The humble garage door has come a long way in the past few decades. What was once a ridiculously heavy slab that had to be opened and closed manually is now a state of the art component of the modern home that may be wood, steel, aluminum, fiberglass or all glass and be opened or closed via your smartphone from halfway around the world. On top of that the modern garage door is typically insulated which enables you to keep more of that heat you pay so dearly for inside the house. And garage door openers are commonly backed up by battery powered motors that kick in during blackouts. All that said even the most high-tech garage door will need some TLC from time to time.

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Garage doors are not the clunky, back-breaking behemoths they used to be. But that doesn’t mean they’re invincible. Even the most expensive, most sophisticated garage door will need garage doors service now and again. When that need occurs your best bet in Calgary is to call B&W. But whether you’re calling the pros or intent on fixing things yourself you should understand what the various garage doors parts are, what they’re function is and how they go about performing their function. Once we know these things troubleshooting a garage door becomes much easier.

The Various Components of a Typical Garage Door

The garage door is the largest single moving component of the house. While it is a fairly straightforward mechanism everything needs to work properly for the door to open and close safely and securely the way it was intended to do. If any part of the overall mechanism is out of sync or out of alignment or otherwise compromised it will affect the entire door. So what are the different parts of an overhead garage door?

The Door

The Various Components of a Typical Garage Door

Duh, right? It goes without saying that the door itself is the most obvious component of the entire automatic overhead garage door mechanism. But it’s only one of several equally important components. The main function of the door is to seal the opening in the house through which the car or cars enter and exit. Beyond that it should have a robust lock to keep intruders out and provide insulation to keep the weather out. Any aesthetic role is largely unrelated to its function. Problems with other components of the system typically manifest themselves in the way the door itself moves and hangs.

The Springs

Garage Doors Spring Service

Garage doors typically use either 1 torsion spring or 2 extension springs. While many people believe it is the garage door motor that opens and closes the door the fact is the spring or springs actually do most of the heavy lifting. The job of the opener is simply to get things moving (more on that below). As the door closes the spring absorbs energy. In the case of extension springs they do that by well, extending. In the case of a torsion spring it stores energy by coiling tighter and tighter as the door is dropped into place. When the “open” command is sent the spring(s) release the energy they stored on the down cycle to lift the door. The torsion spring is attached to the wall above the door and sits parallel to it. If you have extension springs one typically sits above each track as they run away from the wall along the ceiling of the garage.

The Tracks

Speaking of the tracks there are 2 of them. One for each side of the door. They guide the door safely up and out of the way above the car and then safely and accurately back down into position. The tracks need to be perfectly aligned and clear of obstructions in order to do their job.

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The Rollers

The rollers protrude from each side of the door and ensure it stays locked solidly into the tracks as it opens and closes. The number of rollers on a particular door will vary according to the size and style of the door. Rollers can be made of steel or nylon and may or may not have ball bearings inside to facilitate the rolling action. In what may seem like a bit of counterprogramming heavier doors will typically use nylon rollers with ball bearings sealed inside rather than steel rollers. When it comes to garage door systems a large portion of the noise they generate can be traced to the rollers.

The Garage Door Opener

The Garage Door OpenerThe garage door opener is the final major component of an overhead garage door system. It would actually be more accurate to call it the “garage door regulator” instead of “opener” because the springs actually do most of the heavy lifting. The function of the garage door opener is to set the door in motion and then regulate its movements so that they’re slow and smooth. The opener also typically includes a light which comes on when the door is activated and goes off after the door has been lowered back into position. Many people think they need garage doors replacement when what they really need is a new opener.

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The Auto Reverse Mechanism

One last small but important component of the overhead garage door system is the auto reverse mechanism. Every modern garage door must be equipped with auto reverse capability. The auto reverse system depends on a sensor beam that is projected across the door opening when the door is raised. If something breaks that beam while the door is being lowered the door automatically reverses to prevent harm to whomever might be in the way, be it you, your child or your pet. Inanimate objects will also cause the door to auto reverse if they get in the way of the sensor beam.

Now that we are familiar with the major components of the automatic garage door system let’s take a look at some of the things that can go wrong with these components.

Identifying and Repairing Garage Door Problems

Once you know the function of each component of the overhead door system it becomes easier to diagnose and eventually fix problems. Of course a word of caution is due here because there are certain types of garage doors repair that should never be attempted by a DIYer. Primarily those repairs related to the springs. Springs contain so much pent up energy that people have been killed working on or near them when they’ve snapped. Leave repairs like this to the garage doors service pros at B&W Calgary. That said here are some typical indications of trouble with your garage door and what they likely mean.

High pitched scraping sounds when the door is opening and closing

Unusual sounds emanating from the door when it opens and closes are almost always an indication that something is amiss with the rollers and/or the track(s). That’s because there are no other components of the system capable of generating these types of noise. If your door is making strange, horror film type noises as it opens and closes you can call for garage doors repair and leave it to the pros or, if you have a bit of the handyman in you, you can examine the tracks yourself.

