How To Close A Garage Door Manually

The automatic garage door opener is such an essential convenience for homeowners that it is easy to forget what to do when the power goes out. Sometimes when the electricity is out or something has broken, the garage door does not open at the press of the button. When this happens, you can manually open the garage door.

Automatic garage doors are designed to easily convert back and forth from powered lifting/lowering to manually lifting/lowering. Here are the steps to manually close a garage door with an automatic garage door opener attached. Remember to make sure no one, particularly children, and nothing is under the garage door during this process as this can be dangerous. Steps for manually closing a garage door are:

  1. Find the Emergency Pull (usually red pull on a red string).
  2. Give the Emergency Pull a good yank down and backward, disengaging the garage door from the motor operator drive.
  3. You should feel the pull disengage. If not, give it another pull.
  4. On the garage door, grasp the lowest handle and carefully pull the garage door down.

Knowing how to engage and disengage the Emergency Pull will be a great help so that that the garage is always accessible. Keep reading to learn more details about these steps and how to reattach the Emergency Pull, how the automatic garage door opener works, common causes for the failure of your automatic garage door opener, and when to call a garage door repair company.

Closeup of a professional automatic garage door opener repair service technician man working on a ladder at a home residential location making adjustments and fixing it while installing it, How To Close A Garage Door Manually

How Does the Automatic Garage Door Opener Work?

An automatic garage door opener works with a motor operator located in the middle of the garage, which pulls a chain or screw drive or a belt drive that attaches to the curved door arm and the garage door itself. The motor operator is wired through the garage ceiling to receive electricity and receive commands from the garage door button mounted near the home door.

When engaged, the motor pulls the chain/screw/belt drive up or down, which pulls or pushes the curved door arm and the door itself up or down. These three drives are what the motor moves to lower and lift the door. A chain drive is usually older and is the cheapest option. The screw drive and belt drive are newer, quieter technology.

What is the Big Spring?

The garage door gets its control from its torsion spring seated horizontally across the garage opening, which is attached by cables to the rollers in the tracks at the two sides of the garage door.  The torsion spring(s) keeps the door from rolling too fast up or down in a way that might be dangerous.

You may have two torsion springs if you have a wide double garage door. The heavy torsion spring is attached to the ceiling joists when the garage is being built or when a new automatic garage door is being added. The ceiling joists give stability to the torsion spring.

Automatic Garage Door Opener Motor on the Ceiling

The Steps to Manually Close a Garage Door in Detail

Here you can see the five steps for manually closing the garage door in more detail.  The key to remember is that each step is important and should be done slowly and carefully as garage doors can be dangerous. But this does not mean these steps are complicated. The automatic garage door is designed for just this situation to be easily used manually or under electric power.

Here is a good explanation video from for this process.

Step 1: Find the Emergency Pull (usually red pull on a red string)

The Emergency Pull can be found on an open garage door near the motor operator, usually in the garage's center. If the garage door is closed, the Emergency Pull will be close to the door but still hanging from the ceiling. The Emergency Pull is usually a red string with a rubber red grip/pull for easy grasping.

The red string is attached by a hook that connects the curved door arm to the chain or the screw or belt drive. When you go to do this step, you may use a step ladder or find a taller friend if you find you cannot reach the Emergency Pull.

Click here to order a new garage curved door arm from Amazon.

Remember Safety First

Being safe is important. If your garage is too dark to see well, take the time to get a good flashlight. If the Emergency Pull is too high to reach, either get a taller friend to help or use a step ladder so that you can safely reach the Emergency Pull.

What Happens When You Pull The Red String On A Garage Door?

Pulling the Emergency Pull on the red string disengages the motor operator drive from the garage door's curved door arm. This detaches the metal door arm from the chain/screw/belt drive that the motor operator drives. Now the garage door can be manually lifted or lowered.

Grab a new Emergency Pull from Amazon here if you need it.

Step 2: Give the Emergency Pull a good yank down and backward, disengaging the garage door from the motor operator drive.

Yanking the Emergency Pull should disengage the hook that connects the curved door arm to the drive.  By pulling down and backward away from the garage door, the spring-loaded hook should disengage. The backward motion helps the hook separate from the chain/screw/belt drive.

Step 3: You should feel the pull disengage. If not, give it another pull.

Sometimes the first yank on the Emergency Pull does not separate the hook from the drive. This is more common if the two haven't been disengage over a long period of time.  Dust and grit can get onto the apparatus. A second yank down and backward should be all it takes to get the two separated.

Step 4: On the garage door, grasp the lowest handle and carefully pull the garage door down.

The door can be awkward, so be ready with both hands and a friend to help as well if you are nervous about how fast the door may come down.  It should still have tension if the torsion spring has not broken, but it can still come quickly.  Make sure nothing is in the way of the door closing.

Don't force anything.  If the door doesn't move, try the Emergency Pull again. If nothing is working, don't force it. Garage doors can be dangerous. A common problem they can have is if the torsion spring has broken.  When this happens, you usually hear a loud pop or bang. This repair will require a visit from the installer of the garage door company.

How Do You Reattach An Emergency Pull On A Garage Door?

When the power is restored, you can reattach an Emergency Pull. First, try pressing the button on the wall or the remote. Some newer models will automatically reattach the Emergency Pull to the drive.

If this doesn't work, you will reconnect it manually. Grasp the handle and pull it up and forward with a quick motion. This jerking motion should clip the spring-loaded hook back to the drive. You will hear a click when it attaches. Give it a light pull to see if it is attached. If the Emergency Pull comes down loosely, repeat the motion. When they seem connected, use the button to open and close the garage door confirming it all works automatically.

Garage Door Opener opening a residential garage door

How Do You Manually Lock The Garage Door?

When the garage door is disengaged from the drive, it can be opened and closed from inside and outside. You may want to manually lock the door at night. There is a locking mechanism usually in the middle of the door. With the door in the down position, you can pull the lever locking the metal often into notches in the metal tracks on either side.

The manual lock often has a key release for unlocking the door from the outside. If you need a new key, you can call the company that installed the door, and they can replace the key or replace the locking mechanism itself.

Are Garage Doors Easy To Break Into?

Powered garage doors are not easy to break into as the door does not lift when it is engaged to the drive. Older automatic garage door models may have been easier to break into as the Emergency Pull could be hooked by a shiv tool stuck through the gap of the door and garage frame. Modern models have solved this by moving the Emergency Pull a few feet further into the garage.

A garage door with the Emergency Pull released needs to be locked as it is easy to lift from the outside. But the lock mechanism is easy to engage.

In Closing

If the power goes off, it is easy to open and close a garage door manually. This will give you easy access to your garage until the power is restored. Now that you've got a handle on how to manually close and open your garage door, here are some idea for improving your home's exterior:

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