Garage Door Operation 101

off track garage door repair

Objective: Learn the basics of garage door operation.

The Garage Door

Garage doors often account for a significant portion of a home’s curb appeal and can weigh as much as 300 pounds (depending on material and insulation). While maintaining their appearance and functionality is certainly important, it’s also important to understand what goes into garage door operation. Here are just some of the components that work in unison each time the opener is activated.

Tracks: The garage door tracks are what guide the rollers – 10 to a 7ft. high door; steel or nylon (quietest option) – as the door is raised and lowered. Tracks are installed vertically and horizontally. If the tracks become damaged, rusty or bent, they must be repaired to ensure safe garage door operation. Dirty tracks should be wiped using a clean, damp cloth; avoid using any chemicals to clean them.

Torsion Springs: Installed above the garage door opening, this spring system includes a shaft, cable and drum assembly. Torsion springs counterbalance the entire weight of the door during operation and, as such, have built-up tension that is released as the door opens and created as the door closes. This tension allows for a more controlled operation. Torsion springs are rated from 15,000 to 20,000-cycles.

Extension Springs: Installed over the two horizontal tracks, extension springs functions with the help of cables and pulleys. The installation of safety cables is also required when using these springs. When the door opens, the springs contract, releasing tension. When the door closes, the springs extend, creating tension. Extension springs are generally rated for 10,000-cycles.

Important Safety Warning: Every spring on every garage door will get metal fatigue and snap. While this is usually associated with exhausting their available cycles – one cycle is completed each time the door goes up and down – there are other causes such as damage, extreme cold, and rust or corrosion. When the springs break, the door will not, and should not be operational. Complete replacement is required.

If you suspect spring failure, do not continue operating the door. The risk of property damage or personal injury is too great. Always contact a local garage door professional for repair. Most professionals offer same-day repair for broken garage door springs. Until repairs can be made, unplug the opener from its power source, but do not disengage the door from the opener as this could cause the door to fall.

The Automatic Opener

A garage door opener provides easy, drive-right-in accessibility to the garage, with just the push of a button. Connected between the door and opener is a trolley, which is driven by a motor that raises and lowers the door. There are three types of motors that can drive the trolley: chain, belt, and screw. Other things to consider here are horsepower, photoelectric sensors, and optional keyless entry and battery backups.


  • Chain: This opener uses a thick metal chain to drive the trolley. Chain-drives are economical, but tend to create more noise and vibration, so are not recommend in homes where sleeping quarters are above the garage.
  • Belt: A belt-drive opener uses a belt to move the trolley. Quieter, smoother operation results, making this an ideal choice for homes with living or sleeping spaces directly above the garage.
  • Screw: A screw-drive opener uses a threaded steel rod that rotates as it drives the trolley along the track to lift and lower the door. These units are the Goldilocks of openers: quieter than chains but louder than belts.

Horsepower: Horsepower (HP) denotes the garage door openers’ lifting power. According to LiftMaster®, a ½-HP motor should be sufficient for lifting doors in the 8 ft. to 12 ft. wide range, whereas a ¾-HP motor should be used for doors measuring over 14 ft. ¾-HP models will operate the door with less effort and less wear and tear on the motor. 1.25-HP openers are also available.

Photoelectric Sensors: “Photo eyes” greatly improve garage door safety. Installed no higher than 6” from the floor, the sensors send an invisible beam across the garage to see if anything, or anyone is in the path of the door. If an obstruction is identified, the signal used to lower the door will be immediately cut off; preventing it from closing. This mechanism should be tested monthly to ensure its operating properly.

Testing the Photoelectric Sensors: To test, activate the door to close, and then pass a broom in the path of the photoelectric beam. Verify that the garage door reverses direction and that the door returns to its fully open position. Important: If the door fails this test, immediately disconnect the opener from the door or power source, and contact a professional for repair.

Keypads (optional): Garage door opener keypads provide convenient access to the garage. Once installed outside the door, use the keypad to enter a 4-digit security code, and the door will open without ever needing to use the remote control or house keys. Keypads are a great to have in households with school-aged children. A temporary pin can be programmed for guests as well.

Battery Backup (optional): Power up the opener when there is a power outage with an optional battery backup. With a full-suite of innovate features including smartphone connectivity, a garage door opener with battery backup can give you complete peace-of-mind knowing the garage is always operational, safe and secure. Battery backups are usually not sold separately as they are built-in to the unit.

