Maybe you have a broken garage door spring that you haven’t fixed, or the springs are going bad, and you have noticed how the garage door’s operation is being affected. Whatever the reason, it has got you wondering, what’s the point of having a spring installed if the garage door opener can open and close your garage door? It’s completely normal to have this thought when you have no idea how the garage door and the opener work together.
Most garage door openers will not work without springs. Garage door openers are designed to pull or push a well-balanced garage door with a spring that counterbalances the weight of the door. However, there are few garage door openers that will work without the garage door springs, but you stand a risk of damaging them if you operate it.
If you want to learn more, I’ll explain in a little bit more detail why most garage door opener does not work without the springs and the possible problems that can occur if you do that. But for you to understand it well enough, I have to lay a foundation by briefly explaining how a garage door works and the role the springs play.
How Does a Garage Door Work?
As you may have already seen, garage doors are made of individual panels connected with garage door hinges to form a single door panel. The hinges on the sides of the door have rollers installed in them. The rollers are then fixed inside the garage door tracks on the sides of the door opening. As the garage door is lifted, it is guided by the vertical and horizontal tracks, until it reaches the fully open position.
The garage door spring is what actually makes the garage door effortless to lift and drop. Why do I say that?
There is a shaft on top of the door that is attached to the garage door spring. On the sides of the shaft are cable drums. One end of a cable locks onto the cable drum, and the other end is attached to the garage door’s bottom brackets.
Not to get into too much technical detail, when the door is being opened, the tension built up in the spring causes the shaft to rotate. The cable drums attached to the shaft rotate as well. This rotation gets the garage door cables to wind around the cable drum; hence the garage door’s entire weight is lifted by the spring’s tension.
As the door goes up, it becomes less heavy when the panels begin to reach the horizontal tracks. That’s because the horizontal tracks support the weight of those panels. At the same time, the tension in the spring gets weaker. However, it is strong enough to balance the less heavy garage door, making it very easy to lift. This is what we usually refer to as counterbalance.
Why a garage door opener will not work without springs
Before the garage door opener, the garage door mechanism was already in place. And it was quite convenient to manually lift and drop even the heftiest garage door. The mechanism was a very effective one even in the 90s, and less to no change has been made to the garage door system for years.
With innovation and technological improvement, we realized the need to make a device that can operate the garage door. For instance, imagine getting down from your vehicle while it is raining, just to open your garage door. Also, getting down again to close and lock the garage door after you move out of the garage was an inconvenience we all wanted to get rid of.
So the garage door opener was invented, and yes, it changed the game. With just a push of a button, in the convenience of a car, our garage door gets opened, and we simply drive inside, push that same button again, and it closes. And every homeowner felt the need to get one.
In essence, garage door openers are not made to replace a part on the garage door. It is made to simply open and close the door with minimal effort. With this in mind, manufacturers use motors with just the right force to pull and push the garage door. Openers use less strength, just like a regular person would, when lifting the door.
When there is no spring on the garage door, the opener has to balance the garage door’s entire weight and then lift or drop it down. However, it is not designed to do that. So manufacturers designed a safety system that detects too much stress on the opener and then prevents it from operating.
The problem with operating a garage door with no spring
As I mentioned earlier, garage door openers are not built to lift garage doors, but to simply give the door a little push or pull. For this reason, motors (or drives) that are used inside the garage door opener are small. They are not big enough to produce enough force to lift the weight of the door completely. This is why most garage door openers will not work at all without springs because any effort will be pretty much useless.
However, for those that do, you are at risk of damaging the motor in the opener. Why do I say this?
Operating a garage door with a broken spring or without spring means you are putting a lot of stress on the garage door opener’s motor. Motors, in general, tend to attempt to overcome any challenge they encounter.
In an attempt to lift the door even with low force capability, the motor will begin to run faster than usual. If an excellent circuit breaker or fuse is installed for the garage door opener, it will detect the unusual current being drawn by the opener and immediately shut it down. Else the garage door opener will continue running.
As this unusual speed continues for a while, the motor winding will be overheated, and eventually, it will break down.
You definitely don’t want that to happen because you would have to purchase a replacement motor and hire a technician to fix it for you. And that comes at a cost you could have simply avoided. Even if your garage door opener’s warranty hasn’t expired, it will definitely not cover this kind of damage. That’s because the opener was not working under normal conditions.
What You Have to Do
Perhaps you have a broken garage door spring, and you thought you could get away with using just the garage door opener and close the door. Well, think again because that route will end up with you paying more for garage door repairs.
What I recommend you do is to replace the broken garage door spring as soon as you can. Getting a new spring for the door will get the mechanism working in good condition so that your garage door opener can perform without any issues.
We have a guide on how to replace your garage door spring, and if you are an avid DIY’er, I recommend you check it out. See here.
Replacing a garage door spring, however, can be hazardous if you don’t do it the right way. So, for most homeowners, hiring a garage door technician might be the right option for you.
The take away from this article is garage door openers can’t produce enough force to lift or drop a garage door, which is why most garage door openers will not work without a spring on the garage door. So to avoid damaging the opener, get a replacement garage door spring for your door, and call a technician if you have to.