How to reengage your garage door opener

How To Reattach Your Automatic Garage Door Opener

September 11, 2013 by Michelle

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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  • Alison

    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.

    • Michelle

      Exactly. I never had lost power, but when I did… oy.

  • M Hollist

    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.

    • Michelle

      So glad to hear it. I love when Dr. Google can help me 😉 I’m just glad I was messing with it in good weather. It’s COLD today!

  • Sarah

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

    • Michelle

      Happy I could help. I figure I had enough of my own stress, may as well help someone else 😉

  • Tony

    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

      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!

  • Cynthia Manning

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

    • Michelle

      Happy to have helped! Glad to have saved you time and possibly money 🙂

  • Kim Dlugosh

    My manual said to have the door closed before engaging. It did not work. Then I tried it your way (open). This too did not work. I did however drag out the ladder and examined the contraption. I knew immediately I was going to have to pull down on the cord as I raised up on the thing-a-ma-jig the cord was tied to. When the true connection was made and the door started to go down, I swore I heard the angels in heaven singing Hallelujah as my daughter heard me from inside the house screaming “Take that, you stinking door!!!”

    • Michelle

      Good to know – because of course not everything will ever work the same for everyone. Glad you found a solution that worked!

  • Wendy

    I accidentally disengaged my door opened and googled a solution since it’s expensive to have repair guys come out. Your post / instructions worked perfectly!!! Feeling very accomplished too – so thank you!!!!

    • Michelle

      Oh I am so glad to hear that, Wendy! Congrats on feeling accomplished and fixing it yourself. Best feeling in the world!

  • Cyndie

    Thank you so much for this. I am sure you saved me a service call. My garage door wouldn’t close, so I disengaged it to deal with later. ( single Mamma….no one to rely on except Ms. Google 🙂 It’s freezing out, but with your encouragement I did it! I opened it fully, and pulled on the red cord. Nothing! Then I climbed up and pushed the lever that the cord was attached to up and it clicked! The door still wouldn’t work, so I dusted the electric eyes, and they were lit green on one side and red on the other. It still wouldn’t work! So I held the garage door open button down for the entire cycle, and that did it! It works!!! Oh happy day. 🙂 I am woman….watch me fix the garage door!

    • Michelle

      I am so thrilled to hear that, Cyndie! Comments like this absolutely make my day. Way to go, and I’m so happy to hear that you got it fixed. Great job!

  • Michelle Schwimmmer

    Holy COW did you just save my bacon!!! THANK YOU for writing this! I’ve never had a garage before the house we’re renting now and I thought I broke it when I pulled the red cord. Oh my GOSH am I happy I found this – thank you again!!

  • Angela H.

    Thank you for this! I was just able to fix my garage with one hand, while holding my baby in the other, after having to leave for a few hrs because our power was out, and it was HOT today in AZ.

    This was the first thing that pooped up from my Google search.

    Thanks again!

    • Michelle

      Oh I am SO happy to hear that this helped you. It’s so frustrating when things aren’t working out, but when you find the solution…. You’re welcome!

      • Angela H.

        And by ‘pooped’ I meant ‘popped’ LOL. Just saw that! 🙂

  • LA Adams

    Thank you so much for the solution! It worked just as you described.

  • Adam R

    owned a garage door opener for 1 month,good.came home tonight and opened it up as usual.20 mins later electricity went out.since then door wont close,why not? it hums for a sec and blinks 5 times in the back yellow light.

    walk me through not dumb,just untrained what to do.

    • Adam R

      nevermind,i fixed it.electric went out,which brought everything back to square one.door was trying to open (it was already open).placed chain back down,tried it,then it decided it wanted to go down (which was already down).brought chain back up again to the motor area.been fine ever since.piece of cake so to speak.

  • T Elliott

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU!!! I couldn’t get my garage door to re-engage. Didn’t even consider that it had to be OPEN first!!! So simple but thank you for saying it. It didn’t even occur to me!

  • Amanda

    Thank you for explaining from a woman’s voice! I needed you today! Yay for Google and for you! Thank you! We are women, hear us roar! 🙂

    • Michelle

      Thank you! That totally made my day 🙂 Glad I was able to help!

  • Crudney

    You are amazing. Thank you so much for turning what would have been an all day project into a 2 minute fix!

  • Kay

    Thank you! I was panicked thinking I broke the garage door. Your post saved me a service call!

    • Michelle

      So glad I could help – I know the feeling!

  • Trena Karbowski

    Thank you! Power went out today. My husband is out of town, of course. I had to get my truck out of the garage, no problem. But then how do I lock the garage once the power came back on? Your advice worked perfect!! Yay….thanks again!
    East Amherst, NY

    • Michelle

      So glad I was able to help! It’s frustrating when you can’t figure it out, but once you do it… so easy to fix!

  • Christine Polak

    Ok – So today the electricity was off, I pulled the cord to open the garage door so that I could get the lawn mower out. After mowing, I could not get the garage door to engage with the opener when the electricity came back on! Fortunately, I found your site before I called the garage door opener repair company. Thank you for saving me!!!