Cleaning your garage door tracks is one of the simplest but most important types of garage doors service you can perform yourself. Begin by closing the garage door and then inspect each track from end to end. You’ll need a step ladder to inspect the overhead parts and you should also have a can of compressed air with you. Remove any debris from the track as you go using the compressed air if necessary. Inspect each roller as well and make sure they’re clean and properly seated. Make note of any damaged ones that will need to be replaced. Make sure the track has not come loose anywhere and if it has tighten or replace any bolts that may need it. When you’re finished lubricate the track and rollers with silicone spray. If you found any problems that need professional attention call B&W for garage doors service.

Shaking or vibrating of the door

If your garage door is rockin’ and rollin’ when it opens and closes it could be another indication that something is wrong with the tracks or rollers. Or it could be an indication of trouble with the garage door opener. It should be pretty easy to determine if the problem is with the tracks or the opener by inspecting the tracks. If they’re clean and free of debris and all the rollers seem to be in place and operating as designed it’s likely an opener problem and not something to do with other garage doors parts. Have the pros from B&W take a look at your opener to see if it’s something they can fix or if it needs to be replaced. If it’s still under warranty you may get a replacement free of charge.

A snapping sound followed by the door free falling

This is without a doubt the most frightening thing that can happen with a garage door. You’re waiting for the door to close or open when suddenly you hear a loud snap and the door free falls to the ground. There’s no mistaking what has happened in this case. The torsion spring has snapped. If you have a door with 2 extension springs rather than a torsion spring and one of those extension springs breaks the door is not likely to free fall. However it will probably sag to one side and start shaking as it moves. This is because it’s being held aloft by the remaining spring. Should your torsion spring or one of your extension springs break do not try and repair it yourself. As we said earlier garage door springs store enormous amounts of energy and should only be handled by properly trained garage doors installation pros. This is no joke. If your garage door spring snaps, call B&W for garage doors service immediately.

The door closes faster than normal

If your garage door closes noticeably faster than normal these days but you never heard any snapping sound it might be a worn out spring or it might be a problem with a cable. Cables transfer the energy from the torsion spring to the door. If the torsion spring is okay but the cable is shot most of the weight will come on the motor which simply isn’t designed to handle it. If the door has been gradually opening faster over a period of time it’s likely that the spring has been gradually wearing out and is now simply on its last legs, no longer able to store the energy it needs to do its job properly. In either case you should call in the pros to handle anything related to the spring mechanism.

Garage Door Service Guide

The door re-opens part way through the closing process

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Sometimes people will be startled when the garage door is in the process of closing and then suddenly reverses itself and opens back up again. The more superstitious amongst us may suspect a ghostly spirit or two are at work in a case like this but there’s a far more likely culprit. Any guesses based on what we said above about the functions of the different components? What’s that? An auto-reverse sensor malfunction? If that was your guess you get a gold star. It sometimes happens that the sensor either gets knocked out of alignment or something (perhaps bird droppings) gets in the way of the sensor beam and causes it to send the wrong signal to the opener. Anyone who does garage doors installation will tell you that the odds the problem lies somewhere else are extremely slim.

Fortunately you won’t need garage doors replacement as this is often an issue you can correct yourself. Simply inspect both sides of the sensor to see if there are any obstructions on the glass. If there is something there just clean it off gently, being careful not to alter the alignment of the beam. In the case of misaligned sensors there should be a small LED light on the receiving sensor. If the sensors are misaligned this LED light will flicker or flash. Loosen the wing nut on the receiving sensor and move it around until you find a position where the LED light is no longer flickering and is instead constant. Then tighten the wing nut locking the receiving sensor into this position. If you’re uncertain what may be the cause some garage door openers actually have lights that will flash in a particular sequence to indicate the sensors are misaligned.

For Garage Doors Opener service in Calgary contact B&W Garage Door Specialists @ 403-275-6048.

The door does not respond to the remote control

If you’ve had the same garage door for a while along with the same remote you may find yourself hitting the “open” command one day and finding that the door refuses to cooperate. What could it be? More ghosts? A burnt out motor? The wrong house? In all likelihood it’s something far more boring and ordinary: dead batteries. People are so used to the remote working that they forget it uses batteries and that those batteries die now and then. The batteries in most remotes are tiny little compact things and you may have to shop around a bit before you find a suitable replacement. If you replace the battery in the remote and the door still doesn’t respond it may be time to replace the remote. Not to worry however because remotes aren’t all that expensive. Call the company that installed the door and ask them if they have any. If not you’ll likely need to get a new one from the manufacturer.

A Word About Weatherstripping

The weatherstripping along the bottom of your garage door is there for a reason: to keep the elements, intruders and local critters out of your garage. If the weatherstripping on your Calgary door is worn your garage is going to be colder than normal and you may find your garage playing host to field mice or other rodents. The good news about weatherstripping is that it’s easy to replace. Just disengage the opener. Open the door manually and remove whatever is left of the old weatherstripping. Be sure to clean the surface thoroughly before attempting to attach the new weatherstrip. The whole thing shouldn’t take more than an hour or two, depending on the condition of the old weatherstripping and the bottom of the door itself.


Well that’s it. As you can see we detailed a number of different problems you’re likely to have with your garage door and almost none of them are actually caused by the door itself. So next time your garage door is acting up you’ll know it’s likely one of the other components of the system causing the problem. For garage door installation or complete garage doors service in Calgary call the pros at B&W. We’re here to help.