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How Does a Garage Door Work?

How Does a Garage Door Work

Sometimes it is the little luxuries in life that make the biggest impact.  This is especially true if you have an attached garage, with access to the home, plus an automatic garage door opener.  The rain could be coming down in buckets, and, if you left a covered parking garage and headed home, using your automatic garage opener, you would not have had to endure a single raindrop.  On a sticky, humid day, you’d arrive at work cool as a cucumber, without looking bedraggled from the humidity.  If you have an automatic garage that that is broken or damaged you may not care about the history or how it works, all you care about is where to find the best garage for repair expert near you.  For help fixing your garage door or for assistance installing a new garage door contact a local expert in garage door repair in Alexandria.

A Little History

If you thought that the electric garage door opener was a relatively new gadget, you are mistaken.  In fact, the idea is nearly 100 years old.  It came about as a two-part concept by a man by the name of C.G. Johnson.  In 1921, he invented a wooden overhead garage door that would lift upwards, folding parallel to the garage ceiling.  In 1926, Mr. Johnson devised the electric door opener to aid those who had trouble lifting the heavy door. The company was known as the “Overhead Door Corporation” which is one of the leading manufacturers and servicers of garage doors today.

That idea of a self-storing wooden garage door and accompanying automatic opener soon became the choice of consumers.

Although this idea was favored by many, the use of wood for the garage door did give an elegant look to the home and had excellent insulating properties, it caused extra work for the homeowner to keep the door looking good as it got scratched, worn and sometimes even warped.  The introduction of the galvanized aluminum garage door in the 1970s was welcomed with open arms as the door was virtually maintenance free.  While it did not give as much insulation as wood, there was some level of insulation because the door was constructed in a “sandwich” fashion – two pieces of galvanized aluminum with Styrofoam insulation in between the outer pieces.  Not only did this innovation help make the garage warmer, but it also increased the garage door’s life by several decades.

Room For Improvement

Modern Garage Door OpenersHow Does a Garage Door Work Modern Garage Door Openers

For years, most homeowners’ automatic garage openers functioned by three methods:  chain-, belt- or screw-driven openers.  Here is a brief explanation on how these garage door openers work:

Chain-driven garage door openers, just as the name implies, include a chain which is very similar to a bicycle chain.  That chain pushes or pulls a trolley (a/k/a a “carriage”) which connects to a metal bar, called a “J-arm” that is attached to the garage door.  The early models of this type of garage door opener were noisy due to the metal-to-metal contact and vibration created by the chain.  If it was a detached garage, the vibration and noise was not so problematic, but, improvements to the mechanism for softer-sounding stop and start are much quieter these days than the original units and an attached garage mechanism is thus much quieter when in use.

Belt-driven garage door openers are similar in design to chain-driven models, except, instead of a chain, a reinforced belt is used to push or pull the trolley.  While belt-driven openers are just as reliable as the chain variety, they are much quieter.  The belts may be made out of fiberglass, polyurethane, or steel-reinforced rubber.

Screw-driven garage door openers operate by a trolley that glides on a threaded-steel rod while the motor rotates the rod.  Manufacturers have claimed that it requires less maintenance than the other systems, but there are two major drawbacks – they tend to be problematic in area of the country which experience large swings in temperature from Summer to Winter and are also somewhat noisier.  Improvements have been made to both of the drawbacks though.  A plus is the screw-driven garage door openers are speedier than the other types.

Constant Improvements

Manufacturers know that consumers are always looking for a better, if not the best, product to fit their needs.  So, while the above three models fit the bill for some, there is always room for improvement.  So, enter the residential jackshaft and direct-driven models:

Jackshaft garage door openers, unlike the other systems, mount on the wall beside the garage door.  They are powered by a mechanism referred to as “A 24-volt DC motor drive pulley and cable” that turn the torsion bar and raise the garage door.  When the motor is reversed, the cable tension is loosened and the door lowers.  It is always a quiet and reliable operation.  A plus is that is suited for garages with high as well as low ceilings and it keeps the ceiling freed up for overhead storage.  It is, however, pricier than most other types of garage door openers.

Direct-drive garage door openers’ claim to fame is they are the quietest of all garage door units.  This is because they consist of only one moving part – the motor.  The motor travels along a stationary chain which is embedded in an overhead rail.  It runs the same price as belt-driven units and comes with a lifetime warranty.

While the garage door opener has been a luxury in our often-harried lives, they do occasionally malfunction.  Make it easy on yourself and correct that annoyance, quickly and safely, by calling an expert in garage door repair in Alexandria, Virginia.

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