locked out of my garage - help please!

Hi Dopers.

I need help getting into my garage. Had an automatic garade door – and lost it. How do I get back into my garage?

Here’s what makes this a real challenge:

  1. There is no other door into my garage, so entering another way is out of the question.

  2. I have no clue what brand the opener is. Hey, it was there when I got the house. I never paid attention to it.

  3. No, there’s no lock on the front where I can insert a key and open it that way.

Basically I assume a company with a universal scanner of some sort would have to hack into my opener somehow. But so far, I can’t find anyone who can do it.

Any suggestions? By the way, I’m in Los Angeles if anyone knows any companies out here than can do this.

Sears and some other places do sell “universal” garage door remotes. But they won’t work on certain types of openers, and some types you need to know the code that your opener is set to respond to. You can try calling a locksmith, they may have tools for this sort of thing. I’d say that’s your best bet.

You always needed another door to your garage anyway. Take a sledgehammer and knock a hole in the back wall. Then after you get in and open up the door, you can install a new door in the back where the hole is.

Umm. I assume that you own this property, and that the following advice is therefore legal. Have your ID with you to show the police or neighborhood watch.

  1. Procure a wire clothes hanger. Straighten the lower part of ther hanger, leaving the hook intact.

  2. Slide the hanger over the top of the door into the garage. If you do this near the middle, you should be able to catch the little red handle hanginf from a string that disengages the opener.

  3. Tug on the wire, thereby tugging on the handle and disengage the opener.

  4. Slide your fingertips, a screwdriver, or some other means of applying force under the garage door and lift (if there’s a handle, use that). You’re in.

  5. Get the name of the mfr. from the opener and order a couple of extra remotes.

  6. Remove the little red handle hanging from a string that disengages the opener. As you can see, it’s a security risk.

Is there a window anywhere so you can look inside and get the make of the opener? (or break/open and get inside that way?) Or gable end vents?

A reciprocating saw (Millwaukee Sawz-All for example) is much neater than a sledge hammer.


D’oh! It’s the easy things that can be so easily missed.

Yes there’s a small window, can’t fit through it but I MAY be able to get the brand name by looking through. (Not sure how visible it’ll be, but worth a try.)

Assuming I can find the brand… what are my options then? I think this is one of those openers that changes the access code with every use. Will a universal remote work with that?

Nope. And even getting an OEM replacement to work is problematic, since for most of them of this type you need to have access to the control unit in order to sync them up.

So it sounds like regardless, I need to break into my garage. Probably using Nametag’s suggestion… (can’t add a door, layout won’t work with that.)

What happens if the power is out? Do the doors open manually? It seems to me they might have that safety feature in them then you could just turn off the power. Maybe not.

When the power is out you have to pull the red handle to disengage the motor, allowing you to open the door.

I’ve never seen a garage door with this feature. Most garages have another way in so the owner can pull the red handle release and operate the door manually. Allowing the door to open manually when the power is cut off would be stupid feature–rather like a large “Please Break In” sign over your house.

I just learned that the motors have a lock which doesn’t disengage with a power outage (hence the handle release). Anyway, went home… no luck. Window is 20 feet above ground (I live on a hillside) so I’ll need to get a ladder to try that, and I can’t fit a wire hanger in. There’s a cement lip in the front that has zero room for a hanger. Good security feature I suppose. Sigh.

Guess I’ll have to call the pros and hope they can open it easily. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone.

Well, if worse comes to worse, you could always drill a couple of 3/8 inch holes in the garage door (one to insert the coat hanger that Nametag suggested) and one to peer through so you can manuver it.

Then plug the holes with some tapered plugs when you’re done.

Do you plan to replace the opener? I got locked out once when the opener failed, and I knew I wanted to replace the darned thing. I followed the complicated plan below:

  1. Grab handle on door firmly.
  2. Lift hard to get a little clearance under door.
  3. Grab bottom of door.
  4. Lift hard again.
    You are stronger than the bar attaching the lift to the door. It opens, but you have a bent connecting rod. Or something. My net cost (assuming the opener was trash) was $0.

What NameTag said may work, but it is going to be real tough to snake the wire and see what needs to be done. And, the disconnects I have seen require a downward pull.

The bolts for the arm that connects to the door are probabably visable on the outside. Near the top center of the door, you may see 4 carriage head bolts. These will be flat, or likely convex. You cannot get a tool on them.

But. You could drill these off. Center punch them. Get a drill and start with a 1/4" (or so) drill. Get it started and drill in about 1/8". Move to larger and larger drill bits until the head of the bolt falls off.

Then, using a nail or punch, push or drive the bolt stud into the garage. This should free the arm attached to the door.

Now, this arm is going to be in the way as it will swing down. But you may be able to lift the door a foot or two to crawl under and take care of things.

It will be a bit of a pain. You will need a good drill, a sturdy ladder and nice sharp drill bits. You can probably find those in you garage. :smiley:

Good luck.

I assume the garage has a concrete floor, otherwise you could dig under. (still could, but mmore difficuilt)

Theres nowhere on the other 3 sides (or the front) that you could put a door? wow.

Whatever you do, gete a second remote and keep it in a good spot.


Also, (re the drill the bolts off idea above).

Do you think any neighboors would have the save type door opener? If so, take a look at them to see where the release is, and the position of the arm that picks up the door.

And also call a garage door installation company. It can’t be that uncommon to have this happen.

Was the little window open? You could try to press the opener button by throwing a tennis ball at it.

As to the “drill the bolts out” idea - that’s a lot of work, and you’ll make a mess of that part of the door. If you have to make a mess, might as well make the work easier, and perhaps a little less messy, too.

How about a 6 3/8" hole, drilled about a foot below the top of the door, about 8" away from center. You should be able to reach in the hole and grab the handle. You want the hole off-center, because typically there is a reinforcing rib down the center of the door. You can patch the hole by using the piece that you drilled out, backing it with a sheet of aluminum, then riveting it in. It won’t be pretty, but from a distance you won’t notice much. If it is a sectional door, you can just have the top section replaced.

Cost is about $35 to $40 for the drill bit (called a hole saw - here’s a picture http://www.powertoolstore.com/Qstore/custom/largebimetalholesaw.jpg). You’ll want carbide grit, if you can find it, otherwise bimetal will have to do. I mentioned 6 3/8" because it is relatively easy to find - it is the size used for 6" recessed lights. I have a “Rem-Grit” hole saw in this size.

The hole saw will probably require at 1/2" drill. You can buy a corded 1/2" drill for under $100, or probably rent one for $20, or perhaps find a friend or neighbor who will lend you one.

You’ll need a sheet of aluminum ($5?), a bunch of rivets ($5?), a rivet tool ($10), and a 1/8" drill bit to make the repair.

It’ll only take a minute or two to drill the hole, then maybe 15 minutes to effect the repair. That sounds a whole (pardon the pun) lot better than spending hours drilling through bolts, only to have the garage door look like swiss cheese.

Oh yeah, and install a key-release. You’ll need it in case of a blackout…

Do not remove or disable the red release cable. It is an important part of the safety system for the door. What would you do in an emergency to release the door and the cord is gone? Seconds count sometimes. A real crook would get into you garage a whole lot faster using a bashing method than trying to fish for the cord.

Another way of attacking the door bolt heads is using a “nipper” style bolt cutter. Rentable or you can borrow one from someone with a “colorful lifestyle”. In my exp., there are usually 3 bolts on the door. The top one may be covered by the door frame and hard to get to. Let’s face it, you’re going to have something messy happen anyway…

Installing (at the very least) a key release is a Real Good Idea.