Know It All! - Garage Door Springs - Torsion Springs
Updated: Jul 3
There are three common types of garage door springs. Each type has its own mechanism and different characteristics. One of the most common is the torsion spring system.
Usually, garage door torsion springs will be mounted on a horizontal shaft running above your garage door. Your door may have one, two, or more springs. Standard garage door torsion springs are made of either oil-tempered steel or galvanized steel.
Unless you live in a particularly corrosive or humid environment, making your garage door hardware prone to rust and environmental damage, odds are your door has oil-tempered springs.
Standard garage door torsion springs have two aluminium alloy cones, one at either end of the steel coils. One of them is the stationary cone. It goes inwards toward the center of the shaft, and is affixed to the spring anchor (also known as the center bracket), which is a bracket mounted on the wall above your garage door. The second cone is the winding cone. The winding cone, as its name suggests, is wound or unwound during installation, removal, or adjustment of the torsion spring.
Image from www.familyhandyman.com
The Torsion Garage Door Spring System
Winding up garage door torsion springs creates the torque necessary to open and close your garage door. The torque is transferred from the springs to the shaft. Each end of the shaft goes through the cable drums and side bearing brackets on either side of the door. The garage door cables are secured to the bottom brackets at either end of the garage door, and wrapped around the cable drums. The cables hold the weight of the garage door, counterbalancing it, aided by the tension produced by the torsion springs.
When opening the garage door, the torque transferred from the springs to the shaft keep the cables taut on the drums. As the cables wind around the drums, the springs unwind slightly. As the cables lift the door, the rollers hike up the vertical track, to the horizontal track above the door. The remaining torque in the garage door torsion springs allows the garage door to remain in an open position.
A garage door with the appropriate springs, wound up the required number of times, should be relatively easy to lift manually. A door that is properly balanced will remain about three or four feet above the floor when manually opened.
Garage door springs are rated in ''cycle life''.
A cycle is one opening and closing of your garage door. Most standard torsion springs are built to last 10000 to 15000 cycles. This is why garage door technicians will usually recommend you replace both springs when one breaks. As they are usually installed at the same time, and are rated for the same cycle life, when one spring breaks, the other will typically follow shortly after.
One Spring, Two Springs, How Many Springs?
The weight of your door is the main determining factor in deciding how many springs are needed. Your typical steel or aluminium single garage door tends to be quite light, and as such requires only one spring to counter its weight.
Larger doors usually require two springs.
Some extremely heavy doors, such as large ornate wooden doors, will occasionally require three to four springs to provide enough torque.
If you own a small, lightweight garage door, only one spring is technically required to open and close it. However, it is a better practice to install two springs. The reasoning behind this is that a pair of springs evens out the pressure on the center bearing and on the spring itself while opening the door. This can extend the lifespan of these critical components of your garage door mechanism.
Spring Measurement Methods
Several methods exist to determine the torsion springs needed for your door.
If your garage door was previously balanced, you may measure your own springs. If this was not the case, you can use your door model and manufacturer's specifications. Should you not be able to find these, you may weight your door with an analog scale.
We never recommend replacing your springs by yourself, as they are under a great deal of tension and have the potential to seriously maim you. However, we also believe in providing educational content and therefore give you an insight on the process of spring measurement.
When measuring your springs, it is critical to accurately size all of the necessary components. Wire thickness is measured in ten and twenty coil increments, to the nearest quarter inch. Inside diameter, as well as the direction the coil is wound in are also important measurements.
Garage door make, model number, and dimensions are often located on the door itself. They can be embossed, or on a sticker.
If your door has more than one spring, it is imperative that you or the technician measure them both, to ensure that they are not mismatched. Mismatching occurs often, and while sometimes useful, it can be the result of a mistake! When it comes to garage door springs, we always recommend reaching out to a professional!
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