Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I am not familiar with SpringForce - why should I use you instead of one of the big names? They have large ads in the Yellow Pages ... and I even saw one of them on TV!

A: You are of course, perfectly welcome to help one of the larger companies pay for their print and TV ads if you like ... or you can call SpringForce with their estimate in hand, and receive a 10% discount off the stated price.

Large companies have much more overhead, and thus have to charge the customer more to make up for it. They may have numerous employees, fleet trucks, warehouses, offices, large advertising budgets, and parts inventories. Their employees also make a reduced percentage and so are inclined to charge much more to make up for this. Large companies also deal in large volume so attention to detail may not be paramount.

Additionally, the larger companies are attractive to inexperienced individuals looking to get trained up in the door business. SpringForce Garage Doors does not offer an entry-level training program, so you can be rest assured when you call us there will be an experienced professional working on your door.

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Q: Why does every door guy seem to want to sell me struts, rollers and hinges? Shouldn't the parts it came with be sufficient? They have been working up till now. I just want my door fixed.

A: Many doors are installed with minimal hardware when new as a cost-saving measure. This is especially true of so called "Builder's Model" doors installed as original equipment in new homes.

These doors will often work for years with this minimal hardware, but they are not sufficiently reliable to be warranted by many door businesses - including SpringForce. As the door ages, the inadequacy of these inferior parts becomes evident. Door panels will sag, and often develop cracks in the metal, requiring replacement of the door. Substandard hinges flex under load and can cause binding - especially when coupled with sagging panels or deteriorating rollers. Plastic rollers have no true bearings in them, causing them to create extra drag as well as having little load capacity or longevity. They should always be replaced with steel rollers of good quality.

Things typical of the builder's model door are plastic (or cheap stamped metal "seven-ball") rollers, thin gauge hinges, lack of reinforcement struts on any but the topmost section of the door, and the use of a single torsion spring instead of two (on doors wider than 8 feet two springs should always be used for safety and reliability).

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Q: My door spring broke. It originally had one spring. Why am I being asked to replace it with two springs?

A: As mentioned above, builder's model doors are often installed with minimal hardware as a cost-saving measure. One of the things typically seen on these doors is use of one spring where there should really be two. Use of a single spring instead of two is functionally equivalent until safety is considered. When a single-spring setup breaks, there is now nothing holding the door up whatsoever. If it happens to break when the door is being lowered, (which is often the case, since the spring is being tensioned up as the door is lowered) then the door can come crashing down rapidly - posing a risk of injury to persons, or damage to the door opener from the added strain.

Additionally, when all spring tension is lost, the lift cables will come completely off the drums - possibly damaging them as they may become entangled in the rollers and track and get cut, kinked, or frayed by the rapidly decending door - adding to the expense for repair. The lift cables are also largely responsible for keeping the door level as it rides up and down in the track. If the cables come off, the door may become wedged part-way down, creating a hazardous situation, and potentially damaging the door track, hinges, etc..

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Q: I had a door guy out here to fix my broken door spring. Now he is telling me that my opener needs repair as well. It was working before ... why all of a sudden is this the case? Is he trying to rip me off?

A: Frequently, before a door spring breaks it will weaken, causing the door to present more load to the opener. When an automatic door opener is being used as opposed to operating the door manually, this may go unnoticed by the homeowner (although there may be a noticeable increase in opener noise.)

This weakened spring condition will add strain to the opener, often to the point of near failure. When the spring finally breaks, any attempt to operate the opener will often finish the job - especially if the opener force has been adjusted up in an (improper) attempt to compensate for a weak spring. It should be noted here that residential garage door openers are not intended to "lift" the door. They are designed to apply enough force to basically "nudge" the (hopefully) properly balanced door up and down - the true lifting force being supplied by the springs.

It is important to have a garage door serviced regularly to help avoid this kind of cascading failure. Doors should be inspected for proper balance and lubrication once a year, and openers should also be inspected for proper adjustment and operation.

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Q: I just want to buy springs from someone so I can fix the door myself. Why is it so hard to find someone who will sell them to me?

A: There are numerous reasons for this.

First of all, it is a potentially deadly proposition to replace door springs and most door businesses do not want to expose themselves to the liability that could ensue in this litigious society we live in. This is just the reality of the age. Working on garage doors is dangerous business - especially for the uninitiated. Even experienced door technicians sometimes get themselves injured or killed. If you don't believe it is dangerous - have a door guy out to your house, and look at the cuts on his hands and arms. Its all in a day's work for us.

Secondly, there is more to the issue than just throwing some new springs on the door and winding them up. Springs have to be properly selected for the door weight, and they have to be properly adjusted as well. There are many other issues involved that are more subtle (such as proper leveling of the door and track) - but they all have a bearing on whether the door will function properly after the spring replacement.

Lastly, there is simply not enough economic incentive for most door businesses to sell parts to the public. The time spent doing so is better spent properly servicing doors onsite.

