What To Do If Your Garage Door Spring Breaks

JD Griffiths Garage with Broken Garage Door Spring

When an incredible energy-bound heavy steel spring reaches its limits, it can break and fail with a loud cracking sound and ultimately lose its ability to function. Should this happen to you, there’s really only one option to take – replace the broken spring. What could have caused this? Were there warning signs you might have missed? If you’ve been left wondering how your garage spring broke and how the problem could have been prevented, keep reading as we help you fill in the details.

Garage Doors and Their Spring Systems

To understand how a garage works, we need to dive into what spring systems do. On most residential garage doors, there are two different systems:

  1. Torsion Springs
    Above the garage door’s head in a steel tube attached to the wall, you’ll find the torsion springs. The purpose of a torsion spring is to transfer weight away from the door and into the anchor plate. This plate is either attached to the center of the door or at the back of the horizontal tracks if there isn’t much headroom above the door.
  2. Extension Springs
    Above the horizontal tracks on both sides of the door, you’ll find the extension springs. The purpose of the extension spring is to help lift and lower the door by extending the spring, hence the name “extension spring.” When installed properly by a garage door professional, safety cables are included to prevent the springs from whipping around or breaking off into your garage. Without the safety cable, it would be really expensive to repair and could be dangerous to your family.

Extension springs also help counterbalance the door’s total weight. With properly balanced springs, the door’s total weight shouldn’t feel heavier than ten pounds, even with an electric garage door opener.

What Happens When Your Garage Door Spring Breaks?

Damaged springs often go unnoticed until the garage door stops working. Below are some tell-tale signs that your garage door is broken and what exactly happens in that break.

Signs of a Broken Garage Door Spring

  1. You hear a sudden loud noise from the garage.
    If you hear a loud noise coming from your garage but don’t see anything wrong upon inspection, take a closer look at your garage spring. This sound was most likely made by a sudden unwinding spring; when they break, it can create a loud crashing sound even if nothing fell.
  2. There’s a gap in the spring.
    The easiest way to identify a broken spring is if you see a gap. A working spring should be tightly wound and connected at each end.
  3. There’s a bend at the top of your garage door.
    If the top panel bends when you try to open the garage door, that’s another sign your garage door is likely broken. Without a functional spring, the door opener won’t have enough power to lift the weight of the door panels.
  4. The garage door falls fast.
    A properly working garage door should lift and lower the weight of the garage door smoothly. When a spring breaks, the door can crash down due to the lack of counterweight against gravity working to pull on the door panels.
  5. The garage door is crooked.
    You may notice your door has become crooked as it moves up and down the track; this happens because the weight is no longer equally distributed. While the door may still open, if possible, it’s best to leave the door down as is until it is repaired by a professional.
  6. You see loose cables.
    When a spring breaks, cables and pulleys can loosen so you may see slacked cables hanging from the ceiling.

Why Do Lift Springs Break and How to Increase Their Lifespan

Whether a garage door spring breaks by accident or because of neglect, the main causes of a spring break are:

  1. Rust
    Because springs are made of metal, they are susceptible to rust. Rust can cause the spring to weaken and increase friction, shortening its lifespan. To prevent rust build-up, be sure to occasionally spray the spring with a lubricant like WD-40.
  2. Poor Maintenance
    There isn’t much maintenance when it comes to ensuring your garage door works. But to make sure your garage is working in tip-top shape, visually inspect your garage door system for obstructions every few months to spot problems before they occur.
  3. Wear and Tear
    Garage doors are used pretty frequently day-to-day. With regular use comes normal wear and tear that causes the garage door spring to break down. The more the spring is used, the sooner the spring will give out. Be sure to replace the spring if they are rusted, warped, or broken.
  4. Wrong Parts
    When replacing garage door parts, it’s important the correct ones are installed – especially with garage springs. Springs are one of the most important components of a garage system because they do the heavy lifting. If you install the wrong spring, the spring can wear out faster, which could lead to damage to other parts of your garage system.

How To Open a Garage Door with A Broken Spring Extension

Should your garage spring break, it’s best to leave your garage door closed. However, if you must get into your garage, be sure to open it manually and:

  • Get help.
    Garage doors are extremely heavy. Getting help from another person can help you open it faster and prevent unnecessary injuries.
  • Disengage the door from the garage door opener.
    Find a handle on a rope connected to the opener and pull on it to disengage the mechanism.
  • Be extremely careful opening the door.
    Just like you would lift any other heavy object, don’t lift with your back, watch your fingers, and don’t drop the garage door on your feet.

What To Do If Your Garage Door Spring Breaks

If your garage door spring breaks or if your springs are noticeably worn, contact a garage door professional to make sure the job is done right. While garage door problems are never convenient, J.D. Griffiths is happy to help you out. We offer emergency repair services and frequently offer same-day service. Contact us today to schedule your free estimate.