Spring break is still months away, but that is the sort of break you want. The kind you want to skip is the one that has to do with your garage.
It starts like this: A tremendous, gunshot‑like bang will emanate from the garage. Likely, you and everyone inside the home will jump and flinch, but once you recover you will head to the garage. There, you will fail to easily see the source of the blast. Yet, the next time you try to leave home via the garage door, you’ll realize just what made that horrific ruckus. You will see that it was the lifting spring required to open the door that made that noise when it snapped in two!
Why on earth would a spring just sitting idly suddenly snap like that? And without any sort of warning? Let’s consider just why a lifting spring snaps, and how it is the sort of springtime break you definitely want to skip.
Springs Are Key Parts in Garage Door Systems
To understand how a spring snaps, you first have to understand why they are on the door in the first place. And you might be surprised that there are two different types of spring systems at work in garage doors.
The first is the TORSION SPRING, which remains inside of a steel tub above the door. This is attached to the wall and features an anchor plate mounted to the centre of the door. This allows all the door’s weight to be transferred to the anchor plate. If there is not enough space above the door, the plate is mounted at the end of the tracks and called a double horizontal track or low headroom system.
The other style uses an EXTENSION SPRING system, and this features springs on both sides of the door and which run above the tracks. They are designed as coiled springs and as they extend, they lower or lift the garage door. They will usually include safety cables with extension springs, which stop the springs from flailing about and hitting things if they break (including smashing into a car below).
Either type of spring system works as a counterweight to the door. For instance, if your garage has a door that measures 9 feet by 7 feet and includes a row of windows, it would probably have a total weight of roughly 135 lb. (61 kilo.). Clearly, few of us can lift such weights with a single hand, and this is where the spring system comes to the rescue. It allows the door to be balanced, and by doing so, it reduces the weight to only 8 and 10 lb. (3.5 and 4 kilos), or so. This is a weight it cannot exceed whether or not it features an electric garage door opener.
After all, a typical door opener is designed to replace the manual lifting of the door, though the systems are usually able to lift as much as 200 lb. (90 kilos). Keep in mind that the door systems don’t just lift but also return the door to the closed position, meaning they can use that same amount of downward force. This is one reason you must always have safety systems in place as the force of a descending door is tremendous!
Why Do Lifting Springs Break?
So, just why would a lifting spring break? Actually, there are several reasons this might occur, and they include:
- Wear – Almost any mechanical object has a usable lifespan, and for extension or torsion springs it is between five and seven years. Manufacturers typically aim to offer 10,000‑cycle spring systems. The cycle is one opening and one closing. If you use a door twice daily, it adds up, and the standard use of two to four cycles a day means more than 1000 cycles per year! Use it around five times each day and that ends up being 20 to 25,000‑cycles, and heavier duty springs of that kind are available from certain manufacturers.
- Manufacturing flaws – It is a given that manufacturing flaws can occur, and when it happens with torsion springs, it usually has to do with the way galvanizing agent applied, which may allow rust to form. With extension springs, it is often the connector ring or one ring at the end that snaps.
- Location, location, location – Most garages are unheated and typically cold and damp or warm and damp. This means that the springs experience seasonal cold and even freezing conditions. They also have to combat moisture. They are galvanized for protection (usually springs are made of 30‑40% galvanized materials), but rust can still be a problem. And if the location has long bouts of extreme cold under -15F (-26F), the coiled metal wire can dry out and break.
- Improper or flawed spring calibration – Sometimes, the installation is done with inadequate or improper springs. Initially, such systems more, but the more demand that is put on the system (the opener, door and springs), the more likely it is for something to go wrong. Since springs are calibrated to operate correctly with a 5% variation, a spring made to lift a 100‑lb. (45‑kilo) door must not to be used with a spring for a 150‑lb. (68‑kilo) door since that cuts down on the potential life span and over stresses the system.
- No upkeep – Garage door maintenance is important – all systems need it. At Garaga, we suggest twice‑yearly lubrication of metal parts. Those that contact other metal parts need lots of care, so one visit in the fall or winter when temperatures start dipping below 32°F (0°C), and another when night time temperatures are above freezing are best.
Is There Anything More You Can Do to Extend a Spring System’s Lifespan?
If you are eager to get the most out of your spring system and avoid dangerous breaks, we recommend that you:
- Lubricate the springs twice, or at least once, a year, using petroleum‑based oil, like motor oil for your car (ex.: 10W30). Just wipe it on with a cloth and apply it completely around the coils. Remove excess and that step is done! NOTE: Don’t use a product like WD‑40 which is touted as a household essential. Why? It is a degreaser! Garaga dealers carry the lubricants you’ll need that are made for garage doors.
- Consider working with a team that provides a “Garage Door Tune‑up” program in the same way that a car dealer offers one for your car to avoid problems before winter arrives. This alleviates your need to do any lubrication on your own, and has an expert explore the stability of the system.
Feel free to contact us. We know all there is to know about garage doors, spring systems, openers and more. We are happy to advise you about your best options based on your exact needs, and your budget, too! We can also send you a quotation by email.
If you are looking to change the garage door rather than just maintain the system, head to our showroom. There you can use our Design Centre to show all of the styles to fit your home. You can also checkout our image gallery for lots of inspiration.