Perhaps you heard it when it broke, that startling, unforgettable banging sound that sent you scurrying to find out what just happened in the garage. And perhaps you didn’t see the problem right away. When you decided to lift the door to see if the sound came from outside, there was no doubt what the issue was.
When you could not raise your garage door, you discovered that the lifting spring was broken. Immediately you were faced with several questions. Why did the spring break? How were you going to replace it? And, first of all, how were you going to open your garage door, since you got no lift when your spring was sprung.
Though it might have been the first time you faced it personally, this is a fairly frequent problem. Let’s briefly get acquainted with your garage door lifting springs and what goes wrong with them.
Two Possible Garage Door Spring Systems
It could be torsion or it could be expanded, but one of these systems is hooked to your garage door.
1. TORSION SPRING
When you look at the way your garage door is fastened to the lifting spring system, if you see a steel housing that contains the system, that means you have a torsion spring lifting. The system works by transferring the weight of the door to the wall, which is why it has a plate above the system at the head of the door.
Occasionally there isn’t enough room for the whole system to fit about the door. In that eventuality, the installers use what’s called a “low headroom” or a “double horizontal track” system.
2. EXTENSION SPRING SYSTEM
The other system is called the extension spring system, where the springs sit above the double horizontal tracks. Set on either side of the door, they’re coiled so as to raise and lower the garage door.
Because of the design of the extension spring system, professional installers will include safety cables. These prevent damage or dangerous conditions should the springs break for any reason.
One thing we are tempted to take for granted is the power assistance we get from the lifting springs. They’re designed so that, with a single hand, we can raise a 150-pound door six feet into the air with virtually no effort. Lifting springs accomplish this by becoming a counterweight for the door.
Even with an electric garage door opener, a force equal to eight to 10 pounds should be enough to raise your door.
Garage doors have a variety of different weights ranging from around 135 to upwards of 200 pounds. It’s tremendously important not to take this weight for granted and to be sure to stay out of the way when raising and lowering the door.
What Might Cause a Lifting Spring to Break?
While there may be many potential reasons for a lifting spring assembly to fail, here are the ones we encounter most often.
1. Daily Use
In the world of garage doors, a “cycle” is the number of times a garage door goes up and then goes down.
The average household puts its garage door through around 1500 cycles a year.
When we realize that lifting spring assemblies are designed to work without any issues for about 10,000-cycle spring systems, we can do the math and realize that the lifting spring assemble should last five to seven years. Some of us use the garaged door more often than that. You may be interested in knowing that some lifting springs are available that have a 25,000 cycle life expectancy.
While this seldom occurs, it is always possible that a spring assembly was not adequately galvanized, resulting in corrosion. The links on a spring may also be defective. Typically this shows up when the last ring on the spring breaks. It’s important, therefore, to hang onto your warranty information.
3. Spring Calibration Miscalculation
The calibration of a spring to a door has to do with the weight of each. Springs come in a great variety of sizes but are intended specifically to match up to a door with a particular weight. The variance should be no more than 5%, which is to say that a spring designed to lift a 135-pound door shouldn’t be expected to lift a 145-pound door. This will result in eventually, early failure.
4. A Hostile Environment
Obviously, some geographical locales are more brutal than others. Regardless, the lifting springs of your garage door will be subjected to extremes of temperature. Should there be constant exposure to humidity, even well-galvanized steel may corrode. Should the winter’s cold regularly dip below minus 13º Fahrenheit (minus 25º Celsius), it is possible that the steel can become brittle and snap.
5. No Lubrication
It’s is quite easy to forget that the lifting springs need to be attended to: both inspected and lubricated. Our recommendation is that the springs be checked and oiled twice annually, at the beginning of evening freezes and when nighttime freezes come to an end. Remember that metal parts touching one another create friction, which can cause undue wear if there is no lubrication of metal parts.
Extend the Life of Your Lifting Spring Assembly
Lubricating your lifting springs.
This is simply a matter of using a rag and applying the same grade petroleum-based motor oil that you use in the crankcase of your automobile. Make sure to lube all around the springs. Also, wipe away any excess as well. The proper lubrication of the assembly will cut down on the clanking sounds you may have heard when the springs expand and contract as the door opens and closes.
Want Garage Door Specialists to Check Out Your Springs?
That’s a great idea!
They are indeed experts in garage doors and door openers. They have extensive experience and they love helping homeowners, whether it’s for a garage door repair, maintenance service, or advice for buying the best garage door for you.
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