dreamstime_xxl_21425387Though an overhead garage door operates as a relatively simple mechanism, there are several major pieces involved in the garage door installation that need to be maintained. Understanding all the different components of a garage door and how they work together will help you know when it’s time to call your local garage door service company for help.

So, let’s get to know the all the different pieces of the garage door system, excluding the door itself, so you’ll be able to identify them and communicate information about what’s going on with them to your servicer.  

Operator or Opener

The operator or opener is what contains the motor. This is what is installed at the top of the garage and starts up when you press the button. It drives the belt that runs the system and raises the garage door.

Belt or Chain

There are several different options for a belt or chain that lifts the garage door. But they all run along the central track to the motor. This track and belt guide the arm and do a little bit of the lifting to raise the door into place.

Release Rope

The release rope is the emergency cord attached to the trolley. This is the piece that is on the end of the arm that connects the garage door to the belt. The release rope, when pulled, forces the trolley and arm to detach from the belt.


The garage door arm is one of the guiding components when the door is lifted. It attaches to the top center of the garage door and then connects to the trolley on the belt and central track. It may look pretty small and flimsy but it can withstand a decent amount of weight.

Torsion Spring

Outside of the motor, the torsion spring is one of the most important components in the functioning of an overhead garage door system. This is a large spring mounted to the wall above the garage door. It is held in a state of torsion or twisting which is where it gets its lift power from. After the motor starts pulling up the garage door the torsion spring kicks in to do the heavy lifting, lifting hundreds of pounds effortlessly.

Drum with Cables

Many overhead garage doors will have drums and cables attached to each side of the door. You can identify them as they look like a little pulley system on each side near the tracks. Watch out for any broken cables. This is where you would find them.


There are three tracks for most overhead garage door systems. There is the central track with the belt and then a track on either side of the door. The three tracks provide a guide for the door to be lifted into place. Without the track the door would have nowhere to rest and no guide as it opens and closes. Additionally, the tracks should be installed into the ceiling studs do to the weight of the door that rests in them.


These are the wheels that line the garage door, making it possible for the door to roll along the tracks with little friction. These moving parts get used a lot, so keep an eye on their overall state of wear.

Photo Eye

At the bottom of most garage door systems there is a simple laser called a photo eye. When in line the two components create a solid beam that when broken will stop the motor to protect anyone or thing that may have walked through.

If you have problems with any of the garage door components in your system contact Lifetime Garage Doors for help with repair or maintenance.