The Science Behind Garage Door Systems

garage door pulley in plant city flYou’ve seen your garage door go up and down thousands of times, but do you really know how it works?  Garage doors are based on a rope and pulley system that dates back as far as 1500 BC. Back in those days they were hoisting rocks instead of garage doors, but it is the same concept.  Rather than requiring several strong people to open the door, you simply press a button and it opens waiting for your command to close that seems to defy Newton’s law of gravity – “what goes up must come down.” Is it magic? In this article, we unlock the mystery and explore the science behind garage door systems to understand how they really work.

While there are several different types of garage door systems, there are 9 main components that make the system work. These components include the opener motor, door tracks, trolley, torsion spring, emergency release cable, door arm, auto-reversing sensor, mounting brackets and the garage door itself.

The opener motor is the brains behind the garage door system and is where the magic happens. Under the cover, the motor and gears are connected to a logic board and radio frequency (RF) receiver. When you press the button on your remote, which is an RF transmitter, a signal is sent to the opener motor which turns the gears setting in motion a chain of events that will either lift or lower the door with the help of the torsion spring.

Aside from the opener motor, the torsion spring is perhaps the most important member of the entire garage door system. This coiled piece of metal does the heavy lifting and the door will simply not open or close without it. When the garage door is closed you will notice the torsion spring is tightly wound. And when the door opens, the spring unwinds releasing the stored energy and providing the required torque to lift the door as the trolley pulls it across the track. When the command is given to close the door, the trolley pushes the door down the track as the torsion spring winds up again to store energy for next time.

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With all of this heavy lifting the torsion spring will eventually begin to wear out and you will notice that your garage door is not opening or closing as smoothly as it should. If the spring is not replaced, your garage door will simply not operate. Depending on how frequently the garage door is used, the torsion spring can last 3 to 6 years or more.

The garage door is a sophisticated mechanical system that requires precision and balance to operate properly. To avoid the risk of injury or death, garage door repairs should only be conducted by a trained technician.