Usually, the biggest mechanical thing around your house is the garage door – the one you’re driving your car through, sometimes without even opening.
The major, and the most dangerous component of the overhead door is the door spring – (or springs depending on the design), which supports the entire weight of the door panels (sometimes over 400 pounds) and helps you to lift / lower the entire door assembly. I have personally installed 3 overhead garage doors with 2 different types of springs, and you do have to trust me on that – garage door springs are under enormous pressure and you can get seriously injured or even killed when performing such work. If you decide to take your chances – it is imperative that you follow instructions to the last detail! Even if you have a friend or a professional doing it for you, read it and check everything after the installer finishes the job. The doors have no safety brakes (at least I haven’t heard about any), that would prevent it from falling down when the supporting spring fails. I’ve found some US patents for such devices, but apparently, none of them were ever implemented into an actual garage door.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, garage overhead door related accidents account for thousands of injuries every year (average of 30000 per year). For example, some these injuries are: fractures, crushings and amputations.
There are basically two types of garage door spring systems utilizing tracks/side rails:
1. Torsion spring(s) which are wound-up on a rod above the garage door opening top section ( door header)
2. Extension springs that are attached on either side of the door and stretch along the horizontal part of the track when the door is closed
You might also have an old, one-piece door that swings outward as it goes up and overhead. This particular design will have springs mounted on the sides of the door opening – at about your waist height, secured to a lever bracket system that extends the springs toward the ceiling at the door closing. It is an old and extremely dangerous system, not manufactured anymore. If you have such a system in the garage, I’d highly recommend replacing it.
Garage door torsion springs – these are either single or double spring designs. The spring will usually break while under maximum stress which is when the overhead garage door closes / travels down, or it is already completely closed (USUALLY). If you’re closing it manually and it happens during this operation, don’t try to prevent it from crashing down, let it go.
When one of the two garage door springs breaks you need to have them both replaced at the same time! It will cost some extra money, but having an old and new spring installed will:
– put much more stress on the new one
– the door will loose proper balance
– the remaining old garage door spring will most likely break soon