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Chain Drive vs. Screw Drive
Garage Door Openers

Some companies are bragging about their screw-drive garage door openers? Are they really better than chain drive?

Theoretically, yes. The screw-drive garage door opener mechanism offers two distinct advantages over the chain-drive system. 

First, the chain tends to loosen somewhat over time.

As brought to my attention by one or our visitors, Ken F., the chain doesn't actually stretch... garage door opener forces are not high enough to cause that. Rather, the apparent looseness is caused by a combination of wear of rollers, pins, and gears. The looseness in the chain can become severe enough to cause damage to both the door and the opener.  However, once the opener is "broken in" and the chain readjusted, it should not need adjustment again for years, if ever!

By design, the screw-drive units have no comparable need for adjustment, so they will continue to work smoothly a day less than forever.

Secondly, the chain can break.

The screw drive is pretty much bulletproof.

However, we have to speak to reality.

Yes, the chain can elongate, but the adjustment process is easy, takes about ten minutes, and as I mentioned may need to be done once or twice in the lifetime of the opener . Click HERE for tips on garage door chain adjustment.

As far as the chain breaking, in 25 years I have never encountered a broken opener chain.  The motor will burn out long before the chain breaks!

Are there ANY advantages to a screw drive?

Yes, there are two...   smoothness of operation and noise.  Because the screw mechanism has little play (free movement), the door rises and falls with extreme smoothness.  They are also much quieter, especially after years of use.  Is this important to you?  If so, then maybe a screw drive is for you!

The final verdict...

So, all things considered, if I had two openers from the same company for the same price, I would take the screw drive unit, but, if you got an especially good deal on a chain drive, don't be afraid of it. It will still last a very, very long time.

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Jerry Alonzy, the founder of Naturalhandyman.com

Written by Jerry Alonzy

Jerry Alonzy, a.k.a. the Natural Handyman, has been an active handyman for over 30 years with experience in most areas of home repair and renovation.

As a do-it-yourself author and web developer since 1995, he has been featured in USA Today, the Today Show and on radio shows, magazines, newspapers and websites. His material appears widely on the web, but primarily on his website... The Natural Handyman. You can also find him on Google+.