery is charged is critical to the functionality of the backup battery working.
Getting your garage door back up and running after a storm or power outage can fall within your skill set as a homeowner. From checking batteries and power to resetting and opening the door manually you can at least get the job done momentarily.
Garage doors do pose a risk and if a job feels out of your scope or comfort level it probably is time to call a professional. Professional technicians can save you time, money and prevent injuries from a job poorly done.
Ruben has a diverse background in the home services industry, with experience running a construction company, a kitchen and bath showroom, and a moving and relocation company. This breadth of experience has provided him with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various areas of home improvement in general and specifically in the heating and plumbing niche.