If you’re like most homeowners, you probably give little thought to your garage door — until it breaks. Suddenly, you’re forced to make all kinds of decisions about materials, installers and even the types of springs required to safely raise and lower your garage door.
Your garage door springs are more important than you probably realize. Property damage, personal injury and even death are just a handful of the dire consequences awaiting homeowners who gloss over garage door spring selection and safe installation. Yes, actual deaths have been a result of poorly installed springs, which is one of many reasons replacing a broken garage door spring should not be a DIY project. Always contact your local garage door experts when you are dealing with a broken garage door spring.
This article covers the most common spring types:
Different Types of Garage Door Springs
Although there is a broad range of different spring types (and sub-types), the two most popular categories are extension and torsion springs.
1. Extension Springs
Usually located above the upper horizontal tracks on both sides of the door, extension springs are the most common residential garage door spring type. In order to open the door, these springs extend — providing counterbalancing force to support the door. The more force that is applied (via hand or motor), the more the extension spring expands. All extension springs should be paired with safety cables. Safety cables prevent the extension spring from becoming a projectile in the event of a spring, cable or bottom bracket failure. These events can occur at any time while the door is open, closed or in motion. Safety cables should be installed on all extension spring doors.
2. Torsion Springs
Whereas extension springs “extend” or “stretch,” torsion springs use torque to raise garage doors. Attached above the garage opening, torsion springs slowly twist and coil on the shaft whenever force is applied (via hand or motor).
Torsion springs come in a wider variety of options, including various wire sizes and lengths. These variations are calculated specifically dependent upon your garage door weight, height, track radius and more.
Which Garage Door Springs Are Best?
Because extension springs are usually much cheaper, they are often the garage door spring solution in most residential construction projects. It is important to note, however, with more exposed parts, they’re also more dangerous.
By contrast, torsion springs are able to support more weight and last twice longer. They offer greater overall balance, making it easier to open and close your garage door. And with fewer exposed parts, they’re also safer to use. As a result, torsion springs tend to be more expensive.
If you’re in the market for new garage door springs, be sure to factor in the added benefits of a torsion spring system. When it comes to home improvement projects, garage door replacements provide some of the highest returns. You can further boost the ROI of your investment by choosing longer-lasting torsion springs over extensions springs.
Remember that whether through stretching or torque, both types of springs operate using extreme tension. To limit exposure to damage or injury, it is strongly recommended that you consult with a professional garage door installer before attempting any repairs on your own. To find reputable consultants in your area, use the free search tool located in the footer below.
Cost vs. Value
When replacing a garage door, most homeowners are cost-conscious (i.e. they’re worried about the upfront cost of materials and labor).
This focus on price is understandable. After all, garage door replacements are usually an unexpected expense. One day the door is working fine, and the next day, it isn’t.
However, as with most home improvement projects, you should be value-conscious.
Be prepared to pay a little extra for quality and experience. The higher price is well worth the added expense, since a properly installed garage door essentially pays for itself.
According to Remodeling Magazine, the average return-on-investment (ROI) of an upgraded garage door is a whopping 83.7 percent, ranking it among the top four home improvement projects of 2014. But the true returns don’t stop there:
- Given their size and exposure to the elements, garages often result in excessive heating charges in the winter and exorbitant cooling expenses in the summertime. By installing an insulated door, you can dramatically cut down on your monthly utility bill, helping to speed up the payback period of your investment.
- Garages also represent a major security risk. A well-fortified garage door can reduce the likelihood of theft.
You can further boost these gains with regular maintenance — especially during the winter months when garage doors undergo the most wear and tear. For some simple guidelines, click here.
How Much Should You Budget for Garage Door Repair?
So value (and not price) should be your primary focus. Fair enough. But how much should you actually budget when replacing a standard residential garage door?
Costs vary considerably. The exact price depends on any number of factors, including:
- Materials. Garage doors come in all shapes and sizes, using a wide range of different materials. A basic, un-insulated steel door costs less than a higher-end, custom wood door.
- Workmanship. It’s possible to replace a garage door on your own (as a weekend project). However, DIY garage door replacements often end up costing more in the long run (check out these articles here and here to learn why). You’re almost always better off hiring a professional to complete the job. Ask about what warranties are available.
