Your Garage Door Springs: How They Work And How To Care For Them

Most homeowners don't realize how heavy their garage doors are until they have to lift them without any assistance. The average garage door can weigh anywhere from 100 pounds to 300 pounds or more depending on the materials used in its construction. Garage door springs essentially counterbalance that weight, making it much easier to open and close your garage door. The following goes into depth about how garage door springs work and how to properly care for them.

Always Under Tension

Metal springs are not only great at absorbing energy (as dampers and automotive coil springs demonstrate), but they're also adept at storing energy. Twisting the coiled spring in one direction adds tension to the spring, effectively storing energy in the coil until the tension is eventually released. In the case of a torsion spring, tension is added to the spring by way of a pulley and cable system mounted at the end of the torsion spring tube. Closing the garage door also turns the pulley, which in turn winds the spring. The stored force exerted on the spring makes it easier to open the garage door.

Extension springs, on the other hand, utilize the tension created by the garage door as it closes and stretches the spring outward. When the garage door opens, the return force exerted by the spring as it returns to its pre-load state effectively pulls the door open.

The garage door spring is always under a sizable amount of tension -- usually enough to violently snap and/or unwind the spring if it ever breaks. For this particular reason, extension springs usually have a safety cable run through the spring to keep it in one place if the spring ever breaks. Failed torsion springs are usually contained by their torsion spring tubes. However, fragments of the broken spring can fly away and severely injure anyone nearby.

Common Causes of Garage Door Spring Failure

The most common causes of garage door spring failure are usually old age and rust. An average set of garage door springs usually lasts for 10,000 cycles. That adds up to around 7 years if you open and close your garage door 4 times each day. Metal fatigue can set in after years of constant use, weakening the spring until it eventually fails catastrophically.

Rust can also pose an issue for garage door springs. Surface rust can create unnecessary friction between the spring coils, accelerating the spring's overall wear and tear. If left to its own devices, rust can penetrate further into the spring as it eats away the metal, structurally weakening the spring until it snaps.

In many cases, you can tell if the garage door springs need to be looked at simply by testing the garage door's balance and alignment. Excess chatter and other noises emanating from the springs may also indicate an upcoming issue that should be checked out as soon as possible.

Caring for Your Garage Door Springs

Preventive maintenance is a must if you want to get the most out of your garage door springs. Lubrication is the most important preventive maintenance measure you can undertake. Applying a light coat of white lithium grease or silicone-based spray lubricant not only helps reduce friction, but it also creates a protective layer that shields the metal spring against moisture and other corrosion-causing elements.

It's also important to have a trained garage door specialist perform an annual inspection of your garage door springs. Your garage door specialist will be able to spot warning signs that indicate an impending spring failure. If your torsion springs or extension springs are need of readjustment or replacement, the garage door specialist has the tools and expertise to make the necessary adjustments quickly and safely. For more information, contact a business such as Aladdin Doors of Raleigh.