Not too long ago, my garage door got woefully stuck in the down position. It was a fair nightmare, as I had to get to work and it seemed like a huge hassle. With some quick research and a little ingenuity, I was able to get the door unstuck and get on my way, just a little late. I’m thankful for an understanding boss.

One of the primary purposes of a garage door is security. We don’t want just anyone to be able to open our garage door easily, just like we wouldn’t want anyone to be able to open our front door easily. Just like everything in life, garage doors can malfunction. That might mean leaving a garage door stuck in the closed position or stuck in the open position. Neither one is a good thing. As homeowners, we take it for granted that things will work – until they don’t!

If your garage door is stuck, you don’t necessarily need to call in a service. I didn’t! It’s possible to do it yourself, getting your garage door unstuck DIY style. You can often get your door open and shut manually with a few simple steps, avoiding an emergency call to a garage door servicer. Incidentally, I did end up calling a service to get my garage door fully serviced after my emergency open. But I was glad to be able to take care of it in a pinch.

Understand the mechanics of a garage door

Garage door openers are made up of two primary parts.

  1. The powerhead (that motor mounted to the ceiling)
  2. The rail (the long track that the door runs along)

Different garage doors are driven differently. Mine is a chain, but they can also be belt or screw driven. The door itself is connected to the carriage, which goes back and forth along that rail we just talked about. So door > carriage > rail. The carriage travels up and down the rail to bring the door open and then to close it.

Generally, garage doors have a manual release cord that’s connected to the carriage. You’ll need it if you ever have a power outage and need to get the door open, or if your power garage door just quits working. It was certainly glad to have it! Otherwise my car might still be in the garage as you read this.

Steps to unsticking a stuck garage door

Your first goal is to disconnect the garage door from the automatic opener.

  1. Unlock your garage door and ensure it’s in the closed position
  2. Pull the manual release cord down. (Mine is red, and yours probably is too). This disconnects the electric operator from the door.
  3. Open and close the door by hand.

As long as your door has been decently well maintained, this should work like a charm. The manual effort you need should be minimal. I’m not a giant muscly guy, and I got mine open pretty easily.

If the door is super heavy feeling or if it catches as you open it, just look at the mechanical pieces for anything that might be broken. Sometimes there are obstructions that prevent the door from opening. Don’t mess with any cables or springs as you’ll just be begging for trouble (those things are packed with tension), but tightening screws, etc. is absolutely doable.

Once you’ve got the thing open, your car is out, and you’re ready to reconnect for security purposes, you can just follow these quick steps to re-power your garage door.

  1. Put your garage door in the close position.
  2. Press the “close” button on your automatic door controller. This should move the trolley back down to the towbar arm, where it will reconnect.
  3. If your door doesn’t have an electronic reconnection option, you might have to pull the manual release cord all the way to the door to reconnect it yourself.

That’s not so bad now, is it? Once I got my feet under me, I had my garage door open my car out, and my door closed and reconnected in less than twenty minutes. I wasn’t even that late to work!

Good luck, and may your garage doors always open easily.

Are you looking for an expert to repair your stuck garage door? Check out this list of companies that offer professional garage door repair services in Boston. They are available for both residential and commercial projects.

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