Garage doors are lifted by spring systems. Most doors have extension springs, while some also have torsion springs. Garage door springs are under high tension, which means they can cause injury if they break during use. Knowing the signs of failing springs ensures you have them replaced before breakage occurs.
1. Visible Rust
Visible rust or corrosion on the springs is a major red flag that you need to have the door serviced quickly. Rust isn't just an aesthetic issue; the oxidation process that causes rust also eats away at the metal and weakens the springs, making a break more likely. Rust is a major sign that damage has actively occurred and that the springs are in immediate danger of failing at any time.
2. Door Drift
Door drift occurs when the springs have been stretched one too many times and they have become too weak to continue opening the door as they should. You may suspect spring weakening if the door seems to open slowly or struggle. You can check for the issue by disconnecting the door from the opener motor. Then, manually lift the door about halfway open and let it go. If it stays in the same position with minimal movement, the springs are fine. If the door drifts closed, then it is time to have the springs replaced.
3. Uneven Opening
Springs don't always fail at the same time. If the door is opening unevenly (in other words, one side is pulling up faster than the other), then one of the side extension springs is failing or has already failed. The other one will likely fail soon, as well, since springs have a comparable working lifespan. Have the springs replaced as soon as you notice uneven opening so that you won't have to deal with two broken springs and a door that won't open.
4. Creaking Noises
Failing springs can become quite noisy. One of the most obvious noises is a creaking sound that comes from the springs when you are opening the garage door. They may also pop or even squeal, but creaking is the most common. In some cases, the noise is just a symptom of poor lubrication and a garage door tune-up will solve the issue. In other instances, creaking means the springs are failing and replacement is needed.
5. Stretched Appearance
Take some time once a month to visually inspect the springs, particularly the extension springs on either side of the door. If they look stretched out or warped, or if the coils don't appear even when the door is closed, then you need to bring in a professional to assess the damage. It is likely time to put in new springs.
Contact a garage door repair service if you suspect issues with the springs.