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Inspecting garage door springs


Chris Bernhardt
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I've owned two garage doors where the springs broke. There was nothing visible or apparent that would have signaled failure. One of the doors was approx. 15 years old, the other at least 30. I also own a property w/a door spring that we know is >50 years old. Who knows?

I suppose if one got out the magnifying glass, they might have found a flaw, but who looks that close @ garage door springs?

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Had a garage incident recently, and the repair guy said he had more concerns with the bottom bracket where the cable attaches and it is a good idea to check for signs of rust.

Saw no mention but were you talking tension or compression spring.Sure I do not need to mention safety cable.

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I'm talking about extension springs, the kind that run along the door tracks on either side of the door.

What I mean by containment is either a steel cable that runs through the center of the spring, or a (usually) plastic tube that covers the outside of the spring. With either containment method, a broken spring will not fly about and break things. It will be contained.

Older doors usually don't have any contrainment method. The new ones usually have the steel cable.

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I see more of the 'wound' springs than extension springs.

A lesson I learned from Mark Cramer is to check the garage door for balance. If the springs are adjusted correctly, then the door should not fight too hard to move from any position along its track.

I disengage the auto opener, move the door to about its halfway point, and check whether the door fights hard to move up or down. If it does, then the auto opener (or person) is working harder than it needs to.

It's amazing how many people ask, "How did you disconnect it from the auto opener?" so I get to show them that as well.

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Hi,

I thought that's what you meant, but I wanted to be sure. Why recommend replacement of the door for that? Why not just recommend they have a set of safety wires in stalled in the springs?

Good job, Gary. I write unbalanced doors all the time. As for the springs, I only write up the long stretch springs when I see that one or more coils has stretched and the spring no longer closes neatly upon itself. It's pretty easy to tell when the torsion springs over the door have broken. The coil will usually have an easily seen break in a coil or the two halves of the spring will be separated and the door weighs a ton when released.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Has anyone else run into garage door contractors who refuse to install safety cables?

The guy I talked to said he wouldn't do it because there are no published standards for safety cables and he'd be damned if he was going to be responsible for designing a safety component from the ground up.

He said he'd do it if I could provide him with an ASTM standard or stamped drawings from an engineer.

I see his point.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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All of the new extension springs (never just one!) I have seen in the past year or two are the one-piece type that include the containment cable. BTW, I agree with your contractor.

I think they are required to be one-piece with containment in CA. No?

(But, like I said, most springs I see are torsional, not extension.)

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Originally posted by hausdok

Hi,

I thought that's what you meant, but I wanted to be sure. Why recommend replacement of the door for that? Why not just recommend they have a set of safety wires in stalled in the springs?

After my post, i read my own statement and anticipated that very question.

Knowing I didn't have a good answer for it, i got away from the computer and assembled four park benches for the churchyard.

Now that that's done, i see tha Jim has answered your question to my satisfaction.[^]

I suppose, after thinking about it, that maybe I should recommend replacement of the springs with new springs with safety cable or other containment.

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Originally posted by Bob White

Now that that's done, i see tha Jim has answered your question to my satisfaction.[^]

I just didn't understand why you would recommend replacement of the entire door. I mean, I don't recommend an entire door be replaced when only one panel is broken. I recommend they get it repaired, 'cuz I know that the overhead door companies have replacement panels. It's the same with the springs and such. I just recommend they fix them. I'm not interested in getting the client a whole new door or what have you - just getting what's there to work right.

Does that make any sense or am I being too much of a hard nose about it?

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Originally posted by hausdok

Originally posted by Bob White

Now that that's done, i see tha Jim has answered your question to my satisfaction.[^]

I just didn't understand why you would recommend replacement of the entire door. I mean, I don't recommend an entire door be replaced when only one panel is broken. I recommend they get it repaired, 'cuz I know that the overhead door companies have replacement panels. It's the same with the springs and such. I just recommend they fix them. I'm not interested in getting the client a whole new door or what have you - just getting what's there to work right.

Does that make any sense or am I being too much of a hard nose about it?

OT - OF!!!

M.

When I find bad springs, I recommend replacing the entire garage.

I mean, why take a chance?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by hausdok

Originally posted by Bob White

Now that that's done, i see tha Jim has answered your question to my satisfaction.[^]

I just didn't understand why you would recommend replacement of the entire door. I mean, I don't recommend an entire door be replaced when only one panel is broken. I recommend they get it repaired, 'cuz I know that the overhead door companies have replacement panels. It's the same with the springs and such. I just recommend they fix them. I'm not interested in getting the client a whole new door or what have you - just getting what's there to work right.

Does that make any sense or am I being too much of a hard nose about it?

OT - OF!!!

M.

I thought I recanted in my last post.

That is why I write the report on the evening of the inspection, proofread it and make corrections that same evening, then wait 'til the next morning, read it again and replace the many stupid things I said yesterday with something closer to what I meant to say, and selease the report.

If I worked this forum that way, I'd never actully say anything. (maybe that'd be better [;)]

Thank you sir, may I have another?

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