Garage Door Cable Snapped Can’t Open Door: What to Do & Causes

Cable Replacement and Garage Door Off Track

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More often than not, your garage door cable might get broken as you try to open your garage door. When this happens, you must know that it is pretty important to fix the cable as it is what ensures the safe operation of your tension spring.  Your tension springs and your garage door cable compliments each other as one cannot function without the other.

Your garage door works by using your torsion spring to counterbalance the weight. By counterbalancing the weight, the right tension is applied to the cables which results in lifting the door.

While the garage door cable is pretty important, you must know that you can actually open your garage door with a broken or snapped cable. Although it is possible to open your garage door manually with a broken cable,  we’ll advise you against doing such. This is because you will be neglecting all safety precautions by doing this. 

However, if it is an emergency and you need to get your garage door opened, here are some tips for opening your garage door with a snapped cable and more below.

How to Open a Garage Door with a Broken Cable

Before opening your garage door, you need to exercise as many safety precautions as possible. Take your time to check if there are any other faults with your garage door. Once you have confirmed, you can follow the steps below to open your garage door.

1. Locate and Pull the Emergency Cord

This is the first thing you must do if you are looking to open your garage door with a broken cable. You must take your time to locate the emergency cord or lever of your garage door.  The emergency cord usually hangs from your garage door trolley. It always has a handle you can pull.

Once you locate the cord, gently pull the cord down till you are certain the lever has locked into position. The release lever disengages from your motor unit the moment you have firmly pulled the emergency cord. The garage door becomes possible to lift once the release lever gets disengaged.

2. Find a Partner and Lift the Garage Door

The next thing you must do is find a partner to help lift the garage door. Except you are a weightlifter who lifts about 500 to 600 pounds of weight, you will find it very hard to lift your garage door alone. You need to call for help from your neighbor or anyone within your home. Once you call for help you can proceed to lift the garage door.

When lifting the garage door, you must lift the garage door from one side while your partner lifts the door from the other side. This way, the weight of the garage door becomes balanced making it less difficult to lift. Combine your force/energy to lift the garage door. Lift the garage door to the desired height. Once you have done this, use a C-clamp to clamp each side of the garage door. Also, use a ladder to support the weight of the garage door.

To bring down your garage door, simply remove the ladder and the C-clamp. Gently guide the garage door down using your weight. 

While you can always use this method to open and close your garage door, you should fix your garage door cable instead of trying to manage it. By fixing it, you rid yourself of the stress that comes with annually opening your garage door.

Why Is My Garage Door Cable Cutting?

Different things can make your garage door cable break. Here is a list of possible things below.

1. Old Age

This is one of the most popular reasons why your cable might break.  If you are using an old garage door cable, there is a pretty good chance that your cable will break as you use it. Garage door cables last around 8 to 15 years.

Once it lasts beyond such time, there is a good chance that your garage door cable might snap one day as you use it.

2. Poor Alignment

Although your cables should last for at least 8 years, you must know that a poor alignment can accelerate the wear and tear of your garage door cable.

If your garage door isn’t properly set up, or if the alignment is done terribly, you will not be able to use the cable for a long time as the cable will snap due to the excess tension from the springs.

3. Rust and Corrosion

If your garage door cables are not properly maintained, there is a pretty good chance that your garage will rust over time. When it rusts, it leads to corrosion which results in the cable cutting when you use it.

Like your torsion springs, your garage door cables need to be lubricated to prevent rust. When you fail to do this, your cable begins to rust as time goes on.

How to Replace the Garage Door Cable

Although it is advisable to call a technician, you can replace your garage door cable yourself if you want to save some money. However, before replacing the cable, you need certain tools or equipment. Here are some of the tools below:

  • Rags
  • Winding bar
  • Ratchet
  • Wrenches
  • Ladder
  • Leather gloves, etc

Once you have gotten these tools and more, you can follow the steps below to change your garage door cable

1. Release the Spring and Open the Door

The first thing you must do if you want to change your garage door cable is to release the tension spring. You can release the tension spring by simply pulling the emergency lever. Once you pull it, the tension spring should be released immediately.

You can go ahead and manually open the door once the tension spring has been released. You need a partner to help with lifting the door. Once you have lifted the door to the desired height, use vice grips or clamps to ensure the garage door hangs in that position. Also, you can use a ladder for support to ensure safety. 

2. Unscrew the Cable Drum Screws, Remove the Broken Cable, and Insert a New Cable

This is the next thing to do once you are done pulling the tension spring and opening the door. You must take your time to unscrew the cable drum screws. Once you are done loosening the screw, Remove the bottom screw from the jamb bracket before removing the cable. 

Once you are done removing the cable, you can go ahead and insert the new cable. Into the bottom bracket. Thread the cable into the drum and repeat the same process for the other side of the cable is also broken.

3. Set the Cable and Increase the Spring Tension

The next thing you must do is insert the cable into the drum. When winding up the cable on the drug, ensure the cable doesn’t overlap. Tighten all the screws once you have fully inserted them and wind up the cable. Remember to slide the drop over the bearing plate and keep turning it till it becomes tight.

Once you have done the above steps, the last thing you need to do is increase the spring tension.  You can do this y using the vice grip to hold the rod that intersects the garage door against the wall. 

You can remove the ladders and the vice grips or clamps you used to hold the garage door once you are done installing the new cables. Once you do this, gently slide the garage door and enable the automatic or remote controls. Press the open button to see if your garage door will open. If it does, it means you have successfully changed the cable.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix the Cable of a Garage Door?

The cost of fixing your garage cable largely depends on the technician you call or the store you purchase the cable. Some technician charge as high as $400 to $500 to fix or change a garage door cable. This charge includes the service fee and the costs of all the tools you need to successfully change the garage door cable.

On the other hand, if you are replacing the garage door yourself, you will get to save some money on service or installation fees. You only need to buy the garage door cable which is less than $300( this includes the tools you need to replace the cable). 


Although it is possible to open your garage door with a broken or snapped cable, we will advise you to call an expert or a technician. This is because opening the garage door with a broken cable can be quite risky as it might lead to future damage to other parts of the door such as the springs and a lot more.

Different things ranging from lack of proper maintenance to excessive usage can snap your garage door cable. We have discussed all of these things and more in this article. Simply read through to get all the information you need.  

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Written by Timothy Amin

Timothy is a seasoned expert when it comes to garage doors. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, John has installed, repaired, and maintained countless garage doors of various types and styles.