Understanding the Four Main Parts of Your Garage Door Opener

In terms of managing your garage door system, there are plenty of simple lessons that can help you manage some of the most significant issues. Knowing the four basic components of the system and how they work is the first step to successful troubleshooting and repair when things don’t work quite right.


We’re going to start this discussion with the most dangerous part of the whole system. Garage door springs are powerful and typically very tightly coiled. This makes them a prime candidate for dismembering fingers. Now that we have the disclaimer out of the way let’s discuss the two types of garage door springs. Torsion can typically be found directly above the door and are usually attached perpendicular to the tracks. This is a new system that is easier for manufacturers to rate and warranty. Older doors still might use extension springs. These will usually be mounted parallel to the end of the track.

Regardless of your type of spring, you can do a visual inspection just by looking at the spring for signs of warping, rust, or aging. If you can’t tell how a spring is functioning just by looking, your best bet is to call a professional because as soon as you need to manually move a spring, the risk of injury is present.

Galvanized Aircraft Cable (GAC)

Galvanized Aircraft Cable sounds fancy, but it refers to the metal cable that attaches the door to the motor. Galvanized cables are the most common they also come in stainless steel varieties. In either case, inspecting for damage is easy. Make sure the door is closed, and then proceed to check the cable for fraying or wear. If you see signs of wear on your cable, it might be time for a new one. If the cable is completely ruined, the door won’t be able to go up or down, so it’s good to stay on top of regular cable checks.


The most common problems with garage door systems can usually be found in the rollers and track. This is the part of the mechanism that keeps the door straight when it ascends or descends, and it is the most vulnerable to wear and damage. Checking the rollers is a simple task. With the door down, inspect them for signs of damage. Cracks, flat sides, or an inability to spin will contribute to a sticky door.

Checking the track is also relatively painless. First, look at any joints on the track. If there are any gaps or unevenness, it can be the source of a stubborn door. Beyond that (again with the door down), check the track for obstructions or objects (much like you would a gutter). You can also run your hands along the track to feel for noticeable bumps or dents. If any of these things are a problem, a track replacement is your best bet.

The Motor

Finally, we come to the motor. Motor repairs are incredibly complicated and beyond the scope of a quick how-to blog. If you find you need a new motor, getting a professional is the easiest and safest option. Before it comes to that, though, there is a safe way to identify if your motor is behind any door problems.

Start by getting the door completely closed. From there, switch the door to manual mode by pulling the red handle. Try manually raising and lowering the door a few times. If it moves smoothly and freely, then the problem is most likely in your sensors or motor.