Everything You Need to Know About Torsion Springs

garage door torsion spring

Torsion springs are powerful, tightly wound metal springs that play an important part in opening and closing your garage door. As the spring twists, it creates tension, which is held as mechanical energy. The dense composition of the metal allows the springs to tighten and release over and over for years without damage.

Here’s what you need to know about how torsion springs work, how long they last, and what to do when they break.

How torsion springs work

Torsion springs are located above your garage door, horizontal to the ground. Your garage door may have one spring or a pair, with one on each side of the center assembly. They may be located in the center or on the left and right edges of the door.

Torsion springs are mounted on a long shaft that runs above the door. At each end of the shaft, cable spools have strong cables that wind when the door raises and unwind when the door lowers.

These cables run down the side of the garage door to the bottom, where they are attached to a bracket. When the garage door is lifted, the torsion springs wind, the shaft turns, the cables wind on the spools, pulling the door up.

Your garage door can weigh up to 300 pounds, and the energy stored in the torsion springs does the heavy lifting to raise and lower the door. When the door goes down, either when you pull it by hand or with an electric motor, the springs are wound tight, along with the attached cables. Tension prevents the door from slamming to the ground.

When the door opens, the springs release that tension and the energy is used to lift the door. Without tension from the torsion springs, opening your garage door would be quite a workout!

How long torsion springs last

As strong as they are, torsion springs do wear out. Winding and unwinding every day takes a toll, and cold weather can affect the life of the springs. In humid climates, rust can weaken the metal.

The quality of springs can also vary. Just like everything else, springs can be manufactured with inferior materials. Eventually, all springs will break.

On average, good quality garage door torsion springs will last 10,000 cycles, which is 7 to14 years if you’re opening and closing two to four times a day, which is pretty normal use.

What to do when a torsion spring breaks

Inspect the parts of your garage door frequently. Broken springs can cause the door to slam down with nothing to slow it down, and you won’t be able to get the door open if your car is in the garage when the spring breaks.

Unless you have a great deal of experience, we strongly recommend you call an expert to replace broken springs. Removing the damaged springs can be extremely dangerous, and even DIY experts warn against it. There will be a lot of energy stored in the coils, enough to be life-threatening if you don’t know what you’re doing. To replace broken springs, you need the proper tools and a comprehensive understanding of how the mechanics work.