Modern garage doors are designed to open as easily and smoothly as possible, even when used without automatic door openers. To make heavy doors easy to lift or slide, most garage doors are fitted with torsion springs—these springs store energy when the door is closed and release it when opening, making lifting or sliding your door much easier.
However, while torsion springs are robustly built, they are not invulnerable, and they can become damaged or snap entirely with age or improper use. Broken torsion springs can be replaced reasonably quickly, but the process is more complicated and dangerous than you might think. Here are some very important dos and don'ts for you to keep in mind.
DO make sure your garage door uses torsion springs
Torsion springs are the most popular spring configuration found on residential garage doors, but they are not universal, and different types of springs can be used.
If your garage door is fitted with one or more horizontal springs positioned over the top of your door, they are probably torsion springs; if, however, the springs are positioned on either side of the door, or are fitted with visible cables attached to pulleys, they are probably extension springs, which require different replacement procedures. If you are at all unsure what types of springs your door uses, call in a professional garage door service to inspect the damaged spring(s) before replacement work begins.
DON'T try to replace damaged torsion springs yourself
Torsion springs do not store energy through compression, like ordinary springs. Instead, they are twisted laterally when the door closes, and they release the torsional stored energy to make door opening easier. This allows torsion springs to store immense amounts of energy, but it also makes them extremely dangerous, especially when damaged.
Even torsion springs that have completely snapped in two can still hold a lot of potential energy, and if this energy is released at the wrong time, the force of a torsion spring uncoiling can punch a huge hole in your walls, your ceiling, or worst of all, yourself.
As such, you should steer well clear of any torsion spring you suspect to be damaged, and under no circumstances attempt to remove it yourself. Call in professional garage door repairmen to take the risk for you, as they have the right tools and experience to avoid damage and accidents caused by rapidly uncoiling springs.
DO have all of your torsion springs replaced at the same time
If your garage door uses multiple torsion springs but only one of them has failed, it may be tempting to save money by only replacing the broken spring. However, torsion springs are built to extremely strict standards, with very little deviation in strength and longevity. Consequently, if one torsion spring has failed due to age or metal fatigue, the others will follow sooner or later. Having all of your springs replaced at the same time is the cheaper option in the long run and will keep you safe from any more unexpected spring failures.