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Trouble with the red handle

Help! I can’t disengage my garage door opener! The pull rope isn’t working!

This article is primarily written for the common lift master chain or belt drive garage door openers

Red garage door pull handle with J arm and springs in view Lift Master 1280r

Inner and outer trolly mated

Garage door opener separated trollies

Opener trollies separated

Trouble with the red handle – Lifting the door by hand
1. Initially, always operate manually when the door is DOWN. (Why?)
a. If you have a broken spring and the door is up and you actually manage to release the red handle you will go for a ride (concrete skiing) as the door comes crashing down. This may even break glass in the top section and could easily result in injuries. You’ve been warned.
b. If you can’t get door down with automatic opener
i. Power is out? Ok to continue by hand, just be careful.
ii. Opener broken –Something obviously wrong with opener. For example:
1. Motor runs, but door doesn’t move. Ok to continue by hand, just be careful.
iii. Door broken. – BE VERY CAREFUL. In most cases it is worth calling a pro.
1. Spring broken? DON’T RELEASE! CALL A PRO! – Also see article “how to get my door up with a broken spring”
2. Cable off? Door crooked? DON’T RELEASE! CALL A PRO!
3. Roller out of track? DON’T RELEASE! CALL A PRO!
iv. You need a pro and can’t get anyone same day? – If it is late, find a company that offers emergency service. If you are unsure about paying emergency rates, simply move anything valuable inside the house and lock the door to the house.
1. If you have too much stuff to move inside, block the opening with plywood or junk
2. Do not pull harder than about 20lbs. Really, something else is wrong, NO NOT HANG FROM THE HANDLE WITH YOUR WEIGHT.
3. Common problem – Old lift master/chamberlain/crafstman/sears before about 1988. (model 1056)

Cutoff garage door handle

Difficult to disengage old sears opener

Lift and pulling at same time

Pull the handle and lift the door at the same time

a. In this case you must pull the handle and lift the door at the same time, this can be awkward to do by yourself. Grab a friend. You don’t need to pull too hard on the handle and once it is clear of the inner trolley you can let go.
i. A trick to do this by yourself is to turn your back to the door, reach one hand down to a bottom hinge or handle and your other hand up to the pull rope. Pull both same time.
4. Door jammed
a. Down
i. Broken spring – door is slightly off the ground – have someone else press the button or use a remote. As soon as the tension is off the door, the handle should disengage easily BUT the door will be REALLLY HEAVY. DO NOT LIFT THE DOOR IN THIS CASE. THERE IS A BETTER WAY TO GET THE DOOR UP. ii. Door just jammed tight to the ground. – Press button on opener to bring door up – This may be the one case where it’s ok to yank on the handle.
iii. Top section of door catching on the header
1. Keep tension back on the top panel and lift the door. This is where a friend will help. Have someone keep tension on the red handle pulling back away from the door. Not hard, just tension. Then lift the door from the middle or bottom.