When your garage door opener breaks, you will be probably be told to look at the spring. You may also have been told that this spring is insanely dangerous to work on.
What Does Your Garage Door Spring Do?
You might think that the garage door motor is the primary work horse in the opening system. In reality, the motor will quickly burn out if it tries to raise and lower the garage door without the torsion springs intact. This is why you should never try to use your opener with a broken spring. You will go from the relatively simple repair of needing new springs, to needing a whole new system.
The springs are set up to be constantly pulling the door open, but not to have so much power that they can actually accomplish this feat on their own. When the garage door is closing, the pull of gravity helps the motor to lower the door into place. When it is opening, the springs work to assist the motor in opening the door. The ability to properly assist the motor without pulling the door open is a delicate balancing act, which requires several calculations, as well as fine adjustments once the new spring is installed. Balancing a door takes a lot of practice, which is one of the reasons that you should not attempt this repair on your own.
Why Does it Fail First?
If the garage door spring is so important to the operation to your garage door, why does it seem like this is the most common point of failure? Part of it is that more minor failures can go unnoticed for long periods of time, but a lot of it has to do with how the spring works.
- Some people try to save money by running the door with only a single spring, instead of one on each side. This puts extra stress on this single spring, and can cause it to fail prematurely.
- Both springs should always be replaced at the same time. If one breaks, the other is likely to follow in short order. If a previous owner only replaced one side, you could be left replacing the other half of the set.
- If the springs are allowed to rust, it will greatly shorten their lifespan. Rust doesn't just eat away at the metal, it also causes friction between the coils, causing them to break down even faster.
- Every time you open or close the garage door it bends the metal, weakening it slightly. Over the course of several years, this will eventually break down the metal to the point where it snaps. Even if you do all your regular maintenance, expect to replace the spring more often if you open and close the door frequently.
Why Is Changing the Spring so Dangerous?
The reason why changing the springs is so dangerous is because they have enough tension in them to hold up a garage door weighing several hundred pounds when the door is closed. The only way to access them is when the door is closed, meaning that you can only install and remove them when they are under tension. One wrong move while working on them will send that force flying, and it could fly into you. This is not a situation where a misstep ends with you smashing your thumb with a hammer. This is a situation where a misstep puts you in the emergency room. Leave the installation to professionals who have the experience to limit their risk of injury.
You may have never considered how important your garage door springs are to your daily life. Now that they have broken, it is certainly a wake up call. Set an appointment with a repair tech and add garage door maintenance from a site like http://planooverhead.com to your regular to-do list.