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How Garage Doors Work

We all know that every garage space needs a secure and attractive door. A good garage door not only gives your garage space a perfect look but it also improves the style and value of your home. What’s more, it’s the first security line of your garage space. But hold a second – do you know how your garage door works?

Maybe it’s your first time shopping for a garage door. Just as much as it’s important to invest in the best garage door, you should at least know how this valuable garage accessory works. This will help you know when something is wrong and what to do about it. To properly understand its working mechanism, we need to look at its main components.

Spring System

The spring system is responsible for opening and lifting your garage door. It’s generally the most important part of the garage door and exists in two types:

  • Torsion spring system

Most garage doors come with this system. The springs are attached horizontally on the upper part of your garage door opening. When your garage door is open, the springs wind up as enough energy is generated to lift the door. When the door is closed, the spring weakens, limiting the ability of the door to be lifted.

Overall, torsion springs are considered the superior springs because they are genuinely durable. They can withstand frequent opening and closing of the garage door. On average, the springs have a 10-year warranty. However, it depends on maintenance. If the door is well maintained, they can last much longer.

  • Extension spring system

Here, the springs are attached to the lower corners of your garage door and the lift cables. When the door is closed, the springs stretch and the inbuilt energy pushes the door up. The problem with this spring system is that it has a shorter life cycle. While torsion springs can last for 10 years, extension springs can only go for 7 years.

Since the garage door moves up and down each time you operate it, the extension springs weaken over time and are likely to break. So, you need to keep checking the system. Also, you need to check to see if its safety cable is running. If it’s broken, so much energy will be wasted and this may mean unnecessary electricity costs.

Garage Door Opener

The spring system may do all the heavy lifting but it’s the garage door opener that makes the operations effortless. Most openers have wall-mounted switches that you can press to open or close the garage door while some are controlled using remote devices.

Ideally, there are four major types of garage door openers but they all feature a motor and a trolley. The motor moves the trolley and the trolley moves the door. The four opener types are:

  • Chain Drive – This door opener features a metallic chain that moves the trolley and lifts the garage door. Price-wise, it’s the cheapest garage door opener in the market today. The downside, however, is that it’s noisy, thus uncomfortable for noise-sensitive people.
  • Direct Drive – If it’s your first time to install a garage door opener, it’s recommended to start with the direct drive. It’s the simplest of all garage door openers and the easiest to maintain. It also allows you to lift the garage door smoothly and thus a great option when you need quietness when operating your garage door. As the chain drive, the direct-drive opener is easy to maintain.
  • Belt Drive – This garage door opener features a rubber belt that moves the trolley. It’s generally smoother and suffers minimal vibrations. So, it’s a great option for noise-sensitive neighborhoods. Unlike the chain drive, this drive features fewer components that make maintenance easier.
  • Screw Drive – The screw drive garage door opener features a steel rod that moves the trolley. It features fewer moving components and this means fewer challenges along the way. The opener is generally smoother and thus doesn’t cause noise disruption when the garage door is opened. It’s also cheaper to maintain.

Overall, the garage door opener is a complex component that depends on several features to work. Notable ones include remote control, rail segments, jackshaft operator, and auto-close. The garage door opener can also be integrated with advanced technologies such as Wi-Fi connectivity, motion sensors, rolling cord, and vacation mode.

Garage Door Hinges

Like traditional home doors, garage doors also feature hinges. They are the point at which the garage door bends when it’s open and retracts when it’s closed. For large doors, it’s recommended to have at least two hinges. They help to hold the door in a perfect position.

Lift Cables

Lift cables are attached to the spring system to help lift the garage door. They are mostly braided steel to guarantee the best performance. Since garage doors come in different sizes, the thicknesses of lift cables vary from one garage door to another. Of course, the more robust the garage door, the thicker the lift cable.


Found between the sections of the garage door, weather-stripping performs the following functions:

  • Promotes insulation
  • Improves energy-efficiency
  • Protects the garage door from pest attack, moisture damage, and debris

Garage Door Tracks

Tracks are essentially added to the garage door to aid in its movement. They are installed both vertically and horizontally to protect your garage door from bending or going off track when moved.

Garage Door Struts

Double garage doors usually come with struts. They are meant to support the door’s weight when opened.

Garage Door Rollers

For the garage door to move along its track, rollers are used. Most of them are silent and usually feature nylon material. You, however, need to lubricate rollers if you are looking to make the operation of your garage door unforced.

Manual Release

No doubt opening your garage door by a handheld device is convenient. But, what if there’s a power outage? This is where the manual release feature is important. It allows you to switch your garage door from the automatic version to the manual version. As a result, you can physically lift the garage door. This feature normally looks like a cord and you are expected to pull it when either engaging or disengaging the automatic version.

Closing Thought:

With the above basics, it’s easy to understand how the garage door works. In case something goes wrong with your garage door, then you can observe it and identify the source of the problem. You can also know what needs changing and what doesn’t.

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