Don't expect to enjoy every spring break. We don't mean mid-April trips to Panama City Beach; we mean broken garage doors! When you hear a sudden bang coming from the garage, you'll know something's up.
Once you realize there's not an intruder, you start looking around for where the bang came from. After a few minutes, you give up and go back inside. The next morning, your garage door won't open properly, and there's a strange clanging sound. You look up and spot the culprit:
The lifting spring has snapped in half!
What happened?! Was there some warning sign you missed? If you have been left wondering how your lifting springs broke and how the problem could have been avoided, keep reading, and we'll fill you in on all the details.
Garage doors need their spring systems
To understand what spring systems do, you might first need some background information. On most residential home garage doors, there are actually two different systems:
1. TORSION SPRINGS
The first spring system is located in a steel tube attached to the wall above the door's head. It helps to transfer weight away from the door and into the anchor plate, which is attached to the center of the door.
If there isn't much headroom above the door, the plate can sometimes be found towards the back of the horizontal tracks.
When this happens, we refer to it as a double horizontal track or a low headroom system.
2. EXTENSION SPRINGS
The second spring system is placed above the horizontal tracks on both sides of the door.
When the door opens or closes, these springs extend to raise or lower the door. This is where they get the name "extension springs." When installed by a garage door professional, extension springs will also include a pair of safety cables.
Should the springs ever break, the safety cables will prevent the springs from whipping around or breaking off onto your car. This would be expensive to repair and could be dangerous for your family.
Besides helping to lift and lower the door, springs also work to counterbalance the door's total weight.
For instance, if a door measuring 9 x 7 ft with a single row of windows weighs 135 lbs, it would have to be counterweighted for a person to lift it with a single hand. This is where springs can help.
With the help of properly balanced springs, the door's total weight should feel no heavier than eight to ten pounds, even if it's a door with an electric garage door opener!
Although they can lift the full weight of a door, electric door openers should only be lifting what a person could lift by hand.
Keep in mind, though, if an electric door opener can lift the door's full weight, it will also lower the door with its total weight. Be careful as the door comes down because you don't want to be under it as it falls.
Why do lifting springs break?
Lifting springs break for a handful of reasons, but here are five of the more common causes:
1. Springs wear out
Regardless of which system we're talking about, these springs wear out within five to seven years.
Most doors are built with 10,000-cycle spring systems. Manufacturers define a cycle as one opening and closing.
This means that if you use your door an average of four times a day, you'll go through 1,500 cycles in just one year.
For this reason, if you plan to use your garage door more frequently, you ought to invest in a system with 20,000 to 25,000-cycle springs. Though less common, some manufacturers do build their doors with these systems.
2. A defective spring
No one is perfect. It's always possible that the manufacturer shipped out a defective product, and that's why your door broke. With extension springs, the most likely defect is if the ring at the end of the spring breaks off. Torsion springs can easily rust if improperly galvanized.
3. A miscalibration
Another possibility is that the wrong spring was installed on your door. Even with the incorrect calibration, your door may still open and close, but over time, the spring won't be able to withstand the stress of an overly heavy door. Springs are made to function within 5% of their calibration, so if a spring is installed on a door that's way too heavy, it will eventually snap under pressure.
4. Hot summers and cold winters
Most garages lack insulation, so they run hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
Even if your garage is insulated, springs usually don't benefit from the added protection because they are installed near damp and cold exterior walls. Knowing this, manufacturers galvanize their springs up to 30-40%, but even with this protection, springs will still rust. For homes in frigid environments, also be aware that temperatures below -130F (-25 0C) can cause the coils to become brittle and snap.
5. Poorly lubricated coils
Just like a car engine, garage doors and their spring systems need to be well lubricated.
For the best results, bi-annual lubrication of metal parts that rub together can help prolong your springs life. You should do this first in the fall when temperatures drop below freezing and then again when evening temperatures begin to stay above 320F (00C).
Boost Your Spring System’s Lifespan Easily
Lubricate Once Each Year or when needed.
It’s easy, all you need to do is use a non-drip lithium base oil. Use a cloth or spray carefully and apply it completely around the coils.
Wipe off the excess and that’s all there is to it. Lubrication keeps the springs in better shape and can help to eliminate clinking noises in springs.
After few years the lubricant might pick up some dust, you can easily wipe it off and replace the lubricant.
Check with your garage door dealer to get the lubricants you’ll need.
Can someone help me with all of this?
Of course! We understand that not everyone has the time or energy to take care of these problems. Fortunately, your local Garaga dealers are more than happy to provide a " Garage Door Tune-up." Just like you would tune up your car's engine, get your garage door tuned up before winter arrives.
Time to care for those springs?
Contact us now at 1-800-545-3667.
Door Systems Metro Boston knows everything there is to know about garage doors and garage door openers. Whether you're just looking for advice or need an entirely new door, we'll take your budget and needs into account. If you need one, we will even send you a quotation by email.
You can also use our Design Centre app to plan out exactly which door will suit your home. The app is mobile friendly and you can even add a photo of your home to see how your favorite garage door models would truly look on your façade.
For more inspiration, you can also check out our Residential Garage Door Gallery for new ideas.