Have you ever wondered why it’s so easy to raise and lower your garage door – despite the fact that it weighs well over 100 pounds? It’s all thanks to springs!
Your garage door opener does plenty of heavy lifting. But without springs to counterbalance the door’s weight, the opener’s motor would either have to (A) work a whole lot harder, or (B) be a whole lot more powerful. In no uncertain terms, without its springs, a garage door ceases to function as a door at all.
What Are Garage Door Springs?
There are two types of springs in your garage door mechanism: torsion, and extension. Garage doors typically have one to four torsion springs, as well as one or two extension springs.
A torsion spring is mounted to a shaft just above the garage door, and runs parallel to its top edge. Although it does not extend and compress, a torsion spring keeps a tremendous amount of potential energy in reserve by being coiled up so tightly. If it were released suddenly, it would uncoil violently enough to cause severe bodily injury. But when a torsion spring functions correctly, it keeps the garage door balanced as it opens and closes in a steady, controlled motion.
An extension spring is mounted above a garage door’s track, and runs parallel to it. An extension spring functions more like you would expect a spring to: compressing and extending as the door opens and closes, thus keeping its weight balanced and its movement speed constant. Even when an extension spring appears to have fully compressed, it still keeps tremendous energy in store – the reason why it can cause grave physical injury when it is mishandled.
How Do You Know When Garage Door Springs Need Replacement?
We have already pointed this out a couple of times, but it begs frequent repeating: a DIYer is not qualified to replace garage door springs. Unless you have special training and tools, the explosive force of a spring can easily remove one of your fingers (or do even worse). With that somewhat gross warning out of the way, here are some signs that your garage door springs are probably in need of replacement.
- Garage door opens slowly, or only partially. A broken or malfunctioning spring does not bear the weight of the door evenly (if it bears it at all). That forces the garage door opener to work harder and operate more slowly as a result. When a spring truly fails to do its job, the opener may only succeed at raising the door a few inches. You can discern whether a spring is the culprit by engaging the emergency release. If manual operation also fails to open the door, it’s because you’re working against a broken spring.
- Spring has snapped. If your torsion spring is concealed by a protective plastic sheath, then you will probably have difficulty visually confirming whether it is broken. But if you heard a loud bang right before your garage door stopped functioning correctly, then you have likely heard the torsion spring snapping into two pieces. Extension springs aren’t typically sheathed, so it is easy to see when they have snapped.
- Garage door jerks open or shut. A broken spring causes the garage door to become unbalanced. In that state it may snap closed quickly, or exhibit jerking motions while it opens. An unbalanced door may also open crookedly, and eventually begin to bend as well. Shrill, grating squeaking noises are also common when a garage door’s springs no longer bear its weight evenly.
How Do You Maintain Garage Door Springs?
Naturally, you would like to avoid the cost and inconvenience of garage door spring replacement. Although a spring’s lifespan depends on several factors, regular maintenance can help it complete as many as 20,000 cycles before it finally succumbs to wear and tear.
- Lubricate springs. Moving metal parts always fare better when they are regularly lubricated. Garage door springs are no exception. Once or twice annually, apply a liberal coating of silicone or white lithium lubricant to your garage door springs. Do not use standard WD-40. It is a degreaser, and will actually increase friction by removing lubricant from your springs.
- Maintain interconnected components. Rollers. Hinges. Cables. Tracks. If any part of a garage door becomes bent, loose or corroded, it will exert extra resistance against the springs and force them to work harder. Regularly lubricate these components as well, and ensure that they are tightened. Fluctuating temperatures cause metal parts to expand and contract, which is why a garage door’s parts will loosen even when the door isn’t used.
- Hire a professional garage door service. Laymen cannot safely perform all acts of garage door spring maintenance. Testing the door’s balance and its springs’ elasticity is time consuming and impossible to do without the right equipment. Likewise, only a trained eye can tell when a spring is at imminent risk of failure.
If you would like to ensure that your garage door’s springs will last as long as possible – and avoid getting trapped inside or stuck outside your garage – then Sioux City’s garage door repair & replace authority is at your service. Contact Shawn’s Garage Door today to schedule regular maintenance or emergency repair!