There are two kinds of springs when it comes to what’s used on your garage or overhead door: torsion and extension. So, what are they and which should you use?

Torsion Springs

Torsion springs are a newer system. There are spring bars mounted on the inside header of the garage door opening and torsion springs are placed on each tube with a center bracket holding the spring in place. Each bar also has a drum with a cable running to the bottom bracket of each side of the garage door. The cables winds or unwinds around the drum to open or close the door. The cable and drum do the lifting while the torsion spring provides the force. A torsion spring turns when operating the door, as opposed to expanding and contracting.

Extension Springs

Extension springs, then, are the older, cheaper, and more frequently used system. They are mounted on both sides of the garage door and cables which attach the spring to the track on one and the track supports on the other. The system of cables also attach to the bottom bracket of each side of the garage door and then through a series of pulleys to the springs and the track. Extension springs expand and contract as the door closes and opens, as opposed to twisting.

The extension spring is more like a traditional mattress spring, while a torsion spring is more like an old mousetrap spring.

Torsion Vs. Extension

The simple answer is: torsion. There are a few reasons why extension springs might be preferable or necessary. For example, extension springs require less headroom above the door, so perhaps torsion spring will not fit in your garage. Otherwise, though, here are a number of reasons why torsion springs are a better investment.

  • Torsion springs last longer. They do cost more, but they also can last up to twice as many cycles. Extension springs tend to need replacing about every 10,000 cycles, while torsion springs can comfortably last 15,000 to 20,000 cycles.
  • Torsion springs better control the motion of the door. They keep a smooth, steady motion as the door opens and closes. This not only more pleasant, but it also makes it far easier to keep your door in proper balance. With extension springs, there can be uneven motion and sharp changes in tension, which increases the chances that your door will find itself out of balance and needing adjustment. Doors in balance are also easier on the door operator.
  • Torsion springs require fewer parts. Both systems are robust, but more pieces and more moving pieces just leaves more opportunities for something to go wrong.
  • Torsion springs are safer. It is always dangerous when a spring breaks or needs replacing. However, a torsion spring is installed around the spring bar, so is likely to make an unnerving noise, but stay safely on the bar. If an extension spring breaks, on the other hand, there is a much greater chance that it may fly through the garage and damage the door or a car or, at worst, a person. Broken springs are serious, and though injury is unlikely… less likely is better.

Extension spring systems are common and have been successfully opening garage doors for many years, so while there are certainly many advantages to a torsion system, expense and convenience and other factors will weigh into your decision. If you have any questions about your system, how they work, what your options are, or anything else regarding the springs in your door, leave a message here for Overhead Door Company of Portland or give us a call!