Garage Door “Spring Break” is no Fun!

Springs installer

Spring break is often a phrase used to describe a period of intense fun. But not all spring breaks are fun. The one we are talking talking about most likely produces a sudden loud noise. A noise that resembles a gunshot. That sound will come from your garage. After your heart stops pounding and you get the courage to look around, you may not find evidence of the source of the sound. The truth will come out though — the next time you try to operate your garage door. You will hear an irregular noise and realize that things just don't seem to be working right. When you look up, you'll notice that the lifting spring has been severed into two pieces.

You may ask yourself why did this happen? Were there any warning signs I could have taken notice of? The short answer is, yes there were. This blog will help explain the main causes and reasons why a lifting spring will break.

Important Spring System

Before explaining how a spring can break, take a few minutes to discuss what the spring system is used for. This background information will help you understand how it can malfunction. When discussing residential garage doors, there are two types of systems:

  • EXTENSION SPRING

    These springs are located on each side of the door. They are placed over the horizontal tracks. Just as their name suggests, their coiled form extends in order to lift or lower the garage door. A good garage door professional will always install safety cables when they are installing extension springs. In the case when a spring breaks, the cable will stop the spring from hitting something else in the garage. They will also stop the spring from falling on to your car. This saves you from a potentially dangerous and expensive situation.

  • TORSION SPRING

    This kind of spring is placed inside of a steel tube over the head of the door which is securely attached to the wall. All of the weight of the door is transferred to the anchor plate at the center of the door. It may have been that the headroom over your door is insufficient. In this case, the plate may need to be placed at the end of the horizontal tracks. In this type of setup, this is called a low headroom or double horizontal track system.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the spring system functions as a counterweight for the entire weight of the door. For example, if you take a 9’ x 7’ door with a row of windows, its total weight, also known as its dead weight, should be around 135 pounds or 61 kg. If you were to lift this door with only one hand, its weight must be counterbalanced. This is where the function of the spring system comes into play. A properly balanced garage door should weigh between eight and 10 pounds, or 3.5 and 4 kg. This should be true even with an electric garage door opener because the garage door opener is only meant to take the place of manual effort. Something to keep in mind is that if the garage door opener is able to lift such a heavy weight, it’s more than able to push down with the same force so be careful that you don't end up in the path of the door when it is descending.

What Causes the Spring to Break?

  • Manufacturing defect

    In the case of extension springs, it would most likely be the ring at the end of the spring that breaks over time. For torsion springs, it would be low‑quality galvanizing against rust that could cause this problem.

  • Wear

    A spring’s lifespan is between five and seven years. A large number of garage door manufacturers offer 10,000 cycle spring systems. A cycle is one opening and one closing of the door. If you use your garage door daily, it most likely is used between two to four times a day. This normal, everyday use translates to 1,500 cycles a year. If you use your garage door more than five times a day, you may need a 20 to 25,000 cycle spring. These are available from some manufacturers.

  • Environmental Conditions

    Even with insulation, garages are typically cold and humid. This means the springs are often cold and damp. These conditions leave the spring vulnerable to rust and dry rot.

  • Improper Spring Calibration

    Sometimes the right system is not installed. While the door will operate and open and close, more stress can be placed on the spring. Additional stress can be put on the door and opener. Springs are to be calibrated to operate correctly with a 5% variation. This means that a spring made to lift a 100 pound (45 kg) door should not be used for a 150 pound (68 kg) door.

  • Poor Maintenance

    Inadequate lubrication of metal parts that rub on each other can become precarious when the temperature drops below freezing. This can lead to a spring break.

Follow This Advice

Lubricating the springs is very important. This should be done at least once a year but ideally it should be done twice a year. Use a petroleum based oil like motor oil (ex.: 10W30) and apply completely around the coils with a cloth. After doing this, wipe off any excess. Doing this will help get rid of the clinking noise that springs often make while they are stretching and releasing. As a rule, never use WD‑40 because it is a degreaser. It should not be used for lubricating springs or any other metal parts. There are lubricants available specifically from garage door dealers.

Is There Someone I Can Call for Help?

Reach out and contact us. We have years of experience and know garage doors better than anyone else. We can offer guidance and explain the best choice to make based on your needs and budget. We can also send you a quotation via email for your convenience.

Have some time? Come by and visit our showroom, If you would like to change your garage door, use our Design Centre to find the style for your home. You can also search through our image gallery for more ideas.

If you do not have time in your schedule to do garage door maintenance, we provide a “Garage Door Tune‑up” program. It similar to the way a car dealership offers one for your vehicle to avoid problems before and during winter.

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