If you are installing or replacing your garage door, one decision you will want to consider is whether to use extension springs or torsion springs. The springs in your garage door assist in lowering and raising your door.
Extension springs have been widely used in the past, but torsion springs are growing in popularity. Torsion springs are more sturdy and durable than extension springs. They also last longer, meaning they can endure more lifts and operation cycles of opening and closing an overhead door. However, there are circumstances and situations when using extensions springs are necessary. For instance if there is low headroom in a garage, extension springs may be a better option. There are different types of springs within each category. Extension springs can be sectional garage door or one-piece garage door extension springs.
The extension spring looks like the box spring you see in a mattress. Extension springs are located at the sides of the door and are mounted on the swing arms. They have a hook on each end and when purchased, they will be in their compressed state. Extension springs are fully extended when your garage door is down. When the garage door is raised, the extension springs contract. Because they have no protection factors when stretched, extension springs can be more dangerous than torsion springs. It is also more inexpensive compared to the torsion spring. Its main difference from a torsion spring is that the operation of the extension spring is based on distance; the further it is extended, the more force there is applied on the spring.
In general, extension springs get their name because of their function of stretching, or “extending” when force is applied to them. They are usually installed on the sides of the garage door and attached to the door’s swing arms. The more force that is applied, the farther the spring will extend. Extension springs usually span between 5,000 and 10,000 lifts.
Torsion springs, are a function of “torque.” Therefore, when pressure is applied, the springs twist and coil. Torsion springs are twisting steel which retains the force in the twist of the internal bar. The torsion spring’s force is proportional to the torque in the twist. This is usually an enclosed unit and thus safer than the loose spring. Torsion springs are located at the upper section of the door and are usually mounted on the door header. This kind of spring will be the far stronger of the two and can lift a weight up to 500 lbs. You do pay more for a torsion spring when compared to an extension spring. They do last longer and research shows closer to 15,000 to 20,000 lifts. Most people find that their door’s overall operation is smoother when using torsion springs compared to extension springs. The actual opening and closing process is more controlled, whereas some people experience a jerking motion with the opening and closing process using extension springs.
Putting this into everyday practical terms, if you average about two car trips per day, opening and closing the door a total of 4 times daily when you come and go, then that expected life becomes 2,500 days, or only about 7 years or less for an extension spring. At that rate, the life of the torsion spring would be approximately 13-14 years.
Regardless of which type of spring you invest in, don’t hesitate to ask your garage door professional for additional information. Each situation is unique and the goal is to find garage door parts that best suit your garage door or overhead door.