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Q: It seems to me that what I would spend on fixing my old door could be better spent on a brand new door. Doesn't this make more sense?

A: Not necessarily. A new door may seem like an attractive option at first, but it must be considered that a new door will often come with the same level of hardware - or even less - than the one it is replacing. A properly repaired and upgraded door - while it may not be as shiny, can be stronger and in many cases more reliable than a newly installed door. The particular door in question should be properly evaluated by a qualified door technician to determine the best course of action.

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Q: I am considering replacing my door and I see that there are different gauges of metal to choose from. How much thicker is a 24 gauge door than a 25 gauge door ... and what is gauge, exactly?

A: This can be a confusing issue - and one which is not helped by the fact that, counterintuitively, a smaller gauge number indicates thicker metal.

Gauge, when discussing sheet iron or steel, is often considered to be a measure of thickness. This is true only in an indirect sense.

By legal definition, (USC Title 15, Chapter 6, Subchapter III, Section 206) a "gauge" when refering to sheet iron or steel, is a number assigned to any thickness of that metal that achieves a given weight (and thereby mass) per square foot.

As a convenient example, 1 square foot of any iron or steel of 24 gauge weighs one pound avoirdupois by legal definition. The actual thickness of that same piece of metal will vary, depending upon manufacturing methods, or the exact alloy. As an example, galvanized steel of 24ga will be thicker than 24ga plain steel, simply because it is not as dense, overall. (It is coated in zinc.)

Because of the textured embossing on the surface of a door section, it is not possible to say exactly how "thick" a given door panel is - as it varies from one particular point to another over the surface. The gauges given in the garage door industry are "nominal" for this reason.

Nonetheless, it can be said with some degree of accuracy that a nominal 24 gauge section is, on average, about .003" thicker (and 2 ounces heavier per square foot) than 25 gauge - and substantially stronger. SpringForce recommends 24 gauge for all new door installations, and 25 gauge is considered an economy solution.

More Information on Sheet Metal Gauge

External References:

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Q: My door makes a lot of noise when operating. Is there anything that can be done about this?

A: Excessive noise is often a sign of impending door malfunction. If your door is making a lot of noise while operating, it would be wise to have a qualified service technician evaluate it before anything drastic happens.

Many times excess noise can be minimized by having the door and opener lubed and serviced. There are many points on a typical garage door that can be a source of noise and a qualified door technician should be able to minimize the effects of these.

That having been said, all doors will make a certain amount of noise, but other things that can be done to minimize it are:

  • Use of high grade nylon or neoprene jacketed rollers (not plastic)
  • A dc motor / belt drive opener (Like the Liftmaster® Elite Series™)
  • Reinforcement struts on every section
  • Insulated door panels

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Q: I had a new door installed, (or had my old door serviced) and now there is a gap between the door and the ground on one end when the door is down. I was told this is normal. Shouldn't the door be on the ground all the way across? The old door was.

A: It is often times necessary to install (or re-install) a door in this manner to accomodate a situation where the foundation of the garage is not level. A properly installed garage door should be bubble level, regardless of the concrete beneath it. If it is not installed in this manner, it may malfunction in short order. The proper way to deal with this if the gap is intolerable is to have the foundation repaired under the door - either by having the foundation lifted, or having new concrete "floated" in to fill the gap.

Please note that any adjustments made to the level of the structure that the garage door is mounted to (i.e. the jamb) will result in the door being in need of realignment - so it is best, if foundation leveling is to be done by lifting, to have it done before installing a new door.

The reason the old door had no gap is that it was either installed when the building was new, and the foundation was level - or it is possible that the door was installed "on the ground" without regard to proper leveling. In either case, if the door has malfunctioned, it is likely due in part to this unlevel condition.

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Q: The springs that were used to replace mine look different. Should I be concerned about this?

A: Replacement springs are installed according to the weight and operating height of the door, using a corresponding spring rate. There are different ways of manufacturing a spring to achieve the same spring rate. Some springs are longer and narrower, some are shorter, but correspondingly of greater diameter. A qualified door technician will know which replacement springs are appropriate for a given application - even though they may look a bit different.

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Q: My door has two springs - only one of which is broken. I would like to save some money by only replacing the broken spring, but the door tech insists that I replace both. Why should I do this?

A: Replacement springs for residential applications are designed to operate for about 10,000 cycles before failure. If one spring is broken, the other one is not far behind it - sometimes just a very few cycles. It would not be cost advantageous to replace only one spring, and it would in fact be irresponsible for a door tech to do so. Additionally, a spring that is nearing the end of its life cycle is exceedingly dangerous to wind because of the potential for sudden breakage.

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Q: How long should my springs last?

A: Most residential replacement door springs are designed around a 10,000 cycle life. Depending upon how frequently you operate your door, they may last many years or just a few years.

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Q: I have heard that some springs are made of stainless steel. Should I consider using these?

A: SpringForce does not recommend use of stainless steel springs.

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Q: I know how to weld. Why can't I just weld the broken spring back together?

