If you’re like most homeowners, then you probably don’t give much thought to your garage door springs at all. While you certainly can’t be faulted for overlooking these somewhat hidden components, the truth is that your garage door springs are one of the most crucial parts of your entire garage door system.
Think about how often you raise and lower your garage door every day; all that heavy lifting, stretching, and compressing ultimately takes its toll on your garage door components, and your springs are typically the first ones to go. Typically, when a spring breaks your garage door will no longer open as the door will become extremely heavy. The electric opener will try to pull the door but will usually stop after a few inches because the door is just too heavy. Should this happen, you can easily check if a spring is broken by looking to see if it has split into two pieces. If you have the most common torsion spring system, the springs are located 1’ above the door in the center. The photo below shows what a broken spring looks like:
Types of Garage Door Springs
The vast majority of residential garage doors sold in the past 30 years feature a torsion spring set-up (see photo above). Garage door torsion springs are tightly wound, heavy-duty metal springs mounted on parallel metal rods directly above the garage door. They are a critical component which serves to balance the door so it can be easily lifted. Depending on the size and weight of the door, a garage door can have one or more torsion springs and each one is wound (turned) to a specific torsion setting. When the garage door is opened, the springs unwind, pulling on cables to lift and open the garage door. The same components then operate in reverse to wind the garage door torsion springs and create tension to keep the door light and balanced as it closes.
Extension springs, on the other hand, are located on the sides near the tracks and are longer than torsion springs. Extension springs stretch and contract using a series of cables and pulleys to open and close the garage door. However, extension springs are not mounted to fixed metal rods, so a safety cable should run through each spring to help contain them should they fail or break to prevent them from flying dangerously across the garage potentially causing damage or injury. These springs were usually used in older doors 30 to 50 years ago.
There is one model of door on the market that uses a hidden spring system called a Torquemaster. Unfortunately, because this system is limited to one model from one manufacturer, most door companies don’t carry the parts and when a spring goes you will likely have the added expense of converting this back to a standard torsion spring set-up.
How to Tell if Your Garage Door Springs Are Bad
Garage door springs are a wearing part and will break periodically. Since they twist or stretch every time your door opens or closes, eventually metal fatigue will set in and the steel will break. How long they will last depends on how often the door is opened and closed but typically a set of springs is expected to last about 8-10 years. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell how much life is left in a spring by looking at it. An educated guess can be made by how old the springs are and how often you open and close your door on a daily basis.
Replacing Your Garage Door Springs
If you’re an avid DIY enthusiast, you might be tempted to give replacing your garage door springs a shot. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REMOVE OR REPLACE YOUR GARAGE DOOR SPRINGS. Springs and all the related components are under extreme tension and there have been many serious injuries and even some deaths of do it yourselfer’s attempting to do this type of repair. The minimal cost savings are not worth it and loosening or tightening a spring that’s under a tremendous amount of tension could have disastrous consequences. Having a professional garage door technician inspect and replace any worn-out garage door springs is the only way to ensure that the job is done right. Don’t put yourself and your loved ones at risk, reach out to The Door House today for all your garage door repair and maintenance needs.