Garage Door Springs

jerry_njMay 30, 2009

My neighbor has two large (two car garage) garage doors that are unusually tall (to my experience). These doors have a rail drive chain electric opener and have an unusual spring arrangement. My doors, by contrast, have the large spring on each side that run in the direction of the door travel. The doors at my neighbor's has a large horizontal spring arrangement, running from the left to right side of the door at the top. This spring does the same function as the more usual type I have, I believe.

On one door the spring is obviously broken, and the door will not open because, I believe, the lack of spring connection causes the the door to become unbalanced and the door jambs and will not rise.

I haven't yet looked for a replacement spring, but as it is unusual to my experience I make this post in case anyone who has experience with this type of spring has any advice to give me before I start a repair.

For one, is this type spring carried by Home Depot and Lowes? The type springs on my doors are carried by HD and Lowes.

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This is not a snide remark. Best advice, tell your neighbor to hire a "pro"-someone who does this all the time- those springs can eat your lunch and ruin your day. The problem is primarily overcoming underestimated torsion.
The springs on your door are more amenable to repair but still have plenty of punch.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 6:02AM
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Yours is an Extension Spring configuration. Your neighbor's is a Torsion Spring set-up. For his, when the door is closed, and the spring most accessable, the spring is heavily loaded. An acquaintance lost half of his lower jaw when his wrench slipped while working on one (with the wrong tools) though I have done several without a problem.
Home Depot, etal, may carry some of these springs, but considering that the spring must be the right size for your door size and construction, chances are they won't have the right one. I've gotten them from a construction suppiler, though some are reluctant to sell to homeowners.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 10:01AM
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Thanks, yes, I had given some more thought and figured out, or recalled, the purpose of the spring is to help lift the door. That is the spring(s) store energy when the door is lowered, and releases it when the door is raised. Thinking on this I had concluded the above information, the spring, when working (the current one is broken - no current tension) the spring is wound up when the door lowers... thus one has to install (and remove if under tension) when the door is up, not the best for access. I thus also concluded the reason the electric door opener fails is it is not strong enough to lift the door without the spring assist. I would guess a more powerful electric motor may be able to lift the door unassisted. These are bid doors, the opening must be at least 7' could be 8'. So the door must weigh in the 75 pound range, could be lifted manually, but difficult. I may try and see.

Thinking while typing I think given the spring has no tension on it I/one could remove the spring with the door down and install, but not anchor, the new spring in the same way, then raise the door manually and anchor the spring so that it will "load" when the door is next lowered.

Thanks for the help, not sure if I'll do it or not, I may get up on a ladder and take a closer look. From the floor it looks like all can be done with mechanic's tools: sockets, wrenches and the like. If some special tool is needed I'd appreciate very much a pointer to what it is.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 12:59PM
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"...then raise the door manually and anchor the spring so that it will "load" when the door is next lowered."

If only it was so easy.
You normally cannot get to the spring collar to tighten the set screws when the door is open.

You need to pre-load the spring after installing it.
It is NOT a job for the faint of heart.
a pair of 1/2 inch steel bars about 12-18 inches long are used to provide enough leverage to tighten the spring.
You have to out the bar in one hole, tighten the spring a fraction of a turn, then put the other bar in another hole and repeat.
It gets harder and harder to control the bars as the torque increase.
Losing you grip on the bars can result in serious injury (a serious jaw injury as mentioned above does not sound exaggerated).

Near the end of the process a lot of energy is stored in the spring, vary close to the weight of the door.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 2:38PM
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Thanks, it doesn't sound like something I want to do.

I wonder why there is such a problematic arrangement in any case, must be the larger doors can't be handled with a simple pair of springs used in a simple stretch/return mode. Those springs are easily attached with the door open, then close the door and the springs stretch out to help pull the door open next time it is needed.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 9:01PM
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Actually the torsion spring is much more efficient design than the extension springs.
1) You only need one torsion spring.
2) It is confined to the area over the head of the garage door and not spread out over the length of the garage parallel to the contents (i.e. your car)
3) The stored energy is about the center of rotation of the spring itself. If the spring fails it is more likely to "unwind" in place and less likely to "fly off of one end".

I agree that adjustments / replacements of torsion spring are best left to someone who thoroughly understands the operation and design of the system and the potential energy stored in it.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 1:25PM
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It can be a dangerous repair to perform, but most injuries are suffered by folks taking a seat-of-the-pants approach, rather than learning beforehand how to do it safely and correctly. It is within the capability of a mechanically-competent DIY'er who does their homework before proceeding.

A good tutorial I've found:

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 2:54PM
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Ok... You know as a technician I would convert the entire set up to a torsion system to the I made a new web page to cover this entire process for you.... its in the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garage-Door-Torsion-System-Conversion.html

    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 4:22PM
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