Garage door springs are factory rated with an industry standard 10,000 cycles. A cycle is considered a complete opening and closing of the garage door. If you want to increase the lifespan of your springs you will need to upgrade to a high cycle spring solution.
Efficiency, cost effectiveness and peace of mind are all factors that should be considered when installing or replacing standard springs with high cycle torsion springs.
How long should garage door springs last?
The life expectancy of a newly installed garage door spring is 7-12 years for torsion springs and 7-10 years for extension springs. Average lifespan assumes typical use of the garage door and a standard 10,000 cycle spring installation.
Most people underestimate just how often they use their garage door. The typical homeowner opens and closes their overhead door about 2-3 times per day or about 1,000 times per year. This translates out to a life cycle of about 10 years.
Although most garage door springs should last about a decade, that isn’t always the case. Many people use their garage door in place of the front entry door. That means opening and closing the door 5-10 times per day. If you use your garage door constantly throughout the day, don’t be surprised if your springs break in 5-8 years.
In other cases frequent use of overhead doors is well known, so high cycle springs are mandatory. Applications include car wash doors, box truck doors, oil change centers and auto body shop doors.
What is a high cycle garage door spring?
A high cycle garage door spring can generally be defined as any spring that is rated for more than the industry standard 10,000 cycles. This is achieved through a thicker wire size (coil diameter) and longer overall spring length.
High cycle springs have an IPPT (Inch Pounds Per Turn) rating the same as standard springs, but with far more coils storing the same amount of tension. This allows them to last up to 5 times longer than standard springs.
For example, a 10,000 cycle torsion spring that is .207 x 2″ x 25″ converts to 20,000 cycles with a .218 x 2 x 32.5″ spring. The thicker wire size and longer length contain the same amount of stored force, but is spread out over more coils that are also thicker in diameter.
High cycle springs must be engineered with computer software for accuracy. A spring used on one specific door might be rated as standard cycle, but if used on a lighter door could be considered high cycle.
How many times does a garage door open and close?
Garage door torsion spring lasts 7-10 years based on average use. If the average person uses their garage door 3 cycles per day for 365 days that accounts for 1,095 cycles per year. Dividing 10,000 cycles by 1,095 cycles gives you a spring life of just over 9 years. Springs have a diminishing return of life expectancy as cycles increase.
You cannot reasonably expect to have a garage door spring last longer than 25 years, but most garage door companies provide lifetime warranties with the purchase of high cycle springs.
1. Spring Cycle Ratings
Similar to car tire ratings based on mileage, torsion springs are rated on cycles. Standard springs are based on 10,000 complete openings and closings of the garage door. High cycle springs are considered anything over that amount.
Torsion and extension springs have standard cycle and high cycle offerings. Common high cycle torsion springs are around 30,000 cycles although they can go as high as 100,000 cycles.
Extension springs are more limited in the number of cycles. The only options are 10,000 or 25,000 cycles.
2. Cost Per Cycle (CPC)
Cost per cycle can be calculated by taking the total cost paid for the springs (including labor) and dividing that number by the cycle rating. Total Cost / Cycle Rating = CPC
If you have a 10,000 cycle torsion spring replacement cost of $300, they have a .03 cost per cycle. $300.00 / 10,000 = 3 cents per cycle
If you decide to upgrade to high cycle springs and pay $400 for a pair of springs rated at 30,000 cycles your cost is .0133 per cycle. $400 / 30,0000 = 1.33 cents per cycle
Much like the ratings on high mileage car tires, springs with higher life cycles present better value. The only downside is the initial upfront cost being slightly higher.
3. Cost Efficiency of High Cycle Springs
Cost per cycle (CPC) is not the only factor that should go into determining whether or not to upgrade – although the math certainly supports the small upfront investment.
Cost of labor, time value (downtime), safety and years of use should also factor in to your decision.
Standard torsion springs last an average of 7 years (based on 10,000 cycles). Based on that you can expect to be pay about $400 worth (inflation adjusted) of repair labor every 7 years to have your springs replaced.
If you are in your home for 28 years that amounts to $1,600 worth of repairs in that time span.
10,000 cycles / (3×365) = 9.13 years
$84.00 Per Pair .207 x 23 x 1.75 = ($9.20 per year)
20,000 cycles / (3×365) = 18.26 years
$96.00 Per Pair .218 x 30 x 1.75 = ($5.26 per year)
30,000 cycles / (3×365) = 27.40 years
$108.00 Per Pair .225x 34 x 1.75 = ($3.94 per year)
50,000 cycles / (3×365) = 45.66 years
$120.00 Per Pair .234 x 42 x 1.75 = ($2.63 per year)
As you can see from the chart above it is far more cost effective to use high cycle springs. This doesn’t even account for the value in knowing your spring will last a lifetime, without breaking at the most inconvenient time. Unless you plan to put your house up for sale, you should always pay more up front with high cycle springs. Most dealers offer a lifetime warranty if you pay them to replace your broken torsion springs.
