9

Spring finally snapped after many decades. Called someone in to replace the spring.

Backstory, the spring is 30+ years old. couple years ago I lubed up the spring with lithium lubricate and cleaned all the hinges and wheels and it has been working wonderful since then. The motor is just as old as old as my springs. The garage door we have is a wooden door. 9' x 8' x 1.25'' thick.

First Visit: Tech came out to measure my door and determine the correct type of spring required to replace the broken spring. During this visit we discussed at great length whether to install the same exact single spring or to install two springs. I wanted him to put the same exact spring and he pushed hard on 2 springs to due safety. After a day of me researching, I agreed with him.

Second Visit Tech came after 2 days with 2 new springs. Installed them while I was working around the house. After he was finished, he was testing the garage door and the door had issues moving all the way up or down with the motor. I'm not sure if he was able to push the door up and down manually, but he quickly said these springs are too strong and the side cables were loose. He said he would need to special order my springs. The problem he claimed was that he mis-measured my garage door. Which is kinda of bullshit because I measured the door for him and when he showed up the first time, he confirmed the spring and measurements.

Third Visit Tech came after 10 days with 2 new springs, and began quickly installing them. After he was finished. He was able to manually open and close the garage door himself, I witnessed this myself. But when trying to open and close the garage door with the motor it would not complete the cycle. I don't remember how it failed, but it did fail. I believe it would get 80% of the way then return or something. He instantly began to lube all the hinges tinker with the garage door thinking the issue was with my door somehow. He also did mention the springs he got were a couple inches longer or shorter than what his garage door measuring app indicated was the proper length. At this point he claimed the motor was too weak for my garage door and that the motor could have gone bad or weak once the spring snapped. The motor needed to be replaced.

Tech began claiming the motor we have is not strong enough to open and close the door properly, yet before the spring snapped, the motor was opening and closing the door just fine. He kept telling me the motor is too weak. Mind you he kept opening and closing the garage door to keep testing, so the motor is working. And on his first and second visit he never mentioned the motor was WEAK a single time or the motor could be an issue. I nicely asked him to remove the springs, put everything back the way it was, and I would have to think about it and discuss it with the family. Just to get him out of the house to do more research for myself.

Did he give me the correct type of springs based on the information above?

Or is the issue that after so many years my motor has gotten weak or so weak to the point it will not pick up or close the garage door anymore?

When pulling the garage door manually, does it matter how much force is required?

EDIT: I've put a lot more detail into my question this time around, I didn't think I would get such an overwhelming response.

15
  • 17
    Sounds like he's pulling your chain. Springs' tension is adjustable to match the weight of the door. Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 0:53
  • 4
    The spring is there to balance the door weight. At my last place I did not put the openers on any of my doors (3) until later, this makes them not only install the door true, they have to balance it properly no motor at all. The guy is trying to get out of a warranty claim, don’t let him!
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 1:45
  • 5
    @OutdatedComputerTech: virtually all garage doors are impossible to open without the springs. Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 4:56
  • 2
    If the installer can open and close it manually, but the opener fails to completely open or close the door, My best guess is that the clutch is not adjusted properly and is slipping at the point of failure. Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 17:15
  • 3
    The whole idea behind the springs is to (just barely) counterbalance the weight of the door. If they're adjusted correctly, an old woman can easily lift a garage door. BS that your motor is "weak". If its too weak, then installer is not adjusting the springs correctly. I had a double-car wood door on my last house - VERY heavy. My 5'6" wife was able to lift it herself no problem.
    – Kyle B
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 18:36

8 Answers 8

31

Your installer either does not understand how garage door springs work or he's lying to you because he thinks you're an idiot and will believe any crap he says.

The facts are that the springs are NOT affected by the strength or weakness of the motor in any way. The springs are there to balance out the weight of the door to that is can be opened by a low power motor or, if needed, the door can be hoisted by hand in the event of a power outage or other problem.

The springs will break over time just because they develop cracks in the steel from being stretched and loosened 100s or even 1000s of times as the door is opened an closed. My experience is that the springs last 10-15 years with normal use. When one breaks they both should be replaced.

I recommend that you choose a different installer who either knows what he's doing and doesn't treat you like an idiot.

5
  • 1
    So it's just not possible that the motor has become WEAK. All of you are 100% sure the springs he installed are incorrect? Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 3:32
  • 1
    @OutdatedComputerTech: the motor doesn't really become weaker over time, and usually other parts will fail before the motor does. It's easy to know for sure, can you easily open the door by hand with it disconnected from the opener? The openers are typically 1/2 HP motors or less, they don't require a whole lot of muscle to work. Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 4:59
  • 1
    It's possible that the motor has become weaker over time but the symptom of that would be that the door fails to open not that the springs fail.
    – jwh20
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 10:28
  • 6
    Garages are designed to be opened by hand. Disconnect the motor and the door by itself should be working. If it doesn't work, the installer doesn't know how to replace garage door springs. I had to deal with a broken spring in my garage door. It took 4 grown adults to properly lift the garage door with just one broken spring.
    – Nelson
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 10:32
  • We had a spring break recently, single bar mounted torsion spring. The installer said they assume about 10,000 cycles before the spring snaps. It took two of us, struggling, to open the door and yet 1/2 an hour later the 20 year old 1/2 hp Craftsman garage door opener was lifting it smoothly again.
    – DWGKNZ
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 11:29
30

Automatic door motors are optional.

