The 411 on Garage Door Springs
Everything You Need to Know About Garage Door Springs
What is the largest moving mechanism in your home that weighs anywhere between 130 pounds (single door) and 400 pounds (all-glass double doors)? It’s your garage door and the only reason you can lift or lower it manually is the counterweight system, which is comprised of either torsion or extension springs. Even an electric garage door opener can only lift around 200 pounds without those springs. This post gives you the 411 on garage door springs, including the different types, how they work, and why you need to keep them healthy. Let’s get started.
How Do Torsion Springs Work?
Garage door torsion springs balance the weight of the door by applying torque to the shaft that runs through the center of the spring.
This type of setup includes the torsion spring, the tube or shaft, and cable drums and bearing plates at either end of the shaft. A cable attaches to each drum and extends to the bracket at the bottom of the garage door. When the door opens or closes, the torsion spring unwinds and rewinds. This creates the balance system needed to support the garage door’s weight.
The spring’s torque determines how much weight it can lift. Cycle life refers to how many open/close cycles you can expect before the spring breaks. Both of these depend on the torsion spring’s inside diameter, length, and wire size.
If your garage door won’t open, it’s most likely due to the torsion spring breaking. Check out our FAQ for common fixes and, if those don’t work, give us a call at 602.680.9700 for a free estimate.
Types of Garage Door Torsion Springs
There are four main types of garage door torsion springs.
- Standard torsion springs: This is easily the most common type of torsion spring, particularly in residential applications. Typically, the spring secures to an anchor bracket and rotates around a 1″ diameter shaft. It may use an offset mount instead, which means it doesn’t need to lie above the center of the garage door. Most residential garages use either one or two standard torsion springs, with two being the preferred number for increased durability and safety.
- Standard commercial torsion springs: This system includes at least four torsion springs for the ultimate in strength and safety. Setup may be linear, duplex, triplex, or mixed. The number of springs included varies according to which setup is used.
- EZ-set torsion springs: This system is usually saved for larger residential garages – two-car or more. It includes a winder and shaft retainer of white plastic, with the 1″ shaft resting near the cable drum.
- Torque master torsion springs: The two springs of this system reside within the shaft for ultimate safety. It also includes a winding cone and special winder that works with an electric drill to help protect fingers during installation, repair, and removal.
Torsion springs require more overhead clearance than extension springs. However, torsion springs are also safer, more stable, and last longer.
How Do Extension Springs Work?
As the name implies, extension springs counterbalance the force of the door opening by extending. Think of the springs connecting a trampoline to its base. When a person jumps on the trampoline, the springs extend, counterbalancing that person’s weight.
The typical extension spring setup includes the tracks the garage door moves along, safety cables that move through the pulleys and anchor to a bracket at the base, and the extension springs. Connecting the springs to the safety cable protects both your body and your property in the event any of these components fail. Without it, the spring could fly loose.
Types of Garage Door Extension Springs
There are two main types of extension springs.
- One-piece garage door extension springs operate as a single unit (as the name implies). The spring secures to a bracket at one end and lever arm at the garage door. It then pulls against a connecting point that counterbalances the door’s weight. This type of system makes weather stripping impossible, so you rarely see it in areas with extreme cold. That isn’t a problem here, so it’s the most common type of extension spring used in Phoenix residential garages.
- Sectional garage door extension springs sit above and run parallel to the tracks on either side of the door. They counterbalance the door by transferring its weight from the tracks to the cables. At the same time, the springs stretch and pull against the cables.
Although extension springs are the most common choice in most of the United States, we rarely see them here in the Valley. When we do see them, they’re typically the one-piece variety.
Torsion Springs v. Extension Springs
Extension springs typically cost less tan torsion springs. However, they are also more dangerous due to their exposed parts, don’t support as much weight, and don’t last as long as torsion springs do. Torsion springs also offer greater balance overall, which makes opening and closing your garage door easier.
How Long Will My Garage Door Springs Last?
Unfortunately, everything wears out eventually. The average lifespan of most residential garage door springs is around 10,000 open/close cycles. If you want to know how that translates into number of years, it depends on how often you open and close your garage door.
For example, if you open and close your garage door four times a day on average, that’s 1,460 open/close cycles per year.
4 x 365 = 1,460
In that case, you can expect your springs to need changing every six to seven years.
10,000 / 1,460 = 6.85
Of course, a lot depends on the quality of the springs. At GT Garage Door Repair, we use only top-line garage door springs. These last eight to 10 years, depending on how many open/close cycles you go through in a year.
Preventive maintenance, such as oiling the springs, can extend the life of your entire garage door system. It’s important to remember, though, that door weighs hundreds of pounds. If it isn’t properly maintained or balanced, it can cause serious injury or property damage. When it’s time to service your garage door springs, the pros at GT can help. Just call us at 602.680.9700 or fill out our contact form and we’ll call you as soon as possible.