April 10, 2015

What’s the Difference Between a Garage Door Torsion Spring & Extension Spring?

Nearly all garage doors in North America are of the sectional overhead type, and in order for them to operate, they are equipped with a counterbalance system. To manage the counterweight, it’s necessary to use either a torsion spring or extension spring system. Both types are cylindrical and are made of galvanized steel.

Torsion springs

Torsion springs
  • This garage door spring system is located above the top of the door and slides inside a channel to which the lifting cables are attached.
  • If a spring breaks, it remains inside the shaft (tube).
  • The full weight of the door is transferred to the anchoring plate located in the center of the door, which is why it’s important for this part to be securely attached to the inside of the garage.
  • Strongly recommended for double doors (e.g. 16’ door width).
  • The required clearance above the door for standard movement is 12 inches.

Extension springs

extension springs
  • This garage door spring system is installed above the horizontal tracks, so there are two springs that serve as counterweights.
  • Each spring works independently, even if they are calibrated for the same door weight.
  • For this particular reason, it isn’t recommended to use this type of garage door spring system for manually operated double doors.
  • It is strongly advised to install safety cables in case one of the springs breaks. These cables are independent from the lifting cables, and in the event of an accident, the security cable will hold the spring in place, preventing it from hitting anything.
  • The required clearance above the door for standard movement is 8 ½ inches.


If you have sufficient clearance, you should always go for torsion springs. It’s a matter of safety for you and your family. A torsion spring system is a little more expensive, but it offers superior long‑term performance.

The springs can be fully galvanized in either type of garage door spring system. Fully galvanized springs are recommended for use in extremely moist environments, for example, if you wash your vehicle regularly.


To extend the life of either type of garage door spring system, all you need to do is lubricate them with motor oil (e.g. 10W‑30) or a canned lubricant especially designed for this purpose each time you perform your annual inspection.

In case of breakage

In the event of breakage, do not try to repair garage door springs yourself. Doing so can jeopardize your safety. Keep in mind that all the weight of the door is transferred to the system that serves as a counterweight (the bottom door hinge, the lifting cable and the garage door springs).

Call us at 717-767-1419 and we’ll send out one of our technicians, who will see to the repairs right away.

For a preventive maintenance or repair service done by professionnals contact us now. We serve all York, Harrisburg and Mechanicsburg areas.


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