How Do Garage Doors Work?

Garage Door Installation, Repairs & parts in Kent, Washington

Garages are an essential part of our lives. Knowing the basics of how it functions may help identify what garage parts need to be replaced or fulfill some science curiosities behind garage doors.

You will first need to understand the garage door parts to understand how they work as a whole.

Garage Door Parts


There are two types of spring systems. The first and more common option is the torsion springs which are large springs installed on the top of the garage door that is wound up tight when the door is closed and unwind in a controlled motion to open and close the door. 

The second option is the extension springs, two springs located on either side of the garage door. When the door closes, the extension springs absorb most of the door’s weight and store it as energy. When the door is opened, the extension spring releases its energy to lift the door.

Garage Door Motor/Opener

The door is attached to a garage door opener by a curved arm to assist the door’s movement. When prompted, the motor directs the door to open or close using the torsion spring system — or extension springs — to counterbalance the door’s weight, allowing safe and steady motion.


There are both horizontal and vertical tracks installed as part of your garage door system to assist with movement. These carry the rollers for your garage door and help the door to travel smoothly.


Garage doors use steel, black nylon, or reinforced white nylon rollers to move along the track. The rollers in your garage door system are little functional wheels with ball bearings. They go attached to a shaft which then slides into a sleeve bracket on the door itself, enabling the door to move up and down smoothly and efficiently. 

Keep in mind these will start to make noise when maintenance or lubrication is needed.


The cables and springs work together to lift and lower the door. The cables reduce the stress on springs, helping the entire mechanism last longer and moving the door more smoothly.


These connect the various sections of the door, keeping them together and allowing the sections to navigate along the rounded portions of the garage door track.

Reinforced Struts

The struts help support the weight of the garage doors while in an open position for extended periods. They are also safety features that strengthen your garage door against resistance, such as strong winds.

Safety Reversing Sensor/Photo-Eye

Photoelectric sensors use an infrared beam placed about 6 inches above the floor. Two sensors are placed on either side of the door and aligned. Therefore, a sort of invisible tripwire is created. When something blocks the infrared beam path, the door will automatically stop closing halfway up and reverse.

Emergency Release

If the photo-eye/safety reverse sensor fails or your power goes out, you can pull the red emergency release cord hanging from the center track to operate your garage door manually.

Understand Your Garage Door

To see how these parts operate together, check out a video to help you see these parts in action.

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