Garage door maintance

This question is vaguely related to cars in as much as if the door wont open, I cant get the car out. I have been told that if you do not occasionally lubricate the torsion spring that lifts the door, it can break. Does a yearly spraying with a light film of oil really prolong the life of this spring?

I doubt spraying oil on the spring will extend its life. Mine seems to break about one per decade.

Caution: do not mess with it yourself, those springs are very strong and can do lots of damage if you loosen the wrong thing. Call some garage door company to come fix it, they are very dangerous.

There are garage door companies in the phone book. Call one.

The springs you mention can be extremely dangerous to fool with unless you know what you’re doing. When the door is closed they’re under a lot of tension, and they stretch a long distance. If a spring pops while you’re trying to work on it, and it does not have a safety cable through it’s coils (required by building codes now), it can severely injure you. And if one spring has popped, the other may be ready to pop too.

I strongly recommend that you do not try working on this yourself. And have them replace BOTH springs. Don’t try to save a few bucks on this.

If the OP is using the correct terminology, and I think he is, he’s talking about a torsion spring not the linear springs you’re referring to. The torsion spring is mounted parallel to and above the door. They are much more dangerous to work on than the linear springs as Craig58 described. So your advice is even more pertinent.

I was actually thinking about “torsion springs” too, the coil type. Either way, don’t mess with them. The last guy who fixed mine had some pretty gruesome stories about people losing limbs (and worse) to these things.

In rereading the post, you’re right. Either way, it’s a dangerous thing to mess with.

For what it’s worth, I have some professional garage door experience.
Yes, oil will help the spring life. Motor oil can be used and a thin trail should be run along the top of the springs. It will work it’s way through the coils on its own.
I have no idea how the springs were installed, but when the springs are wound, and BEFORE the set screws are tightened on the torsion shaft, the springs should be firmly whacked about half a dozen times before tightening those set screws. This loosens the coils up and helps to prevent binding.

Some oil should also be applied inside the door tracks (especially in the curve) and on all of the rollers.

As to either torsion springs or tension springs (latter usually on smaller doors) I would VERY STRONGLY suggest that you do not mess with any of this other than oiling the springs, etc. These springs are very dangerous, especially the torsion type, and can cause serious injury or even a fatality.

If your door appears to be a bit sluggish this could be caused by either the door binding in the track or the springs have lost some of their tension over the years. If the springs need another half-turn on them do NOT do this yourself; call the overhead door people.

First look to see if the balance springs are broken. If yes, call a pro.

Each change of season, temperature and humidity wise, many garage doors need a tweek. I suggest spraying the roller tracks with graphite powder (best) or silicone lubricant (second best) or WD40 (third best) and rolling the door up and down once manually (pull the release rope).

Then lubricate the chain (with oil) or the screw drive (with grease).

If this “almost works” then turn the appropriate adjustment screw for either up-force, or down-force, by a small amount - 1/8 turn or so - and try running the door.

If you have no luck, let your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages…

I know they can be dangerous. I installed them about 12 years ago when new. I almost got whacked by my tools I was using to wind and put tension on them. I dont want to have to do that again. that is why I was wondering if oii will keep them from breaking. Maybe this is just and old wives tale. Fred

Oil will not guarantee that a spring will never break, but it does help. The oil prevents coil bind. Since you did the springs yourself you know that the last couple of turns gets real tough and this tension is prevalent most of the time since the door is usually down.

The tension can sometimes get concentrated in one area of the spring due to rusty or dry steel rather than being spread through the spring length so the oil helps to spread the load out if like to think of it that way. The recommended procedure was a string of oil down the complete length of the spring, but not enough that it will drip off onto cars or the door itself.
Sounds like you’re mechanically inclined since you did this chore without loss of anatomy. :slight_smile:

“…since the door is usually down.”

You obviously don’t live with my kids.

Guess I should have added the disclaimer; “Normally down in most situations.”


Something I should have added. Sight down the springs. They should appear straight with no curves or tweaks in them.
If there are any bends this means the spring coils are too close and binding. This is also where it may wind up breaking later on.

If there are bends, even slight ones, I would suggest carefully putting a winding bar in the spring cap, loosen the set screws, and then use another bar to whack the spring at an angle toward the outer edge of the door. Retighten the screws, oil the spring coils, and note if any irregularities are gone.

I would not be hitting a torsion or other spring with anything metallic as this can make a tool mark or stress riser that could precipitate a fatigue failure or breakage location. I’d use a piece of wood.

A way to attempt to contain a broken extension type spring for a garage door mechanism is to thread a rope through the spring, leaving enough length and tying the ends of the rope to allow for maximum working spring length. I have had these springs break away and dent my car when the broken piece broke free. Usually the spring would not break away; would just break.

Whacking the springs with a winding bar a few times is the proper, recommended procedure.
The OP has a door with torsion springs, not extension springs. The former is generally used on 16 ft. (double garage) and the latter is normally used on the 7/8/9 and in rare cases, 10 foot wide doors.

The torsion springs cannot come off the torsion bar even if they do break.