It’s hard enough dealing with Iowa winters, but it’s sometimes made much worse by the effects fluctuating temperatures can have on your garage door springs. After a long day at work, you don’t want to pull up to your garage, hit “open” on your garage door opener, and watch as the door does nothing. Does the opener need new batteries? That can’t be it, because you just replaced them. Your photo eyes are working properly, too. It can only mean one thing: you have a broken garage door spring. There are ways to prolong your spring’s life and there are warning signs you should be looking for when it comes to your springs. First, let’s take a look at why it happens.
Why Garage Door Springs Break
Something to remember is that garage door springs are good for about 10,000 cycles (your garage door opening once and closing again is one cycle). And that’s when they’re installed properly. There are a few big reasons garage door springs break.
Normal Garage Spring Wear and Tear
If you were to average two cycles per day, that comes to 730 cycles in a year. Add to that two more cycles each day if another person in your home is coming and going as well. Now add even more if you and your family regularly use the garage door as the main entrance to your home. Those cycles add up. To prolong the service life of your garage door spring, it’s important to only open and close your garage door when necessary.
It’s easy for rust to accumulate within the tracks and on the springs of your garage door when there’s a leak. Some folks may not think a leak in the garage is as problematic as one inside the home and it’s easy to see why someone may think that. You’re not in your garage nearly as much as your home. However, that leak can cause some pretty serious damage and rust can form quickly. Rust can also quickly appear in the tracks of your garage door when they aren’t being cleaned. Leaves, dirt, and gunk build up and can trap moisture, leading to rust. It’s also easy for rust to buildup on garage door tracks and springs when they’ve not been properly lubricated. That rust creates friction in your garage door springs, creating the perfect condition for it to break.
When temperatures start to drop (especially when it gets really cold really quickly), it can affect your garage door springs. The chilly air can make the springs more brittle. Especially when they’re already a bit worn, that can cause your springs to break.
How to Know a Garage Door Spring is Broken
Unfortunately, when a garage door spring breaks, it lets you know in a couple clear ways.
Hard to Open the Garage
Whether your garage door spring is on the verge of breaking or has actually broken, you may notice that your garage has suddenly become difficult to open. It also may start to get shaky when opening and closing. If you press “open” and it only raises around 6”, it’s likely because a safety sensor is preventing it from opening all the way, because the spring has been compromised. While you may be annoyed at first, this is actually saving your garage door from getting damaged.
Door Seems to Fall When Closing
Your garage door may actually seem to be falling when you’re closing it if a spring is broken or about to break. If your door seems to be shaky and slow on the way up and look like it’s falling on the way down, that’s likely the culprit. This is due to the fact that the spring is struggling to lift it and the weight of the door is too great for the spring on the way down.
Loud Sound in the Garage
If you’re anywhere near your garage when your spring breaks, you’ll probably hear it. Torsion springs are tightly wound and when they go, they unwind in under a second. The sound you hear is a loud *BANG* and can make you jump! Often, folks will hear the sound, think it’s either someone attempting to break into the garage. They’ll glance outside or maybe even walk around outside, only to find nothing strange. That is, until they try to head to work in the morning and the garage door won’t open.
Garage Door Won’t Open
The biggest sign that you have a broken spring is that your garage door simply refuses to open. This is because the spring has lost the tension needed to pull the door up. This is usually the most obvious sign of a broken spring.
Prevent Broken Garage Door Springs
Even though the service life of a garage door spring is about 10,000 cycles, there are ways to help it make it to that number and even prolong its life.
Check Door Balance
Making sure your garage door is balanced is key in keeping it in tip-top shape and protecting its springs. When a door is off-balance, the springs have to work overtime to lift and lower it. This creates undue strain for the springs and garage door opener. It’s fairly easy to test the balance of your garage door. In fact, CHI Overhead Door has a quick video to walk you through it.
Keep Garage Door Springs Lubricated
Keep in mind that the garage door is the largest moving part in your home. Its tracks, rollers, springs, and hinges should be well-lubricated so they can function well into the future. Plus, when these parts are lubricated, they’re far less noisy (your garage door shouldn’t be shaking and making grinding sounds).
Regular Maintenance and Inspections
With proper maintenance, your garage door, its tracks, and springs can continue to work well for years. It’s a good rule of thumb to have your garage door and its moving parts inspected by a professional at least annually. Often, it’s during these inspections that minor issues are caught before they become big headaches.
Call a Garage Door Technician
Never attempt to repair a broken garage door spring on your own, no matter how easy a DIY blog or YouTube video made it seem. If you’re not a professionally trained garage door technician, you can seriously injure yourself and anyone around you. If you believe a spring is broken and it isn’t, you could end up impaled by it. If you remove something incorrectly, the garage door could fall on you. Any one of the possibilities could indeed kill you. Our technicians have years of experience in inspecting, maintaining, and repairing garage doors safely, so give us a call to do the dirty work for you.