Written By: S.pace
Let’s talk about garage door springs… There are 6 different ways (give or take) to balance the weight of a garage door so that the opener or the person opening the door does not have to deadlift the full weight of the door. Today though let’s talk about the 2 most popular in Arizona, Torsion Systems and Torque Masters.
Torque Masters are a trademark and specially manufactured product created, produced, and installed by Wayne Dalton (recently purchased and renamed Nation Serv). The idea behind this invention is simple, it cleans up the look of the install by hiding the springs, that do the lifting, in a galvanized 1” tube above the door. There are a couple advantages to this, the first being that it obviously looks much cleaner than traditional spring methods. They also allow all of you out there with carport conversions or contractors who built your garage ceiling waayyy too low, to have a standard door system as there aren’t large drums on the end. The other benefit is that because the Torque Master is all one piece the install is faster. That, however, is where the good points of this system end. Torque Tubes can only be purchased through Wayne Dalton which means that because it’s their trademark they can sell it for any price they choose. Additionally, if you can obtain a Torque Tube or if you have an existing Tube it can only be adjusted by a, you guessed it, custom trademark tool. Another downside to this system is that because the install looks so clean, you can’t see the springs, so if one breaks you may not know for a few months and in that time, it’s very common to burn up the motor or strip the gears in the motor from the stress of it lifting a lot more weight than it was ever made to (yes even your motor person out there who bought the 1hp or the 1-1/4hp). Let us have a moment to also ponder the fact that with this system, the springs lifting your 150lb + door fit in a 1” space (pssst that less than the diameter of your average slinky)…These Torque Tubes are also only able to be used on Wayne Dalton doors as they are custom engineered for their doors. And that ladies and gentleman is why we will ALWAYS recommend changing to a torsion system and will strongly urge you to convert them.
Torsion Spring Systems are more common than any other system, due in part to the extreme versatility. A Torsion Spring System includes: cables, drums, end plates (with bearings), center plate, center bearing, torsion tube (or solid shaft if the door is over 800lbs or using a commercial motor), and the torsion spring(s). Each spring is wound and lifts a different weight depending on the size. I’m going to tell you the most important thing about Torsion Springs and try not to lose you because this is where it gets complicated. Springs are made with different gauges of wire, different internal diameters, and different lengths depending on the application and the hang weight of the garage door. The wire gauge is the thickness of the wire that is coiled. The gauge can be a myriad of different sizes for residential applications, the most common are .192, .207, .218, 234, .243, .250, .262, .273, .283 (the physical wire size increases the closer you get to the number 1). As you might imagine, the thicker the wire, the stronger the spring, the more weight it can lift without fatiguing. Next let’s talk about the internal diameter (measurement inside the coiled spring), standard residential sizes are 1-3/4” and 2” sometimes on heavy wood doors you’ll see a 2-5/8 or a 3-3/4” but these sizes are more common on commercial doors. Then you have the length, this is the length of just the coiled wire it does not include the end pieces (cones), the longer the length the weaker the spring the less the weight lifted. Okay so now you have the basics let’s go a little deeper. In garage door speak when we say 1 cycle we mean your door went either up or down once a full cycle refers to the door going up and down (2 cycles) so when you leave your house in the morning you open your door and when you leave you shut it and then the same in the evening if that’s all you ever use your door you use 4 cycles per day or 1460 cycles per year. Industry standard is 10,000 cycle springs this means that if you use your door twice a day your springs should last about 6 or 7 years. However, we all know that garage doors are the new front door and you probably open and close it 5 or more (10 cycles or more) per day. This added use means that your springs wear out and fatigue much faster. Now you’re thinking, “well crap that means my springs are only going to last 2 years.” However, here is where Torsion springs far out preform the Torque Master. We can increase the wire size and the length of the spring and get more cycle life, all the way past 100,000 cycles. So how does that work? We increase your wire gauge to a thicker wire so the strength of the wire is greater and made to lift more. To get the larger wire to lift the same amount as your original spring we must make it a longer length to decrease the lifting power.
So here’s the down side to Torsion Springs, people forget how dangerous springs are because they are used every day and not given much thought until they break. There are so many horror stories in the garage door industry of people being severely injured trying to fix spring issues but that is a topic for another time. Just please remember that these little slinky look-a-likes lift anywhere from 80 to 1000’s of pounds.
At JDT we prefer the oil tempered Torsion springs (they fatigue less than galvanized springs). We stock 25,000 cycle springs (most companies only install 10k-15k) as our standard because we know how much it sucks and ruins your day to have your car trapped after having your springs changed after just 2 years. JDT also uses 2 torsion springs on 2 car garages because it allows us more flexibility with the life cycles and if one spring breaks you won’t have to deadlift the entire weight of your door. So, if your spring breaks or your door doesn’t sound or move correctly, or if you hear a loud “bang” (springs breaking sound like a gunshot) don’t stress, we have your back and we will; be there to get your car out and get you on your way.
Until next week I’m Space your garage door fairy godmother. Here’s to strong coffee, sweet wine, and the hope that we become new acquaintances in the land of garage doors.
(JDT does not change only 1 spring in a 2-spring system because the springs have the same wear and it is a liability. If your spring breaks make sure the door is in the fully closed position to pull the release cord on your opener so that you don’t accidentally run it with a broken spring as this could destroy the opener.)