I have a chain drive garage door opener. The sprocket on top of the garage door opener broke off so the chain isn't connected to the garage door opener anymore.

I want to re-use the garage door rail I have because it's one piece that's 6 or 7 ft long (I didn't measure but it's about that long). Looking at the chain drive openers I can buy at Home Depot, it looks like the rail is in pieces since the box is like 2 ft long.

Assuming the length, load strength, etc. is the same for both the one piece rail and the multiple piece rail, is it a good idea for me to reuse the old rail?

I'm asking because I want to install less things if I can help it. Also, the idea of a single solid rail sounds more structurally sound than a 5 piece rail that's screwed together.

  • I recently replaced a 20 yr old opener ; Because the new opener came as a complete package, I never considered reusing old worn rail . Can you buy a new opener without a rail ? Feb 3, 2020 at 15:58

4 Answers 4


Generally no, you cannot reuse the rail, they are not all exactly the same dimensions. There is no one standard size of profile, even within the same manufacturer, they change over the years.

The holes for the attach points may change also, this could be solved by drilling more holes, but this would defeat the purpose of saving time.

If you bought a new opener within a few years of buying the old one, then maybe. But, they normally last 10 years or so.

Edit: just to be clear, this is the rail on a typical opener.

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For most designs, a shuttle rides on the rail.

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Not all rails have the same cross-section (profile). There are at least two types, T and Box. And each of these are not standardized.

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You could possibly re-use the shuttle and possibly the chain. But, these are high wear items, not recommended. Not all use chains anyway, there are belt drives also.

  • 1
    Wait, if the OP is not changing the garage door and only changing the opener, why can't they reuse the same rails?
    – Gunner
    Feb 3, 2020 at 11:17
  • The rail the OP is referring to is the arm that goes from the opener (drive box) to the door header. those wouldn't be interchangeable without some drilling and retrofitting.
    – JACK
    Feb 3, 2020 at 13:28

I have reused the rail, to save time when swapping garage door units. It was a similarly branded unit, and the rails appeared to be identical.

That was 32 years ago. The original rail continues to work fine. Every 5 years or so, I clean it up and re-grease it.

If the new and old rail are different, or the old one has allot of wear, I would install the new one. Otherwise, you may save some time and effort by reusing the existing on.


That wouldn't be a good idea. Too much rests on that rail and it's designed to fit exact. You mentioned that the sprocket broke off.. There's usually a roll pin that attaches the sprocket to the drive shaft, did you check that? Also, you might want to look for a replacement sprocket if your old one actually broke.

  • yes I checked and the sprocket sheared off of the roll pin. There's all these metal shavings so it just wore out I guess. The problem is the opener is 5 yrs old (according to the manufactured date sticker) and it broke so quickly. Not sure who installed it but sucks that it broke so quickly. I was told by several repairmen that the opene should last 10-15 yrs
    – Classified
    Feb 4, 2020 at 16:33
  • @Classified Can you remove the parts of the roll pin from the drive shaft and sprocket and insert a new one? I did that many times with our opener and it lasted at least 25 years.
    – JACK
    Feb 4, 2020 at 17:07
  • yeah, I just asked a garage door installer and he said he can't do what you suggested due to some law here in CA that says we need a battery backup in the opener. If there's no battery backup, he's not allowed to repair the opener. SMH
    – Classified
    Feb 4, 2020 at 18:50

Why don't you ask a manufacturer customer service rep with details on each opener? I agree that the multi-piece rails are unstable compared to a one piece rail.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know the details of contributing here. Apr 19, 2020 at 11:16

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