    • Michelle

      I love hearing that this worked and helped you – you made my day with this comment!

  • Kerrie

    You are the bomb dot
    Com!!! After almost a month with ours not working, unfollowed these instructions over and over about four times to no avail, but then did what another girl on her mentioned. I climbed up the ladder and pushed up on the black housing piece in between the gears and it engaged!!! ??Oh happy day??

    • Michelle

      I’m so glad that you found a solution that works for you – there are definitely differences in garage doors, and I love that someone else’s solution was able to help you. 🙂

  • Judy Wilson

    Thanks for sharing this story of how you figured out how to reattach your garage door opener. I’m in a similar situation, so it helps to read about what you did to solve this problem so that I won’t have to keep manually opening my garage door. I’ll try your method by reengaging my opener with the door open before reattaching the gear to the track. That seems like a good step to take before trying to pull down on the emergency cord.

  • Shelley

    Thank you Thank you Thank you….
    Another single lady/mom here who just needs to rely on her own wits and a little help from google… Power outage last night, trapped in the house with no dinner….
    Pulled the emergency release to get out and figured we would deal with it today.
    My daughter and I were able to fix it easily with your advice.
    Didn’t really want to have a service man come out so thanks for that…

  • Linda

    Thank you, Michelle. I tried the advice of 3 others, which did not work. Then I tried your “door open” method…….victory!

    • Michelle

      I’m so glad that worked for you!

  • Jana

    My automatic door opener went out too and since I’ve fixed it before many times I knew how, I was on my way to take car of it when a macho man decided to yank the livin’ daylights out of the red emergency release cord. The whole garage shook with a vengeance and of course the cord snapped off right at the trolley. His response to this was “did you really need it?” I called my garage door installer, from 13 years ago and was told that it couldn’t be re-attached. That sounds like crazy talk to me. Any one have a suggestion? Thank you in advance!

    • Michelle

      That I unfortunately can’t help you with…I was just happy I figured out a good and easy way to get my garage door to engage after the power went out! Fingers crossed you find a good solution.

  • Jane

    A little too much story but the info was terrific! Thanks. It worked like a charm. Truly honest and wonderful.

  • Jenna Roberts

    Even though my pull cord was disengaged, I had to yank straight down while the door would have been in the down position until I heard the click, push the controller to raise the door and hold the actual release lever in the engaged position while the chain was rolling. The morale of these stories, keep fiddling until something happens!

    • Michelle

      Yes – never give up, especially since each garage door is just a little bit different. I’m so glad you got it to work!

  • Gina B.

    I looked through YouTube videos to figure out why I couldn’t engage my garage door opener after pulling the manual cord because of a power outage. After 1 call to my dad and 2 videos I still didn’t have a solution and the stress was mounting. Then I ran across this webpage and bingo, your instructions worked! The key was pulling the cord again with the garage door open. Leave it to the awesome brain of a detail oriented woman to include this simple step. Thanks so much Michelle for sharing your knowledge!!!

    • Michelle

      I’m so glad it worked for you! So frustrating when things aren’t working the way we think they should, isn’t it?

  • Elizabeth

    Omg….thank you this was truly helpful, loved the story as well, I almost made a simple solution complicated, I like yourself have never lost power but when I did “oh boy” and we all know to pull the red cord that’s where all else goes fuzzy… Lol, I’m pulling and tugging and it was as simple as raise the door and it reattaches.

    • Michelle

      You’re welcome! I’m so glad it worked for you. I love hearing these stories 🙂

  • Lorna

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! We had a power failure recently and used the cord to manually open the door. When the power came back on, we could not figure out how to get the dang door to reattach to the opener. (My husband is not very handy [understatement] so usually I have to look after such things.) I went to a couple of links after Googling and they were no help at all. Watched a whole video of a guy in a beard from Sears which didn’t answer my problem. Your perfectly simple solution was the very ticket. No video required! 🙂

    • Michelle

      Thanks – I’m so glad this helped and that you got it back up and running again!

  • cheryl

    Wanted to thank you and Cyndie from upthread. After doing all the other things suggested in order to re-attach the track, it was holding down the button “for the full cycle” which did the trick.

    Okay, now I can wait for the next emergency! The reason I’d disengaged the door in the first place was not because of a power outage but because my cat had escaped hours earlier. And apparently the trick to getting your cat back safely is to immediately put the litter boxes on the front and back porches so they can smell their scent. And then to leave the garage door open at the bottom. Apparently “indoor only” cats don’t like waiting for you out in the open and the longer they are gone the more further away they are likely to roam. I was in the process of putting some stinky tuna on the front porch when kitty decided that he was greatly loved after all, so he came in through the garage door 10 minutes after I’d opened it.

    Got all the suggestions. They saved my baby and you saved me from an expensive service call! Thank you!

    • Michelle

      I’m so glad this helped you! And that you got your cat back. 🙂

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