Garage door springs have been subject to innovation to improve their safety, cycle life, and performance. Here are some of these innovations.
1. Galvanized Garage Door Springs
About 20 years ago, galvanized garage door torsion springs broke into the garage door parts market as an alternative to oil-tempered springs. Later, electro-coating on oil-tempered torsion springs augmented the buyer’s set of choices.
Because traditional oil-tempered garage door torsion springs have an oily residue owing to their oil-enabled manufacture, installers often leave dirty smudges from the springs on the doors, to the ire of the customer. Many technicians install about 6-8 springs per day on a tight schedule and need to keep moving with repair work. As such they find little time to wipe up, though some take the time. Galvanization came about to address this common and vexing issue.
Most in the garage door service industry, though, ably identify the problem with galvanized springs. Galvanizing weakens the spring. Anyone hammering a 16-penny galvanized nail knows metal weakening results from galvanization. And the results of galvanizing seem to prove no different with springs.
Garage door owners, too, voice objections to galvanized springs because of high maintenance costs. Upon Installation, one can count on an adjustment six months later, and then another at a similar interval. And so, the owner will need to adjust expectations when dealing with galvanized springs.
Possibly, a tough situation may arise. If a door loses significant tension from a galvanized spring installation, this may result in insufficient lift to open the door. If you seek to remedy this by adding extra spring tension in a “hot” installation, you necessarily decrease the spring cycle life. If you do not add the initial tension, you get higher maintenance costs, especially when the cable may come off the drum, and a service call to rewind the spring and rectify the cable issue follows.
In the past five years, an article pitting galvanized vs. oil tempered became a well-read discussion online. Although the author attempts to steer clear of taking a position in the debate, the assertions made may do little to sway those with direct field experience on the subject of garage door springs. Simply talk to an experienced technician for his or her perspective.
One proposed solution to the galvanized spring dilemma is the coated spring, with the coating intended to cover the oily residue. With these, a paint-like material coats the spring by means of a special electrical bonding. Does this make the spring a lot cleaner? Maybe at the outset, but untimely decay of the finish has been observed on stocked items. Also, due to their initially clean appearance, coated springs do not often get oiled by installers. If a gap in the coating occurs, moisture may get into the dry crack in the spring, causing rust-and under tension–premature breakage.
And on the subject of lubrication, there is no case in which a newly-installed garage door spring should not be lubricated for protection against decay. Coated springs need to be lubricated, given the possible spottiness of coating coverage. Galvanized springs need oiling as well. My company plans to debut a video evidencing the noisy results of not lubricating a galvanized spring. And yes, original oil-tempered springs could stand some additional rust-fighting lubricant once the springs are safely installed, of course with towel nearby.
2. Safety Innovations
Three main products in the area of safety have been introduced in the last 20 years:
Leading off, Wayne Dalton TorqueMaster springs, which wind with a drill. The TorqueMaster is the first system to offer a counter balance spring sealed inside the door tube. Because TorqueMaster springs have a smaller mean diameter, they need to be longer to match the lift of a spring. To keep the springs from being too long, however, Wayne Dalton uses smaller wire size, which leads to problems with cycle life. Reviews from homeowners are mixed. As a key advantage, if you have two springs on your garage door, there is a winding unit at each end, which makes drill/socket winding a breeze.
Clopay/Ideal EZ-set springs have their own hardware, winder, and winding cone. Stationary cones can be the standard variety. Because they tend to measure longer than comparable standard torsion springs, room may be tight on the shaft to accommodate these. EZ-set springs are somewhat limited on cycle life, but they are pre-gapped and held to the proper length so that the coils will not bind. As a result, each spring tends to appear more slinky-like than standard springs.
Spring King: Industrial Spring’s Spring King utilizes a drill-winding system for use with standard torsion springs. Spring King is a product well-suited for the do-it-yourselfer who would be hesitant to face the task of conventional spring winding.
3. Innovations dealing with weight balance
Also from industrialspring.com comes the new “Balance King,” manufactured by Holmes. This device was created to deal with Carriage House and like doors which have windows in the top section, making them top-heavy. Industrial spring has designed this special product to help balance the door, so it maintains an even weight distribution. It actually consists of a spring “clutch” system that assists with the first three feet of upward travel, and the last three feet of downward travel. A promotional video from Industrial highlights the easy installation procedures for the Balance King. A hit at the 2009 CODA Show, the Balance King was one of the most talked about items there.
Honorable Mentions for Innovation:
Clopay/Ideal, maker of the EZ-set spring system, has developed a spring winder device for stretching and installing extension springs. This product addresses the problem of door weight in an extension spring installation. Let us say the door in question weighs 200 pounds. If you have to open the door and stretch the springs for a hookup, the risk of injury increases. Procedural problems also arise with a new door installation. Ideal’s winder winds up the cable around a spool and tightens the cable around to stretch the extension springs, thus enabling a safe installation.
Extension spring safety cables provide peace of mind to many users of extension springs on a sectional door. Older doors dating back about 30-40 years did not have safety cables, but installers sometimes improvised through the use of bailing wire. Considered at least a property-saver, and at best literally a life-saver, safety cables run through the extension spring to contain possibly dangerous airborne extension spring parts in the event of a spring break.