While it may look harmless and basic, a garage door spring is dangerous. Torsion springs used to raise and lower garage doors are wound under extreme pressure and should only be maintained and replaced by a professional with the right tools. Annually thousands of homeowners are injured – some killed – by a high-tension spring. No matter how handy you think you are, replacing high-tension door springs in your Janesville WI area home is not a do-it-yourself project.
Most garage doors have two tightly-wound, high-tension steel springs. Built tough, they don’t last forever. They wear out. Then they break. You cannot predict when a spring will break. No two are alike. Their lifespan depends upon how often they lift and lower a heavy door. In addition, outside factors play a role. Of course the older your door’s springs are, the more they are at risk. And as garage doors become the main entry point for modern homes, they are used more often. More up/down cycles means a shorter lifespan.
Why A Torsion Garage Door Spring Breaks
Unlike age and extended daily use, some elements causing springs to break are preventable. You can make a difference. Consider:
- Inadequate maintenance – a spring’s life can be prolonged with regular attention. Spray the entire spring assembly – two springs in most cases – with high-quality lubricant at least three times a year. Note – Do Not Use WD-40. It is not a lubricant and can actually do more harm than good. At the same time, check the garage door’s balance. Adjust the pressure setting on the garage door opener. Springs are stressed by cold Wisconsin winters. Many fail in the cold or right after extreme cold – when metal expands after being brittle. Maintenance now, before it gets cold again is critical.
- Rust and corrosion – moisture from condensation during a humid summer allows rust to form on high-tension springs. It weakens the steel so it breaks easier – and sooner than under normal conditions. Rust causes friction on the coil. Prevent rust with a high-quality lubricant specifically formulated for garage door springs – again, NOT WD-40.
- The wrong springs installed – trained garage door service technicians know which size garage door spring are right for your brand and model door. Using the wrong wire size or one that’s too short leads to failures.
The Top Cause Of Garage Door Spring Failure
Daily wear is the No, 1 reason springs fail. Even when maintained properly they wear out. The average spring is created to handle about 10,000 up/down cycles. Since garage doors are used more and more as the “front door” it takes less time to record up/down cycles. Once, manufactures gave springs a lifespan of nearly 15 years. Today, a broken spring after 10 years is common.
Wisconsin’s weather extremes shorten the lifespan. While heat and humidity are not as much of a direct threat they can change the fit of other components. These changes disturb the balance of the door, putting more stress on openers and springs. Garage door opener manufacturers recommend adjusting up/down pressure seasonally – at least four times a year. Garage door makers recommend insulating your garage door to minimize the impact of outside temperatures.
If you have older, actively used garage doors invest in a regular inspection by a trained professional. Detecting weak spots before a garage door spring breaks allows for timely replacement. There is never a good time for your garage door to stop moving. Prevention is much better than getting stranded outside – or worse, inside – your garage. A noteworthy suggestion: if one spring breaks replace both springs. They were probably installed at the same time so the “good” one is likely to fail soon, too.
A Garage Door Spring Broke – Now What
Begin by understanding “What Not To Do!”
Do not try to replace it on your own. It is tempting to save money and just get a new spring and put it in place. Don’t do it. Changing broken springs is dangerous. It takes training and experience. And it takes job-specific tools to do it right. Broken springs remain under extreme pressure. Dangerous pressure easily released in a fraction of a second with disastrous results. Horror stories tell of improper tools launched across the room when a broken spring “slips.” The “wrong” tool is usually what homeowners have – everything from pipe wrenches to tire irons. They put the wrong tool in the wrong place in the wrong way. One slip and bones break and property gets damage.
What Else Happens When Springs Fail
Never try to use a powered garage door opener if a spring has broken. The weight of the door is too much for the motor. Motors burn out, chains/belts break and parts snap. If the door struggles to go up or comes down faster than usual, check the spring. It is easy to unknowingly keep using automatic openers until something else breaks.
Additional concerns linked to a broke garage door spring include:
- Bent, caved in garage door panels
- Stripped gears or damaged garage door opener motors
- Stretched or broken chains or belts
- Drive-chain tracks torn off of their door mount
- Garage door opener’s J-arm bracket broken off – usually damaging a door panel
- The opener rail is bent – and the door’s weight can pull it out of its ceiling mounts
A Garage Door Spring Sends ‘Signals’
Nobody keeps track of how many times their garage door goes up and down. So you aren’t likely to foretell when a garage door spring will snap. However, there are tell-tale signs that a spring is weakening. Pay close attention to the signals your door system is sending. Be alert to changes, including:
- Rattling or groaning
- Squeaking sounds
- A jerky door that doesn’t open smoothly
- A door that suddenly falls the last few inches
When it is time for routine maintenance, an inspection or a new set of springs, call Country Door Systems at 608-752-9537. We represent the top residential and commercial garage door makers and feature all the latest designs and styles. Don’t risk injury or additional damage. We have a crew of trained professionals ready to replace your garage door spring anywhere in Janesville WI and the surrounding area.