The major garage safety issue, and the most dangerous component of the overhead door is the garage door spring – (or springs depending on the design), which supports the entire weight of the door panels (sometimes over 400 pounds) and helps you to lift / lower the entire door assembly.
The overhead garage door is usually the largest mechanical thing around your house.
I have personally installed 3 overhead garage doors with 2 different types of garage door springs and you do have to trust me on the following – garage door springs are under enormous pressure and you can get seriously injured or even killed when performing such work. If you decide to take your chances – it is imperative that you follow instructions to the last detail!
Even if you have a friend or a professional installing garage door springs for you, read the manual and check everything after installer finishes the job.
The garage overhead doors have no safety brakes (at least I haven’t heard about one), that would prevent it from falling down when the supporting spring fails. I’ve found some US patents for such devices, but apparently none of them was ever implemented into an actual garage door.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, garage overhead door related accidents account for thousands of injuries every year (average of 30000 per year). For example, these injuries are; fractures, crushings and amputations. It is believed that not all injuries are reported in the United States. (www.cpsc.gov)
There are basically two types of the garage door spring systems utilizing tracks / side rails (at least these are the most common types in Illinois and probably the rest of US):
1. Torsion type garage door spring(s)
Torsion garage door springs are wound-up on a rod above the garage door opening top section (door header)
2. Extension type garage door springs
Extension garage door springs are attached on either side of the door and stretch along the horizontal part of the track when the door is closed
You might also have an old, one piece door that swings outward as it goes up and overhead. This particular design will have garage door springs mounted on the sides of the door opening – at about your waist height, secured to a lever bracket system that extends the springs toward the ceiling at the door closing.
It is an old and extremely dangerous system, not manufactured anymore. If you have a such system in the garage, I’d highly recommend replacement.
* Torsion type garage door springs come in either single or double spring designs. The spring will usually break while under the maximum stress which is when the overhead garage door closes / travels down, or it is already completely closed (USUALLY). If you’re closing it manually and it happens during this operation, don’t try to prevent it from crushing down, let it go and step / jump back as quickly as you can / make sure your foot is not where the door will slam!
When one of the two garage door springs breaks you need to have them both replaced at the same time! It will cost some extra money, but having an old and new spring installed will:
– put much more stress on the new one
– the garage overhead door will loose proper balance
– the remaining garage door old spring will most likely break soon
Torsion type garage door springs for residential overhead garage doors have anywhere between 5000 – 30000 cycles life span. Those digits represent an average total number o times you should be able to open and close your door before anticipating garage door spring replacement.
A critical issue with extension type garage door springs is to have a safety cable installed inside of each single spring and secured properly, so when the door opens and closes, the spring can freely slide on this cable!
When the garage door spring snaps without the cable inside, broken ends might severely injure anyone standing within their range. The cables should be always included with the overhead garage doors hardware (assuming that they came equipped with extension springs), but A LOT OF PEOPLE either forget to install them, or don’t read instructions and maybe assume that they are not required.
Replacement of torsion type garage door springs – Manual