How to Avoid Dangerous Spring Breaks, the Ones on Your Garage Door

Let's be honest; a spring break is made to be fun and exciting. However, not all of them hit the mark. We're referring to literal spring breaks here when your garage springs snap and make a loud noise that passes through the entire home.

Once you catch your breath after the noise, you probably start looking for the source of the sound. Sometimes it won't stand out. That leads to you trying to use your garage door down the line and realizing it's not working the way it should. You'll also likely notice strange noises in the process.

As you let your eyes go upward, you'll see that the lifting spring you rarely even think about has broken and is now two separate pieces.

Broken garage door springs

The first question you might ask is, "how did this even happen?" And then you might wonder if you missed a warning sign or two. In today's blog, we'll explain precisely how this kind of problem happens and what its primary causes are.

The spring system is fundamental

Before we delve into the details, you should know why a spring system is crucial. The first thing to know is that for residential garage doors, there are two distinct kinds of systems:


Torsion spring systems are located in a steel tube over the door's head, which is solidly attached to the wall. All the door's weight transfers into an anchor plate found in the middle of the door.

If the headroom over your door is insufficient, the plate might instead be located at the end of the horizontal tracks.

If this is the kind of system you have, it's called a double horizontal track system or a low headroom track system.


Extensions springs, on the other hand, located on each side of the door, are placed over the horizontal tracks.

As you might guess from the name, their coiled form "extends" to lift or lower the garage door. Keep in mind that any experienced garage door professional will insist on installing safety cables with extension springs.

In a situation where one of the springs breaks, a cable is there to prevent the spring from falling on a vehicle or hitting something valuable. Without the cable, the spring could be dangerous and break something expensive.

An additional thing that you should be aware of is that the spring system functions as a counterweight for the door's total weight.

For example, consider a nine- x seven-foot door that also sports a row of windows. Its deadweight, or total weight, is going to be about 135 pounds.

You can easily lift a door with a single hand when it weighs this much because the weight is counterbalanced. That's what the spring system is in charge of.

When a garage door is appropriately balanced, it won't weigh more than eight to 10 pounds, even when you include an electric garage door opener and all the hardware!

Even if a garage door opener can lift up to 200 pounds, its purpose is to do the manual labor for you.

Keep in mind that since a door opener can lift all that weight, it can also push down the same amount of force. So, make sure you don't end up in its path when it's descending.

The leading causes of lifting spring breakage

There are many reasons that springs can break, but five of them are the most common:

1. Simple wear and tear

The lifespan of a spring is about five to seven years, regardless of the type.

To gauge use, remember that a "cycle" is a combination of one opening and one closing of the door. Many of the top garage door manufacturers today offer 10,000-cycle spring systems.

Assuming you use your garage door two to four times each day, that adds up to around 1,500 cycles annually.

If you tend to use the garage door more than five times a day, there are 20 to 25,000 cycle springs on the market from various manufacturers.

2. Defects in manufacturing

Defects happen in some cases. With extension springs, the ring at the end of the spring might break. For torsion springs, it would be low-quality galvanizing against rust that could cause the problem.

3. Improper spring calibration

In some cases, the correct spring system isn't installed. While the door will still open and close, more stress can be placed on the spring, door, and opener. Garage door springs are calibrated to function correctly up to a 5% variation. For example, a spring made to lift a 200-pound door isn't appropriate for use with a 250-pound door.

4. Conditioned related to the environment

Typically, garages aren't heated or insulated, which can make them humid and cold.

Even for garages with insulation and heating, springs are often near the exterior walls and remain cold and damp. Galvanization can protect around 30 to 40% of the spring's composition, but rust will still affect the metal. In cold situations of under 13 degrees Fahrenheit (-25 degrees Celsius), the metal wire coiled together can start to dry out and eventually break.

5. Lack of concern about maintenance tasks

Keeping a garage door in good shape requires maintenance.

We recommend twice-yearly lubrication of metal parts that come into contact with others. This is most commonly done in the fall or winter when temperatures start dropping and in the spring or summer when things start getting warmer.

Boost Your Spring System’s Lifespan Easily

Lubricate Once Each Year or when needed.

It’s easy, all you need to do is use a non-drip lithium base oil. Use a cloth or spray carefully and apply it completely around the coils.

Wipe off the excess and that’s all there is to it. Lubrication keeps the springs in better shape and can help to eliminate clinking noises in springs.

After few years the lubricant might pick up some dust, you can easily wipe it off and replace the lubricant.

Check with your garage door dealer to get the lubricants you’ll need.

Is this something that must be done by the homeowner?

Nope! If you prefer to have someone else do it, a Garage dealer often offers a " Garage Door Tune-up " program. This is similar to car dealers that help you maintain your car to prevent issues before winter weather sets in.

Garage door specialist installing a spring

Have springs that might be reaching the end of their lifespan?

Contact us now.

  • York: 717-767-1419
  • Mechanicsburg: 717-901-4056

We know garage doors and garage door openers more intimately than anyone else. We can give you advice and provide help in finding exactly what you need under your budget. We're also happy to send you a quotation by email.

Are you thinking of changing out your garage doors entirely? Our mobile friend Design Centre is sure to help. You can upload a photo of your home and see how different doors look.

You can also take a look at our Residential Garage Door Gallery for lots of ideas.

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