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Old 01-04-2011, 10:11 PM
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Exclamation Close call in my garage

Late this afternoon I was sitting at my desk and heard a godawful "POW" sound that came from my garage. After a half-second I knew exactly what had happened and I went to inspect it fearing the worst. I knew what it was because I've heard it before-- the sound of a failed garage door spring.

Sure enough, one of the springs on my wife's door had snapped at the end closest to the pulley near the door (pic 1). Hers is the middle of our 3 bays. The recoil of the spring at the other end was so severe that the spring impaled itself on the end of the eye bolt where it attaches to the vertical "L" bracket that holds the tracks. You can see how the spring on the adjacent door in the background is suspended normally (pic 2).

After I released the spring and safety cable by removing the nut at the end of the eyebolt, I found that the eyebolt was majorly embedded in the coils of the spring (pic 3). I had to run a very large screwdriver through the open coil of the spring, stand on it, and pull up on the spring with all my might while my 14 yr old son gamely tugged on the bolt with a pair of Robogrip pliers. Probably a really dumb maneuver given what could have happened if the screwdriver had pulled out from under my feet but what's a little father-son bonding time if it doesn't include a trip to the ER? (we escaped injury)

Finally extracted the eyebolt which was bent all to hell (pic 4). That deformation is all from the impact of the spring, not from the extraction process (that is a 5/16" bolt and we were only using hand tools).

I found the piece that snapped off right under the spring (pic 5). Its flight must've been impaired by its attachment point, or maybe it ricocheted off something in the garage and just happened to come to rest there. At any rate, the first thing I did was to inspect the WK2 which was parked in the 3rd bay about 15' away from the action (pic 6). Didn't see any apparent damage but will inspect again in the light of day.

The moral of the story is to ALWAYS make sure your garage door springs have a safety cable running through them and that this cable is securely anchored at each end. As mentioned, this has happened to me before in my previous house and a safety cable prevented some potential mayhem.

Advice to JGers waiting for delivery of your WK2s-- make sure you've prepped the nursery and are ready for your new baby! It's impossible to know when a garage door spring is gonna cut loose but if they've been in service for a while it's a pretty quick project to replace them or at least inspect them along with your cabling.

I had to go to 3 places to find replacement springs (gonna go ahead and replace both of my wife's springs to avoid a mismatch from stretching) and the old-timer at the local hardware store was showing his buddies the bent eyebolt in amazement. He also recommended replacing it with a stainless steel bolt. Good advice.

Bullet dodged.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 1 Failed spring.jpg (45.1 KB, 132 views)
File Type: jpg 2 Recoil effect.jpg (49.0 KB, 124 views)
File Type: jpg 3 Embedded eye bolt.jpg (32.6 KB, 117 views)
File Type: jpg 4 Bent eye bolt.jpg (55.5 KB, 116 views)
File Type: jpg 5 Eye of spring.jpg (56.5 KB, 108 views)
File Type: jpg 6 WK2 blissfully unaware.jpg (48.8 KB, 224 views)
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:20 PM
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Re: Close call in my garage

My garage doors are different. They have springs that wind-up when the door goes down. I've had one of those break too, and the door came crashing down. Nobody is allowed to walk under the garage door while it is moving.... Glad your baby was o.k.!
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:21 PM
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Re: Close call in my garage

I dont know how many times growing up at my parents house that happened....those things seemed to break all the time!

Good thing the grand is A-Ok!
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:54 PM
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Re: Close call in my garage

Sounds like a scene from final destination
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:59 PM
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Re: Close call in my garage

Really glad to hear that your baby is ok. I have had that very thing happen to me before, the sound of the spring snapping is a sound that one doesn't forget anytime soon, it is very distinct.
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Old 01-05-2011, 12:10 AM
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Re: Close call in my garage

Wow, that sounds dangerous - checking out the images you posted, I must say that the system you have already "screams out" "flying spring"...

