There are two main systems of garage door springs, torsion springs & extension springs. Extension springs mount over the two horizontal tracks & operate independently-this means possible uneven operation. Especially on a wider door. Torsion springs mount on a tube over the center of the door & move both sides of the door together. Torsion springs are superior in every way but price. If you buy a garage door from Lowes or Home Depot they will sell you extension springs because they are afraid of liability issues. They are also less expensive.
The Problem with Extension Springs
- Uneven operation. The two extension springs are operating independently.
- Yes you can get a door to close evenly with a level floor but every thing must be perfect (as it should be). If the floor is uneven it wont have a even stopping point on both sides.
- More installation time & the door must be fully opened to install them.
- More problematic the wider the door is. Since each side is operating independently a wider garage door won’t work as smoothly. If you have a single wide (typically 9′) this isn’t as bad. If you have a double wide any issues are exaggerated.
- Less forgiving when track not perfectly aligned.
Why Do Some Garage Doors Only Have One Torsion Spring?
For the lighter residential garage door, for example a 16×7 uninsulated door, one spring will suffice. A heavier or taller door will require two torsion springs. A single torsion spring will perform as well & last just as long as two springs. The only advantage with two springs is when the day comes when a spring breaks it will be half as hard to open the door. This may be good if you need to get out in the morning to get to work. Also if it breaks when it’s open it wont fall as hard, but a spring is likely to break when under tension (closed) but this isn’t always so. A garage door opener will probably stop a hard fall.
How Long Will a Torsion Spring Last?
The industry has two ratings, regular-10,000 cycles & high cycle-20,000. This usually amounts on a regular 10,000 cycle spring to around 15 years. If you want high cycle spring expect to pay an additional $80 for a double wide garage door with a single spring system. Unless you have a commercial door with heavy use most people don’t see the extra cost worth it.
An option that’s in-between a regular & high cycle spring is a galvanized spring. This is rated to last 50% longer than a standard coated oil-tempered spring, so that will last 15,000 cycles. Expect to add $5 for a single spring & $10 for a double spring.
A oil-tempered torsion spring will lose a little of it’s tension in the first year. After that it will stay the same. This wont happen with a galvanized spring.
A word of warning, if there isn’t enough tension on a torsion spring the cable will come off the drum (see pic on right) when it loses it’s initial tension after a year. With the garage door all the way open see if there is any slack in the cable. If so call us or put some more tension on the spring.
What Torsion Spring Do I need?
A spring(s) is rated with two factors. The weight of the door & the height. You can’t take a smaller spring & give it more turns to make it work with
a heavier garage door. The turn count will usually be a little over one turn for every foot of height. For example an un-insulated 16’x7′ will be 7.75 turns.
Most of the garage door industry uses numbers & colors to identify their springs. The color is the wire size & generally speaking the higher the number the taller the door. Don’t confuse this with red & black that is on the winding cones & drums, this dictates whether the spring or drum is on the left or right side- a left spring has black drums & winding cones, the right side is red (looking from the outside).
So how to select a spring? If you gave me the inside diameter, wire size & length I wouldn’t be able to select a spring for you but this may be helpful information to a spring manufacturer. If I can cross reference it to another door I can look it up on a chart. If I can’t cross reference it I will weigh the door with the tension off the springs & then reference it to a known door of the same height & weight.
The door measurements needed is the width, height & thickness. Are there windows?, is it insulated?, is there a steel backing on the inside? I may need pictures too. A heavier door, for example a three layer door (steel, insulation, steel) will take two springs. Most residential doors are 25 gauge but a few aren’t & some have had extra bracing added. So you see in many cases the door will need to be weighed.
Clopay’s Easy Set System
Clopay has an “EZ SET” system that is wound with a drill motor instead of winding bars. It cost only $27.60 extra for most doors. If your installing the doors yourself & don’t feel comfortable winding a torsion spring this is a easy & safe way to go.
Self Contained Springs-Wayne Dalton’s Torquemaster System
There is another type of spring system that is self contained inside a tube above the door similar to a torsion spring. Wayne Dalton is the manufacturer of this type of spring & it’s called Torquemaster. Most in the business don’t like this system because they don’t last as long & have a lot of plastic parts. Torquemaster 1 is the older system (seen in the picture right). Torquemaster 2 is an improved version. The good thing is it is simple for a homeowner that doesn’t feel comfortable winding a torsion spring to install themselves.
Doing it yourself & a Word of Caution
There is a lot of tension on a garage door spring. I hear on a regular basis of someone knowing of a friend or relative getting hurt replacing a torsion spring themselves. If your like me you like to do things yourself but it’s not worth getting injured. One slip up & your life will never be the same.
If you want to do this yourself I can sell you a single spring for most residential doors for $50 plus tax.
Why Not Just Let Us Do It?
You may be like me & are a “do-it-yourself” kind of person which is a good thing. Sometimes though it’s better to let someone that does it for a living do it. You’ll be assured you have to right part for the job, it will be done right, have the rest of your door inspected for free & you’ll have more time for the other important things in life.
Having the right spring is important. Like I said before, there are two factors involved with garage door spring selection, the height & weight of the door. You can’t just add or subtract turns on a spring to make it work.
I can replace your broken spring with a single spring system rated for 10,000 cycles for $150. $200 for a two spring system. I will also inspect & do any minor adjustments for no extra charge. This also comes with a 5 year parts & labor warranty, the best in the industry!
Contact us if you have any questions. I will even answer those regarding you repairing your own door.