When you use and rely on something every day to do a simple task it is easy to just assume that it will work no matter what. That is in fact what a lot of us do with our garage doors, although we use them every day we forget that there is a mechanism that allows us to open our garage doors on command every day. How garage doors work is actually quite simple compared to many of the other machines we end up using everyday. The main concepts are a counterbalance on the garage door in order to make it easier to move and then a mechanism to pull or let down the garage door. Now that you know all that I’m sure you don’t need much more knowledge to learn how to design, install and maintain your own garage door opener and system, but if you do want to leave that to the professionals you might want to still know more about those two concepts. To start we will look at the different garage door spring systems there are out there. This is a piece of your garage door that literally does the heavy lifting and so is important to the continued healthy operation of your garage door and the garage door opener.
The most popular spring system for garage doors is the torsion spring system. Torsion springs are typically placed at the top of a garage’s opening and wind and unwind in order to transfer energy that is used to open and keep open the door as well as close it. As these springs wind and unwind they are under a tremendous amount of stress which causes them to eventually break or become weakened. When this inevitably happens you are sadly stuck with a door that is stuck closed and needs a spring replacement. Aside from this one flaw the design is really as good as it gets. These springs should be balanced every so often and the springs should also be lubricated every few months or so but otherwise don’t need much maintenance before they give out.
The second type of garage door system also utilizes springs to close the garage door but in a different way. The extension spring system uses the springs by stretching them or extending them to store energy in them in order to lift the garage door. Energy is stored in the springs just like the torsion spring system and they can also break and weaken over time with use resulting in the need for new garage door springs or garage door spring replacements. Extension springs are also rated for a certain number of cycles and will inevitably need to be replaced, but aside from that they don’t need all too much maintenance and can be kept up in the same way you keep up torsion springs. Extension springs break much more dramatically than torsion springs because the springs are stretched and recoiled again and again which puts a great deal of stress on them while they are being used. This stress eventually causes them to snap and break. If this happens without the proper safety equipment, which is typically a cord going the length of the extension spring, these springs can move wildly and dangerously when they do break.
A broken garage door spring can be quite dangerous if it breaks at the wrong time because of the amount of stress they are under, but because it is pretty much unavoidable it is best to get your garage door springs looked at by a professional if you think something might be wrong with them. These springs are typically made out of steel and so can last a relatively long time, but do eventually break down from going between the two states of stretched and coiled or wound and unwound. With that said you should leave most of the garage door inspecting to professionals and if you do decide that you would like to take a look at them yourself you should make sure that all of the safety cables and any other safety mechanisms are installed and in place beforehand.
Now you know just about all there is to know about the mechanics of your garage door springs and why they need replacing every so often (hint it’s basically because metal isn’t super stretchy). Sadly though knowing how to replace and maintain the garage door springs safely isn’t something that can be covered in just a few short paragraphs so if you have questions about that it is best to involve your local garage door professional. They will have the experience, knowledge and tools to know when your garage door springs need to be replaced and how to do so without endanger you, themselves or anything in your garage. Garage doors and garage door openers nowadays are built with the materials and design to ensure that they last a long time but there is really only so much you can do with a mechanism that requires a fair bit of force in order to lift a large heavy door out of the way. Now that you understand the mechanics behind the garage door let’s hope that you will know why your garage door isn’t opening up when you are trying to get to work in the morning and that you will know what an important part of the entire garage opening mechanism the garage door springs are.