On the Level: How to handle a garage door spring issue – Capital Gazette

2022-11-07 22:24:50 By : Mr. Xiaokang Xia

Jim Rooney; Columnist. Photo by J. Henson - The Capital 10/12/2010 (No Source)

I just replaced a garage door spring that broke. It happened in the middle of the night when we heard a funny noise coming from the garage. I looked and didn't see anything so I temporarily forgot about it. Then the next day I went to open the door with the opener and it acted very strange. I noticed one spring was not stretched and sort of hanging loose. The spring had a metal wire through it so it was held in place instead of firing away front or back possibly damaging something. I knew that I had to replace both springs on the garage door, and I also knew that I had to weigh the door (without the springs) to get an accurate idea of the type of spring replacement that I needed. My door weighs 110 pounds according to the bathroom scale. It's a wooden door with pressed board panels. Home Depot carries replacement springs that are all similar in length, about 25 inches. The replacement spring to buy is one that is needed to lift the weight of our garage door. In this case I purchased a set of springs rated at 120 pounds each. This would be enough to lift my 110 pound door. Garage Door Spring

On the Level: How to handle a garage door spring issue – Capital Gazette

I have installed the springs and they seem to work fine, my only question is in regard to the safe stretch of the springs. The package that the springs came in says maximum safe stretch is 42 inches, which isn't much more than the non-stretch length of 25 inches. However, my springs are stretched roughly 55 - 60 inches, and stretch just as far as the springs on my other garage door do. Do I need to release the door cables so that the tension on the springs is reduced to the safe stretch of 42 inches? If so, I will do this on both garage doors.

A. The type of garage door spring you just replaced is called an extension spring. The rating of the safe stretch of any garage door spring will be a function of the material from which it was made. Of course it's going to be steel but not all steel is the same. Without going into a lot of detail about spring manufacture and metallurgy, my best advice about any installation of any manufactured product, whether it's a relatively simple device, like a garage door spring, or something as sophisticated as a gas furnace, is to always read, believe and follow to the letter the directions and warnings that accompany the device and don't vary or get creative. That's is such a strong building maxim that when something is installed in a home the manufacturer's directions for installation become the governing building code for that installation. And heaven help any homeowner or contractor who ends up in court for whatever reason concerning that product who violates them because if they did not follow the manufacturer's instructions all bets are off. Real construction types often read instructions as a last resort going to school on the boss's nickel. But once you've done something a few times you get the hang of the proper procedure and refer to the specs, as we call them, for a refresher of specifics. When I was out in the field working every time I began a task I'd look at my watch and again when I finished. Each time I tried to figure a way to get the job done quicker but properly at the same time. I was taught that a professional job takes as long as it needs to take, no more, no less. Learning exactly what that was is the key.

You wisely replaced both springs on a door that had just the one spring break so you avoided a potential tension mismatch between the two. Additionally the new spring will have fresh metal in it and older one may be as tired as the one that broke so replacing both is the prudent as you wouldn't replace just one shock absorber on your car. But now you need to do a couple of additional things to make sure the job is done correctly.

You need to "balance" the door so that as you pull the door up, or down, you can stop at any point--with the opener detached-- and the door will stay put where you've stopped and you can take your hand off the handle. And most importantly you need to re-install a safety cable inside of the replacement spring, attached to the tethering hardware at each end of the spring, so that should the spring ever let go it will be contained by the cable and not fly off with deadly force. I've seen holes blasted through drywall in the rear of garages where the spring unrestrained let go. Should that ever hit a person the results could be lethal.

As you know, when a garage door is in the closed position the springs are in tension, like a stretched rubber band. If the metal gets tired or if there exists a slight flaw in the steel that permits the tension to break the spring and it flies off, you don't want to be anywhere near it. With the safety cable it will only startle you should it happen.

The other type of garage door spring is called a torsion spring and you'll see those mounted horizontally above the door flat on the wall in which the door is installed. If one of those breaks my advice is to call in a professional. I've heard that sky-diving is safer than trying to replace one of those on your own. I have a friend who has half an index finger on his right hand. He was a veteran fighter pilot so I asked if it was service related. No, he said, it was a garage door torsion spring.

If you now hook the door up to an automatic door opener, make sure it reverses when it hits an object close to the floor like a 2 x 4 on the flat. Grabbing it with your arm or sticking the recycling bin under the door won't do. And electric eyes don't count for this test. It must reverse direction under this test or it's a potential killer. Over 60 children have lost their lives since 1982, crushed by garage doors. The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) standard is that a door must auto-reverse direction when blocked within the last 2 inches of downward travel. Pre-1982 door openers should be tossed out. They are unsafe and some are still out there. Modern door openers should be tested frequently (monthly) to ensure that the reversing feature hasn't gone out of calibration. And those infrared lights mounted near the bottom of the door track don't count. They are for car bumpers. The reverse feature must be tested with an obstruction. You see, just replacing that spring isn't the whole story.

On the Level: How to handle a garage door spring issue – Capital Gazette

16 Inch Garage Door Spring Keep the mail coming. If you've got a question, tip, or comment let me know. Write "On The Level," c/o The Capital, P.O. Box 3407, Annapolis, MD 21403 or e-mail me at inspektor@aol.com.