Garage doors may seem simple at first glance: they go up, they go down. However, the mechanism that allows this motion is quite intricate, and one of the most crucial components of this mechanism is the garage door spring. If you’ve never heard of it, or are unsure about its role, this guide is for you. Let’s break down everything you need to know about garage door springs.
What is a Garage Door Spring?
Think of garage door springs as the heart of your garage door system. They play a pivotal role in counterbalancing the weight of the door. In simple terms, these springs store mechanical energy when the door is closed and release this energy to assist in lifting the door when it’s opened. Without the spring’s counterbalance, the heavy weight of the door would make manual or automatic opening very strenuous.
Types of Garage Door Springs
There are two primary types of garage door springs:
- Torsion Springs: These are the most common type of residential garage doors. They are mounted horizontally above the door and use torque to lift the door. As the door closes, cables attached to the bottom corners of the door cause the springs to wind up, creating stored energy. When the door is opened, this energy is released, helping to lift the door.
- Extension Springs: These are located on either side of the garage door, running parallel to the horizontal tracks. These springs extend, or stretch, as the door comes down, storing energy. When the door is lifted, the stored energy in the stretched spring aids in the lifting process.
The Importance of Garage Door Springs
Here’s why these springs are so vital:
- Weight Management: Garage doors are heavy. The springs make it feasible to lift these doors with ease, whether manually or with a garage door opener.
- Safety: The springs ensure that the door rises and falls in a controlled manner. Without them, a garage door could come crashing down, posing a risk to people and property.
- Operational Efficiency: A well-balanced door, thanks to its springs, ensures minimal strain on the garage door opener, prolonging its lifespan.
The lifespan of Garage Door Springs
Garage door springs are sturdy, but they don’t last forever. On average, torsion springs have a lifespan of 15,000 to 20,000 cycles (a cycle being one opening and one closing of the garage door). Depending on usage, this translates to 7-12 years for many homeowners. Extension springs, on the other hand, tend to have a shorter lifespan, averaging around 10,000 cycles.
Warning Signs of a Failing Spring
- Door Doesn’t Open Fully: If your garage door only opens partially or with difficulty, it might indicate a worn-out spring.
- There Is a Gap in the Garage Door Spring: If your garage door springs are located inside a tube, it’s very difficult to visually see that the spring is broken. Walk into your garage and look at the spring. Are there any breaks in the spring? If you can see any separation, then it’s time to contact us to replace it for you.
- Loud Noises: A sudden loud bang from the garage could be a spring breaking.
- Jerking Motions From the Garage Door: When the garage door spring breaks, the door becomes unbalanced. This can sometimes make the door fall shut more quickly than normal when you activate the automatic opener. Additionally, the door may be jerky if you have a two-spring system because one of the springs is doing most of the work and keeping the door from opening or closing smoothly.
- Fast Falling Door: If your garage door closes faster than usual, it could be due to a malfunctioning spring.
- Crooked or Bent Garage Door: Sometimes the top section of your door might get bent when the spring is broken and the opener tries to open the door. Additionally, doors with 2 extension springs have those springs mounted independently, so if one spring breaks, the other spring will continue to pull the door up, which may result in the door opening crookedly or getting stuck in the tracks.
Why Professional Replacement is Crucial
Garage door springs are under immense tension, storing a significant amount of energy. Attempting to replace them without the right knowledge or tools can be:
- Dangerous: Incorrectly handling a spring can cause it to release its stored energy suddenly, leading to severe injuries.
- Damaging: Improper installation can result in damage to the garage door, the opener, or the garage itself.
- Costly: Mistakes made during DIY replacements often end up requiring professional repairs later on, adding to the costs.
Measuring Your Garage Door Spring
If you feel it helps you in explaining to your garage door technician what part is broken or if you plan to try to replace the garage door spring yourself ( which we don’t recommend unless you have the right tools and are good at home repairs) we are going to explain how to measure your garage door spring.
- Garage Door Spring Length: You can take your tape measure and go from the first coil to the last coil. Then measure the gap and subtract the gap measurement from the overall length. You can also measure the two sections separately and then add them together. Either way, do not measure a spring that is still under tension, as it will give you a false reading.
- Garage Door Spring Inner Diameter: After that, you are going to want to measure the inner diameter of the spring. Most residential garage door springs are 2 inches, though there are occasions where it is 1 3/4. Commercial garage door springs start at 2 5/8.
- Wire Size: The next measurement you want to take is to take your tape measure and put it at the end of the coil. Stretch your tape measure out and count 20 coils and see what the length of that is. The amount of 20 divided by the length will help give you the wire size. You will get a fraction, which you will convert to a decimal. We have broken down some of the common ones for you.
Prolonging Spring Lifespan
Your garage door spring is just one big metal coil. Like a metal spoon that gets bent back and forth, the metal gets fatigued over time. Also, the fact it’s just a metal coil also means they are easy to rust. Rust can greatly reduce how long the garage door spring (also known as a torsion spring) will last. You need to inspect your garage door springs twice a year, once in the Fall and once in the Springtime. Also, upon inspection it, it is best to also lubricate your garage door springs with garage door lubricant. This lubricant will help prevent rust and corrosion
Garage door springs are the unsung heroes of your garage door system. While they might seem inconspicuous, their role is monumental. Given the risks associated with high-tension springs, it’s always advisable to call in the professionals when you suspect a problem or when replacement is necessary.
Remember, safety first! A well-maintained garage door spring ensures smooth operation and peace of mind. If you ever need assistance or have concerns about your garage door springs, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Stateline Garage Door. We’re here to help!