Every garage door is designed to work manually without a motor. You use your hands and a stick to push it up, and a rope to pull it down. The door action should be easy and effortless, even for a large and heavy door. There should be little force except the inertia of the door.

This works because springs are fairly linear, and the door is moving from vertical to horizontal at about the same rate as the spring. Thus, the door spring should be in balance in all positions - top, middle or bottom.

Now here's what happens when there's no motor. You work the door by hand everyday and it's effortless. Then it starts being a little stiff, or sticking at one point. You notice this, so you go up and fix it - replace wobbly rollers, clean the track, repair a bad hinge, whatever the case may be. And it's back to peak performance again.

Here's what happens when a door is motorized. The door starts being a little stiff, and the motor just FORCES the door. This creates a vicious cycle, worsening and spreading the damage, until it's so bad that the door won't lift at all anymore or catastrophically fails, and finally somebody notices. This is the fate of all doors whose custodians don't understand doors.

So the answer is, the repair person doesn't even need to know you have a motor drive! Disconnect the motor from the door, attach a rope to the bottom roller, and ask a new repairman to fix your door. About the motor, say "Posh, that thing hasn't worked for 10 years. We just operate the door manually and that's fine by us".

This will "separate the men from the boys".

Once the repairman has your door dialed in so you can open it with your pinkie, and has left... reconnect the motor drive.

6
  • Good forensic explanation of garage door failure. There is a possibility that part of the drive mechanism partially wore out when the spring failed and the door came crashing down..
    – JACK
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 12:42
  • Harper thanks for the through explanation. To be clear, the tech never talked about the motor until the very end. He was only trying to move the door manually up and down and explaining the process the entire way. On the 3rd visit the door was doing just that. But this whole "only moving it with your pinkie" talk... That was not happening, he was using a bit of force to move the door up and down. And he would move it up and down in stages, up half way, it would hold steady, then all the way to the top. Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 17:52
  • I'm not sure if the amount of force he put on door to manually push it up and down was the major factor in why the motor could not lift the door automatically. He was trying to lubricate all the hinges using WD-40 (I'm not sure which kind, I didn't look at the specific type of oil on the label he was using) Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 17:58
  • @OutdatedComputerTech I'm unaware of WD-40 types other than the flagship, which is actually a water-repelling polish for stainless steel missiles. I'm not kidding. It was never intended for any other use and is highly mediocre at those uses. Yes, "pinkie" was a bit of an exaggeration, even a brand new door will have some resistance breaking the seal when starting upwards. And older doors will certainly get stiffer from crud in the tracks, wobbly rollers, and sloppy hinges. Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 19:22
  • 1
    @Harper-ReinstateMonica as with any successful brand these days, you can get about a dozen different products called "WD-40". One of them is a silicone spray. One is Teflon. But mostly it's slight variations on ye olde light petroleum and mineral oil.
    – hobbs
    Commented Nov 13, 2021 at 4:21
6

Direct experience with exactly the same circumstances. The general understanding of door springs is that when disconnected from the track, the door should open without excessive force and should remain closed when pulled downward.

After a spring break, the repair tech installed two springs which were too strong. The door would not stay closed when pulled down. I had expected that the tension could have been adjusted to allow the door to close, but the tech replaced the pair with a single spring of greater strength, but less than the combined values for the pair it replaced.

The door then closed to the floor and opened easily while disconnected from the motor.

When the drive system was replaced, the operation was smooth and within load limits for the motor selected.

5
  • Yes, we were going from 1 spring to 2 springs because I guess it's safer in case a spring snaps. I originally told him I wanted him to replace it with a single spring with the exact same setup. But he kept pushing me to install 2 springs instead. After reading online that 2 was better than one, I went with it. The first time he came. He claimed the springs were too strong on the first pair. And the 2nd time claimed the motor was too weak to pick up the garage with the newer pair of springs. Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 2:42
  • Are you saying you replaced the drive system at the same time, or after the fact? Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 2:44
  • 1
    Sounds like the first time he installed too strong springs followed by too weak ones.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 13:36
  • 1
    @CGCampbell Yea, I just don't know frankly. The 1st time he came he claimed they were too strong. The 2nd time he claimed they were correct but a couple inches longer then what his Garage App (that does all the calculations) said to use. But he said those couple of inches on the spring don't matter. Maybe they do, maybe they don't. But he kept assuring me they were the correct springs. What I'm assuming is the 1st time he came he was attempt to get the job done with cheap every day springs that are always in stock. Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 18:04
  • The 2nd time he came to bring the "special order" springs, the exact size the app told him to use was probably much more expensive? Or wouldn't be in stock for a long time. I don't know. I just don't know enough about these springs to say for sure. I wish I had an idea of how much these springs cost these installers to understand their motivation. I've seen spring prices online but, i'm sure they are extremely expensive compared to getting it from a local wholesaler due to shipping weight. Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 18:06
2

