Why should you care about your torsion spring? Well for starters, can you even identify your torsion spring?
The helical torsion spring is the true workhorse of the garage door, and it is pivotally important in the operation of the door. Almost all garage doors, residential or commercial, are built to use a helical torsion spring in their lifting operation, but the spring is easy to ignore. The same properties that make a torsion spring desirable also make it hard to notice – they’re quiet, space-efficient, and reliably powerful! Plus, they’re all around you – once you start looking for them, you’ll find helical torsion springs everywhere!
Your home’s residential garage door is probably quite heavy; wooden garage doors can easily weigh over five hundred pounds. Although you probably think of your garage door opener as being responsible for opening the door (it’s right there in the name, after all) in reality most of the actual work is done by the helical torsion spring. Most likely, your spring is wound tightly around the bar above your garage door. If you have a two-car garage door, you may also have two springs in a matched pair. These springs are tightly wound so that the weight of the garage door is suspended, and even the tiny motor of your garage door opener can open the door. When you send the signal from a hand remote or wall button, the opener begins pulling on the door, and because the springs are already winding against the door’s weight, it is possible for just a little pull to raise the door. In fact, a correctly installed and maintained garage door is virtually weightless, such that (when disconnected from the opener), it can be lifted or held in place by a single finger!
You might have two springs over your garage door, and that shows off one of the best parts of helical torsion springs. Any number of these springs can be wound in parallel, increasing the relative force that they output. If you have two springs working in parallel – which most two-car garage doors will – then both of your springs are outputting twice the relative force that they would alone. This features allows even the heaviest of industrial jobs or commercial garage doors to be lifted with ease!
Another amazing thing about helical torsion springs is how pervasively they are used! Once you start looking for them, you’ll probably notice that they are a versatile and inexpensive solution. For example, the common clothespin uses a helical torsion spring between its two halves. Clipboards, mousetraps, and hand grip strengtheners all use similar small torsion springs. These applications demonstrate one of the advantages of the helical torsion spring – that they can be made in miniature! The principle that generates force from the spring can be used by even the smallest of springs, which is why you’ll sometimes see tiny helical springs in the pop-open doors of consumer cameras or cd players.
Larger versions of these same springs are sometimes used for their reliable operation and simple mechanism. Since the spring’s operation is so simple, it is a good choice for out-of-sight places where the user wants predictable, consistent usage for years. Tailgates, trunk doors, door hinges, and even loading hatches can all be built with helical torsion springs, and much like the garage door, these applications make use of the spring’s reliability and consistency – putting out the same amount of force for thousands of operations.
We hope that this blog helped show you why the helical torsion spring is an important and interesting part of your residential garage door! Can you think of anywhere else that you see helical torsion springs? Let us know in the comments!