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If you’re like most people, your garage door gets more use than your front door. It’s the primary entry and exit point of your home, which means your garage door is going up and down several times a day, an action you typically take for granted as you push a button on your way in or out.
Then, one morning, your garage door doesn’t open. Suddenly, it’s not as simple as pushing a button and backing your car out. Now, you have a problem, and you need to find a solution.
While there could be several reasons for a malfunctioning garage door, one of the most likely explanations is that your door has a broken torsion spring.
What’s that, you ask? And what am I supposed to do about it?
Don’t worry. Most homeowners don’t know much about the mechanics of their garage door, and that’s OK. In fact, in 2014, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission reported an estimated 18,000 garage door-related injuries. To avoid being included in this statistic, it’s better to leave garage door repair to professional repair companies, which means homeowners don’t need to be experts about their garage door.
However, if you own a home with a garage, it’s essential to understand the mechanics of your door, so you can easily identify a problem. By doing this, you’ll have an easier time figuring out whom to call, and you’ll have your door operating back at its full capacity even sooner.
WHAT IS A GARAGE DOOR SPRING?
You’ll find the garage door’s spring along the top of the door inside your garage. It’s substantial and very evident. It connects to cables that wind up when you activate the garage door opener — where these cables are and how they operate depends on what kind of automatic opening system you have. This spring is essential to the functioning of your garage door. As the cables turn, the tension increases on the spring, pulling the door up. If it becomes broken or damaged in some way, it won’t operate properly, resulting in a door that doesn’t open correctly — or open at all.
Springs on a garage door should be durable. In fact, on average, they should last through 10,000 cycles of opening and closing your garage door.
However, just like anything else, over time they can wear out or become damaged in some way. Ideally, homeowners should have a professional garage door repair service come out to service the springs on their garage door. This service doesn’t need to happen that often, but as your door starts to age, it’s crucial to take notice of how it’s operating and have it properly maintained.
The good news is, out of anything on a garage door, the springs are the most likely part to break, which can make it simple to diagnose when problems arise. The bad news is, a broken torsion spring on a garage door can turn into a safety hazard. So, if you discover your door isn’t opening as it should, the first thing you’ll want to check is the condition of your spring — especially if your door is getting older and you haven’t had it serviced recently.
SIGNS OF A DAMAGED GARAGE DOOR SPRING.
If your door isn’t opening correctly, spend a few minutes inspecting it to see if you can figure out the problem. Sometimes, your spring may be damaged or worn out, but it won’t be broken. Other times, there will be a distinct break. Either way, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discover a problem with your garage door spring. Typically, there are two ways to identify damaged or worn-out springs:
1. BALANCE ISSUES
If you have a hard time closing and opening your door — but it does still move — your door may be out of balance. You can also identify this problem if your door falls quickly after it lifts several inches, or by the door moving up and down on the track more slowly than usual. Whether it becomes faster or slower may depend on what has caused it to become unbalanced. Another telltale sign of balance issues is excessive noise as you raise it up and down.
Issues with garage door balance don’t always result from a problem with the spring, but they can aggravate an existing problem or create one if you continue to operate the door despite balance problems. Eventually, if you don’t address suspected balance issues, they can put extra strain on the spring and cause it to break or become damaged.
2. EXCESSIVE SQUEAKING
Over time, your springs can become worn and start squeaking. While all garage doors make some noises now and then, if you notice loud noises that haven’t been present in the past, it may be a sign that there’s a problem. Applying some lubricant to them can sometimes take care of the problem, but if you do this and there are still noises, it might be indicative of a more significant issue.