I have an external garage, with a manual overhead door (no powered opener). There is no side access door.

After the recent winter, I tried opening the garage again, and the handle will not turn. I believe the lock is disengaging, as I hear a 'click' when I turn the key. The lock is below the handle, separate from it. I tried tapping the handle with a hammer lightly, but didn't want to strike too hard for fear of breaking my only possible entryway.

Is there reasonable any way to get in, or do I need a professional? And if I need to call someone--does it make more sense to call a locksmith or a garage repair company/specialist?

  • Are you asking how to break into a garage? How can we be sure you own said garage, and the contents therein? – Tester101 Mar 15 '14 at 17:53
  • I'm not asking DIY.stackexchange how to break into a garage. I'm asking how to get in when the handle won't turn, despite the key seeming to work. Hence the accepted answer NOT being "drill the lock" (which wouldn't have worked anyway since the lock wasn't the problem). – Matt D Mar 16 '14 at 0:28
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    I think @Tester101 now needs to prove, via the internet, that he owns his garage and its contents. He's the one that wants details of drilling out locks posted here, after all. And it might possibly shed some light on what a silly comment his was. – Ecnerwal Mar 16 '14 at 0:32
  • @mattd you are asking how to break into a garage, it just happens to be your garage. – Tester101 Mar 16 '14 at 19:14
  • @Ecnerwal I was just pointing out that link only answers are not good answers. If I remember correctly, there was a question about breaking into a garage when the site was really young. I think the user got their answer and the question was deleted, but I don't remember exactly what happened. – Tester101 Mar 16 '14 at 19:17

If the lock is separate from the handle and turns freely, my guess is the handle is the issue, not the lock. Overhead garage doors almost always latch by extending pins through the tracks on either side of the door. It is likely that one of these just got bound due to expansion, contraction, ice lifting, or whatnot. I'd try a couple things before doing anything with the lock itself. First, grab the handle and alternate between jerking the door up and down while you try to turn it. If this doesn't work, you may be able to carefully remove the trim on either side of the door. Usually there will be enough of a gap to slide in a flatbar or something similar to tap on the latching pins. If they're stuck, knocking them up and down a couple times will usually free them.

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    Spent a much longer time working on it today. EVENTUALLY made it inside by "First, grab the handle and alternate between jerking the door up and down while you try to turn it". Found a poor installation inside. The locking pins(?) weren't lining up properly. I shifted the bracket around inside and things are much better now. Thanks! – Matt D Mar 16 '14 at 0:23
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    @MattD - Glad you got it open. Ecnerwal doesn't have a bad suggestion though, a side access door is really easy to put in a garage and pretty cheap too. – Comintern Mar 16 '14 at 0:26
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    Yup - ye olde frost heave under the door, most likely. Push DOWN as hard as you can while twisting. Ah - you got it while I was typing (or at least mentioned that you got it while I was typing ;-) ) – Ecnerwal Mar 16 '14 at 0:29

I think the right answer is to buy a side access door and cut a hole in the wall to install it in. You've just illustrated one reason those are a "good thing" - leaving in a hurry in case of fire is another.

  • Definitely plan on getting a side door installed, but due to expense, it will unfortunately have to wait until a bit later. – Matt D Mar 16 '14 at 0:24

Just did this for a neighbor a month ago. Drill it out. Much cheaper buying a new lockset for $20.

  • Link only answers are not helpful if the link dies. Can you please describe the procedure here? – Tester101 Mar 15 '14 at 17:55

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