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Torsion springs have been around since the medieval period when they were used in catapults. In modern times, they are used as the primary technology to best open and close a garage door.

A torsion spring is placed above the garage door. As a result, it can exert a more uniform force to control the door making for a quicker, smoother open/close cycle with less stress on the garage opener. When you minimize stress on a garage system, you generally reduce future repair costs.


Today’s torsion spring system is a complex integrated system built around a torsion spring precisely wound on the job site to provide a counterforce to the garage door’s weight. The torsion spring operates with the aid of bearing plates attached to the frame of the garage wall and cable drums positioned at each end of the garage door.

The leverage created by this system helps offset and reduce the amount of force required to lift the heavy weight of a garage door by its garage opener. Less stress on the opener often leads to a longer-lasting opener.

The diagram below shows the components of a typical torsion spring system.

diagram of a 2 torsion spring system with labels


For most homeowners, a torsion spring will last much longer than the alternative extension spring and provides these additional advantages:

  • distributes uniform motion when opening and closing a garage door
  • creates less stress on the garage door opener
  • not visible since installed above the garage door
  • cost-effective to maintain, more durable, quieter
  • safer because the garage spring is built around a tube, which keeps it from becoming a flying projectile when it snaps and releases its energy.


Extension springs are an older garage door technology that uses a 2-spring system placed at each end of the garage door. Homebuilders like them because they are an easier and less expensive garage system to install, but they tend to be more costly for homeowners to maintain than a torsion spring system.

The following diagram shows the components of a typical extension spring system.

diagram of a extension spring system with labels

Energy is produced and dissipated by the stretching and contraction of a tightly wound wire coil. Extension springs stretch almost twice their coiled length when closing a garage door and remain at their maximum stressed extent for long periods when the door is closed. You can detect the onset of metal fatigue when the coils begin to stretch out and lose their tightness.

In addition to being noisier, the end connections of an extension spring, on average, are more fragile than the body of the spring and many times fail prematurely. When an extension spring breaks, it is recommended that both springs be replaced to maintain a properly balanced garage door.


When our technicians explain the advantages of a properly calibrated torsion spring system to a customer with an extension spring system, some convert to the torsion spring system because the future savings from lower repair costs will offset the additional cost of conversion. Plus, the customer benefits from having a much faster, quieter, and smoother operating garage door.

If you are a homeowner with an extension spring system, you should ask for a quote to convert it to a torsion spring system on your next spring repair. Depending on the cost of repairing your extension spring and how long you plan to stay in your home, you might find converting is worth the cost difference. The quote for conversion to a torsion spring system will also help you differentiate the value and technical expertise being offered by your local garage door repair company candidates.

In any case, installing a garage door spring of any type should not be a DIY project for safety reasons. It requires experience and specialized tools that are best performed by professionals.

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