It’s a common belief that garage doors are raised and lowered by the motor. The reality however is that the motor actually bears only a small part of the burden when it comes to lifting a modern overhead garage door. The majority of the work is done by the spring or springs. The springs on a garage door store enormous amounts of energy that they release to lift the door. When the door is on the way down energy is returned to the spring, and when the door is fully closed the spring is fully ‘charged’ once again.
The Types and Importance of Garage Door Springs
There are two kinds of springs at work in garage doors today: torsion springs and extension springs. Let’s take a quick look at each and how they work.
- The torsion spring is positioned over the closed door parallel to it. There are pulleys on each end attached to cables. When the motor is activated the spring is engaged and uncoils, releasing its energy to lift the door. The pulleys rotate and pull the cables which lift the door on each side. Torsion springs should never be worked on for any reason by the untrained. The amount of energy they store is incredible and people have died being too close to one when it snaps.
- Extension springs run perpendicular to the door and parallel to the tracks the door uses to tuck itself away above your car. There are two extension springs, one on each side of the door, and they work in concert to exert an even pull on the door. As their name implies, when the door is closed these springs are fully extended and charged with the energy they acquired as they lowered the door into place. Extension springs are also potentially dangerous and fixing or replacing them is not a job for a DIYer under any circumstances.
Garage door springs rarely get the credit they’re due. Most homeowners simply take them for granted until they break down. Few components of any given house are expected to do so much so often and yet get so little recognition for the important role they play in household operations as the springs on your garage door. And that role extends to:
- Protecting You from the Door - Did you know that the average garage door weighs something like 400 lbs? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most people have no idea that’s the case. But it’s true. All this weight moves smoothly up and down on the tracks because of the energy stored in and slowly released by the torsion or extension springs. If you want an idea of just how dangerous 400 lbs of garage door can be, watch what happens when the torsion spring snaps while lifting the door. It’s not a pretty sight or something you want to be anywhere close to.
- Protecting You From the Elements - The automatic overhead garage door has freed us from having to get out of our cars during blizzards or downpours to open the garage door by hand. As soon as we engage the motor the springs take over and lift the door for us so we can stay nice and comfy in the car until we’re safely inside the garage. If you don’t think that’s a pretty awesome thing, have a talk with your grandparents about what life was like before the automatic garage door became standard fare on homes.
- Protecting You Against Failure of Your Garage Door Motor - The importance of garage door springs is probably best illustrated when the garage door motor fails. In a case like this many people will despair, thinking there’s no way to get the door open. But, because the springs are still there on the job all you need to do is disengage the automatic door opener and you’ll be able to lift all 400 lbs of the door with relative ease. Why? Because it’s not you doing the lifting: it’s the springs. It’s always been the springs.
- Adding Value to Your Home - An automatic garage door that’s been well maintained is an asset that will add value to your home. Conversely a poorly maintained garage door will likely become a drag on prospects for selling your home should you find yourself in the market to do so. Proper maintenance of the garage door, including the springs, is cheaper than you think and more important than you realize both for your home’s value and for your family’s safety and security.
Maintaining and Servicing Your Garage Door in Boulder
Garage door springs are old world technology put into service creating modern convenience. They don’t ask for much but they also don’t send fancy “Upgrades are available” notices when they’re beginning to wear. It’s important then that someone keep an eye on them and do the simple tasks required to keep them in prime condition for as long as possible. They can then alert you that it’s time to think about replacement, before the spring or springs fail.
And how long is ‘as long as possible’? If properly maintained and subjected to normal usage, a new garage door spring should last in the neighborhood of 10-12 years or about 10,000 cycles. Long term neglect of the spring will shorten it’s lifespan significantly. It will also make it more likely that you’ll learn your spring has had enough when it snaps and your door comes crashing down to earth. That is no way to discover your door needs attention.
Scheduling annual garage door maintenance is no more difficult than picking up the phone and calling A Better Garage Door on (303) 920-2267. We’re local and have been providing the homeowners of Boulder and Arvada with reliable, affordable garage door repair and maintenance for more than 19 years. Don’t wait for your garage door springs to snap and injure someone or damage your car. Keep them operating the way they were meant to with annual garage door service from the pros at A Better Garage Door.