The spring of the garage door needs to support a lot of weight because the motor of the door can’t hold the heavy door by itself. Garage door springs have a vital role so they need to be durable and properly maintained for the garage door to work as expected and to avoid dangerous injuries. Even if the garage door springs operate smoothly, they can wear down or simply fail at some point due to various reasons. In that case, it’s time to replace the garage door springs to keep the entire system working safely.
Before attempting any DIY repair work on the garage door springs, it’s essential to have a proper understanding of how the components work and all the critical safety precautions. Unless you know what you’re doing, it’s probably best to leave the job of replacing garage door springs to an accredited professional instead of risking injuries. This article is only intended as informative guidance but it doesn’t make you fully prepared to accomplish the task. Even if you feel confident enough to attempt replacing garage door springs yourself, you most likely shouldn’t. Consider leaving the work to a trained technician instead.
1. Types of Garage Door Springs
There are different types of garage door springs but all of them are usually either torsion springs or extension door springs.
1.1 Torsion Springs
These are the main springs used commonly in all kinds of garage door systems. They’re more reliable than cheaper extension springs so you can expect to find them on premium garage doors. Torsion springs are popular due to being extra strong when it comes to handling the heavy-duty job of holding the garage door.
The enhanced durability is one advantageous aspect but many also agree that torsion springs are not as loud as cheaper alternatives. Aside from the increased cost, there’s another drawback worth mentioning when it comes to torsion springs – they’re more dangerous. Repairing a torsion spring can be challenging even for experienced people so DIY enthusiasts should be aware of the risks first.
Here are the most common types of torsion springs:
These are usually the torsion springs installed on residential garage doors. Depending on the model of the garage door system, it’s possible to have anywhere from one to four torsion springs.
This type of torsion spring can be found in industrial buildings or commercial settings. Steel rolling-door torsion springs are integrated into the torsion barrel.
When it comes to early-set torsion springs, there aren’t many differences compared to standard torsion springs. A distinctive quality involves the way they’re mounted. Early-set torsion springs are positioned in the middle of the shaft.
Torque-master torsion springs rely on a winding cone to keep them firmly in place within the torsion shaft.
1.2 Extension Springs
More cost-effective compared to torsion types, extension springs are popular with homeowners of more basic garage doors. Two extension springs are usually used to absorb the weight of the garage door. Whereas one torsion spring would be enough to hold a garage door, it takes two extension springs for that same door.
Having extra extension door springs isn’t just a matter of handling a heavier weight. It’s also done for safety reasons. In case one spring fails, the other one can save the door from crashing. It’s never recommended to use a garage door if one of the extension springs no longer works. Aside from uneven door raising, you risk straining other important components of the garage door system.
These are the main types of extension springs:
These extension springs offer the best level of durability in the long run. You will most likely find them on heavier garage doors that work well with this type of spring.
Weaker compared to other extension springs, open-looped options are less reliable due to heavy reliance on a specific component. If its open wire gets damaged, you will need to change the entire spring to a new one.
Similar to the previous type, double-looped extension springs come with a more robust design with two coils at the end.
2. Causes of Weak or Broken Springs
Before tackling replacement work, it’s important to understand why torsion or extension springs get broken. There are many factors that can play a role in terms of overall spring degradation (which will eventually lead to snapping). Here are the typical causes of broken garage door springs:
2.1 Poor Maintenance
Regularly checking the balance of the garage door is essential if you want to avoid unpleasant accidents from failing springs. You don’t have to do this very often, but you should check the garage door operation once every year to see whether everything works smoothly. Lift the door halfway and let it down. Watch closely to see if it stays correctly in place so you can discover signs of spring malfunctioning. Weak springs usually translate to a sagging door.
This factor can be easily integrated with overall maintenance but it deserves its own section. Not taking any measures against rust represents a very common cause for spring issues. This is because rust will slowly but surely weaken the coil. Regular treatment with a product such as the WD-40 multi-purpose spray can prevent rust problems.
2.3 Cheap Springs
Saving money by getting cheaper springs can be a really bad idea as poor-quality springs are more likely to have a shorter lifespan. It’s better to make a long-term investment initially by getting more heavy-duty garage door springs than to deal with disastrous consequences later.
2.4 Cold Weather
It’s not surprising to find out that springs snap more often during winter. This is because cold weather negatively impacts the strength of the springs. They become more brittle from the contraction effect.
3. Should Springs be Replaced?
Figuring out whether the springs are truly in need of replacement represents an important aspect before you should even consider this kind of project. The springs are just some of the essential components that ensure the functionality of your garage door. If you suspect that something’s wrong with the door, it’s not always the spring to blame.
Testing the strength of the torsion spring is a good first step to determine its reliability. When you turn off the garage door opener and try to open the door manually, it’s important to observe whether there’s a lot of effort required to leave the door standing up. If the spring is weak, this process would be more difficult.
The garage door needs to be able to stay midway by itself. There’s no special rule to determine the requirement for a spring replacement but you need to feel the weight of the door properly to get a good idea of potential issues. The opposite issue can also happen, namely for the garage door to seem way too light. That’s likely caused by installing incorrectly sized springs.
4. Considerations for DIY Spring Replacement
When it comes to replacing garage door springs, DIYers should be aware of the different levels of hazard severity depending on the type of spring. Extension springs are not particularly hard to replace as long as you have minimal knowledge of garage door systems. There’s still a danger of a falling door or minor metal cuts but it’s not comparable to the hazard risk involving the replacement of torsion springs.
There’s a strong tension that keeps the torsion springs working as expected so tinkering with them without knowing exactly what you’re doing could be disastrous. Aside from very heavy falling garage doors and severe cuts, there’s also the risk of flying metal in case of an accident. Even experienced DIY homeowners should stick to the replacement of extension springs only.
5. Best Garage Door Replacement Springs
An important part of replacing garage door springs requires you to identify the correct replacement spring. Finding the ideal extension spring replacement is a breeze due to special color codes that indicate their lifting power. For example, green-coded springs are able to lift 120 pounds whereas brown coded units can handle doors of up to 160 pounds.
There are multiple extension spring replacement models out there but we think that most users will be happy with this garage door extension spring kit from Amazon. As for torsion spring replacements, things can be a little more difficult. You will need to analyze the old spring to get your hands on a similar spring in terms of size and orientation. The newer torsion spring should be more durable so consider investing in a high-quality component like the ZhenT garage door torsion spring kit.