December 21, 2018

One “spring break” you won’t enjoy! The one in your garage…

Springs installer

Not all spring breaks are fun! The one we’re talking about is likely to produce a sudden loud noise, similar to a gunshot, and coming from your garage. After your heart stops pounding, you take a peak around but nothing stands out as the source. However, the next time you try to operate your garage door, things don’t seem to be working right, and for the first time, you hear a strange, irregular noise. Raising your eyes upward, you discover that the lifting spring has broken into two pieces!

What in the world caused this to happen? Did you miss some warning signs? Well, sit back and take a couple of minutes to read this blog and we’ll explain the main causes and why a lifting spring can break this way.

Your spring system is critical

Before starting, a little background information is in order to explain what the spring system is used for. When speaking about residential doors, there are two types of systems:

  • Torsion spring

    This kind is placed in a steel tube over the head of the door which is solidly attached to the wall as all the weight of the door is transferred to the anchor plate at the center of the door. It could happen that if the headroom over your door is insufficient, the plate may need to be placed at the end of the horizontal tracks. In this case, this is called a low headroom or double horizontal track system.

  • Extension spring

    These springs, located on each side of the door, are placed over the horizontal tracks. As their name suggests, their coiled form “extends” to lift or lower the garage door. By the way, any good garage door professional will always install safety cables with extension springs. In the case where a spring breaks, this cable will stop the spring from hitting something else in the garage or falling onto your car, both potentially dangerous and expensive.

Another important piece of information you should know is that the spring system functions as a counterweight for the total weight of the door. Take, for example, a 9 x 7-foot door with a row of windows. Its total weight, what we call its deadweight, should be in the neighborhood of 135 lb. (61 kilo.). For you to be able to lift this door with only one hand its weight must be counterbalanced and that’s where the spring system comes into play. A properly balanced garage door needs to should weigh between 8 and 10 lb. (3.5 and 4 kilos), not more, even with an electric garage door opener! A door opener is only meant to take the place of manual effort, even if this device is able to lift up to 200 lb. (90 kilos). However, don’t forget that if on one hand a door opener is able to lift such a weight, it is more than able, on the other hand, to push down with the same force. So make sure you don’t end up in its path when it’s descending.

What causes a lifting spring to break?

There are several causes. Here are the primary ones:

  • In one word… wear

    Whether torsion or extension, a spring’s lifespan is between 5 and 7 years. An overwhelming number of garage door manufacturers provide 10,000‑cycle spring systems. A cycle is defined as one opening and closing of the door. If your garage door is used two to four times a day, this represents around 1500 cycles a year. If you use your garage door more than 5 times a day, be aware that 20 to 25,000-cycle springs are available from some manufacturers.

  • A manufacturing defect 

    It could possibly happen. In the case of extension springs, it would most often be the ring at the end of the spring that breaks. For torsion springs, it would be low quality galvanizing against rust that could cause the problem.

  • Improper spring calibration 

    Every now and then, the right spring system isn’t installed. While the door will still open and close, more stress can be placed on the spring, door and opener. Springs are calibrated to operate correctly with a 5% variation, so that a spring made to lift a 100‑lb. (45‑kilo) door is not to be used with a spring for a 150‑lb. (68‑kilo) door.

  • Environmental conditions 

    Garages are basically cold and humid, as many aren’t insulated or heated. Even with some heating and insulation, springs are often near the exterior walls and remain cold and damp. Despite the protection of galvanization, amounting to 30 to 40% of the spring’s composition, rust will attack the metal. In intense cold, under -15F (-26F), the coiled metal wire can dry out and break.

  • Little or no maintenance from the homeowner 

    Garage doors and their lifting systems require some upkeep. Garaga recommends twice-yearly lubrication of metal parts that come into contact with other ones, once in the fall or winter when temperatures start dipping below 320F (00C) and the other when nighttime temperatures are above freezing.

Do you want to lengthen the lifespan of your spring system? Then follow this advice.

Lubricate the springs twice, or at least once, a year! How? Just use a petroleum-based oil, like motor oil for your car (ex.: 10W30) and apply it completely around the coils with a cloth. Wipe off any excess and you’re done! This will help get rid of the famous clinking that springs make when they stretch and release.  And a word to the wise: never use WD‑40 as it is a degreaser and not made for lubricating metal parts. Garaga dealers carry the lubricants you’ll need that are made for garage doors.

Is there someone who can take care of this for me?

Of course! If you don’t have time to do it, be aware that we provide 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.

Feel free to contact us at 607-687-5126. We know garage doors better than anyone else. We will be able to advise you and explain the best choice to make based on your exact needs while respecting your budget. We can also send you a quotation by email.

Another option is to meet us at our showroom. If you are looking to change your garage door, use our Design Centre to help you choose a style that fits your home. You can also peruse our image gallery for lots of ideas.

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