Your garage door springs pretty much do all of the hard work when it comes to your door opening and closing. Garage door springs breaking is a perplexing problem for many homeowners who do not know what exactly how garage door springs work, how to fix them, or what causes them to break – all of which is valuable knowledge to have before you end up late to work because you couldn’t get your car out of the garage.
First, what type of spring do I have and why are they important?
- Extension spring systems are mounted on either side of the garage door track. They extend and contract with the the assistance of cables and pulleys when the door is in motion.
- Torsion spring systems typically uses one or two (depending on door size) tightly wound springs. The springs are located horizontally on a steel shaft and have cable drums at both ends. The torsion spring is mounted to the header wall above the garage door. Most commonly it has a three-pronged support system with a center and two end bearing plates at either end.
- Regardless of the type, your garage springs are responsible for helping the door raise and lower. When the garage door is lowered, the springs gain tension. When raising the garage door, tension is released and the spring assists with the lifting. Its important to note, your garage door springs have most tension when the garage door is in the closed position. As a result, most garage door springs break when the door is down. In the occasional instance when the spring breaks while the door is in the open position, the door may come crashing down. This is why its important to never walk under an operating door.
Top reasons why garage door springs break
Wear and Tear
By far the biggest reason for garage door spring failure is simple wear and tear. Most springs are engineered and rated for about 10,000 cycles – one cycle being the garage door going up and coming back down to close. That may seem like a lot, but consider that you go through a minimum of two cycles a day just getting the car out of and back into the garage. If you go on any errands, a spouse goes to work through the same garage, or kids open and close the door for any reason, those daily cycles can add up a lot faster than you may think. If you garage door has become your “front door” and receives excessive use, it might be smart to consider getting extended lifespan torsion springs, which are rated for 20,000 or more cycles.
If any rust develops on the spring for any reason, its lifespan will be dramatically shortened. Rust increases the amount of friction on the coils while it moves back and forth. Addition, the corrosion on the spring itself will weaken the coils and lead to failure more quickly. Spraying down the spring with a silicone-based lubricant three or four times a year can greatly assist in keeping it well lubricated and extend its life expectancy.
All garage door springs will fail eventually, but proper maintenance can not only prolong the lifespan of the springs, but alert you when they are getting close to failure. The can help prevent potentially destructive explosive breaking of the spring as well as the headache involved with fixing it as quickly as possible. In addition to lubricating the spring with white lithium grease a few times a year, check the garage door balance at least once a season, especially in the winter when most springs fail. To check balance:
- Pull the emergency release cord (it has a red handle) to place the door in manual mode.
- Lift the door up halfway and let go of it. Springs in good working order should keep it completely still; if the door sags and falls a bit, the springs are starting to show signs of wear and may need adjustment or replacement.
We highly advise broken garage door spring repairs be performed by professional technicians who possess the proper training and tools to complete the job safety.