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All About Garage Doors (page 2 of 2)

Learn about the different types of garage doors, how the operate and how to maintain them.

Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

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Electric Door Operation

There are three basic types of electronic garage doors: screw drive, chain drive, and belt drive. Most electronic systems are based on a ceiling-mounted electric motor, linked to the door through a mechanism that pushes or pulls the door closed or opens it. Another type of system, called torsion, does not need a chain, belt, or screw. And unlike other systems, a torsion-operated garage door does not require the overhead tracks and ceiling-mounted box.

Some systems can be added to existing doors, in which case it may not be necessary to purchase a new door. However, there may still be a need to modify the opening mechanism of the existing door in order to incorporate an electric opener, so if you are adding the electric system retrospectively, take the time to choose a design of opener that best suits your existing door. The systems illustrated here are for use with tilt-up doors, but there are other types available that work equally well with side-opening doors.


The motor is electrically operated and secured to the ceiling. A belt or chain held in the rail mechanism connects the motor with the door. Most motors are operated by remote control, and have safety devices that prevent the door from trying to close when obstructed. A 1/2 hp motor should lift most typical garage doors.

Automated Retractable Door

A typical installation for automating this type of door involves a central rail with a motorized belt or chain. This moves an arm, which in turn pulls the door up or pushes it down.

Automated Retractable Garage Door

Courtesy of DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Maintaining Your Garage Door

Like anything you use every day, you grow accustomed to counting on your garage door to function without problem. To keep your garage door running smoothly, tracks should be cleaned, rollers lubricated, and screws checked and tightened. Springs should not be rusty or have bulges. Also test your garage door's reversing feature monthly to make sure it is operating safely. For more information about garage doors and safety, visit the International Doors Association at

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Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009