- Location. Prices also vary by region. This makes a lot of sense given the major differences in architectural styles and climate that exist throughout the country. A typical stone home in Vermont has very different requirements than a stucco home in Arizona. To get a better idea of pricing ranges, type your ZIP code into this free search tool in the footer below.
Value is more important than cost. But if you’re still worried about budget, the best tip of all is to keep your garage door in optimal condition for as long as possible. In addition to the winter maintenance tips mentioned above, you can also conduct an annual DIY checklist. At the first sign of trouble, you may be able to make minor fixes on your own before the problem requires professional intervention.
Garage door materials largely come down to personal preference, although there are some practical considerations. You must look at such factors as maintenance, long-term costs and flexibility. Below is a comparison of three of the most common garage door materials.
- Look. Steel garage doors are a modern, sleek-looking option, and they are comparatively easy to keep clean and looking nice.
- Options. You have countless options for a steel garage door, including appearance, size and so on.
- Low maintenance. Steel garage doors are easy to maintain. They aren’t damaged by hot or cold temperatures, and they won’t split, splinter or peel with time.
- Dents. They don’t require a lot of maintenance, but steel doors can be dinged up fairly easily.
- Insulation. While steel itself is not the best insulator, steel garage doors are easily fitted to have insulation features.
- Attractiveness. One of the primary reasons to go with a wooden garage door is aesthetics. The grain of a wooden garage door is a classy touch for some homes, and wood often matches the style of older homes looking to recreate a retro feel.
- Flexibility. Wood is very customizable. It can be made into virtually any garage shape or size.
- Toughness. Unlike steel doors, wood can take a hit or two without much damage. It won’t dent like steel.
- Damage. While it won’t dent like steel, wood will split and crack if not properly maintained.
- Maintenance. Wooden garage doors require fairly frequent repainting, and bolts must be tightened often. In a humid or rainy environment, or one where water might pool at the base of the door, swelling can be a major issue.
- Insulation. Wood is not an excellent insulator by any means, and unlike a steel door, it’s not so simple to modify a wooden door for insulation.
- Cost. Wooden garage doors tend to cost more. Additionally, they may require a stronger opener.
- Cost. Vinyl is one of the most long-term affordable materials for a garage door.
- Maintenance. They require less frequent paint touch-ups because the entire door is a composite made of one color material. Similarly, vinyl resists rust.
- Durability. This material is generally strong and can resist dents. And unlike wood, it won’t split. From a weather standpoint, vinyl doors are highly resistant to humidity-related warping or swelling, and coatings can make them resistant to color fading that comes from sun exposure.
- Insulation. Like steel doors, vinyl doors can be purchased with built-in insulation. However, a vinyl garage door on its own will do little to insulate your garage.
- Color permanence. A drawback of a vinyl garage door is the inability to change the color once everything is in place. Rather than attempt a shoddy paint job, many homeowners are forced to change out the door entirely if they want a new look.
Changes that you make in your garage can save energy and improve your home’s environmental profile. Attached garages serve as conduits for heating and cooling losses in the home, and fumes can leak from the garage into living areas. Hazardous materials often collect in garages where they get spilled or forgotten, and can harm pets or pose health threats. Many household pests make homes in cluttered garages, and the best way of preventing infestations on your property is to control garage areas with preventive measures, regular cleaning and environmentally safe pest-control products.
Resist turning your garage into a storage facility, because most people accumulate junk that they will never use. Garages become physical hazards to health, and finding useful items becomes nearly impossible when things aren’t labeled and stored properly. Making your garage green is one of the easiest ways to lower energy and utility usage, reduce your carbon footprint and ensure safety in the home. Here are six tips for greener garages:
1. Change Light Bulbs or Fixtures
Incandescent lights consume more energy than most people think, but you can replace traditional bulbs with energy-efficient LED lighting or CFLs. If you use your garage as a workshop, consider installing task lighting to reduce energy costs while providing enough light to work safely.
