Few people care about garage door springs, but knowing a bit about them can help you choose the right type for your home or business. The first thing to know is that garage door springs are incredibly tightly wound, creating a lot of torque. Experienced technicians have sustained injury dealing with garage door springs, so know that tampering with them can have dire, painful consequences. Always be safe; wear goggles, pay attention, and keep your face and loose clothing away from active parts. There are two major types of garage door springs.
Sectional extension springs stretch along a horizontal track as the garage door closes, and shrinks along that track as the garage opens. Typically installed along the sides of the garage door or above the track, extension springs have an eye bolt, s-hook or other attaching end that connects to the angle iron that holds to the tracking or other beam in the garage frame. A pulley and cable system completes the garage door extension springs.
Many residential garage doors in the United States use the standard two springs parallel to the horizontal tracks on either side of the door. Commercial garage door springs are similar to the setup for residential garage doors, except for a few details. Some heavy industrial doors utilize a kit to connect multiple extension springs, so that multiple springs on each side of the door can be stretched to open and close large commercial overhead doors. Also, the pulleys for commercial doors are much stronger and able to withstand heavy-duty use.
Usually shorter and much more tightly wound, one-piece extension springs pull against a lever arm to counterbalance the weight of the garage door, rather than use a cable and pulley system. Some one-piece varieties have a plate screwed in at one end of the spring to attach to a pivot point and different mounting pieces on the other end to attach to the garage door jamb.
Torsion springs have a stationary cone on one end that secures it to the spring anchor bracket. Located on the other end of the torsion spring is a winding cone, which is utilized when uninstalling, adjusting or installing torsion springs.
There are four main characteristics of torsion springs that help determine the weight that the spring can lift, as well as how many times the garage door can close and open before the torsion spring breaks: torsion spring length, inside diameter, wire size, and wind. There are many varieties of torsion garage door springs, including:
- Standard Commercial
- Steel Rolling Doors
As a garage door rises into the horizontal track, the torsion springs unwind and the weight of the garage door is transferred from the vertical tracks to the horizontal tracks. Torsion springs almost completely unwind to open a garage door, leaving only about a turn left. Many horizontal tracks measure 12- or 15-inches radius, and while 15-inch is the smoother operator, the 12-inch is useful for more narrow garage door openings, but causes some disparity. For example, a seven foot garage door opens the full seven feet on a 15-inch track, but on a 12-inch track, the clearance loses about 4 inches.
If you think your garage door springs need to be replaced, please do not attempt to do this yourself. Even the most experienced of specialists have injured themselves while repairing or replacing garage door springs, and this project is not for the typical DIYer. Knowing more about the types of garage door springs available should help you make an informed decision regarding which style to use for your home or business.