Spring break – those two little words conjure up images of fun on the beach, the shining sun, warm breezes, and swaying palm trees. However, there’s another, less enjoyable meaning there. If you suddenly hear a loud bang from the garage, chances are good that you’ve experienced a less enjoyable type of spring break – a lifting spring that supports your garage door has given way.
Why would the spring just break? Were there signs of wear and tear that you missed? In this guide, we’ll walk you through what you need to know about this situation and how you got here.
The Type of Spring System
One thing we need to discuss is the type of spring system you have installed on your garage door. There are two types commonly used today:
Torsion Spring System: With a torsion spring system, the spring resides within a steel tube over the head of the door firmly attached to the wall. All the weight of the door is supported by a steel anchor plate. If there is not enough headroom over the door, the plate may be attached at the end of a horizontal track. This results in what’s called a double horizontal track system, or a low‑headroom setup.
Extension Spring System: An extension spring system uses a series of parallel springs on either side of the door, mounted on horizontal tracks. These coiled springs extend to lift and lower the door, and should be equipped with safety cables to help protect in the case of a broken spring. A safety cable prevents the spring from impacting anything else in the garage, such as your vehicle, or even a person.
You should also understand how your spring system works. Whether you have a torsion system or an extension system, the effect is the same. The spring works to counterbalance the weight of the garage door, which can be significant. For instance, a simple door that measures 9 x 7 with a single row of windows could weigh around 135 pounds (61 kilos). However, the counterbalance system allows you to raise and lower that door with just one hand.
It also makes it simpler for your electric garage door opener to move the door’s bulk without having to support its entire weight. As a note, don’t forget that your opener pushes down with the same amount of force used to raise the door, meaning that it can be quite strong and can cause damage to anything in its path.
The Factors That Cause Springs to Break
So, what might make your garage door springs break? There are actually quite a few potential issues. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Wear and Tear: We’ll start with wear and tear because this is the most common cause of a spring break. The average garage door spring will last between five and seven years. Most systems use a 10,000‑cycle spring system, which means that they can open and close 10,000 times in their lifespan. If you need to use your garage door more than this, you might want to invest in a higher cycle spring. They’re available up to 25,000 cycles.
Defects: Another cause of premature spring failure could be a defect from the manufacturer. These are rare, but they do happen from time to time. With a torsion spring system, the most common defect is the use of poor‑quality galvanization to prevent rust. With an extension spring system, the most common defect is a broken ring at the end of the spring.
Calibration: In some situations, there may be a spring mismatch. This is very rare, but it could be that one incorrect spring was installed with your door, which will lead to additional wear and tear, as well as stress on the entire system. Each spring used should have the same strength rating – never mix weight capabilities. For instance, your door should use two springs capable of lifting 100 pounds, rather than one capable of 100 pounds and another capable of lifting 150 pounds.
Environmental Factors: In some instances, environmental factors can cause premature spring failure. Most garages are humid, and they’re subjected to temperature extremes. Extreme cold temperatures (under -15 F), the metal of the spring can begin to dry and may break. In very humid situations, even good galvanization may not prevent rust.
Lack of Maintenance: Finally, understand that a lack of maintenance on your part (the homeowner) can and will lead to premature spring breakage. At Garaga, we recommend your springs and other components be lubricated twice per year – once when the weather begins getting cold, and then again when it begins to warm up.
How to Maximize the Lifespan of Your Garage Door Springs
Want to make your garage door springs last as long as possible? It’s simple. Use a good quality engine oil (we recommend 10W30) and wipe it around the coils using a clean, dry cloth. Make sure not to over‑lubricate the springs, though. Wipe off any excess. Not only will this help keep your springs protected and in good condition, but it will also help prevent excess noise during operation. As a note, make sure you never use WD‑40 for this purpose. It’s actually a degreaser, and will remove the lubrication. You can find all the lubricants you need with Garaga.
Need a Helping Hand? We’re Available!
Want someone to handle your maintenance and repairs? We’d be happy to help. In addition, we can offer a full garage door tune‑up program designed to protect and care for all components in your garage door system.
Want to learn more? You can contact us. You can also visit our showroom in person if you’d like. We’ve been in the industry for years and we have extensive experience that can help you find the right solution to your needs. You can also get a quote by email if you prefer.
If you’re looking to change your garage door, we recommend that you take a spin through our Design Centre to find the right style for your home. Our image gallery also gives you a look at what we can help you achieve.