The most likely cause of a garage door spring failure is hydrogen embrittlement of the very hard steel; Nothing to do with the motor and little to do with the load. Caused by corrosion ( moisture condensation with temperature changes) , so coating with oil could help . I recently had one break and called a competent service man. In 2 hours, he replaced both springs from inventory in his truck, works fine.

1
  • You're not wrong. The springs are 30 years old. And all of mine are "rusted" (They look red). I posted a question regarding this issue with one of my doors a while ago here. And no one could figure out why my garage door wasn't closing all the way. It was because the spring was pretty much rusted out or didn't have any more lubricant. I bought some WD40 white lithium lubricate and used it on all 3 springs. Eventually all 3 doors were running pretty much smoothly again. And the door that wouldn't close anymore, was closing fine and is still working fine until today. Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 18:10
1

The way I always understood if the spring were correctly tensioned that you should with out the door drive motor engaged lift the door half way and it should set or rest in that position. If the springs and cable are not binding it may just be as simple as a reprograming of the opener limits witch should either be electronic with pushing of correct buttons, or physical movement of micro switches on the travel track on the middle bar of the drive. sorry hope this helps

2
  • From what I remember on his 2nd trip with the springs that were too strong. The door was moving up and down manually without the motor, but there wasn't any tension on the side cables. The 3rd trip around, the tension on the side cables were fine. But the door wouldn't open and close all the way, it would stop 85% of the way. He was infact able to manually move the door up and down manually without the motor once the spring was attached. Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 2:47
  • Rich, your understanding is the same as mine.
    – fred_dot_u
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 18:14
1

To answer your question as written: no, the spring would not break due to a weak opener motor. However, it is unclear what is actually going on because you talk about "the garage door would not open and close all the way yet again." Is that with the motor, or by hand?

You then say "the tech could open and close the door by hand when the new springs were installed" which indicates the springs are correct for your door. If the door opens properly by hand but not with the motor, then it is the motor at fault. I think that is your real question, not about weak motors breaking springs.

3
  • The answer your question, the door would not open or close all the way with the motor, but there was also the issue of the side strings being "too loose" according to the tech. By hand, I'm not sure on his first job visit if he was able to do it manually. He dismissed the job due to the springs being too strong and left. Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 20:45
  • Correct, I saw him open and close the door manually the 2nd time around, but I'm not sure how much force was required to do so. And I'm not sure if that matters. If hes struggling to open and close the door manually, I'm assuming this would factor in to how powerful the motor. Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 20:45
  • The question about the weak motor is my issue because I'm trying to determine if this tech was full of shit regarding my motor or just gave me the wrong springs regardless if the door opened manually by hand or not. Since I can't determine the springs were correct or not myself, I came to eliminate the possibility the issue was in fact the motor. Sorry for the misunderstanding in my question Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 20:49
1

To answer the question about wrong springs. You select springs according to door weight. You do not use gut instinct to say two springs should be used instead of one. After doing that everything else is a circus act and who knows, maybe he broke something in your motor through ignorance.

Anyway ... If you had one spring you replace it with one correct spring. You have to weigh the door to determine what spring to buy. You don't guess. Weighing the door is a little tricky and dangerous so watch a bunch of YouTubes on the topic before you do it.

You then can tune the spring tension slightly. If you install the right spring, and set it correctly, with the motor disconnected the door will not rise or fall by itself in ANY position. By hand you can move it up or down effortlessly regardless of where it starts.

Once you do that there are a bunch of adjustments on the motor to ensure it reaches the top and bottom with just the right force. Read the manual for that. Definitely needs doing after replacing springs and definitely your guy should not do it.

0

I saw some kind of Dateline type investigation on garage door repairman and EVERY SINGLE ONE they tested ripped them off and upped the price.

It was actually unbelievable how sneaky they would be down to reinstalling the customers own original parts by cleaning it up and putting new stickers on it and saying it's new - often making the customer wait a couple days saying it had to be "special ordered" etc

I'd put a hidden camera and snag the guy. They would often tinker with stuff and break things.

BTW you said the door only closed 80% - did you check the sensors (you know, so if, say, a kid runs under the door it automatically stops)? Because another trick was to misalign the sensors or tape over one side.

1
  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Nov 14, 2021 at 15:41

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.