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4 Key Differences Between Extension Springs and Torsion Springs

Metal Spring
An automatic garage door allows you to easily access your garage at the touch of a button. While numerous components make up a garage door system, none holds quite the same level of importance as the springs. Garage door springs provide the power necessary to hoist even the heaviest of doors.
A garage door may contain one of two different types of garage door springs: extension or torsion. Despite the central role played by garage door springs, many homeowners fail to understand the difference between these two types of springs. If you would like to improve your knowledge of garage mechanics, keep reading. This article explores four key differences between extension and torsion springs.

1. Location

The most obvious difference between extension and torsion springs involves their location. This difference makes it easy to determine what type of springs your door uses. Extension springs always come in pairs, with one spring located on either side of the door frame. Some extension springs have a vertical orientation, while others sit horizontally along the ceiling-mounted portion of the track.
Torsion springs, by contrast, sit in a horizontal position across the top of the garage door frame. Some doors contain just a single torsion spring, while others use two torsion springs mounted side by side. Both extension and torsion springs are color coded according to the diameter of their wire.

2. Tension Method

Extension springs and torsion springs generate the tension necessary for lifting the heavy door in quite different ways. As its name implies, an extension spring stores force by expanding and contracting. When the garage door is in its closed position, the spring rests in its fully extended state. Upon activating the motor, the spring contracts, pulling the door upward.
A torsion spring does not expand at all; instead, it generates its lifting force through a twisting or winding motion. One side of the spring brackets to the garage wall, while the other end locks down against the torsion shaft that runs through the center of the spring. Like extension springs, torsion springs release tension - and hence generate force - as the door rises.

3. Longevity

The dissimilar tension methods of extension and torsion springs lead to marked differences in longevity. The regular expansion and contraction of extension springs places more fatigue on the metal as time goes on. As a result, extension springs tend to have shorter lifespans than torsion springs.
Garage door spring manufacturers generally express spring longevity in terms of the number of lifts before a spring reaches its breaking point. Extension springs carry lifespans of around 10,000 lifts. A torsion spring, by contrast, can accomplish roughly twice as many lifts before fatigue catches up with it.

4. Safety

Another key performance difference between extension and torsion springs has to do with the risks posed by a spring nearing the end of its lifespan. Here, extension springs represent a much greater safety liability as a result of their attachment method. An extension spring attaches to the rear track hang by means of a built-in hook.
When an extension spring breaks, this hook usually comes off of the track hang and the spring goes flying at random across the garage. As you can imagine, anyone unlucky enough to be struck by a flying extension spring can suffer serious injuries. Because a torsion spring mounts around a central torsion bar, it remains in place even in the event that it breaks.
Both extension and torsion springs can offer effective results for an automatic garage door. For more information about how to keep your springs in tip-top shape, please contact ou  garage experts at DoorMart Garage Doors for a free estimate.