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Oil Tempered vs. Zinc Galvanized Torsion Garage Door Springs Explained

Oil Tempered vs. Zinc Galvanized Torsion Garage Door Springs Explained

When it comes to garage door springs, one size does not fit all – literally. Garage doors use different sizes, grades, strengths, and cycle-length springs. Torsion springs are the modern go-to for residential garage doors. But what are torsion springs? How are they different from extension springs? And finally – what are the different types of garage door torsion springs?

Garage Door Spring Recap: Extension vs Torsion

There are two general types of garage door springs: extension and torsion. There are also jackshaft garage door openers, but that’s for another repair guide. Extension springs were the first type of spring for overhead doors. They’re straightforward: one spring attached to the door and the tracks on either side of the garage door stretch and spring back to help open and close the door. You’ll most often find these on old tilt-up and 2-panel overhead doors.

Torsion springs, on the other hand, are a pair of two tightly-coiled springs set at the center of the garage door header at the end of the trolley track. They’re tightly wound contained springs that use torque to help lift and lower the door. Torsion springs have become the standard in garage door installations for a few reasons:

  • They last longer than extension springs.
  • They’re more durable than extension springs.
  • They have a higher lifecycle than extension springs (up to 2x!).
  • Torsion springs offer more controlled door motion.

Plus, it’s also simple to convert a garage door that works on extension springs to a torsion spring system. However, it’s important to note that for all these perks you get by choosing a garage door torsion spring, you’ll pay more for them – both the spring and the spring install.

Types of Torsion Springs: Oil Tempered vs Zinc Galvanized

The type of coating you choose for your garage door springs matter, as it will affect the life of your spring. Weather and climate are often main factors in this decision. There are two standard types of coated torsion springs: oil tempered and zinc galvanized.

Oil Tempered Garage Door Torsion Springs

Oil-tempered torsion springs are made of high-carbon steel that is heated and quenched in oil. This process gives the springs their strength and durability. Oil-tempered springs are also resistant to rust and corrosion, but they can eventually rust if they are not properly maintained.

Oil tempered garage door springs have been around for a long time, pretty much since the day the family car moved from the carriage stable into an actual garage – they weren’t torsion back then, though. They’re probably still the most common garage door spring finish because they’re effective and economical. 

Oil-tempered springs work pretty well, but their Achilles is the rainy winters we get in Sacramento.  All that water. The beauty of oil tempered springs is they tend to keep their tension pretty well – they rarely need to be tightened and are pretty much hassle-free.

That’s good because you really shouldn’t tighten your torsion springs at all anyway – or at least not yourself. Every spring has a limit to how much it can be adjusted, known as its cycle life. Any adjusting you do takes away its cycle life, literally degrading the life of a spring.

Zinc Galvanized Torsion Springs for Garage Doors

Zinc-galvanized torsion springs are made of the same high-carbon steel as oil-tempered springs, but they are coated with a layer of zinc. This zinc coating protects the springs from rust and corrosion, even in harsh environments. 

Basically, zinc galvanization is an upgrade to oil tempering when it comes to truly sealing a metal. Zinc galvanized springs are admittedly more expensive, but they’re a better alternative to oil tempered for a few reasons:

  • Higher resistance to extreme weather conditions
  • Higher resistance to rust and corrosion
  • Quieter operation of the garage door
  • Same low-maintenance feature as oil tempered
  • Same durability as oil tempered

Features to Consider in a Garage Door Torsion Spring

There’s some garage door lingo to deal with when you’re talking torsion spring specs: 

  • Wire diameter
  • Yield strength
  • Tension strength
  • Torsion strength

Torsion Spring Strengths

Wire diameter is the thickness of the wire used to make the spring. Yield strength is the point at which the spring begins to deform permanently. Tensile strength is the maximum amount of force that the spring can withstand before breaking. Torsion strength is the maximum amount of torque that the spring can withstand before breaking.

Torsion Spring Grades

Commercial grade springs are the weakest type of spring and are typically used on lighter garage doors. Industrial grade springs are stronger and are typically used on heavier garage doors or garage doors that are exposed to high winds. Heavy-duty springs are the strongest type of spring and are typically used on the heaviest garage doors or garage doors that are exposed to extreme weather conditions.

Torsion Spring Coatings

When deciding between oil tempered and zinc galvanized torsion springs for your garage door, it is important to consider the weight of your door, the type of climate you live in, and the frequency with which you use your door. If you are unsure which type of spring to choose, it is best to consult with a garage door professional.

How to Choose the Right Garage Door Torsion Spring

A few last tips for choosing the right torsion spring for your garage door:

  • Choose a spring that is strong enough to support the weight of your door. A huge high-lift door in a barndominium is going to need a stronger spring system than a standard 16×9 garage door.
  • Choose a spring that is made of high-quality materials. You get what you pay for – higher quality materials will cost more, but they’ll last longer and reduce breakdowns. You’ll save money in garage door repair cost alone.
  • Choose a spring that is coated with a protective layer to prevent rust and corrosion. Hint: We recommend the zinc galvanized option!
  • Choose a torsion spring with a high life cycle. It means the spring is durable and high quality, which means a long lifespan, low maintenance, and more resistance to wear and tear.
  • Have the spring installed by a qualified garage door professional. Springs are dangerous, and should only be handled by experienced garage door technicians. Plus, for many garage door parts, you may actually void the warranty by trying to do it yourself.

Always Hire a Professional Garage Door Repair Company for Springs

While we do encourage a DIY attitude when it comes to garage door repair, springs and cables are the two big exceptions. They’re not so much dangerous on their own, but the things that can go wrong during a repair or replacement are. They require the expertise and safety tools of a professional.SACS GARAGE DOOR REPAIR serves all of the Greater Sacramento area, including Citrus Heights, Rocklin and Roseville with unmatched garage door services. Whether you need a door installed, maintained or repaired, we can help you with all things garage doors, garage door openers, gates, and even locksmith services! Call us for 24/7 emergency service, or set up an appointment and get a free quote for your garage door project.

The Benefits of One Hour of DIY Garage Door Maintenance

Got an hour and a half some Sunday afternoon? Here are a few DIY garage door fixes you can do that can add years to your garage door and keep it running smoothly. First, take a wrench and tighten down all the bolts. These tend to loosen over time as you raise and lower your garage door. Tighter bolts will keep the door opening more smoothly and limit any noisy rattle. You should also oil all moving components of your garage door with a garage door lubricant. Don’t use WD40 because this can cause your door to rust prematurely. It’s also a good idea to visually examine your springs and cables for rust or fraying edges. If you see anything that’s a concern, call a professional for a more thorough inspection. By spending just an hour and half doing these simple repairs, you’ll have a smoother functioning garage door that will last longer and have fewer issues.