Why do garage doors have springs?

There was a time when automatic garage doors were a novelty. Today it’s almost in every house. While it’s rare to bother about how it works, the door opener is an intricate design with several parts. So, why do garage doors have springs?

The springs are the most important part of the garage door opener and can be torsion or extension. They’re responsible for its opening and closing. Springs can also break due to inferior quality, wear and tear, rust formation, inappropriate installation, poor maintenance, and temperature change.

When installing garage doors, it’s important to use springs capable of bearing the door’s weight. If springs break unexpectedly, the garage could damage property and injure people. Here, we discuss why garage doors have springs.

How Do Garage Door Springs Work?

Several parts make up the garage door. The springs are the most important of these parts. It’s responsible for its opening and closing. So, for the garage door to work smoothly, it must have suitable springs. Although the size may vary, the average garage door weighs 150 lbs. it could be much heavier if it’s a multi-car garage or a door made of metal. Without the springs, other parts of the opener can’t lift the garage door.

The springs store the mechanical energy and work with the cable to push up the door. Depending on the spring type, the springs could be by the sides of the door or above the door. They tighten when the door closes and unwinds when it opens. So, the springs’ winding and unwinding help the door open and close. With the springs releasing their tension, the mechanical energy stored in it pushes or pulls the door.

Type of Garage Door Springs

There are generally two types of garage door springs. These are:

1.     Extension Springs

A garage door that uses extension springs will have two to four springs on each side. The springs fully stretch when the door is down. It’s the tension of the spring that pulls the door. The extension springs need to be installed accurately, with the springs on both sides being in the same position. If not, the door will be noisy and difficult to operate. Extension springs usually have safety cables that prevent the spring from flying off when it breaks. It’s ideal for a single-car garage and is easy to install.

2.     Torsion Springs 

This is the most common type of spring in garage doors. Unlike extension springs, they don’t contract and expand. The installation is quite complex, just as the type depends on the strength and size of the door. The best option is the torque master springs. They’re quite expensive and best for a two-car garage.

The torsion springs in the garage doors do a very important job. That job requires that they have a sturdy build. So, they’re usually thicker than extension springs. Unlike the extension springs working on both sides of the door, torsion springs work alone. They are usually at the center of the door, mounted above it. The thickness of the torsion spring will depend on the door’s weight. This is to ensure a good tension rating which is necessary to match the act of lifting and lowering the door.

Why do Garage Door Springs Break?

Several reasons could lead to the springs breaking. They include:

1.     Inferior Quality

It’s important to use high-quality springs that match the door. Substandard springs or ones that don’t have the weight capacity are prone to failure. Even if they work initially, they end up failing after some time. Given the risks that such failure could cause, it’s best not to use it.

2.     Temperature Change

Winter usually makes the springs shrink. This is why most springs fail in the winter. Exposure to weather elements will affect the springs. Over time, the tension rating of the door will change. Once you notice the weakness of the garage, you might have to change it. You should use a professional for this job. It takes special tools to do the job.

3.  Inappropriate Installation

Inappropriate installation of the garage door could also cause the springs to fail. A broken spring can be quite dangerous, causing damage to the property and injury to people. If the torsion springs lose their tension, it could cause the door to close faster than it should.

4.     Poor Maintenance

Lack of proper maintenance could cause an imbalance in the door. It’ll eventually affect the springs too. Proper maintenance is the surest way to prolong the lifespan of the springs. It’ll also let you notice when the springs are getting closer to failure. Knowing you could save you so much trouble that’ll normally result from unexpected failure.

You should check the garage door balance once a year. The torsion spring has a limited lifespan; lower maintenance can reduce it. The door usually has 10,000 cycles if installed correctly and proper service. If you don’t use the door more than 4 times a day, it could last ten years.

You can do this by:

  • Pulling the emergency release cord so that the door can be in manual mode 
  • Lift the door halfway and then leave it. If it stays still, the springs are great. But if the door sags or falls off slightly, it’s a sign that the springs are weakening.

5.     Regular Wear and Tear 

Constant opening and closing of the door will wear out the springs. This is the number one reason for spring failure. Most springs are meant to last for just 10,000 cycles; the door opening and closing represents a cycle. While that might seem like a lot, consider how often you use the garage door. 

At least you’ll have 2 cycles daily. Some households have more. At best, the door will last for between 10  and 15 years. But since most homes use the garage door more than two times a day, it could last for less. If you often use the garage door, consider getting springs rated for 20,000 cycles.

6.     Rust Formation

Rust on the springs will cause increased friction during movement. Beyond that, the corrosion will also weaken the coils, leading to their failure. It’s important not to let rust develop on the springs, or its lifespan could reduce significantly. You can prevent rust by spraying the springs with silicone-based lubricant about 4 times every year. This will extend its life expectancy.

In Conclusion

Garage doors have springs because they need them to function. The springs are integral to the operation of the doors, and their failure could cause significant damage and injury. A lot of things could lead to the failure of the springs.