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As a homeowner, you probably rely on your garage door more than you realize, but if you’re like many people, you may not know a whole lot about its mechanics. Understanding the basics about its operations can help you identify any issues or problems more quickly, which in turn can save you time, money and considerable stress. So, without further ado, here’s a quick and easy overview about the inner-workings of your garage door.

Key Components

Unless you’re dealing with a particularly old or rare model, odds are, your garage door has two primary components that make it operational: the door itself, and the opener. Your door rises and falls because of the combined lifting power of cables and one of its most critical features, its:

Springs

Garage door springs typically fall into one of two categories: torsion springs, and extension springs.

Torsion Springs

Garage doors are heavy by design, both because of the materials used in their construction (wood, steel, fiberglass or what have you), and because many modern models also feature insulation. The heavy lifting is then left to the springs, and if your door features torsion springs, you will notice a set of cables along the bottom of the door that extend up toward a cable drum that lies on either end of the spring shafts. When you open the door, you release built-up tension within the springs, which in turn rotates the shafts and lifts the door off the ground. When you close the door, the reverse effect happens, lowering the door back to its original position.

Extension Springs

Extension springs function with the help of pulleys and counterbalanced cables, and you can find them either above the garage door tracks, or on either side of the door itself. When you open the door, the springs contract, releasing tension and raising the door. When you close the door, the springs extend, creating tension and lowering the door.

Regardless of the type of springs your door has, you can expect its lifespan to fluctuate based on how frequently the door rises and falls. In other words, a door used by a large family will require replacement before a garage door used by someone who lives alone and only comes and goes once or twice a day.

The Garage Door Opener

Most homeowners will agree that garage doors are convenient largely because you can enter and exit your home without having to leave your car or expose yourself to the elements, but to do so, you need a reliable garage door opener. The opener has an electric motor that connects to the door itself through a chain or belt carriage, and when you turn the motor on, it raises or lowers the door. When you have problems with your door opener, you may still be able to lift the door by hand, but you’ll want to remedy the problem with the opener if you want to truly take advantage of all the conveniences your garage door offers.