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How To Reattach Your Automatic Garage Door Opener

We’re lucky where I live.  And my “where I live” I mean my specific neighborhood and my specific house.  Knock on wood, we don’t have the issues with flooding that so many around me (including in my neighborhood) do.  We don’t lose power.  We don’t have major natural disasters.  So of course we lost power for the first time since we moved into our house.

If you haven’t noticed, it’s been incredibly hot this summer.  And on one of our hottest days of the year, we lost power.  At first, it was a flicker that went out for just a minute or so before everything turned back on.  Five minutes later, the power went out, but there was no buzz of the house turning itself back on.  As time ticked by, it got awfully warm in our house.  Calling ComEd – our electric company in Chicago – I found out that it would be hours before they expected to repair the blown transformer and restore power.

It was a no brainer.  I called our library, confirmed they had power (and air conditioning), and I packed up the wee ones.  Getting out of the garage wasn’t a huge issue.  I know how to disable the automatic garage door opener.  In my case, you simply pull on the red lever, which removes the motor and gear from the track.  Then I can manually lift it up and exit the garage – just like I did when I was a little kid and we didn’t have an automatic garage door opener.

Unlike when I was a little kid, we don’t have a key to lock our garage door to keep anyone from coming in the way we did back then.  Instead, I locked the back door to our house (thank goodness for the battery operated keypad lock on our front door), and manually closed the garage door.  What else can I do, right?

No power at the stoplight


Yes, it was definitely a good call to leave my house.  The power outage was fairly widespread.  When there’s no power to stoplights anywhere around, you know it’s a bad sign.  It took us awhile to get to the library, but we were happy to be there (and meet up with some friends who had the same idea) once we finally arrived.

After a few hours at the library, I got a text from a friend letting me know power had been restored.  We all cheered and jumped back in the car to return home.  When we arrived, I manually opened the garage door again and drove inside.  After scooting the wee ones through the front door, I turned my attention to the garage door, knowing I wanted to reconnect it so that it would work with my opener again.

Easy, right?

It’s only easy if you remember how to do it.  I pressed the garage door opener, pleased with myself for remembering how to do this, since I hadn’t had to reconnect my garage door opener in over 10 years.  I waited for it to engage the gears as it went past, smiling to myself.  Uhhh, nope.  The motor worked and pulled the gear along, but the garage door wasn’t engaged and remained firmly planted on the garage floor.

I tried pulling and tugging the cord to see if that worked.  Nope.

Next up?  Calling friends to see if they (or their husbands if they were around) knew how to reattach the garage door opener.  None did.

I could have sat down to cry.  Or I could have pretended that all was well with the world and that I wanted to manually open and close the garage door for the rest of the time I lived in this house.  Or I could have waited for my husband to get home and make him fix it.  But that’s not how I roll.  I like figuring things out and fixing them.

So I stood up on the door of my car to peer at the track and gear and garage door.  It isn’t a complicated system, relatively.  I should be able to visually see how it goes together and fix it that way.  I was right.  Once I really looked at it, I figured it out, but I’ll save you the pain of having to sit and stare and puzzle.

How to reengage your garage door opener

The first key is that you have to open your garage door.  Trying to reengage your garage door opener with the door closed doesn’t work.  Problem one solved.

Next up, is reattaching the gear to the track.  When you disengage it, it’s easy and obvious.  You simply pull back on the emergency cord, and it disengages.  Pulling back a second time does nothing.  Neither does pulling forward.  Instead, you need to pull straight down on that cord, which will reengage the door to the track.

Last up?  Now’s the time to press the garage door opener button to have the garage door fully and truly open.  Once it does that, all the parts hook together, and you’re good to go.

I’m hoping I don’t have to use this knowledge again soon, but I was proud of myself for figuring it out on my own.  I’m all about fixing things myself when I can.  After all, I switched out all the electric outlets, light switches, and door handles in my house when we moved in seven years ago.  And I replaced my doorbell, too.  Of course I can do this.

And it feels pretty good, too!

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  1. Cynthia Manning says:

    thanx so much!!! almost called the door pple. i appreciate you sharing this.

  2. Tony says:

    I disconnected the door opener because of a power failure. When power was restored I was able to open & close the door electrically,,, However,, the safety photo eyes no longer stop the door if you break the beam. The “Beam” doesn’t react to anyone or anything crossing the Photo eyes. BOTH receiver & sender Photo Eyes stay lit. I’m lost here. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Michelle says:

      Yikes, that’s not good or safe! It’s out of my level of expertise, but I wonder if there was a short in the system when you lost or regained power that is preventing the eyes from working properly. I do know that if they aren’t perfectly aligned, they won’t work (it doesn’t create that straight beam from one eye to the other). Maybe try checking that? Good luck – I wish I had a better answer!

  3. Sarah says:

    Thanks so much for this post! Saved me some stress!

  4. M Hollist says:

    Thank you! This was exactly what I needed when my garage door froze this morning and I had to pull the emergency release to get my car out of the garage in time for the preschool carpool. I know I would have figured it out on my own, but with the temperature outside being in the single digits, I was so happy to avoid spending the extra time out there doing so.

  5. Alison says:

    I never think of this, but it really is important to know how to do.

    I also live in an area that rarely if ever has power problems. When my house was built they were also building Northwest Community Hospital which is only a few blocks away. We’ve always suspected we’re on the same power grid as them because power goes out across the street and next door, but rarely at my house.

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