Mechanical garage door openers can pull or push a garage door with enough force to injure or kill people and pets if they become trapped. All modern openers are equipped with “force settings” that make the door reverse if it encounters too much resistance while closing or opening. Any garage door opener sold in the United States after 1992 requires safety eyes—sensors that prevent the door from closing if obstructed. Force settings should cause a door to stop or reverse on encountering more than approximately 20 lbs (9.07 kg) of resistance. Safety eyes should be installed a maximum of six inches above the ground. Many garage door injuries, and nearly all garage door related property damage, can be avoided by following these precautions.
Critical measurements: Torsion springs come a variety of standardized sizes, so you have to carefully measure the old springs to know what to order for proper replacements. Tables of standard sizes and designs are on the Web, such as here [www.industrialspring.com]. The four critical measurements (all in inches) are: (1) the wire thickness (which I'm measuring here with a dial caliper; you can also measure the length of a number of closely stacked turns with a ruler and divide by the number of turns in the stack, measuring 10 turns this way makes the math easy), (2) the inside diameter (not outside!) of the relaxed (not wound!) coil, (3) the overall length of the relaxed (not wound!) spring coils, not including the winding cones, and (4) the right- or left-hand winding of the spring. One must glibly quote those figures to the spring supplier, otherwise one's lack of expertise will be obvious, and one will not be worthy of buying the parts.
Traditional One Panel: These doors consist of one large panel which tilts to open by employing a spring mechanism to swing upward. The wood version is popular in the South and Southeastern US, where a milder climate keeps the wood from rapidly deteriorating. Traditional garage door designs include Cape, Colonial, Ranch, Tudor and Craftsman. The disadvantage is these doors require a lot of clearance to operate correctly. Sometimes repairs can be difficult because of the heaviness of the door or its inaccessibility. Average cost to repair tilt-up doors is $172.
The door and tracks at this stage of the repair are in a minimum-energy condition. This is a good opportunity to work on any hinges, bearings, rollers, cables, or tracks that need tightening, repair, lubrication, or replacement. Again, these parts should be available from the spring source, and should be ordered based on a pre-inspection. Home-improvement stores carry some of these parts, but the type and quality may not be the best.
Torsion springs are devices that lift most of the weight of a garage door so that the door can be opened manually or by an electric opener. The torsion principle is applied via an efficient and economical apparatus consisting of a torsion shaft under spring torsion, which turns lift drums, which wind cables attached to the door near the bottom. All of this apparatus is mounted over the top of the door. The energy stored is sufficient, in an uncontrolled release, to break things, hurt you, or perhaps even kill you. The same could be said of jacking up your car to change a tire, or mowing your lawn, or raising children, so it is not crazy to want to do this yourself.
If this manipulative, we-are-your-nanny business approach is truly in our best interests as consumers, then we shouldn't be allowed near ladders, lawn mowers, or power tools. Those products are just as hazardous and prone to misuse as torsion springs, yet no one thinks of them as forbidden. The only genuine difference is that torsion springs are a hazardous thing you need only rarely, while a lawn mower is a hazardous thing you need all the time.
If your garage door is opening slowly or making a lot of noise, the problem may not be your opener. So before you buy a new one, check for broken or wobbly rollers and brackets. But don’t replace the bottom roller bracket yourself—the cable attached to it is under extreme tension. You’ll need to call a pro. If you’re replacing the rollers, get nylon rollers. They operate quieter than steel rollers and cost only a few bucks more. Next, check the torsion spring (mounted on the header above the door opening) to see if it’s broken. When one breaks, you’ll see a gap in the coils. You’ll need a pro to replace a broken spring.