I just checked ours and at the place of your spring, we ony have a chain and our loaded spring is located at the door itself - secured by some kind of screwed on "plates". Looks quite solid..
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Old 01-05-2011, 05:30 AM
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Re: Close call in my garage

Glad everything worked out.
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Old 01-05-2011, 06:35 AM
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Re: Close call in my garage

I have the same kind of spring system and it doesn't have a safety cable running through it. Without the safety cable, the spring would just droop down if it broke, right? Or do you think it would fling around all over the place before it dropped down? It looks like there's a lot of energy in the springs, so maybe I should get a safety cable for the springs. Do they sell a kit specifically for this, or do I have to go buy the cables and related hardware?
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Old 01-05-2011, 07:03 AM
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Re: Close call in my garage

Quote:
Originally Posted by MSCA View Post
I have the same kind of spring system and it doesn't have a safety cable running through it. Without the safety cable, the spring would just droop down if it broke, right? Or do you think it would fling around all over the place before it dropped down? It looks like there's a lot of energy in the springs, so maybe I should get a safety cable for the springs. Do they sell a kit specifically for this, or do I have to go buy the cables and related hardware?
I'm no physicist nor am I an expert in chaos theory, but my armchair analysis of my incident involves empiric and anecdotal evidence.

1. The fact that my spring impaled itself on the eyebolt suggests that the energy was focused by the presence of that safety cable. I can only imagine how that intense energy would have been dispersed had it been allowed to fly free.

2. While at the hardware store, my old-timer clerk said that this had happened to his mother and that when he went out to inspect it, he found the non-restrained spring protruding from her smashed windshield.

So to answer your question, I believe there is sufficient reason to fear that an unrestrained spring would flail very dangerously upon failure. Forget the minor hassle should your vehicle be damaged-- these things could seriously injure or kill someone.

You might be better off just replacing your springs, because the kit for that includes safety cables that are nicely finished off in a loop on one end. Otherwise, you can probably find the finished cables or loop and tie them off yourself. They are not load-bearing when they are in place. Springs are color-coded according the weight of the door they support. My doors are 8'W x 7'H and weigh 130 lbs, so I needed the yellow springs. Cost ~$20-25 per spring (including safety cable). Cheap insurance!!
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Old 01-05-2011, 08:24 AM
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Re: Close call in my garage

Okay, thanks. I didn't realize that the new springs come with safety cables. I should probably just install new springs because mine are the 15-year-old originals, installed when the house was built. It might be time to change them.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:23 AM
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Re: Close call in my garage

Bit OT, but is that an NV Homes built home Cperez?
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:25 AM
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Re: Close call in my garage

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Originally Posted by MSCA View Post
Okay, thanks. I didn't realize that the new springs come with safety cables. I should probably just install new springs because mine are the 15-year-old originals, installed when the house was built. It might be time to change them.
Mine were also originals (~11 y.o. I figure).

Just returned from Home Depot where I got 2 new stainless steel open-eye bolts ($2.50 ea) and a set of new springs (2 in a box for $25). Also saw that you can get a set of standalone safety cables for $7.50.

Just my .02, MSCA, but if your door seems to be operating normally, I would consider getting a new set of springs, but only putting the safety cables on and keeping the new springs as replacements when one of the original ones fails (replace them as a set at that time). True, you'll have the system partially dismantled when you install the safety cables, and that might be a good time to replace springs, but why not get the remaining life out of the ones you have (since you will now be protected from catastrophic failure). When I told my old-timer h'ware clerk the age of the spring that broke, he seemed surprised that it hadn't lasted longer.

Sometimes my wife accuses me of over-engineering my fixes, but I think I'll use some kind of heavy gauge wire to lash the looped ends of the springs to the hooks they attach to, so that at the next failure I minimize the risk of that broken loop flying around. I will leave some play in the connection to allow free movement of the spring during open/close. Maybe I can find some old key rings and use them for that purpose. Hmmm.
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