Understanding your Broken Garage Door Spring

Springs installer

An integral part of the garage door system is the spring. Unfortunately, they deal with a lot of wear and tear as they lift and release heavy garage doors. After a while, the spring lifting and closing your garage door can break. The spring breaking will most likely produce a sudden, loud noise. This noise resembles a gunshot. That sound will come from your garage and is guaranteed to frighten you.

Lifting springs breaking are a natural repair that needs to be done on any garage door. Through use, they wear down and stop functioning properly. Before we speak about why this happens, it is important to understand how the spring system works.

Spring System Functionality

It is important to understand what the spring system is used for. Understanding this background information will help you understand how it can malfunction. We are speaking about residential garage doors. There are two types of systems:


These springs, typically located on each side of the garage door, are placed over the horizontal tracks. Just like their name implies, their coiled form “extends” to lift or lower the garage door. An experienced garage door professional will always install safety cables with extension springs. In the case where a spring breaks, the safety cable will stop the spring from hitting something else in the garage or falling onto your car, both potentially dangerous and expensive.


This kind of spring is placed inside of a steel tube over the head of the door which is securely attached to the wall. The total weight of the garage door is transferred to the anchor plate placed at the center of the door. If the headroom over your door is insufficient, the plate may need to be placed at the end of the horizontal tracks. In this case, this is called a low headroom or double horizontal track system.

Another important point to understand is that the spring system functions as a counterweight for the total weight of the garage door. If you have a 9 x 7- foot door, let’s imagine its total weight, what we call its deadweight, is in the range of 135 lb. (61 kilos.). In order for you to be able to lift this door with only one hand, its weight must be counterbalanced. That is where the important spring system comes into play. A properly balanced garage door should weigh between 8 and 10 lb. (3.5 and 4 kilos), not more, even with an electric garage door opener. A door opener is only meant to take the place of manual effort, even if this device is able to lift up to 200 lb. (90 kilos). However, don’t forget that if on the one hand a door opener is able to lift such weight, it is more than able, on the other hand, to push down with the same force. So make sure you don’t end up in its path when it’s on its way down.

Why do Springs Break?

There are several reasons why springs break. Here are the most common ones:

- A manufacturers defect

It could happen that the manufacturers made a mistake. In the case of extension springs, it would most often be the ring at the end of the spring that breaks. For torsion springs, it would be low quality galvanizing against rust that could cause the problem.

- Wear and tear

Whether torsion or extension, a spring’s lifespan is between 5 and 7 years. A large number of garage door manufacturers provide 10,000‑cycle spring systems. A cycle is understood to be one opening and closing of the garage door. If your garage door is used 2 to 4 times a day, this represents roughly 1500 cycles a year. If you use your garage door more than 5 times a day, be aware that 20 to 25,000‑cycle springs are available from some manufacturers.

- Environmental conditions

Garages tend to be cold and humid since many are not insulated or heated. In the event that there is some heating and insulation, springs are often located near the exterior walls and still remain cold and damp. Despite the protection of galvanization, amounting to 30 to 40% of the spring’s composition, rust will still affect the metal. In intense cold, under -15F (-26F), the metal wire can dry out and break.

- Improper spring calibration

Sometimes, the right spring system is not installed. Even if this is the case, the door will still open and close, but more stress will be placed on the spring, door and opener. Springs are calibrated to operate correctly with a 5% variation so that a spring made to lift a 100‑lb. (45‑kilo) door is not to be used with a spring for a 150‑lb. (68‑kilo) door.

- Little or no maintenance from the homeowner

Garage doors and their lifting systems require some maintenance. Lubrication of metal parts is important. It is recommended 2 times a year for any metal parts that come into contact with other ones, in the cooler seasons when temperatures start dipping below 32° F (0° C) and when nighttime temperatures are above freezing.

Lubricate to Lengthen the Lifespan

If you are looking to lengthen the lifespan of your spring, lubricate them 2 times or at the very least, 1 time a year. You should use a petroleum‑based oil like the kind you use for your car. Apply it completely around the coils using a cloth. Wipe off any excess. Doing this will help get rid or any squeaking or clinking you may hear. Garaga dealers carry the lubricants you need specially made for garage doors.

Can Someone do this for Me?

Feel free to contact us. We know garage doors better than anyone else. We will be able to advise you and explain the best choice to make based on your exact needs while respecting your budget. We can also send you a quotation by email.

Another option is to meet us at our showroom. If you are looking to change your garage door, use our Design Centre to help you choose a style that fits your home. You can also peruse our image gallery for lots of ideas.

If you don’t have time to do it, be aware that we provide a “Garage Door Tune‑up” program in the same way that a car dealer offers one for your car to avoidproblems before winter arrives.

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