Broken Garage Door Springs

Sooner or later, the spring or springs on your garage door are going to break.  When that happens, you need an experienced garage door professional.  Indy Door Guy knows garage door springs.

Nearly all garage doors sold and installed in the past 25 years come with 10,000 cycle rated springs.  For the typical household, that translates to about 6 – 10 years before a spring breaks and you’re stuck in (or out) of your garage.

photo of a broken garage door torsion spring

A Broken Garage Door Torsion Spring

Unless you have been competently trained, you should never attempt to work on garage door springs or any component of a garage door’s counter balance system.  The amount of force stored in a garage door spring is dangerous and it can be deadly!  Leave the job to someone that knows what they are doing.  Disaster can happen in the blink of an eye.  Our rates are much, much lower than a trip to the emergency room.

How Can I Tell if I Have a Broken Garage Door Spring?
If you try to open your garage door and are unable to lift it, chances are pretty good the spring is broken.  If your door is connected to an automatic garage door opener, and it will only open the door a few inches before stopping… you probably have a broken garage door spring.  With the door closed, look above the door.  If your door uses a torsion spring set-up, you’ll be able to see that the spring is in two pieces.  That’s broken.

Extension springs run alongside the door track.  If your door uses extension springs, you’ll see cable and parts of the spring hanging loosely about.  If the extension springs lack safety cables, you might find the broken spring stuck in the wall at the opposite end of the garage… or through your car’s windshield.

What Do Garage Door Springs Do?
A garage door is pretty much a big, heavy wall that can be lifted up and put overhead at will.  It wouldn’t be practical to use the garage if you had to lift a couple hundred pounds of door every time you wanted to pull the car in or out.  Springs are engineered to counter-balance the door’s weight.  Cables attached to the bottom of the door transfer the connect to the spring.  The tension of the spring offsets the weight of the door.  This allows you to easily lift the door.

How Do Springs Work?
Springs off-set the door’s weight when they are under tension.  Springs are tensioned in one of two ways:

  • Torsion – Torsion force is created by twisting the spring.  The more times the spring is twisted, or turned, the more force created.  More force can lift more weight.  Torsion springs are normally found on a tube or shaft that’s mounted on the wall just above the garage door.
  • Extension – Extension is a fancy word for stretching.  As a spring is stretched, more force is created.  Extension springs are mounted alongside the door track.

Spring force is greatest when a garage door is closed.  As the door is raised, the spring begins to relax.  It takes less and less force to lift the door as the door’s section move into the horizontal position.  When the door is all the way open, the spring is closer to a relaxed state.  There’s just enough force on it to hold it open.

Why Do Springs Break?

Every time a door goes up and down, the springs go through a cycle.  Over time, this cycling causes the spring steel to simply wear out.  Think of it like a wire coat hanger.  If you bend the coat hanger back and forth several times, eventually it will break.  Garage door springs are engineered to cycle many, many times before finally reaching the breaking point. Once a spring has been cycled x number of times, it can break at any moment. If you’re home when it breaks, you’ll hear it.

What is Spring Engineering?
Garage doors come in many sizes and weights.  The method of installation and type of hardware used in a counter-balance system can also vary from door to door.  A garage door spring assembly should apply just the right amount of force at the right time.  The door should be allowed to set firmly on the ground, lift easily, rest in the partially or full open position and be easy to pull down into the closed position.  Finally, the spring should be rated to withstand a minimum of 10,000 open and close cycles.  (10,000 is the industry standard.)

When all of these conditions are met, the door is said to be in balance.  To achieve balance, the spring must be engineered to the specific door and the installation.  The diameter of the spring, the gauge of the wire used to make the spring and the spring length are factored together.  It’s all science stuff.  Guessing is a bad idea because an out of balance door is more than just annoying.  It causes premature wear on the rollers, hardware and garage door opener.

An out of balance garage door is dangerous. A falling door can really ruin your day.  Besides the hazards involved with the high amount tension stored in a garage door spring, it’s important that anyone working on your door’s counter-balance system is completely knowledgeable in the system and with properly engineering the proper spring for your application.

WHAT ARE LONG OR EXTENDED LIFE SPRINGS?

As mentioned earlier, the industry standard spring life is 10,000 cycles.  Our standard price for replacement installs a spring that meets or exceeds this standard.  We can engineer a spring that doubles or triples this life for an additional charge.  Longer life springs use a heavier gauge of wire, larger diameter and longer length.  In short.. more spring steel is used to provide the same amount of lift and force that is needed to counter-balance your door’s weight.

MY GARAGE DOOR HAS TWO SPRINGS ON IT.  SHOULD I REPLACE BOTH OF THEM?
If your door uses extension springs, then yes.  You will need to replace them both.  Each spring works independently.  With one new and one old spring, the door will not travel evenly through the track.  It will bind, shake and be very difficult to operate.

If your door is counter-weighted with two torsion springs, and one spring breaks,  it’s possible to replace only the one that is broken.  Possible, but not a good idea.  The spring broke because it exceeded its useful number of cycles. If both springs were originally installed at the same time, the other one is sure to break soon.  There is no way to tell of its condition or exactly when it will break by looking at it.  It might be tomorrow, it might be a year from now.

By the way.  Many folks believe that the door is OK to use if only one of its two springs are broken.  It is not. Let’s say your door weighs 290 pounds and is counter-balanced with two torsion springs.  Each spring is providing enough force to help 145 pounds. With one spring broken, the door will simply be too heavy for you to lift safely.  If the door uses a garage door opener, the weight will be far too much for the operators mechanical parts.  It will cause permanent damage to its gears and bearings.  It can also destroy your door.  The opener, pulling on the door, can bend the door’s top section.  Should the door drop the bottom will get creased and damaged, often beyond repair.  Besides all that, a falling door can get somebody seriously hurt.

My Garage Door Spring is Broken.  What should I do.
First off, don’t try lifting the door.  Unplug the garage door opener in case somebody accidentally pushes the button.  Then, call a professional garage door guy.  Preferably us,  Indy Door Guy Inc at (317) 456-2016.  We’ll come to your home with everything needed to engineer and install replacement springs on your garage door.

Our springs will meet or exceed the original door manufacturers specifications.  We can also provide you with sound advice on whether upgrading to longer life-cycle springs is worth your investment.

While we’re there, we’ll give your entire garage door and opener system a complimentary (at no extra cost) tune-up.  The tune up includes; a thorough inspection, lubrication of all moving parts and any adjustments needed to get your garage door back into safe and reliable working condition.

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