How Does Your Garage Door Operate

new wooden garage door bottom seal

Today’s homeowners use their garages for much more than just storage. Some use it to work on personal projects, such as restoring classic cars, and others use it as a hangout space, complete with a pool table and wide-screen TV. And some still use their garage to house valuables such as vehicles, lawn equipment, and family heirlooms. 

No matter how you use your garage, it likely serves as an entrance and exit. For the safety of you and your family, it is important to ensure that your garage door is in good working order. And part of ensuring it works properly is knowing how it works. Garage doors utilize several components to safely raise and lower, including the springs, tracks, brackets, and drive mechanism. Find out more about how garage doors work from your trusted garage door repair specialists at Action Garage Door.

Understanding the Anatomy of a Garage Door System

To understand how a garage door operates, you first need to be able to identify its components and how they work. Here’s a closer look at these parts:

The Springs

These provide the strength to lift the weight of the door and come in two types:

Extension Springs: Made up of two springs on either side of a garage door, these springs are typically used in single-car garages due to their relative weakness. Since they operate more dangerously, extension springs are not as widely used anymore. They also require more parts to run, including sheaves and longer cables, giving them more areas liable to wear and tear. 

Torsion SpringsTension springs are made up of one long spring that runs across the top of the door. This spring winds up into a coil as the garage door closes and expands when it opens. Due to the torsion spring’s high tension, it should only be serviced by a trained garage door professional.

The Tracks and Brackets

Your garage door system has both horizontal and vertical tracks installed to assist in its movement. The thickness of the steel of the tracks gives them the strength to handle the weight of the garage door while resisting bending and warping. The tracks are held in place by hangers, hinges, and screws. These components work alongside the springs and drive mechanisms to provide proper door operation.

The Drive Mechanisms

There are three different types of drive mechanisms:

  • Chain Drive: Uses a metal chain to operate the trolley, raising or lowering the door. Chain drive systems are an economical choice for homeowners.
  • Belt-Drive: Uses a belt to move the trolley, raising and lowering the garage door. The belt provides a quieter, smoother operation, making it great for garages located underneath a bedroom or other living space.
  • Screw Drive: The trolley on this system utilizes a threaded steel rod to rotate the motor and move the door. This system operates more slowly, so most homeowners don’t use a screw drive mechanism.


Rollers move a garage door along the tracks. They can come in either steel, black nylon, or reinforced white nylon. For maintenance, rollers need to be lubricated for smooth rolling across the track.


Cables work alongside your garage door springs to lift and lower the door. They are made from braided steel wires. The thickness of the cables depends on the size and weight of your garage door.

How a Garage Door Operates

Custom wooden single car garage door

Most garage doors are sectional overhead garage doors that can be made of galvanized steel, fiberglass, aluminum, or wood. To get an idea of how garage doors work, we will run through the operation of this common type.

When prompted to open, a garage door motor directs the movement of the opening or closing using the torsion or extension spring system. The garage door moves along the tracks using the rollers on the ceiling of the garage door. Cables, along with the arm connected to your garage door opener, help support the weight of the door as it opens and closes, ensuring that it does so smoothly.

Routine Maintenance and Repairs Keeps Your Garage Door in Top Shape

Garage doors need to be checked every year. This checkup allows our experts at Action Garage Door to tune up any parts that need tightening or lubrication and catch small issues before they become a catastrophic problem. Our garage door repair specialists can also help you recognize when it’s time to replace your garage door and provide you with the best options for your home and budget. 

If you need garage door repair services, the team at Action Garage Door Repair Specialists have professional technicians to help you. We have been serving the Dallas/Fort Worth area as a family-operated business since 1984. Give our team a call today!

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