A: Spring steel (as used in door springs) does not respond well to being heated to the temperatures necessary to weld. Doing so will detemper the metal, and cause it to have unpredictable properties. It is also exceedingly dangerous to wind such a spring because it will almost certainly snap in the process.

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Q: Wood vs. Metal doors. Which is better?

A: This is a debate that even door techs don't agree on. Some favor wood doors because they are perceived as being "stronger". Others favor metal for the same reason.

Some of the advantages to having a metal door are:

  • Lighter door for comparable strength (steel is very strong for a given weight)
  • Easier to service
  • Does not rot (although they can rust if exposed to corrosive chemicals like pool chemicals, bleach, or battery acid)
  • Consistent weight (wood doors will weigh more or less depending on the humidity)
  • Does not require painting like a wood door. A wood door must be painted regularly to keep it from rotting, particularly in moist climates.

Some of the advantages of a wooden door are:

  • Wood does not dent or bend like metal (although it can crack and break.)
  • Wood doors tend to retransmit less sound from outside, and generate less operating noise. (An insulated metal door will do this as well or better.)
  • Wood doors tend to conduct heat less readily, as they are natural insulators (although a metal door can be insulated for similar or even greater effect.)

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Q: Should I put the door down / up before the technician arrives?

A: No.

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Q: Would it be helpful for me to grease the door tracks? I have seen this on other people's garage doors.

A: While it may seem at first blush that greasing the door tracks might be a good idea, it is in fact not recommended. Garage doors run on a set of rollers - which, as their name might suggest, are intended to roll in the tracks - not slide. Rollers are properly lubricated by injecting spray lubricant into the bearing area of each individual roller (except for cheap plastic rollers which have no bearings, and are pretty limited in their usefulness to begin with.) Rollers that cannot be made to function properly by lubricating them in this way should be replaced.

There are two problems associated with greasing the door tracks:

  1. The grease is messy and has magical powers that cause it to leap off the tracks while you aren't looking and land on your best clothes. (No ... really!)
  2. The grease will eventually dry out and cake up - increasing the likelyhood that the door or automatic opener will malfunction.

Incidentally - if you decide after reading this to go out to the garage and clean all the grease out of your door tracks, be very careful! Garage door tracks are notorious for having hidden razor-sharp edges.

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Q: What can I do to keep my door cable from coming off in the future?

A: Even a properly installed and adjusted door can flip a cable if it is mistreated.

Some things that can cause a cable to come off are:

  • Raising the door too fast
  • Attempting to force the door past an obstacle or bind
  • Leaving items such as rakes, shovels, etc in the corner next to the vertical door track. They can fall into the path of the door and cause it to malfunction
  • Attempting to close / open the door from one corner or other
  • Closing the door on an obstacle such as a child's toy or a brick

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Q: How much does a garage door weigh, anyhow?

A: It really depends on the door. A bare-bones, 26 gauge 8'x7' metal door may weigh as little as 80lbs, while a 17'x7' wood door may weigh 300lbs or more!

The weight of a specific door will vary, depending on various factors such as the gauge of metal used, the presence or lack of reinforcement struts, and even the type of hinges and rollers used. Wood doors are a special case, as their weight actually varies depending on the weather. When the weather is dry, they weigh less - when wet they weigh more. This is one of the complexities that door technicians have to take into account when selecting replacement springs.

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Q: My door has a single damaged section. Can I just replace this one section - or will I need a whole new door?

A: Possibly - but not likely. If you can determine the particular model and manufacturer of the door and if the door is not too old, you may possibly be able to obtain an original replacement section from the manufacturer.

Even still:

  • The new section will have to be installed - which is a dangerous procedure, and should only be done by a qualified door technician.
  • The new section may not match in color because of weathering effects on the remaining, older panels.
  • The new section may not match the old sections in style. Manufacturers periodically change the "wood-grain" texturing embossed in the metal, as well as the design and proportions of the picture frame panels. Getting an exact match can be next to impossible unless the door is a fairly new model, and even still there may be slight variations. If the panel does not match pefectly, it is unlikely that the manufacturer will take return on it.
  • The shipping cost to have a replacement panel delivered may be excessive, as they are large, bulky items.

If appearance is not an issue, then a used or salvaged panel is an option in many cases but the panel will need to be matched by certain criteria:

  • The width and height of the section
  • The gauge of metal used in the original section, as this affects the weight of the door. Using a replacement section of a different weight can cause the door to malfunction.
  • The spacing of the stiles (vertical metal braces that the hinges attach to).
  • The mating surface where the sections meet. There are two main styles of mating surfaces that are considered industry standards:
    1. Tongue and Groove - which looks like this, edge-on:
       __/  \__
      |        |
      |        |
    2. Ship-Lap - which looks like this, edge-on:
       ___|   |
      |       |
      |       |
    There is also a proprietary "pinch-resistant" style made by Amarr that can only be matched to one of their own sections. It is more of a curved shape.

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