Garage Door Spring Repair
In the Garage Door industry, the number one factor in terms of garage door health, and family safety is directly dependent upon the counterbalance spring on your garage door. If not done properly could be the most damaging or dangerous part of your home. Aside from entrapment of your garage door opener on pets and even infants, a falling garage door from an improperly balanced spring combination has been known to have harmful if not fatal effects. Three factors to consider,
- Door Weight,
- Spring Size
- Cycle life
We will cover all of these aspects below. This is a favorite subject of mine, as we put in a great amount of effort into this particular aspect of our industry all the way from the quality of the product to the process on which we use to provide service on a daily basis. Springs, are generally stealthy. You may never actually know they’re really working, but they do a counterbalancing effect which is active at all times. When your garage door is open the springs have released most of their primary attention, and then when your door is closed, the springs are then wound up ready to lift all of that metal or wood off of the floor again.
Gravity will have its way if the springs are doing their job. There are two types of garage door springs in our industry. I Torsion Springs which twist in their operation, and extension springs which stretch in their operation. Torsion springs are generally found on sectional garage doors and extension springs are generally found on one-piece garage doors with the exception of some older sectionals as well, but those are extremely rare and can and should likely be converted to a standard torsion spring. Springs are very important, your door will not work without them.
If in fact, your spring breaks, the most common sign will be that your garage door opener will not have the force or power to lift it. And if it does, it is stressing out other parts including the center style in the entire top section. Springs generally come in sets of two or four. Your lighter doors will generally require two torsion springs and or extension springs and your heaviest door will require for a Torsion Springs or for extension springs.
Garage Door Weight
Let’s look at it this way, your garage door is a moving wall. Most doors weigh in the range of 140 pounds up to 280 pounds And that’s just for the Steel garage doors Would sectionals range from around 280 up to 800 pounds depending on the size and type. The spring then, is designed to lift up and pull with exactly the same amount of weight as the weight of the door itself.
Now, let us try to understand the effect of an improperly balanced door and spring combination. If by chance the spring lifting force is less than the door weight, we will have a door that will always want to fall, if we have a spring that’s lifting with more force than the weight of the door, the door will always spring upwards. So quickly, let us understand the effect. If by chance the door is heavier than the springs are lifting, from the open position if someone were to release it it will come down moving quickly with Momentum.
This is one of the worst scenarios for your garage door or family safety. And conversely, if by chance your springs are lifting with more force than the door weight, your opener is struggling to close the door stressing out many parts and tricking its sensitivity to try Harder to close which will greatly affect its ability to reverse when it comes in contact with something. It may just push too hard. As you now understand the importance of getting your garage door in spring combination to work together, when in fact they are properly calibrated, we call that a perfect balance.
Consider a police scale, and we place a 5 pound weight on one side and another 5 pound weight on the other. If we were to move one side of the scale, the other side would move along with us, it would we could release her hand and the scale would stay in the same place. What if we add a 6 pound weight on one side and a 5 pound weight on the other side. No matter where we were to lift the scale, the moment we let go the 6 pound weight will always drop. That is the same with the garage door balance. We need to have the same weight and the same lift to achieve a perfect balance.
When you buy a garage door from the directly from the manufacturer, they provide the exact spring and doorway combination so no guesswork is involved. When your average garage door Spring breaks, the technician may or may not actually have the exact same size on his truck. That is the problem with or the beginning of where most garage doors become improperly balanced. What is required is a large assortment of springs to cover any variation of door wait for the springs brought to the job, and a proper procedure for understanding the doors current weight, without having to rely on guessing or trying to match the previous springs which may or may not be factory or correct at all.
Now we get to talk about spring size. Most springs have two or three measurements to identify each spring in the industry. Extension springs generally have wire size and length and torsion springs generally have wire size, length, and inner diameter known as the ID. Why is this important? Because those numbers determine how much lifting force they will provide, and how long that spring will last.
Most extension springs are generally fixed in their cycle life in the most common in our industry for your standard Torsion are generally 10,000 cycles.
One cycle equals one door open and close.
