The “spring break” no one wants to visit—The garage door system...

Spring break is supposed to be a fun term, but it’s not when it involves your garage door. If you’ve heard a loud, gunshot-like noise that came from the garage door, there might be a problem.

Once you can breathe again, you take a minute to look around. You still can’t identify the source, though. Then, you go out to use the garage door and suddenly it’s no longer working properly. Worse yet, it’s making a strange noise.

Hesitantly, you look up to see lifting spring is snapped completely in two!

Broken garage door springs

How did this even happen? Were there warning signs you should have seen? Take a few minutes to read this blog, where we’ll help you learn all about the biggest causes and just how you get here when everything seems fine.

The spring system is priority #1

Before we get into the details, let’s talk a little about the spring system and what it does. Residential garage doors typically fall into one of two types of systems:


Torsion springs are the tubular-shaped springs that are placed over the door in a steel tube. These are also attached to the wall, allowing the door weight to be transferred to the wall so that the door is easy to lift and operate.

In some cases, plates may need to be installed elsewhere if there is not sufficient headroom over the garage door.

This can be done by putting the plate at the end of the horizontal tracks, known as a double horizontal track system or a low headroom system.


Extension springs are placed on both sides of the door, over the tracks that run horizontally.

These springs work by extending the coils to help lower or lift the door and balance the weight. These coils are heavy and dangerous, which is why they should always be installed with safety cables.

If the spring breaks, the safety cable is designed to keep the spring close and avoid damage to things like vehicles or other items in the garage.

As briefly mentioned, the spring is also the counterweight for the door. For example, if you have a 9x7 garage door that has a row of windows, it will have a “deadweight” of around 135 pounds. You can’t possibly lift that!

As such, counterbalance is provided by the spring system so that anyone can easily lift the door with one hand. Ideally, the door will be balanced between 8 and 10 pounds, and no more, even if you have an electric garage door opener.

The opener is only supposed to replace your manual effort, after all, even if it can supposedly lift up to 200 pounds or more.

Keep in mind, too, that if your door can lift such a weight with the power of the electric opener, it can also push down with the same amount of force and be dangerous or even deadly. Always make sure you’re clear of the path before closing the garage door.

So why does the lifting spring break sometimes?

Several things can cause these springs to break. Here’s what usually happens:

1. Wear is the word...

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a torsion spring or an extension spring—it is expected to last 5-7 years at most.

One of the most common choices today is the 10,000-cycle spring system. "Cycle” refers to a single opening and closing of the garage door.

If you open and close the door 2-4 times each day, that’s about 1,500 cycles each year.

Those who use their garage doors more than five times a day should consider investing in 20,000-25,000 cycle systems, which are available from limited manufacturers.

2. Defects in manufacturing

Defects happen all the time. They're not super common, but they aren’t unheard of. With extension springs, it’s usually the ring at the spring’s end that snaps. Torsion springs are usually subject to issues like low-quality galvanizing that results in rust and corrosion.

3. Improper calibration of springs

Sometimes, the wrong spring system is installed, or it isn’t installed properly. The door may still function, but the system as a whole endures a lot more stress. Springs need to be calibrated within 5% accuracy for optimal operation, which means a spring designed for 100 pounds isn’t going to be used with a 150-pound door.

4. Environmental factors

Most garages aren’t heated or insulated, which makes them damp, cold, and prime for issues.

Even in garages that have some insulation or heating, springs typically sit near the exterior walls and stay damp and cold most of the time. Even though most springs are galvanized to 30 or 40%, rust can still attack and cause damage or excess wear. The metal can even become dry and break at extreme temperatures below -130F (-250C).

5. Homeowner neglect

All garage doors, openers, and spring systems require some type of maintenance and upkeep.

You should include lubrication of metal parts that contact each other, twice per year. This can be done in the spring when temperatures get above freezing at night and once in the late fall when temperatures go below 320F (00C).

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 there someone who can take care of this for me?

You don’t have to worry about the time or potential safety risk involved in doing it yourself. Thanks to Garaga, you can enjoy peace of mind with the “ Garage Door Tune-up ” maintenance program. It’s like a preventive plan to keep your door and springs in great shape.

Garage door specialist installing a spring

Those springs keep getting older by the minute...

Contact us! Toronto: 416-239-7777 Guelph: 519-829-3777

Our experts understand garage doors and garage door openers better than the competition and will provide the best advice and assistance that you need to choose your new garage door or opener system. If you prefer, request your quotation by email.

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Our Residential Garage Door Gallery is also filled with ideas and inspiration for you.

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