Properly installed springs should last approximately 10,000 cycles or about 7 years depending on the homeowner’s use. This number factors in the average use of opening/closing 4 times per day. High cycle springs can have a life-span that lasts from 14-20 years or more.
Many people do not know where to locate the spring for the garage door and that’s okay! We are here to help you. The image below shows the gap in a spring which indicates that the spring is broken. This is the most common indication of a broken garage door spring.
Torsion springs are wound several times and allow the weight of the door to be contained in the spring. When the spring can no longer support the weight of the door, it may snap suddenly, mid-cycle or without any extra movement from the door. An immense amount of energy is being displaced when a spring breaks and all that energy creates a very loud noise as a result and can be quite scary. If you hear this noise, chances are, your spring has broken.
A common sign that you have a broken spring happens when you press your wall button and your garage door goes up only ~6″ and stops. This indicates that the spring cannot bear the weight of your garage door and it immediately ends the cycle. This is a safety feature built in to most garage door openers and it prevents further damage from occuring to other parts of your garage. If this happens to you, DO NOT RUN THE GARAGE DOOR AGAIN. Continuing to attempt to run the garage door could cause damage to your garage door opener, and then you will not only need new springs, but a new opener as well, which can get very expensive.
If you need to leave your house, a simple way to exit your garage is by pulling the red “emergency” string hanging down from your garage door opener rail. This is the emergency release for your door and allows you to manually lift your door. If you cannot lift the door then you most likely have a broken spring.
Garage door cables, like the torsion springs, allow the weight of the door to be distributed evenly on each side of the door. Sometimes, when a spring breaks, the cables will also come loose and snap because they cannot hold the weight of the door by themselves. In this case, you will need new springs AND new cables. It is slightly more expensive than just a spring replacement, but not by much, usually around $20-25.00
As mentioned in number 3, after you attempt to pull the red emergency string and you are UNABLE to lift the door, you definitely have a broken spring.
Some doors have two springs, one on either side of the center rail, perpendicular to the door. When one of the springs on either side breaks, all the weight is then placed on the unbroken spring. The unbroken spring is then carrying twice as much weight as it should while the broken spring side is not pulling the door at all. This creates an imbalance while the door is functioning and pulls the door to the working-spring side. Your door could come off-track and it is best that you NOT run the door to prevent further damage.
We always recommend that if your door has two springs, and only one breaks, that you replace BOTH springs at the same time. The reason for this is simple. We have to assume that the previous springs were installed at the same time and when one spring breaks, usually the other spring breaks within days. Also, the one working spring is carrying more weight than it is made to bear, and so it is being worn down even faster. Always spend the few extra dollars to replace both springs–it will save you (and us) time and money in the long run.
If you notice that your garage door falls faster than normal then this is a sign that the springs are about to break. The garage door has become off-balanced and so the weight is being transferred to the opener. If you notice this happening then it is important that you REFRAIN FROM RUNNING THE GARAGE DOOR! Continuing to run the door can cause your opener to break and then you will have more problems and a bigger bill to fix it.
Jerkiness or loud noises signal that you may have a broken spring. Usually, this signals that one spring is broken in a two-spring system and the door is struggling to run properly. Run your door as LITTLE AS POSSIBLE to prevent further damage.
When a spring breaks on the door, some openers (depending on the brand, make, model, etc;) will attempt to continue to run normally. The weight of the door is off balance and all the weight is placed on the opener, which is not made to hold the entire weight of the door. The force from the opener causes the opener to push or pull on the top section of the door and may cause it to bend. We can sometimes fix this issue without replacing the panel or door by adding a strut or bending the panel back in place so it is asthetically pleasing.
Remember: Never attempt to fix or replace a spring by yourself! Torsion springs are made to carry the weight of the door over 10,000 cycles or more. We have seen customers who have attempted to fix the spring themselves and spend the next hours in the ER because of near loss of fingers or injuries that can cause serious permanent damage! Please, consult a professional before attempting to do it yourself. The extra cost is worth more than loosing your fingers, or worse!