4. High Cycle Spring Limitations (Maximum)
If high cycle springs are an option couldn’t everyone upgrade to 100,000+ cycle springs so future repairs are virtually eliminated?
Unfortunately there are engineering based limitations on cycle count. A few important limitations put a maximum threshold on the number of cycles you can upgrade to.
- Door Width
- Door Hardware
When you upgrade to high cycle springs you are limited by the width of your garage door. High cycle springs are an average of 10-20% longer in length, but can grown by 50% for the highest cycle option.
There is only so much extra available room on your torsion tube of solid shaft to accommodate longer springs.
After maxing out the length you can sometimes increase the diameter of the springs to mitigate width restrictions. Increasing the spring diameter also increases the cycle count, but even that has limitations.
Upgrading from 1 3/4″ diameter to 2″ is popular because hardware doesn’t need to be changed out.
Upgrading from 2″ to 2 1/4″ inside diameter (I.D.) involves changing out the center bearing plate or drilling out the the pilot hole grooves.
Standard residential hardware can usually accommodate up to 2 1/4″ inside diameter torsion springs with minimal modification.
Upgrading inside diameter to 2 5/8″ and beyond will require significant hardware replacement and mortification.
Spring diameters over 2 5/8″ are too heavy for a standard residential hollow tube and will require a stronger solid shaft. These larger spring diameters are also not compatible with standard residential center plates or end bearing plates.
Commercial grade center bearing plates (CBP) and end bearing plates (EBP) are heavier gauge steel to support added weight and tension and are also larger and further from the wall (header).
In summary, commercial grade spring sizes cannot be used alongside residential hardware installations.
5. Methods of Converting Springs To High Cycle
Converting from standard to high cycle springs can be done using software from manufacturer Service Spring Corporation (SSC). The software is called Service Spring Solutions and is available to door professionals for phones and computers.
Springs can be converted using two different methods:
- Converting off existing spring measurements (inside diameter, length, wire size).
- Engineering springs of door weight, size and track lift type.
In most cases converting off existing spring dimensions is sufficient. In some cases the existing springs may not have been installed correctly. That would require engineering the springs from scratch.
6. Converting From Existing Springs
In the example below a pair of .207 x 1 3/4″ x 23″ (wire size, inside diameter, length) torsion springs are converted into 30,000 and 50,000 cycle spring options from the original 10,000 cycles.
The converted spring results are only accurate if the original springs were installed correctly in the first place.
If you have any doubts about your existing springs being correct consider using the second method, engineering off the raw door specs (weight, size, track type etc).
7. Mismatched Torsion Springs
Pairs of springs that aren’t identical are call mismatched springs. Never assume that your garage door uses identical matching springs as mismatched springs are very common.
Always measure both torsion springs separately to ensure accurate high cycle spring conversion.
Mismatched springs can be converted to identical matching springs or vice versa. There is no major advantage to having matched or mismatched torsion springs.
If you have had your springs repaired by a door professional they may not have had two identical springs on their work truck.
In that case they could still replace the springs and balance the door using two mismatched springs rather than waiting on a pair of identical springs to arrive or having to drive back to their warehouse.
In other cases mismatched springs are used so that one spring breaks first leaving the second spring with more life.
That way the homeowner can still operate the door manually until repair arrangements can be made. If identical springs are used they tend to break much closer together.
8. Engineering Springs Using Door Specifications
If you suspect your original torsion springs aren’t balancing your overhead door correctly its best to engineer replacement springs off your door measurements.
You will need the door width, height, weight, drum type, radius size and lift type.
Common high cycle spring inside diameter measurements are 1 3/4″ and 2″. Wire sizes range from .207 to .283.
Try to stay with these diameters and wire sizes as they are most common. This will make finding replacements easy to find saving your money.
In the example below we used a 16×7, 175 lb door with standard lift 12″ radius track. We pre-selected a minimum of 15,000 cycles in the spring assembly screen.
The torsion spring software presented us with a high cycle spring option of 28,000 cycles.
If you are purchasing a brand new garage door ask the supplier for a high cycle spring upgrade option.
Use 25,000 to 40,000 as a desired range if asked. Upgrading to high cycle springs will cost a little extra money up front but will save you hundreds of dollar in the long term.
9. How 10,000 Cycles Became The Standard
The average length of home ownership was about 10 years from 1930 to about the year 2000. Furthermore the average garage door was opened and closed an average of about 3 cycles per day.
Manufacturers may have used that data to set the standard cycle count at 10,000. That would mean that standard torsion springs last about 8-10 years with typical use. Just long enough to possibly leave spring repairs to the new homeowner after selling.
Present day garage doors are now being used more often in place of the front door. Instead of the typical 3 cycles per day use, garage doors are now being used about 5 times per day or more.
Homeowners are sometimes confused at why springs only last 5-6 years vs the 8-10 years the are use to. This is even more typical in northern states where homeowners use their attached garage to avoid walking in the cold to their front door.