2. Green the Doors in Your Garage
Most garage doors are relatively flimsy, so garage-door insulation becomes important for conserving energy and preventing outdoor air from leaking into garages and attached homes. Energy Star recommends using well-insulated garage doors with R-values between 13 and 17.5 percent. These types of doors come with built-in insulation while most garage doors use polystyrene materials that only have R-values in the 5 to 7 range. Other energy-saving ideas for your garage doors include the following green practices:
– Seal cracks and install weather-stripping to prevent hot and cool air from getting in or out of your garage.
– Choose doors made from recycled content to promote the responsible use of resources.
– Keep automatic garage doors in good working order to reduce the time that doors remain open, which prevents heat or cool air from escaping.
– Caulk around any doors from the garage to your home or yard, and check for leaks in windows and doors.
3. Install a Ventilation Fan
An exhaust or ventilation fan prevents stale garage interiors, circulates air more efficiently and helps to disperse dangerous fumes in garages caused by petroleum products, cleaners and chemicals.
4. Handle Hazardous Materials Safely
Many people store hazardous materials in their garages that they never use, which pose a risk of spills, off-gassing, and poisoning pets and children. Paints, chemical solvents and petroleum-based products are among the top hazards to healthy living, according to the DIY Network. Pesticides, auto fluids, paints and other chemicals can leak, pose fire hazards, generate toxic fumes, and cause burns and respiratory problems. Eco-friendly chemical storage practices in the garage include the following habits:
– Road salt and ice-melting compounds can cause pets to develop diarrhea and vomiting, so keep these products secure.
– Antifreeze smells sweet, and as little as one tablespoon can kill a cat, so wipe spills immediately.
– Consider transferring chemicals to a shed set aside for that purpose.
– Keep your garage clean and uncluttered by recycling materials, organizing tools and work areas, and making sure that chemicals don’t filter into the ground or air.
5. Building, Decorating and Insulating Materials
Use energy-efficient building materials for garage structures, doors and windows. Learn how to insulate your garage in an eco-friendly way:
– Insulate pipes, water heaters and ductwork to make garages weather-tight.
– Caulk between floors and garage walls.
– Insulate garage walls and ceilings with the right R-value insulation.
– Replace older windows with Energy Star-certified versions.
– Consider installing solar panels to make your garage self-heating.
– Use eco-friendly paint to avoid the volatile organic compounds found in regular paint.
– Hose down garage floors regularly to remove road salt, slip hazards, stains and auto fluids.
– Monitor garage walls and foundations for cracks, moisture, mold and discoloration.
6. Conserve Water for Washing Vehicles
You can collect rainwater from your garage roof to wash vehicles, clean the garage and even water your lawn. Simply channel water from the roof into a rain barrel, and use the water for any number of purposes around the house, such as washing pets and cleaning sidewalks and patios.
You can reduce energy usage, increase comfort, protect your family and prevent environmental damage by making your garage greener. Most people don’t think about the garage when looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, but garages provide many opportunities for practicing green habits.
Spring is finally here, and with it comes the desire to get things clean. Over the winter your garage has taken a beating. The Christmas lights may be piled up in the corner, while leaves and salt have cluttered up the floor. Now that the temperatures are warming, it’s time to start thinking about garage maintenance. Here are the steps to take to get your garage in great shape again and ready for summer cookouts and family fun.
Tackle the Clutter
The garage is a place where things tend to accumulate and stay, unused, for years. On a warm morning, remove everything from the garage. Analyze each item and determine if it has been used in the last three years. If not, toss it or slate it for a garage sale in the future. Keep in mind that toxic items, like old paint or batteries, must be disposed of safely.
Clean the Floor
Proper garage maintenance means you’ll spend some time on your floor, which is likely pretty grimy after winter. While you have the garage empty, sweep and wash the floor. The winter brought in a lot of gunk, and this is the time to get it out.
Check the Door
Before you start reloading the garage, give the door and the opening system a visual inspection. Look for any obvious signs of wear and tear, such as worn springs or rails. Open the garage a couple of times and watch the system work to ensure it is functioning as it should be.
Test the safety features by placing something on the floor, out of the line of the photo eye sensor, to ensure that the door reverses when blocked. Then, place something in the way of the photo eye sensor to ensure that the door will not engage.