The common spring life based on a 10,000 cycle spring for the average family is approximately five years of use. Fortunately, for Torsion Springs, we can get them in various sizes and therefore we can increase the cycle life of the spring by getting a better or, longer spring. Why does that matter? Because with a longer spring, you could pay a little more upfront and have something like a 30,000 cycle spring last three times longer avoiding the inconvenience of doing this over and over again. We like to think it builds value into your home altogether. Another point about the spring size, is it has to be chosen properly to the weight of the door.
The only way this can be done, is to weigh the garage door and have a proper means of understanding the door wait in spring combination. Sadly, I see all too often in the industry from our experiences, that most seasoned garage door professionals will do their best guesstimates. That may or may not be bad at times because if they just match the existing springs or get as close to them as possible, it may not result in a dangerous situation.
Although if perfection is of the essence, you may wish to consider a company who has a different process. The best process for determining the right spring combination would be to weigh the garage door, utilize a chart, and install a properly fitted spring for the door providing a perfect balance. And for that you would need three things.
- A door scale
- A chart for conversion
- A set of each of no less than seven different wire size springs on the job to choose from to handle the various degrees of weight difference is provided by different manufacturers and/or door sizes and combinations.
A Perfect Balance Garage Door
What does a perfect balance mean. Well I stated before, if we are able to manually lift the garage door up to any point, and take her hand off, the door should stay in place. In fact do that on your home now, detach the garage door from the opener using the emergency release, move the door to your ankle height, your waist height, or your chest height, and at any of these points remove your hand and see if the door stays in place. If it does you have a perfect balance
What is a perfect balance mean to me?
If you have a perfect balance, that would mean that the door will not come crashing down harming property or loved ones, and your garage door opener will not have to struggle to lift your door open or force your door closed. Sadly we find if your garage door is not in a perfect balance, most technicians will simply walk over and press the button on your wall and show you your door working again, yet the garage door opener is masking the imperfections in the doors current balance state.
Please don’t be fooled.
By all means, check for yourself when you have your garage door service by a professional. Please feel free to review their work by testing your garage door manually as if the power had failed and you wish to get out of your garage in an emergency. If your door will not stay open, it should. If in fact you have to hang on your garage door to be able to pull it closed, that’s wrong as well. In either of these situations, the technician should return to his truck grab the proper set of springs and do this job all over again until perfection is attained. All too often will hear from the homeowner, ”Well it’s been working until now”, when in fact it has been breaking all the way up until now. One last consideration: Spring Composition Three commonly found spring coatings.
- Oil Tempered
- Powder Coated
Most garage door springs are oil tempered and often times spray painted black. Well tempered springs are the lowest cost available, yet they are generally prone to rust and corrosion. If not consist gently maintained they may rust and the clean black look will simply turn dirty brown. Keep them lubricated with WD-40 and you should be all right. The next most common and professionally preferred type are galvanized springs. They are silver in appearance and have been electro processed with a zinc coating to prevent rust and corrosion.
These are a bit more expensive yet best used when near the coast or when a water heater, or washer and dryer are in the garage where moisture may gather. Last of which, are the powder coated springs. These can be powder coated in black as well as green. Powder coating is generally used or is useful for parents only. As it is generally just a oil temperature spring made to look nice, the truth is that the spring may be resting or corroding from the inside therefore disguising the need for maintenance. Again, keep them well lubricated and you should have no problems.
To finish off about the spring repair, a specialist in spring repairs can have this type of work done within an hour on the same day and time of his initial visit. The national spring repair can be one of the simplest repairs on a garage door as well as the most dangerous and that even for a seasoned professional. As I write this, I can recall two instances where customers have showed me personally missing fingers, one technician who came back to the office with bloody knuckles, and one homeowner showed me the blood stain on the floor from when their partner attempted the work themselves the day before.
Not trying to scare anybody, but next to electrical work, the torsion spring should be one that you would strongly consider having a professional take care of. In fact, most every other aspect of door repair is incredibly simple with most parts available either online or even at your local hardware store. But as you can see the garage door springs have a bit of detail to them that you do not want to overlook.
I truly hope that this information has proven to be helpful in educating you on the variations that we encounter daily, and the procedures that you may wish to understand even if you are having a garage door repairman do the work for you.
Stay educated, stay safe.