Category : Broken Garage Door Springs, Extension Springs, Garage Door Openers, Garage Door Repair, Misaligned Safety Sensors, Off-track Garage Doors, Preventative Maintenance, Torsion Springs

1,658 Reviews Google Reviews Review Us On Google!

Craig Engstrom
five stars

The price of my garage door was exceptional far better than any one else. The technicians that did the install were great, courteous very helpful. they exceeded all my expectations of doing the job. I would highly recommend using Arizona’s best garage. They are the best!

Jason Graun
five stars

No doubt they are the best garage door company in the valley. Had them out to replace an opener, springs, rod and gave me a very good quote to add a 2nd opener on the small door. Cody was the technician doing the work, great guy, very helpful and took his time explaining my options.

Jennifer Richardson
five stars

Really saved our night. When we discovered the spring had broken on our garage door, locking our cars inside, it was a stressful situation. At first we thought we’d have to wait til morning but Arizona’s Best Garage Door got technicians over the same night, fixed the door at a fair price, and got us unstuck in time for me to pick up my teenager (saving us Uber money). They did a great estimate and stuck to it. And when my big dog barked at strangers in the house they both took time to put him at ease. It was an excellent resolution to our little emergency

Jennifer Sorensen
five stars

Thank you so much for looking at my garage door and figuring out why it kept bouncing back up! I appreciate your honesty and not trying to sell me something I didn’t need!!! Jay was honest, respectful and friendly! If I do need help in the future I will surely be calling you back!

Joanna Darby
five stars

Google verified job · Very responsive ! I am the landlord and this is a rental for me. It was almost as if I was there but didn’t have to be. Travis communicated with me, sent pictures/video, cared about my budget, went above and beyond with a temporary fix until a replacement door could be installed. Made sure I benefited from current incentives, price was reasonable. Travis was my main point of contact and could not have been better. I have never given any service 5 stars. REALLY impressed and positive about this experience. Thank you so much !

Jon Doe
five stars

Tim & Cody were great. Cody explained everything in details and terms I could understand. Cody made special accommodations for my handicap and made me feel at ease with his professionalism. He is dedicated to his craft and it shows. My only complaint would be with google for only letting me rate up to 5 stars when they deserve a lot more. Great company, excellent service, could not of dreamed of any better. Thanks a Million Guys!!

Jon Gomez
five stars

A star for same-day service! A star for arriving precisely on time with a 30-minute advanced notice! A star for the company sending me a biography and clearance check of my service person in advance! A star for excellent repair service done in 30 minutes! A star for the best pricing of any garage door service I’ve ever had! Why would I not give them 5 stars?!

five stars

Jay was very professional and showed me the problem with the door. He then made the repair in an hour and it was working better than before! I would recommend Arizona’s Best Garage Door and Repair Company to anyone that needs their garage door fixed!

five stars

I’m not one to post or post comments but I have to Arizona’s Best Garage Door has DEFINITELY lived up to its positive reputation that others have commented on. Our spring broke on the garage door. We replaced the spring, cable and opted to get a new opener. I experienced the same great customer service from the beginning when the appt was scheduled over the phone to the moment when the technician Travis completed the work. Travis was friendly and thorough to explain the operation of the wi if opener we installed. I would use this company again and highly recommend to anyone in need of garage door repair.

Nick Nicolini
five stars

We are extremely pleased with our 3 new garage doors and the service provided from quote to install. Jay and the crew are very professional, respectful and well educated on their trade. All three of the installers we enjoyable to talk to and had great sense of humor. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND if you need replacement or repair of your garage doors you should call Arizona’s Best Garage Door and Repair.

Philip Randall
five stars

Came out and completed requested repairs on my garage doors and as completing inspection, found several other ares that they recommended replacement parts. Most of the parts were original to the home (1995) so I wanted peace of mind that our doors would function with no issues moving forward. Our technician, Travis, took the time to explain what he saw and was very through in his work. Thanks again and will highly recommend.

TheMysticLink Plays
five stars

Fast, fair, friendly. Understanding I’m a baller on a budget. They communicated any needs I may also need but didn’t pressure any sales. I like that. There was a training session going on with a newbie worker and they hire some outstanding people. This place is legit. Finally, the communication from their dispatch was outstanding. I wasn’t nervous about price or nothing. They were straight forward. Good stuff guys!

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