The springs are one of the most important parts of any garage door system. They work to allow garage doors to open and close safely. There are two main types of garage door springs, extension springs and torsion springs, and each of them has several different subtypes. Here is an overview of garage door springs and what they do.

What Function Do Garage Door Springs Serve?

While the garage door opener or motor is the component of the system that opens the door, this is only part of the opening mechanism. The opener does start the door and controls the movement of the door so that it opens smoothly and not too quickly or too slowly. However, the springs are what actually does the heavy lifting of opening the door and ensuring it stays open.

If the springs start to wear out, the motor will struggle to move the door. If the springs fail or break, the motor typically won’t have enough power to lift the weight of the door so the door likely won’t move unless you lift it by hand. A garage door can also sometimes come crashing down if the springs break while it was open.

Extension Springs

Extension springs aren’t a common option for modern openers, but you may have them on older garage doors. They are less expensive compared to torsion springs. Extension springs are also commonly used in garages with lower ceilings where there isn’t enough overhead room above the door to use torsion springs.

Extension springs run horizontally just above the garage door tracks. If your garage door has extension springs, there will be one spring on each side of the door that runs parallel to each track. Extension springs work by expanding and contracting. When the door is closed, the spring is fully extended and under a huge amount of tension. When the opener motor activates, the spring begins to contract and the door starts to lift as the tension on the spring is released.

The biggest issue with extension springs is that they can cause harm if the spring breaks when it’s fully extended. This could potentially cause the spring to go flying and smash into the door or seriously injure or even kill anyone nearby. For this reason, all extension springs must have a safety cable. If the spring does ever fail or break, the safety cable will hold it in place and prevent it from shooting off.

Extension springs fall into three different categories based on the type of end or connection they have. The three types are open-looped end, double-loop end and clipped end.

Open-Looped End Extension Springs

Open-looped end springs are the most basic and least expensive type of extension springs and also the easiest to replace. They are also the weakest and more likely to break or come loose. This type of spring has an open loop on each end that slides directly over the pulley on one side and hooks onto an eyebolt connected to the wall above the door. This allows the spring to easily be replaced without opening the eyebolt or disconnecting the pulley.

Double-Looped End Extension Springs

Double-looped end springs have two metal coils at each end that are used to connect to the pulley and the eyebolt. This makes them stronger and more durable since there is more metal supporting the connection. This means the connections are less likely to break due to tension. This type of spring is more difficult to install or replace as the eyebolt first has to be opened and the pulley has to be disassembled to connect each end.

Clipped-End Extension Springs

Clipped-end springs have special clips that connect to the pulley and eyebolt. This is by far the strongest type of extension spring and is usually used if the door weighs more than 200 pounds. Clipped-end springs will typically last far longer than the other types of extension springs, but they are also more difficult and time-consuming to replace.

Torsion Springs

Torsion springs are the most common type of garage door spring. They are installed horizontally on a metal shaft just above the garage door that runs parallel to the door itself. While extension springs produce tension by expanding, torsion springs use torque or rotational force. Torsion springs are coiled tightly on the shaft and are always under an extreme amount of tension. As the door opens, the spring twists on the shaft and the tension on the spring lifts the door. When the door closes, the spring twists in the opposite direction on the shaft to increase the tension. On each side of the spring is an aluminum drum, and there are cables that connect the drums to the shaft. The cables work to spin the shaft so that the tension increases or is released to close and open the door.

Most residential garage doors will have one or two torsion springs, but heavier doors can sometimes have three or four springs. The most common type of torsion spring is a standard torsion spring, but there are also more advanced springs that are safer, stronger or easier to install.

Early Set Torsion Springs

Early set torsion springs are similar to standard torsion springs. The difference is that the shaft runs through the middle of a standard torsion spring, whereas early set torsion springs are in the middle of the shaft instead of on the outside of it.

Steel Rolling Door Torsion Springs

Steel rolling door torsion springs are extremely strong and designed to support much more weight. These are mostly only used in commercial applications. This type of spring has a rod that runs through the middle of it just like a standard torsion spring, and the spring and shaft and encased in a torsion barrel for added safety and to help support the additional weight.

Torque Master Torsion Springs

Torque master torsion springs are by far the safest type of spring for residential garage doors. The spring is encased within the torsion shaft, and there are winding cones at each end that are used to adjust the spring to the right tension more safely and easily. Other torsion springs have to be wound, unwound and adjusted by hand using a winding bar, whereas this type can be adjusted using a drill.

Torsion vs. Extension Springs: Which One Is Better?

Unless there isn’t enough overhead room for a torsion spring or you’re on a much tighter budget, torsion springs are almost always the better option. One reason is that torsion springs are stronger and provide more force so they will put less strain on the garage door opener compared to using extension springs.

Torsion springs will usually last quite a bit longer. Extension springs will typically last for around 10,000 opening and closing cycles, whereas torsion springs often last for 15,000 to 20,000 cycles. The size and length of the spring of the torsion spring will determine how many cycles it lasts.

At Absolute Services, the torsion springs we use are some of the very best available and are rated to last for 80,000 cycles. If you’re dealing with a broken spring or need any other garage door service in the Elizabethtown, Louisville or Lexington areas, give our expert team a call today. We also have heating, cooling, electrical and plumbing services.

Caleb Shepherd