The opener is the electric appliance that opens and closes the
garage door. They can be activated by push button, key switch or by a radio remote
control. The radio frequencies have been refined to prevent the doors
from automatically opening. Remember, the spring is actually the “motor”
of the door. The electric opener or your arm is the “cruise control”
of the door.
The weight of the door is supposed to be handled by the spring. If your
door is becoming harder to open, it does not always mean you need new
springs or an opener. Assuming there are no other impediments, you may
only need a spring adjustment.
There are three types of drive mechanisms on openers: Belt, Chain, and Screw.
Openers having either a belt drive or chain drive move the belt/chain along a
path between a gear on top of the motor of the opener and another gear
located where the opener attaches to the door frame. You may not be able
to see this on an installed opener, but it is there.
The garage door is attached by a “trolley” that moves along
a track and is attached to the door by a bar called an arm. As the motor
turns the gear, the belt or chain is moved by this rotating gear thus
moving the trolley and opening or closing the door.
However, the screw drive has a steel screw inside aluminum housing. As
the motor turns the screw in the housing, the trolley is drawn toward
or pushed away from the motor, opening or closing the door. All three,
when new, have the same strength in lifting ability. Therefore, the major
determinant is quietness of operation over time.
The screw drive is very quiet for the first year or so but as the aluminum
housing is worn by the friction against the steel, the housing becomes
loose. What starts as a gentle whirring sound, soon becomes a deafening
grinding sound, loud enough that a conversation is impossible while the
opener is running. Lubrication will dampen the sound but it will return
The chain drive parts work with other metal parts and in time will wear.
Metal gears driving a metal chain will get noisy quickly. Keeping the chain
lubricated with petroleum jelly, or something similar, will increase its life but
will not maintain quiet.
The belt drive is better than either. It is much quieter because there
is no metal rubbing metal. The belt is the same material as the timing
belt in your car but doesn’t experience the same RPMs. It is the
only one of the three where a life time warranty is given by manufacturers.
One-third Horsepower openers will work on 95% of the doors out there, even
ones 16 feet wide. Despite this, manufacturers put all of the bells and
whistles on the one-half HP and higher doors such as timed lights and
vacation switches. Most of the popular openers are three-fourths horsepower
because they are not much more than the lower power openers, provide you
with better features, and life time warranties.
There are also DC power motors on the market which allows for battery back-up
systems that will open and close your door during power outages. Always
makes sure that the locking mechanism on the door is disabled when your
opener is operable. If it is not and someone accidentally locks the door,
serious damage will be done to the opener and possibly to the door itself.
Always makes sure the lift handle is on the bottom of the door inside
and out in case the door needs to be worked by hand.
Thomas V. Giel Garage Doors serves a 50-mile radius around Pittsburgh.
We handle all your needs when it comes to garage doors and openers! We
entry doors and storm doors that are installed in front of the entry door to protect it.