Spring cleaning is an excellent time to lubricate the moving parts on the door. Apply a spray lubricant to tracks, rollers and hinges to keep it functioning well. This garage maintenance step should be performed a couple of times per year.
Reload the Garage
When you put your things back in the garage, do it in zones. Put similar items together in logical places. The broom, for example, should be by the kitchen door. Invest in peg boards, shelving and cabinets to keep tools organized. Any items in boxes or tubs that cannot be seen should have labels.
If over the course of your spring cleaning you notice that your garage door needs help, GarageDoorRepair.com is ready to be at your service. Contact us today to find a qualified garage door repair professional in your area who can provide the service you need.
A garage door is a deceptively simple-looking mechanism. A door opening and closing on a series of rollers or arms does not look very threatening. Pushing a button to move a garage door doesn’t take much effort, so it doesn’t seem like it could be very dangerous — this is not true. A garage door is relatively easy to move because there are springs balancing the weight of the door. If you have ever seen a garage door with broken springs, you know just how heavy they are and how great a potential for injury there is.
For the purpose of safety, you should never attempt to repair a broken garage door unless you have experience with them. The springs are the source of danger on the garage door, because they hold an enormous amount of potential energy that can cause serious injury or death if not released properly. Professional service providers use special tools and techniques to safely release the tension in the springs so that repairs can be made.
While you should not attempt to make major repairs such as replacing panels, springs or rollers to a garage door, every homeowner should conduct regular basic maintenance and inspections to spot problems before they become serious. The following maintenance tasks are well within the reach of the average homeowner, and should be performed regularly.
A noisy garage door is an unnecessary annoyance. Do not make the mistake of attempting to lubricate your garage door with WD-40. It may be very slippery, but WD-40 was not designed to be a long-term lubricant. Use a lithium or silicone spray to lubricate metal parts such as chains, rollers and hinges.
- Track cleansing
The track may not require lubrication; in fact, improper use of lubricants can actually attract dust and interfere with the operation of your garage door. While it may not need lubrication, it does require regular cleaning. Dirt and debris can build up on the track and lead to premature failure of your rollers, springs or bearings. A damp cloth will take care of most of the cleaning needs here. For sticky residue, use a solvent metal cleaner. If you live in a cold climate, snow and ice in the track may also be a concern.
- Replacing Weather Seals
The weather seals are the soft rubber or plastic material on the bottom and sides of your garage door. When your garage door comes all the way down, this flexible barrier is pressed against the floor of your garage, and against the doorjambs on either side to keep water and air out. When they become worn, they can no longer do their jobs properly. Depending on your climate, your weather seals may last five to 10 years. On the bottom of the door, there is often a track that the weather seal will slide into. Cut off a short piece of your weather seal before you go to your local distributor to make sure you get a piece that will fit on your door.
- Realigning Garage Door Sensors
Your garage door opener depends on sensors to detect when the door is all the way up or down, as well as when there is an obstruction that may keep the garage door from closing. If the sensors get out of alignment, your garage door may not function properly or the safety features may be disabled. The obstruction sensors are typically located at the bottom of the door, on either side. The sensors can easily be bumped by people, bicycles or garden tools. It should not take more than a gentle push to realign them. There are usually indicator lights on one or both of the sensors. Try interrupting the beam with your hand to see how the sensors react. Adjust the sensors using your hands until they have a direct line of sight. If your sensors are in alignment, and they are still not working properly, check to make sure they are clean. Something like a spider web may be just enough to block the sensor.
- Resetting Garage Door Opener
If your handheld garage door remote is no longer working to open and close your garage, your garage opener may need to be reset. Always try changing batteries first, but if that does not work, you might try resetting it. The reset procedure varies from one garage door opener to another, but it quite often involves unplugging your garage door, plugging it back in and attempting to use the control again. Consult your manufacturer’s instructions to find the proper procedure for your door.
If you have questions about any of these procedures, or think that your garage door may have become damaged, contact a trained professional immediately. Do not take chances with your home and your safety. Whether you need maintenance, repairs or a replacement door, professionals have the skills and equipment to do the job right.