Most people are under the impression that it’s the garage door motor that lifts their door. Actually the motor’s part in opening and closing the garage door is fairly minor, mostly reserved to getting things going and then controlling the rate of movement. But if it’s not the “opener” that opens the door, then what does? If you said the springs give yourself a big pat on the back. Garage door springs are the epitome of old technology and yet they’re essential to the operation of garage doors in every corner of the world today. If they go bad your garage door is in for a rough ride. Below we’ll go over some of the telltale signs that your garage door springs have had enough.
The Different Variations of Garage Door Springs and How They Work
There are two types of garage springs installed in overhead garage doors: extension springs and torsion springs.
- Extension springs run perpendicular to the door itself usually above each of the tracks the door rides as it is opened and closed. Extension springs “charge” themselves when the door closes. They extend, absorbing energy in the process. They then release that energy during the opening of the door. In some cases a door will have a single extension spring that will be located between the tracks although this type of setup is not terribly common.
- Torsion springs on the other hand are installed parallel to the door, just above the door on the inside wall of the garage. Torsion springs “charge” themselves by uncoiling as the door is closed and then release that stored energy during the lifting of the door. Torsion springs store massive amounts of energy. You should always leave their installation and repair to the experts.
Now that we know a little more about garage door springs and how they work let’s look at what signs, if any, indicate that there is trouble in paradise and garage door repair is in order.
Signs it’s Time to Replace the Garage Springs on Your Arvada or Commerce City Home
Most garage door springs have a life expectancy of 7-9 years, though the actual lifespan will depend on how much the door is used and how well it is maintained. That said here are 4 ways to tell that your garage springs are in trouble:
- The springs are getting weak: Garage door springs get stretched and re-stretched thousands of times during their life. Like rubber bands they eventually lose the ability to hold a “charge” effectively. This sorry state of affairs is a prelude to spring failure but there is a way you can test your springs if you suspect they may be losing elasticity.
- Close the garage door and pull the emergency release. This will disconnect the opener from the door and allow you to open it manually.
- Lift the door manually to about waist height, bring it to a stop and let go of it. If it stays in place your spring or springs are fine. If it starts to drift downward as soon as you release it then your springs are no longer holding a charge and are heading for failure.
- Obvious rust and corrosion: As we stated earlier the lifespan of a garage door spring relies in part on how well it is maintained. If you signed up for regular maintenance for your garage door chances are rust and corrosion won’t have a chance to take hold. If on the other hand the door has been neglected rust and corrosion will set in and begin to undermine the spring’s integrity. If you take a few minutes to inspect your garage door springs and find corrosion or rust chances are good that spring failure is in your future.
- Popping, creaking, screeching and other nasty noises: When garage door springs begin moaning and complaining during the performance of their job it means a breakdown is on the horizon. You can lubricate the springs and this may put a temporary end to the spring symphony, but at this point the damage is already done and garage door repair will be necessary.
- Your door opens unevenly: If your door has two extension springs and one side is opening faster than the other it probably means one spring has already failed and the other is likely to follow suit in relatively short order. The moment you notice anything suspicious in the way your door is opening you need to call for assistance before someone gets hurt.
The safety of everyone in the home depends on the smooth operation of your garage springs. Don’t ignore the warning signs of trouble. Instead call the garage door experts at A Better Garage Door. We’ve helped scores of homeowners in Commerce City, Arvada and the surrounding area keep their garage doors looking and running like new and we can do the same for you.
Garage Door Springs - Why They're More Important than You Might Think
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 Commerce City
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.